The cultural conversation around marriage and divorce has started to shift. With certain celebrities announcing a later-in-life divorce recently, many people have started to talk about the surprising recent increase in gray divorce filings.
A gray divorce involves a couple that may have been married for decades deciding to call it quits while they are close to or even well past retirement age. Gray divorces can be more complex than divorces in shorter marriages.
If you recognize your family circumstances in any of the four scenarios below, it could be a warning sign that gray divorce is in your future.
1) You decided to stay together for the kids
Maybe your marriage went through a rocky point years ago where you and your spouse had to make some big decisions. You may have decided to stay together because you didn’t want to traumatize your children. Some people manage to keep such relationships working even after the kids move out, but once retirement and spending all day together every day looms large, they may realize it’s time for a change.
2) You feel like you can’t ignore your spouse’s bad habits anymore
The older people get, the more set in their ways they often become. Minor personality quirks and irritations can eventually evolve into defining characteristics. If you have struggled to turn a blind eye to your spouse’s gambling issues, questionable politics or bad temper for years, the thought of living out your golden years in such misery may make you feel trapped and hoping for an independent future.
3) You have completely different expectations for the future
Some people really embrace their retirement, hoping to spend more time with family and otherwise live a fulfilling and exciting life. Others don’t want to retire and plan to continue working for as long as they are healthy enough to do so. If you and your ex have completely different ideas about what the next 10 or 20 years of your life might look like, that may be a sign that it’s time to pursue separate paths.
4) You have a very uneven relationship
It is common for couples to have an unfair and uneven split of personal obligations to the household. Even if both of you worked, it’s likely that one of you did a lot more work around the house, cooking and hands-on caring for children.
Even when both spouses eventually retire, there can still be expectations that one spouse will keep doing all of the work around the house while the other does very little. If you imagine your retirement involving servitude of your spouse because they refuse to cook, clean or assume any responsibility for the household, divorce might mean that your golden years are happier and less stressful.
Before you make any decisions about your relationship, it’s important to think about the long-term implications. A gray divorce is a big decision that you want to approach with a clear mind, especially after such a long marriage.