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The divorce rate for couples aged over 50 – i.e. ‘gray divorce’ – has doubled since the 1990s, according to a recent Pew Research Report. Statistics show that the average American will be living past their 80s, so that someone aged 50 has over three decades to pursue a meaningful life. As such, many individuals feel they have to do this with the person who has thus far been their life partner, but it might not always happen that way. Regardless of how amicable a divorce is, it is still considered one of the top stressful life events on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. If you are undergoing a gray divorce, how can you see it an opportunity for growth and positive change?

What are the Most Common Reasons for a Gray Divorce?

You may be surprised to discover that the reasons for the breakdown in your relationship are shared by millions across the globe. Some of the most typical reasons for divorce later in life include growing apart, financial difficulties, lifestyle differences, and past regrets. For many people who have raised children and worked hard to sustain a home, hitting 50 or 60 can result in an awakening, and they can wish to live the rest of their lives more fully.

Problems which Arise from Gray Divorce

One of the biggest issues for seniors divorcing is finances. Pew notes that divorcees tend to be less economically stable than widows or married couples, and this is particularly true for female divorcees. Owing to the gender pay gap, women tend to have built up less wealth over their working lives. Moreover, some can find that taking time off to raise children or for family purposes, has put a big dent in their ability to save. This may mean later retirement or a change in one’s financial strategy, in order to build a secure savings nest.

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Is Later Retirement an Option?

According to Bloomberg, around 19% of people aged 65 or over in America are still working. If you are in your 50s or 60s and are divorcing your spouse, working for longer may indeed be an interesting financial option. Being employed as a senior has significant social security benefits. For instance, if a person aged 62 decided to keep working until they were 72, their monthly benefits would rise from around $1,000 to $1,700. A study published by The Gerontologist found that over the past few decades, late life economic inequality has risen dramatically. Researchers noted that middle aged and older people who are not in elite groups have seen their financial security reduced by a scarcity of well paying jobs and the disappearance of traditional pensions. On the upside, people who work longer generally live longer and are more likely to enjoy greater social support.

Seeking Social Support

Getting divorced later in life can be difficult socially, because some friends will stick with one spouse, while others will consider themselves closer to the other spouse. In addition to leaning on those who are there for you, it is also important to continue to seek out social opportunities. Studies have shown that taking part in mindful classes like yoga or meditation, taking part in community worship, and forming part of an exercise group can all bring important benefits, including stress reduction and greater purpose in life. Social interaction is key if you are to stave off depression and anxiety, and feel that there are many more important and meaningful relationships to be made.

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If you are in your 50s and 60s and you are in the process of divorce, you certainly aren’t alone. Many couples in America are making this decision as part of a desire to live a life that they feel has greater purpose and happiness. Consider later retirement if needs be, and at the very least rely on a recommended financial advisor to ensure you are on the right track money-wise. Finally, make time for stress busting and social pursuits, so you can see the brightest side of your newfound independence.