I've got some good news, and I've got some bad news.
The good news is that the overall rate of divorce in the US is declining. The bad news is that among those fifty years of age and older, the rate of divorce has doubled over the last two decades. In 1990, married couples in this age group accounted for just one in ten divorces. In 2009, that number jumped to nearly one in four. The study also found that the divorce rate was 2.5 times higher for those in this age group who had previous marriages.
These findings were recently published in a study, "The Gray Divorce Revolution," co-authored by sociologists Susan Brown, co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University and I-Fen Lin. 5 Ways For Women To Be Happier As You Grow Older
Since the study relied on census data to determine the trends rather than direct responses from divorcees, the authors could only cite correlating sociological trends to explain the phenomena.
Researchers and analysts point to a number of societal forces at play driving this trend. Women are more empowered and independent than ever before, making divorce more financially feasible than it was twenty years ago. It is well-known that those previously married have a significantly higher rate of divorce. Due to the surge in divorces since the 70s, there are many more previously married couples that find themselves at higher risk. In addition, for the late baby boomer generation, divorce has lost much of its social stigma. For Women, Sex Gets Better With Age—Right, Betty White?
What can you do if you are married and looking down the road to your fiftieth birthday and beyond? How can you help ensure that your marriage doesn’t become part of these dismal statistics, especially if you are not in your first marriage?
Here are three simple (not easy, but simple) actions you can take that have the potential to radically reduce the chances of your marriage dissolving in the later years.
1) Recommit to your marriage's higher purpose.
Many today take the view that their marriage is all about their own personal happiness. This relatively new view of the purpose of marriage came into vogue with baby boomers, also appropriately called the "me" generation.
Dr. Brown, one of 'The Gray Divorce' study's authors, describes the attitudinal shift concerning marriage as "a focus on marriage needing to make individuals happy, rather than on how well each individual fulfilled their marital roles." She goes on to say that "it springs at least in part from boomers' status as the first generation to enter into marriage with goals largely focused on self-fulfillment." 5 Steps To Self-Love & Happiness [EXPERT]
If you think the purpose of your marriage is simply to make you happy, and on top of that you hold your partner accountable for the extent to which you find happiness, when hard times come (and they do) and happy feelings vanish, there is not enough to hold your marriage together.