A look at the gray divorce phenomenon

Thousands of people take their wedding vows every year and commit to stay with their spouses through sickness and in health. Yet more than half of all marriages end in divorce, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even marriages that have lasted for 10, 20 and 30 years run the risk of ending in divorce, as people decide to part ways after being united for so long. A trend referred to as the gray divorce phenomenon shows the increased number of people over the age of 60 who are filing for divorce after being married for decades. Why are so many people deciding to terminate their marriages later in life?

In some cases, couples who have built their marriage around their careers and children may find that they no longer have anything in common once they retire and their children move out of the house. Their relationship may seem empty, as they no longer have work and kids to fill their time. Years ago, women were often held in marriage because they were financially dependent on their spouse, and alone were unable to make ends meet. Yet a growing number of women entering the workforce has led many to be financially independent, and no longer stuck in a marriage due to financial issues. When people are unhappy, they may choose to simply leave and start over looking for happiness rather than stay in an unhappy marriage.

Statistics show that this is what is happening. A study released by Bowling Green University shows that the divorce rate of people 50-years and older has grown from one in 10 people in 1990 to one in four people in 2011.

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