“Gray” Divorce (with Flowers)

My daughter-in-law Maura alerted me to an excellent article in the New York Times on late life divorce, written after Tipper and Al Gore announced their separation/divorce.  This was followed by a spate of letters to the editor. Here are some excerpts, but I recommend you Google The New York Times and search for Late Life Divorce or Al & Kipper Gore for more. The article refers to another article called “At Long Last, Divorce” from www/pewresearch.org/pubs/1617/long-duration-marriage-end-divorce-gore. I highly recommend reading these articles if you are a “gray” divorcee, as I was at 55, after 30 years of marriage, plus 2 years of divorce wars.

This is from the article “At Long Last, Divorce”:

What these overall statistics don’t say is that the risk of divorce is not the same for all groups. Adults with a high school education or less are more likely to divorce than are college-educated adults. People who marry young are more likely to divorce than those who marry at older ages. There also is some early evidence that couples who married in the 1970s may be especially at risk of divorce. According to data from the 2004 SIPP, the share of marriages that ended before their 15th anniversaries (mainly because of divorce, but also in a small number of cases because of widowhood) was lowest for marriages made in the 1950s, followed by those made in the 1960s and then those made in the 1980s. Marriages made in the 1970s were slightly less likely to reach their 15th anniversary than those begun in the 1980s.

This from Betsey Stevenson of Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, PA in the June 4th New York Times article:

While divorcing after decades of marriage is less common than divorcing early in marriage, it isn’t rare.
The big cost of a divorce is more likely to be worth it if there remain many more years to enjoy the payoff.
Analyzing recent Census Bureau data, I found that among recent divorces, 8 percent involved couples who had married 30 to 50 years earlier. Compared with the rest of the married population, these couples divorce at one-quarter the rate of those who have been married for fewer years. Who are these silver-haired divorcees? Not surprisingly, they are in their late 50s or early 60s, reflecting the fact that this generation married in their early 20s. Moreover, improvements in health and longevity mean that they still have plenty of life left to live.  As an economist, I suspect that this is an important factor driving “gray divorce.” Economists think about the world in terms of costs and benefits, and the big cost of a divorce is more likely to be worth it, if there remain many more years to enjoy the payoff.

Finally, here are a couple of letters to the editor:

msd nj June 4th, 2010: As long as women are economically secure, divorce may work to their benefit. They are more likely to have a social support system in place and won’t have to be a “nurse and a purse” to their aging ex-husbands (or anyone else) if they don’t want to. They can travel, explore their interests and most importantly, their time is their own. For women, that’s huge.

paracielo saint paul June 4th, 2010: It is true that people keep changing as they age, and that once shared interests can become obsolete. It is also true that a shared family and friends can do much to hold together the bond. It is possible to develop new shared interests if people are willing to be flexible and open minded. One should never take a marriage for granted, it needs work every day. Marriage can help keep a person from becoming self obsessed and narrow. There is nothing better than living with your best friend, even if sex is long out of the picture.

P.S. I also posted this on www.divorce-dayz.info. I will probably merge this blog with menupause, since there seems to be a lot of overlapping.

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