Grey Divorce or Silver Divorce are terms coined to describe divorce for those over the age of 50. Much has been written about divorce trends for mature adults. One factor in the increased rate of Silver Divorce we’re seeing in family law practice is the influence of Millennials.
“At a time when divorce is becoming less common for younger adults, so-called “gray divorce” is on the rise: Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s,” according to an article by Social Trends Author Renee Stepler on the PewResearch Center Website titled, “Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America’s 50+ population.”
There are many theories about the rising divorce rates for older adults. Some speculate that couples waited until the kids were launched. Or maybe they waited until they were comfortable financially. Others suggest it could be the decline in stringent religious beliefs or reduced stigma associated with divorce. It could also be purely statistical – more Baby Boomers means more marriages means more divorces. It’s probably a combination of many factors.
But one interesting trend that Oakland County Family Law Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler has seen recently in her divorce practice is the influence of the younger generation. She says, “Adult children are now telling their parents, ‘Enough already. You’re not happy together. We all see it. Why suffer? Just separate and get it over with already.’”
Kids these days
There are plenty of articles about Millennials and their influence on the workforce. They are demanding and don’t suffer busy work. They are entitled and don’t mind sacrificing career advancement for work-life balance. They are not scared of their futures because they know they can always find other work. Somehow. Somewhere. They are willing to tell their bosses, “I deserve more.”
These workplace attitudes also manifest in their relationships. Statistics show Millennials are conscientiously bucking relationship traditions. They’re cohabitating at unprecedented rates; enjoying committed same-sex relationships; single-parenting by choice; and pursuing alternative relationship goals. Basically, they’re confidently doing what it takes to chase individual happiness while ignoring societal judgments. Their example screams, “Don’t settle.”
Perhaps this self-awareness is rubbing off on their older peers. The prevailing attitudes of the 50+ set have typically followed the Baby Boomer mantras of self-sacrifice. Baby Boomers soldiered in wars; women eschewed careers to nurture nuclear families; and employees retired after 40 years at the same company. These traditions are admirable. But when it comes to unsuccessful marriage, maybe some are beginning to heed the younger generation’s example of “YOLO (You Only Live Once.)”
Inspirational Author Brené Brown has written, “Midlife doesn’t have to be a crisis.” Her poem,“Midlife” voices perhaps a prevailing attitude about aging that may be motivating Silver Citizens to expect more, not settle and, in some case, seek conscious-uncoupling.
”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”
Regardless of age, couples in failing marriages are less willing to spend decades suffering, settling and sacrificing. They are finding that separation is not the end of the world they imagined it would be. Divorce does not have to be a miserable, scary free fall. In a lot of cases, both parties are better off after divorce. Many are relieved and actually become better friends once they’re out of the same house and not fighting about retirement accounts and kids’ college loans. They are forgiving themselves and each other. And they’re taking a chance at happiness.
Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates have been helping unhappy couples separate or divorce for more than 20 years. She is well-acquainted with the special requirements of Silver Divorces. She is also more than happy to help divorcing couples keep the process as amicable as possible. For assistance with divorce or separation in Southeastern Michigan contact the Milford law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000. The attorneys help clients throughout Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Livingston and Genesee counties including Milford; Highland; Hartland; Commerce; Walled Lake; White Lake; Grand Blanc; Waterford; Holly; Linden; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell and many more local communities.
Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long, Communications’ Specialist at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates