You have probably heard the term gray divorce and wondered exactly what it meant. Gray divorce is a term that describes people over 50 who get divorced. Prior to 1990, this phenomenon was unheard of. People in this age group weren’t getting divorced. The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled since 1990. It has tripled for persons 65 and older. Is 50 the new 30 and 65 the new 40? People are living longer. I used to kid my daughter about getting married too young. I would tell her that men are living longer which means you have to put up with them longer. I had no idea that people would be less willing to stay with each other as they were entering their golden years. I didn’t know how widespread the divorce rate was among the older population until I actually filed for divorce myself. Prior to that, I thought that I would be married until death do us part. I had been married for 32 years. We had weathered so many storms. I was sure the worst was behind us. Little did I know that I would become part of a growing trend called “gray divorce”. It has been 2 years since we parted ways and I still find myself wondering what happened. Like so many other women in their fifties, I was terrified wondering if I would find love again. It seemed that older guys wanted younger women and I was almost 60. What chance did I have? Most of my friends were single and my age. I had listened to the problems they experienced over the years. I would always say to myself, “thank God I am married and don’t have to deal with that”. Be careful what you say. You never know what tomorrow brings. Always expect the unexpected.
It has been reported that there has been a surge in divorce inquiries to attorneys since the pandemic. People are also reaching out to therapists in an effort to bring peace to their marriage. Will the divorce rate among the gray population soar even more along with other segments of the population? Couples are quarantined and spending more time together. Some are working from home and others have lost their jobs. My husband’s retirement took a toll on our marriage. I worked from home and we saw each other 24/7. I can’t begin to count the number of times I gave him the finger behind his back. Other times, I didn’t bother making the gesture. I just said the words to his face. I laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny then. I wish I had a divorce coach back then. I would have done a few things differently. Getting divorced at 50 and older is normally different than when you are younger especially if you have been married a number of years. There are generally more assets to divide such as a house and retirement account(s). Some older couples stay together due to their reluctance to divide these assets. The equity in the home can be substantial. The retirement account(s) can also be substantial. Often times, the couple is at an age where he or she can’t recoup the assets lost during a divorce. Women tend to be worse off financially than men after a divorce with some even living in poverty. This is one of the reasons why I chose to become a divorce coach to women aged 50 and older or what I call the “seasoned woman”. I wanted to make sure they not only healed emotionally from the divorce but also come out on the other side financially sound.
By Emmerstine Mackie