The baby boomers have a new trend showing on the divorce charts dubbed ‘gray divorce.’ Today we are living longer than ever before and the older generations are experiencing divorce (first, second, third, etc.) as never before. The baby boomer generation has been setting records since their birth (see how I worked that pun in there?) and this latest trend continues the divorce pattern that began with an increased focus on the individual.
Prior to the baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 turning 50 to 68 this year – marriage had a companion-oriented lifestyle. The mother cooked and cleaned while the father brought in the family funds. This division of responsibilities complimented lifelong marriage, and there was a stricter moral code with ‘expectations’ among the community.
There are still expectations, but the expectations now focus on individual success and development. In the old days partners in marriage were dependent on each other, so in this regard, modern marriages are better suited to part ways after the children have grown and left home. Both parents typically have careers to support themselves and schooling is finished.
Though adult children of divorcees often prefer to be spared the details, romances at age 60 are often just as romantic as in their mid 20s. Charles Massie, a baby boomer who wrote the novel, “Stains on the Gavel,” said, “Older people love a good romance as much as 20-somethings, and many of us still get just as love-drunk as we did when we wore size 32 Levi’s. But you’ve really got to be careful, whether you’re a woman or a man. A lot of women my age complain the men they meet haven’t changed at all in 50 years — they want to skip the coffee and head straight for the bedroom.” Recently single people in the older community are also exploring modern dating with online sites and mingle apps.
Research by Bowling Green State University sociologists Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin shows that the number of people 50 and older to divorce has doubled in the past 20 years. Their research is titled “The Gray Divorce Revolution: Rising Divorce Among Middle-aged and Older Adults, 1990-2010,” and shows that every fourth divorce filed in the US involves individuals over age 50. According to the research, “Marriages change and evolve over the life course and thus may no longer meet one’s needs at later life stages… Lifelong marriages are increasingly difficult to sustain in an era of individualism and lengthening life expectancies; older adults are more reluctant now to remain in empty shell marriages.”