How Older Couples Can Avoid Divorce

September 17, 2015

Couples age 50 and over are divorcing in record numbers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Just 50 years ago, fewer than 3 percent of couples over 50 were divorced. In 2011, some 15 percent were divorced and another 2 percent were separated. Perhaps surprisingly, women are often the initiators of today’s splits.

The impulse to change one’s life has existed in perpetuity, but few over 50s acted on it. So why now? Part of it has to do with a longer life expectancy. Some of it has to do with women’s growing economic freedom and the fact that careers have given them a sense of confidence and purpose. The idea of less house and few possessions does not seem that big a loss for today’s woman or man, who are already starting to “thin out” their acquisitions.

There is also what I call the “Oprah effect” of both men and women engaging in more introspection and refusing to accept that what has always been must continue to be. Then, there’s the “Internet effect,” making it easier for men and women to find another love.

But maybe you’re determined to defy these statistics. So how can you keep the love alive and the marriage strong? Here are some tips.

1) Be aware of the family as the focus of your relationship, but do not let the family subsume your “coupledom.”

2) Develop new interests that you have in common, OR agree that each of you will do something new, and bring the light of that adventure back into the marriage.

3) Question the trips you have always taken or the rituals you have always observed, and do something different, even if it is just for one night or one vacation. Build unique new memories.

4) Try to see each other as continually-evolving people, and take a fresh interest in each other’s strengths and foibles. If you do not do it for someone you profess to love, someone else may step in and do it instead.

5) Commit to living in the present and the future, and not in the past. Nothing can make a relationship or a person seem older and dustier than refusing to grow and to move forward.

Today’s older couples must continuously celebrate their relationship longevity, and like everything else that matters, never stop being grateful for it. As the evolving statistics show, you can never take even the longest of loves for granted.

Allen, Glassman & Schatz, LLC