Psychology Explains Why ‘Gray Divorce’ Is a More and More Seeing Phenomenon

There has been a steady increase in the divorce rate among couples over the age of fifty, especially in recent years. Over the past few decades, family dynamics have changed profoundly in France and other countries.

While the number of marriages has fallen sharply among younger generations, divorces have also fallen. In contrast, people over the age of fifty have the highest divorce rates, known as gray divorce.

Many factors have contributed to these trends, including the rise of independence and the entry of women into the labor market. People have also started prioritizing their happiness over that of their family.

These societal changes and cultural shifts have transformed family life as we know it.

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Some psychologists refer to the rising divorce rate among older couples as “grey divorce”. In 2012, researchers at Bowling Green State University found that the divorce rate for adults over 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010. For adults over 65, the number of divorces more than doubled .

In the United States, half of married people are fifty or older. Thus, the researchers predict that by 2030, the divorce rate for people aged fifty and over will increase by about 33%.

The gray divorce rate is increasing in many countries, not just in France and the United States. Psychologists observe the same trends in the UK, Canada, Japan, Europe, Australia and India.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics reported that the gray divorce rate had doubled among adults aged 55 and over.

Over the past twenty years in Japan, the divorce rate for couples married for thirty years or more has quadrupled. It is therefore evident that gray divorce will only continue to increase as the world’s population ages. But why are older people divorcing more?

Many factors have contributed to the rise in gray divorce rates over the past few decades. Starting in the 1960s, a cultural revolution took place where society emphasized self-fulfilment.

People no longer wanted to stay in jobs or relationships that did not bring them happiness. Thus, in many developed countries, divorces have become more frequent. Before, families and communities looked down on people who divorced. However, these rigid beliefs have left many unhappy couples with no options.

Cultural shifts that have contributed to a higher divorce rate over the past 50 years

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In the 1960s and 1970s, people began to view marriage as optional. If they didn’t feel satisfied with their relationship, divorce wasn’t the end of the world. It simply represented the start of a new chapter in their lives. Additionally, women began to join the labor force in record numbers, making them less dependent on men.

Growing individualism and burgeoning economic opportunities have changed what people look for in relationships. Today, modern men and women want someone who can make them feel safe.

In fact, one study found that women who felt deeply attached to their partner had better mental and emotional well-being. It turns out that couples with very deep bonds and who support each other in their relationships tend to stay married longer.

However, couples in unhappy marriages who do not feel close divorce more.

They may realize that they no longer have the same desires as at the beginning of their marriage. Also, as people move up in their careers, they may spend less time with their partner. They may stay together through children, but once they leave the nest, they may find they have nothing in common.

Happy couples don’t worry when the nest empties because it gives them more time together. However, married couples with frequent arguments or a lack of communication may dread all the extra time together.

Some couples will seek happiness elsewhere if they no longer feel satisfied. The modern world offers endless options for new relationships and personal fulfillment, contributing to rising divorce rates.

So how can couples find true happiness?

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Illustration photos: Unsplash

A Harvard study that spanned 80 years found what creates the most fulfilling marriages.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development followed two groups of men for over 80 years. Researchers made unexpected discoveries throughout the research period, which remains one of the most comprehensive studies of adult life in the world.

“The startling finding is that our relationships and the level of happiness in our relationships have a powerful influence on our health,” said study leader Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. . “Taking care of your body is important, but taking care of your relationships is also a form of self-care. I think this is the revelation. »

In a TED talk, Dr. Waldinger said people in happy relationships at fifty were healthier at eighty. Part of his study showed that people living in happy marriages felt happier even on days when they were experiencing physical pain. However, people who were in unhappy relationships had greater emotional and physical pain.

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