Gray Divorce: Things To Consider Before Splitting Up With Your Partner

Last Update on June 11, 2024 : Published on June 12, 2024

Older couples are splitting up a lot, a recent study shows! Those were old days when older couples planned their life after retirement, now the only difference is that they still plan their after-retirement life but not together, they are splitting up. Research shows that couples over the age of 65 are calling off their marriages and deciding to live their life on their own terms.

This phenomenon is referred to as gray divorce. This explains why there has been an increase in the number of single people in the USA. In this blog, let us review why older couples are splitting, the psychological impacts of gray divorce, and things to consider before splitting up.

So, let’s get started!

List of Contents

What is Gray Divorce?

Gray divorce is a term used to describe divorce in older adults, usually, the divorce that occurs after the age of 50 following a long-term healthy marriage. Gray divorce usually describes older couples who have been married for years or decades and decide to split up during older years.

Now, the question is why? Why are older couples splitting up despite spending too many years or decades together? In order to search for reasons, I found younger couples usually seek divorce because of incompatibility, infidelity, financial issues, and more. Older couples are more likely to discuss pensions, retirement savings, health insurance, and more.

Getting divorced in older years not only has a toll on mental health but also financial health as well. This may result in chronic loneliness and put older adults at higher risk of developing serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and more.

Research shows that the reasons behind getting divorced in older years are much more complicated. Some common reasons might revolve around shifted priorities, financial problems, reduced stigma around divorce, nest syndrome, and others.

Prevalence of Gray Divorce

A recent study published in 2022 shows that gray divorce among older couples has been trending since 1970. In 1970 gray divorce was uncommon and the number increased in 1990. Around 8.7% of older couples in the US got divorced. After 2019, the numbers will increase to 36%. People around the age of 65 are likely to get a gray divorce, research shows.

Additionally, Baby Boomers (People born between 1946 and 1964) are likely to seek divorce during their adult years and as a generational influence, their divorce rates have also increased. Other important reasons behind gray divorce can depend upon the number of marriages, remarriages, or divorces. The length of the marriage also plays an important role.

Reasons behind Gray Divorce

There can be various factors behind gray divorce depending on the severity, challenges faced, and generational influences. Below listed are some of the common reasons behind gray divorce:

1. Changed expectations

Our changed expectations and goals may lead to divorce. In today’s world we are more focused on overall happiness, excitement, and intimacy, when couples no longer meet these needs, they decide to end a long-term marriage.

2. Empty Nest Syndrome

Kids leaving the home for work, career, or studies can bring a big change in a relationship; this phenomenon is known as empty nest syndrome. Empty nest syndrome results in loss of connection and closeness which might result in parted ways to find their own identity again.

3. Financial Issues

Money-related issues can become major problems after retirement. Therefore, in order to maintain peace, couples decide to part ways so that they no longer have to hide bills, open secret bank accounts, or make large purchases without knowing.

4. Infidelity

Infidelity is one of the major growing reasons behind divorce at any age. it takes a lot to reignite the spark, intimacy, and trust again, therefore, as a result, couples seek divorce.

5. Health problems

Having a serious chronic health condition puts a lot of strain on both partners. Therefore, couples part ways to focus on themselves individually.

6. Growing apart

It’s a psychologically proven fact that our personality changes as we age, and growing apart as different people with different priorities, needs, and interests may lead to separate paths in older couples.

7. Societal changes

We’ve seen a lot of societal changes in the previous years. When it comes to relationships, people want more freedom and independence as compared to past generations. In the last few years, we have seen women becoming more financially independent and career-oriented which can be the other possible reason for gray divorce.

8. Individuality

Older couples sometimes lose their individual self and often get indulged in monotonous lifestyles which makes them feel stagnant.

9. Intimacy issues

Lack of intimacy (physical or mental) can be one of the biggest common reasons behind gray divorce or divorce at any age.

10.  Mutual decisions

Married couples who were into marriage because of children or family members might choose to part ways after fulfilling their familial responsibilities.

Things to Consider During Gray Divorce

If you’re thinking of parting ways, here’s what you need to look at before filing the divorce officially:

1. Savings

Prepare a proper saving plan so that you can look after yourself during late adulthood.

2. Insurances

Look after your insurance and make a proper future plan so that you don’t end up messing up your life.

3. Financial expenses

Split financial expenses as well and divide assets mutually so that you don’t have to look after possessions again and again and focus on making your identity again.

4. Support

Create social support or create back-up plans for illnesses, emotional support, and physical support. Connect with your children, family members, or other relatives to prevent yourself from loneliness and other mental health issues such as depression, stress, or anxiety.

5. Housing

Look after housing and legal expenses individually and make a proper after-divorce plan.

Psychological Impacts of Gray Divorce

During and after the divorce process, people go through a lot of mental health strain which can result in various psychological and mental health impacts, such as:

1. Depression, stress, and other common mental health issues

One of the common mental health issues faced after a divorce is depression. Letting go of a relationship due to  lack of intimacy, infidelity, generational preferences, or societal changes may lead to feelings of stress or anxiety especially when the divorce is not initiated by you.

2. Grief and loss

It’s quite normal to grieve after or during the divorce. It’s a fact that it takes a lot to let go of a long-term connection.

3. Loss of identity

A loss of identity is one of the major psychological impacts of gray divorce because it takes a lot to regain a sense of self. During the process, people generally lose track of their self-worth or self-esteem which puts them at risk of developing health issues.

4. Loneliness and rejection

Feelings of loneliness, abandonment, or rejection can develop after a gray divorce especially when the divorce is not initiated by you. The loss of a partner, adjustments, finding a home, living independently, and other transitional factors may result in loneliness which may result in the form of health issues such as clinical depression, heart disease, dementia, and brain stroke.

How to Reignite a Broken Relationship Again?

If you are struggling with intimacy issues, generational changes, or societal expectations and don’t want to end your long-term marriage, please know that divorce can never be the perfect way to live life. Here’s what you can do to save a relationship or marriage:

1. Focus on maintaining a positive outlook towards each other

Start thinking about those moments when you started dating each other, and how igniting it was! Take a moment of appreciation and talk about your memories together so that you can work on improving your long-term marriage again. If it’s about the children, find a new way to be together again. Remember, there may be 1000 reasons to end a marriage but find one worthy reason to save a marriage. It’s time to make your marriage a successful and healthier one!

2. Learn more about your partner

If you think that you two have outgrown differently, take some time out and learn about your partner. Learn about their goals, new ideas, relationship expectations, and others so that you can mutually learn about each other deeply.

3. Set healthy boundaries

If you both are ready to work on the relationship again, start setting healthy boundaries so that you can prevent your relationship from failing again and build a bond stronger than before.

4. Communicate your needs

While setting boundaries and learning more about your partner, communicate your needs and desires to your spouse effectively. Start making mutual decisions, plan an afterlife together, and set a perfect example for society.

5. Plan something new

One of the best ways to build a new healthy and successful life together is to bring in the creativity and plan something new. Maybe you can renovate your personal space, make a trip to a new country, or start exploring a mutual hobby together.

6. Seek therapy

If you’re not able to overcome challenges in your long-term marriage, connect with a couple’s counselor today and learn various effective self-help techniques to save a marriage.

Tips to Live Independently after Gray Divorce

If you’ve decided to part ways, please know that you’re going to welcome a major transition, therefore, prepare yourself. Here’s what you can do:

1. Surround yourself with people

One of the best ways to live life independently after divorce is to surround yourself with people who support you. You can learn how to maintain social connections to ease the transition process.

2. Allow yourself some time to process

Divorce is one of the major stressful events of life, therefore, allow yourself some time to process your feelings and understand it’s normal to feel complicated emotions such as anger, grief, bitterness, and sadness. Therefore, understand the process and move on.

3. Set boundaries

Set healthy boundaries for yourself, your family, the kids involved, and your friends so that you can ease up the transition process and live your life independently.

4. Engage in activities and self-care

Involve yourself in self-care to maintain a routine and set your goals individually and mindfully.

5. Cultivate new hobbies

Explore new hobbies or interests to maintain a proper routine and involve your energy in something productive.

6. Join support groups

Take the help of support groups to navigate through the challenges. Herein, you can also connect with a mental health professional for better recovery and understanding.

7. Save some alimony

Take the help of your financial advisors and plan your money accordingly. Also, learn about your legal obligations and rights to live your life independently.

I hope this blog helps you understand gray divorce and things to consider. For more such content, connect with us through all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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