Susan Brown co-wrote a very influential academic paper about Divorce Over 50 entitled “The Gray Divorce Revolution: Rising Divorce among Middle-Aged and Older Adults, 1990-2-10.” You can read it here.
If you’re not into dry, dense documents that include phrases like “The present study also attends to heterogeneity in the divorce experience of today’s middle- aged and older adults by estimating divorce rates across sociodemographic subgroups and examining key correlates of divorce,” maybe you’d like to listen to Dr. Brown in this interview with NPR. (There’s also a transcript of the interview if you’d prefer to read it).
The interview may include a lot of information you already know, but it can still offer reassurance as you make your way through your Divorce Over 50.
In addition to confirming that Gray Divorce is common, Dr. Brown makes a number of points about why it’s happening. For one thing, attitudes have changed, and Divorce is much more acceptable now. The belief that marriage is for a lifetime has weakened. And where marriage satisfaction used to come from playing one’s role (he was the provider, she was the mother/homemaker), people now want fulfillment and satisfaction from the relationship itself.
Brown, who is joined later in the interview by a family law attorney, takes a few phone calls and answers some emailed questions. There’s some particularly interesting discussion at the end, centering on the adult children of Divorce. This is a topic we’ve covered before, noting that you should never assume a DO50 isn’t tough on the kids just because they’re older. In fact, a 30 year old woman calls in to say she found her parents’ Divorce after 32 years of marriage both interesting and traumatic. The discussion moved on to adult children who are still dependent on their parents, and the anger they may have toward the parent who initiates the Divorce since it affects their financial standing. That’s an interesting wrinkle — has anyone experienced that, and how have you handled it?