What is a gray divorce? Does “gray” describe the mood surrounding a divorce? As oppose to a “yellow, sunny” divorce? Not exactly.
Gray Divorce is a term, a phenomenon really, that refers to a long-term marriage that is ending. Divorce rates among couples in long-term marriages is actually increasing.
When “gray divorce” first came about, it referred to divorces that were happening among men and women who were married 40 or more years. The phrase was coined because of older, married couples are assumed to be “starting to gray.” Now, a gray divorce basically means divorces among baby boomers (no matter the color of hair or length of marriage). Typically, these couples seeking a gray divorce have spent their 20-30 years married to each other.
In the United States in the last 20 years, the divorce rate has actually declined. For individuals over 50 years old, however, the divorce rate has increased —- doubled actually.
A couple married for 30 years clearly has a great marriage, right?
One would assume that a couple that has been married 40 years would probably stay married “til death do us part,” right? So what reasons could a couple later in life that has “been married forever” decide to divorce after all these years together?
A gray divorce in unique not only because of the length of marriage or the age of the couple, but because there may be not just one thing that the couple can pinpoint as the exact reason to split. There might have not been cheating, a major fight, or one single thing that causes the divorce. Possibly after so many years together, the couple has grown apart.
Couples seeking a gray divorce need to hire an attorney who is in touch with the complications and issues in dissolution of a long-term marriage. Not only should the lawyer have knowledge of the Arizona divorce law, but also have an understanding for the specific needs of the spouse. Leaving a 20-plus year relationship requires some different representation for the different issues that need be addressed that may be different from other divorce cases.
A couples’ marriage and life changes as they become older and life circumstances change. Kids grow up and move out, for example, and the spouses are home together alone. Sometimes retirement changes a relationship. Young married couples are typically busy raising kids and managing a household. In retirement years, there is a lot more time spent with one another.
When a couple reaches a certain age, there is no doubt complications with health and “growing old.” Physical attractiveness may have waned. One spouse may seek self-improvement at an advanced age, and the other not so much. Sometimes just the change is enough for a spouse to want a gray divorce. Spending so many years in a marriage means they are losing the “spark” or they lack motivation.
Sex may account for problems in a long-term marriage. Just because a couple is older, does not mean that this doesn’t matter to some spouses in a marriages. As health and sexual drive may decline, the lack of sexual intimacy can lead to frustration and a cause for a divorce.
Sometimes couples who experience a gray divorce are able to work together and come to agreements with little conflict. Other times, the case is the exact opposite, because of the length of the marriage. Mediation may be a good option for gray divorce couples who have an open mind and can clearly communicate and cooperate with each other.
Money seems to be an issue that causes divorce no matter how old the couple. When an older couple begins to work less, and/or has to live on limited or less income, their financial situation changes, and this can cause problems. Decisions on spending cause fights, limited income cause financial situations, and sometimes medical bills spur tension in the relationship.
As our country experiences a longer life expectancy, it is quite possible that a spouses seeking a gray divorce could have another 30 or more years together! The thought of staying in a marriage for (another) 20 years leads couples to decide on a separation.
Divorce is not easy, no matter what the age of the couple, or for how long they have been married. Sometimes a couple just decides that the marriage, after all the years, is just no longer acceptable. A split may come as a surprise to the rest of the world, but maybe both spouses have just continued the marriage because that is all they have know. They spent nearly their entire lives together, and for so many possible reasons, as discussed above, choose to seek a gray divorce.
It is hard to know or predict how a relationship will evolve in the next 20-30 years. So many life circumstances and changes in personalities and age and health contribute to the increase in grey divorce in our country.