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What are some common reasons for gray divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Divorce

The term gray divorce refers to the increasing trend of divorce for couples over the age of 50. Even when overall divorce rates declined, the rate of divorce among the over-50 population has increased significantly.

There are a few factors contributing to this trend.

Incompatibility and personal growth

One of the most common reasons cited for gray divorce is that spouses grow apart after years of marriage. Priorities change, interests diverge or affection fades over time. Spouses may feel they neglected their own personal development while raising kids or due to outdated gender roles. Now entering their 50s or 60s, they seek meaning, self-fulfillment, excitement, intellectual challenge and emotional connection in new relationships and experiences.

External stressors

Gray divorce can also result from major life changes that surface in later years. Children growing up and leaving home, retirement, declining health and decreased incomes from retirement can all amplify marital problems that had previously gone unaddressed. These disruptions lead spouses to reevaluate their lives and realize the marriage no longer satisfies their needs.


Thanks to medical advances, adults are living much longer lives than previous generations. The average life expectancy for women in the US is 79.1 years and 73.5 years for men. With so many productive years ahead, some baby boomers are questioning if they want to stay in unsatisfying marriages.

Whether due to feeling they missed out on experiences when they were younger or a new sense of confidence and freedom, gray divorcées are ready to pursue new relationships, second careers, travel adventures and other goals with their bonus years. The unexpected chance for self-rediscovery and fresh starts leads many to split from longtime spouses in hopes of finally living life on their own terms.

While gray divorce brings challenges much like any divorce, it also represents people seeking more compatible matches and more personally fulfilling relationships in the latter stages of life.


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