According to recent research, the overall divorce rate in America has not
increased over the last thirty years. The number of divorces has actually
decreased or plateaued in every age group except for one: couples over
the age of 50. In fact, 25 percent of all divorces in the United States
are initiated by 50+ couples, who are members of the baby boomer generation–those
born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s.
Experts attribute the reason for this surge in “older” divorces
to changes in social attitudes about aging, marriage, and divorce. For
instance, views on how marriage and divorce are perceived greatly differ
today than back when most baby boomers were first married. According to
one wellness counselor, the complete introduction of women into the workforce
and higher educational opportunities have redefined marriage, in that
women no longer “have to” get married to obtain financial
stability or keep a social status. There is also no longer the social
stigma of divorce that used to pressure married couples to stay together
no matter what.
In addition, society today does not demand for couples to keep similar
lifestyles that the parents of baby boomers had when they were over 50.
It’s never been so easy to change major life choices. You can switch
careers, buy a new house, move across the country, and even find a new
marriage partner with relative ease compared to 50 years ago.
Many couples start to think of divorce when a shared responsibility ends;
most commonly, this shared responsibility is their children. When their
children grow up and move out, couples sometimes find that they no longer
have the same things in common that they once did. Since there is no longer
the social pressure to stay together and it’s relatively easy to
get a divorce, more divorces happen at this age range than have happened
in prior generational groups.