Los Angeles residents will be interested to hear the story of a 63-year-old woman who moved from North Carolina to Florida following the divorce from her husband of 40 years. "I once thought we would grow old together," she said about her marriage. It is not the divorce itself that makes this story interesting, but the broader traits it exemplifies regarding baby boomer divorce.
Members of that generation are starting to see divorce as a viable option, a thought once unheard of for their age group. That demographic, comprised of ages 50-64, is getting divorced more than twice as often as they did in 1990. The divorce rate reached 25% in 2009, compared to 10% two decades earlier.
So what is driving this sudden increase in baby boomer divorce? Specifics vary from couple to couple, but the one key that is pushing this trend is that women are feeling more empowered and more drawn to an independent lifestyle than ever before.
Some older couples have marital issues that don't even appear until their kids leave for college. Once these problems reach the surface, it is hard to ignore them. While previous elder women would persevere, nowadays they are filing for the split to pursue their personal goals. Other couples re-evaluate the situation with their spouse and prefer to go in a different direction.
This is happening because women are more financially stable than ever before, and this gives them the ability to leave an unfulfilling marriage and instead reach out to their friends to seek more rewarding relationships. Additionally, when women are in their 50s, it is common to reflect on them to reflect on their lives and potentially reinvent who they are as they enter the second stage of their lives.
"This is the first generation of women to say, 'I don't have to sacrifice the rest of my life in a marriage that doesn't make me happy,'" a relationship coach in Florida said. A mental health counselor - also from Florida - added to that sentiment. "Women want fulfillment at this stage of their life, they're ready to find out who they are."
Source: Palm Beach Post, "After age 50, women are divorcing at double the rate of 20 years ago," Barbara Marshall, Feb. 6, 2012