Gray Divorce-Older Couples Calling It Quits

Marriage Dynamics Institute Conflict, Divorce, Marriage Health, When Life is Difficult Leave a Comment

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Do you ever wonder why so many couples make it through twenty-five, or thirty or even forty years of marriage and then call it quits?

“Gray divorce” usually refers to baby boomer couples who split up after a long marriage. And while the divorce rate in the United States has fallen slightly over the past twenty years, divorces among those over age 50 have increased.

Reasons Older Couples Split

Some couples say they focused on raising children for so many years, they neglected their own relationship. They hardly know each other anymore. They have no shared interests, and literally don’t do anything together.

Others find that unresolved issues are tripping them up-things that happened early in the marriage or even further back. As the pace of life slows, couples may become more aware of the disconnect.

Some couples don’t really know what happened, but they have “fallen out of love” and are living as roommates.  Others are tired of constant fighting or can’t stand the silence.

Maybe these problems have been going on for years, but have never really been addressed.

So much about this is tragic. Children, even kids who are in college, out living on their own, or married and starting their own families, are deeply affected when parents divorce. It ruptures the family structure, tears at trust, and at the very least can make holidays and special family events extremely tough to navigate.

For husbands and wives who have decades of common history, shared memories, and webs of relationships from lives intertwined, a “gray divorce” at age 50 or 60 or 70 can be devastating. But sometimes people are so desperately unhappy with their present circumstance, staying together seems even worse. And people are living longer these days. Many couples see divorce as the only way to find happiness.

But is it possible to press the reset button on a long term marriage that is failing?

Yes. It is.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
~Mignon McLaughlin

Avoiding Gray Divorce

It is possible to fall back in love with your spouse again. And it is possible to learn new things about yourselves and each other. You can cultivate an interest in something your spouse enjoys, and you can also develop new interests together.

Past hurts can be overcome. Forgiveness can be given and received. Lines of communication can open. Kindness can blossom and flourish. The flames of passion can be rekindled. Grace can abound. And yes, you can find happiness when you do the work to repair and rebuild your marriage.

All of this is possible because God offers mercies that are new every morning. And He has promised to help us learn to live with one another. Humility is the key.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21

It is possible to find fulfillment in marriage again. But each person, each husband and wife must be willing to take a long look at themselves and see what needs to change. Each spouse must do what is needed to bring their best self to the marriage. And each spouse must recommit themselves to building up and serving the other.

It’s never too late to do the next right thing.


Don’t know how to start rebuilding a tattered marriage? The A New Beginning workshop has helped thousands of couples rediscover happiness and satisfaction in marriage. Click here or call us to find out more.

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About the Author
Marriage Dynamics Institute

Marriage Dynamics Institute

Marriage Dynamics Institute (MDI) wants to cultivate healthy families, churches, and communities by helping create marriages full of joy, meaning, and purpose. Having served more than 75,000 couples since 1994, MDI offers workshops and seminars for marriages at every stage, including those in crisis.

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