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Why are gray divorce rates steadily increasing?

On Behalf of | May 4, 2020 | Gray divorce

When a couple gets married, they think their love is going to last forever. For some newlyweds, love does last forever. For some couples, love endures, but it’s a different kind of love, almost like companionship. Finally, some couples get divorced, which is around 45%.

While that number seems high, it’s falling. Millennials are waiting longer to wed, if they get married at all. Younger generations are waiting until they genuinely feel like they have found the right person before they agree to tie the knot.

Gray divorce is on the rise

For decades, the divorce rate steadily increased year after year. While subsequent generations added to the numbers, the baby boomer generation led that charge. Many of them got married young due, ended up getting divorced and remarried and then divorced again. The baby boomer generation is either entering their senior years or in their elderly prime, which is a reason for the increase of “gray” divorces.

From 2008-2018, the number of women who got divorced dropped by 18%. All of those women were under the age of 45, thus separated from the baby boomer generation.

What separates divorce rates among generations?

Cultural expectations were different when baby boomers were in their late teens and twenties. Getting married young and starting a family was a societal expectation and led to many people settling for relationships and partners that didn’t entirely satisfy them. 

Today’s young adults have different expectations and characteristics than their parents. Many millennials (ages 26-40) have chosen to wait to marry until they are financially secure and have accomplished many other singularly-focused goals, like traveling around the world. The pressure to get married isn’t nearly evident for young adults as it was for their parents.

A few key elements are factoring into the rising gray divorce rate. Among the top reasons are increased vitality and life expectancy. Older adults (age 50 or older) want more fom their lives, and many of them feel they are just reaching their prime years and want to be free. They want to be able to explore what they couldn’t during their younger because they had to focus on raising a family.

While few think they will ever get divorced, it happens to many people and signals a new and fresh lease on life for some. Longer lives and anxious souls is a recipe for an increased divorce rate.


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