According to a sociological study titled "The Gray Divorce Revolution," individuals over the age of 50 are divorcing about twice as much as they were 20 years ago. Most people are not surprised when a marriage ends after five or 10 years, but data suggests that many older couples are separating after 30 or even 40 years together. In some cases, older couples remain married to enjoy retirement benefits and other financial advantages, but increasingly more are looking to divorce as a way to begin a new life and secure more personal freedom.
There are numerous reasons why a couple might divorce after several decades of marriage. For instance, many older couples find that they lack things in common with one another once their children become adults and have left the home. Others simply transition from being in love to close friends over the course of many years and mutually agree on divorce as a way to explore relationships with other people while still maintaining close ties to each other. Likewise, a couple may feel themselves drifting apart, wishing to pursue interests, hobbies and life goals.
A marital problem unique to older couples occurs when both spouses retire after having worked throughout their married lives. It can be a difficult adjustment when they find themselves at home and with each other for increasingly long periods of time, leading some couples to divorce in order to enjoy single life again. In other cases, one spouse may experience a midlife crisis or develop a desire to begin a more exciting and less routine life, making it difficult to save their marriage if the other spouse does not want such dramatic change.
Some couples merely stay in dysfunctional or unhappy relationships for many years because of convenience or codependency, then suddenly realize many years later that they should not have married their spouses in the first place. For such individuals, divorce is often the best way to start a happier, more fulfilling life.
Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce After Decades," Lois Tarter, Oct. 12, 2012