People over the age of 50 are getting divorced at a higher rate in the US than previously. In the last three decades, the rate of divorce in the 50 plus population has doubled presenting a question to all of us – Can Marriage Last Forever Even As We Live Longer?
The baby boomers who fell in love and got married during the 1960’s are the ones who are currently filing divorces more than ever. It leaves us to wonder whether it is just a coincidence where some people have married and divorced more, or does it point to a change in the American lifestyle which comes with a longer lifespan? Our lives are a lot different than they were three decades ago and with the longer lifespan we are experiencing more transition, more jobs, more career changes, and changes to all of our relationships and within our circles of friends.
So, what is going wrong after all of these years of marriage?
Evidence points to different reasons for the increase in divorces for the fifty and above group. The laws around divorce got simpler and made it easy for people to dissolve their marriages. Women not only have entered the job scenario in huge numbers, they are also earning significant incomes, sometimes as much as or more than their spouses. This can create disruption in the economic balance between married couples. Also, the idea of ‘individualism’ came into vogue and people began to search for their own happiness and satisfaction rather than thinking about the survival of the relationship.
Now people can expect to enjoy a longer life due to the advance in healthcare and a better quality of life. A 50-year-old person could expect to live for around 26 years in the 1970s; during 2014, the life expectancy after 50 increased to 31.3 years. Longevity researchers believe that we are living in a time where one can celebrate his 100th birthday in a healthy state. This demands a shift in the time trajectories where one starts or finishes their education, relationships, and careers.
Author of Late Love: Mating in Maturity and management consultant Avivah Wittenberg-Cox thinks that we will encounter more transitions in relationships as people live a longer life. They also achieve skills at different kinds of transitions in both professional and personal life and will reinvent themselves anew multiple times through a longer life.
Though the number of people getting divorced has increased in the 50 plus population, the overall divorce rate is on a steady decline since the 1980s. While some couples will divorce and start over, with a lot of effort, maybe some counseling, maybe some focus on our relationships … it can be possible for some marriages to last forever even as we live longer.