For most adults in their 20s and 30s, marriage (and children) seem the next step into adulthood. But what about life on the other side? Often couples discover that once the kids are grown and careers wind down, their idyllic marriage is not what it’s all cracked up to be. Recent surveys show that divorce among adults 60+ is on the rise and for many it’s been a long time coming.
Among those 55 and older, divorce rates have tripled, rising from five divorces per 1,000 marriages to 15. Divorce for those over 65 also increased, from 1.8 divorces per 1,000 marriages to five. And those statistics may continue to rise. For those who lived in a comfortable detente, recent sheltering-in-place may have revealed the frayed edges (and nerves) of a long-spent relationship.
Although to some it may seem like starting over again at age 50+ is a burden, experts are seeing a silver lining shift in the shift toward gray divorces. For those in this demographic, divorce may not hold the stigma it once did. In fact, divorcing later in life can yield some significant benefits.
1. You’re in good company. There are indeed a lot of older fish in the sea. One out of three over people age 50 are single: never married, divorced or widowed. Rather than feeling you’re over the hill, with a third of your peers also single, you may find that new activities and interests abound.
2. You can get real. People who hit mid-life tend to let go of a lot of the ego compulsions and self-conscious motives they had when they were younger. As you age, authentic connections become more valuable. And with age comes perspective. After 50, you’re more likely to “not sweat the small stuff,” and know what you really want and need out of life.
3. It’s all about you. Depending on when (or if) you had children, your nest may now be empty — which can free you up to pursue your second act. It may be the first time you’re able to buy a home, decide on a vacation destination, or determine your next career move without considering others — let alone putting them first.
4. Late bloomers have blossomed. Remember that nerdy guy who you wouldn’t give a second look to in high school? Well, now you might want to look again. At 50+ your “wish list” for a partner may be quite different — and more open and honest — than it was when you met your ex-spouse. You may find a whole new set of options waiting for you if and when you choose to dip back into the dating pool.
5. It’s never too late. Second acts are common these days. The end of your marriage may signal the beginning of new relationships, a new career, new hobbies or a greater focus on activities that you set aside for various reasons. Don’t make excuses! Be proud that you’re moving on to better things. With every set back, come opportunities. Although it may take time to process the loss and grieve the end of your marriage, divorce at any age can open new doors. Stay positive! When you’re embarking on a new life in the second half of life, you may find yourself poised to enter a truly golden time in your life.