An unprecedented phenomenon is taking place among baby boomers. In 1970 only 13% of adults over 50 were divorced, separated or never married. Today 33% of adults between 46 and 64 are divorced, separated or never married, according to census data compiled by Bowling Green State University in Ohio. As well, experts believe those numbers will increase as younger people approach their 40’s and 50’s, keeping in mind the lower rates of marriage among this age group.
The ramifications of this new reality are enormous for society in general. While older spouses typically rely on their spouses for support and care, the elderly single will look to government programs to assist them.
Statistics show that unmarried boomers are five times more likely to live in poverty than their married counterparts. They are also three times more likely to need food stamps, disability payments and social assistance.
Experts offer the following reasons for the surge in grey divorce:
1. People are living longer and married couples in their 50’s or 60’s are more reluctant to spend the rest of their lives together in a bad marriage;
2. As women become more financially independent they are more willing to leave a situation that their mothers and grandmothers could not, for purely economic reasons;
3. Baby boomers who experienced the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s feel less social pressure to marry or stay married;
4. Being divorced or single as an older adult no longer holds the stigma it once did.
In our throw-away, secular society it is not surprising that the marriage covenant between husband and wife no longer has any value. However, spouses who have been abused verbally, emotionally, or physically can never be faulted for getting out to protect themselves and often, their children.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang