Despite a public perception that divorce is more widespread than ever, divorce rates are actually approaching record low levels. However, the latest studies on divorcing couples suggests that divorce rates are rising for certain groups.
So-called silver divorce, or late-in-life divorces, are becoming more common. Not only that, but the AARP reports that women now initiate 60% of divorces in couples above the age of 40.
Pepper Schwartz is a sociology professor and the Love, Sex, and Relationship Ambassador for the AARP, and she often provides divorce advice to older women in her work. She believes there are few simple reasons behind these twin trends.
First, people are living longer than ever, and couples approaching their 30th anniversary suddenly realize they may have to put up with each other for another 30 years. Second, many silver divorces are the product of second marriages, which are much more likely to end in divorce. Finally, the “changing status of women” in modern times means many wives now feel more confident in serving divorce papers, whereas middle-aged and senior men might be more likely to stick out a relationship that’s turned sour.
“Women have higher expectations for their emotional life,” Schwartz said.
A new report from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research found that people age 50 and above are now twice as likely to get divorced as they were in 1990, while divorce rates are dropping among other demographics.
According to another recent study by the Marriage Foundation, divorce rates have fallen almost 7% since the 1980s. In 1969, when no-fault divorce opened up new paths to dissolving a marriage, divorce rates rose sharply, peaking in the 1980s.
In 2015, a first marriage has about a 41% chance of surviving, while the divorce rate for second and third marriages is 60% and 73%, respectively.
Unfortunately for older couples struggling with a rocky marriage, those numbers increase as you age.