After almost 34 years of marriage, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne recently announced they were calling it quits. Reports indicate that Sharon found out Ozzy was having an affair with a celebrity hairdresser and kicked him out. Oops. After their initial statement, it now appears the duo might be in the process of reconciling, but it’s hard to say if the marriage will actually withstand the reported infidelity.
The rocker and his wife, who became widely known through their family’s TV reality show, are both in their 60s, and while they’re not your usual couple in many respects, their problems are typical of a trend known as “gray divorce.” Recently, the Captain and Tennille (a well-known 70s pop duo) split after being married for 39 years. And former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper are divorcing after 40 years of marriage. Raise your hand if you thought you’d ever see all those names referred to in the same paragraph, but they’re linked now by their late-in-life relationship issues.
Wait, is this really a trend?
Gray divorces are on the rise across America. One in four people over 50 are now divorced, and divorce rates for those over 65 have more than doubled in the last 20 years. Most of these are not the dissolution of a brief second marriages either—55% of gray divorces involve couples who have been married more than 20 years.
Looking for divorce options? Ask a free question and get advice from a local, highly-rated divorce attorney
What’s going on?
Blame it on life expectancy and cultural shifts. For starters, people are living longer, giving more marriages a chance to outlast the couples’ mutual attraction. And then there’s the empty-nest syndrome, which, with Millennials living at home longer, now hits many couples in their 60s and beyond. Graying empty nesters, many of whom had stayed married because of the children, find that they no longer have anything in common once they are not parenting together. Finally, there is the relaxing of the stigma that once surrounded elderly divorces. While grandparents in the past might have settled for separate bedrooms, today they feel to acknowledge the marriage’s dissolution openly.
Navigating a gray divorce
A gray divorce can have a huge impact on financial stability. Older divorced Americans have only 20 percent as much wealth as married couples their age, so if you’re considering a late-life divorce, you need to close attention to the following:
- Alimony can play an important part in divorces among older people, and lifetime alimony is more likely among older couples. Whether you’ll be paying or receiving alimony, you need to talk to your lawyer, because alimony payments can make or break your finances.
- Where you will live is likely of great concern to you. In many gray divorces, the marital home is paid off and is one of the largest assets to be divided. It often makes sense to sell the home and divide the proceeds. Starting over in a new place can be difficult, both emotionally and financially.
- Many couples envisioned a future in which they aged together in place and took care of each other with some assistance from family. A gray divorce changes all of that, and you need to reassess your plans. Can you afford senior or assisted living? How will you pay for nursing home care should you need it? Can you rely on children and family to give you the help you need? Do you have or can you get long-term care insurance?
- Whether you are already retired or are soon to be, your retirement assets, along with Social Security benefits, must be examined closely. Retirement accounts will likely need to be divided, and you will need to create a budget to live off your share. You may be eligible for payments from Social Security based on your own work history or your spouse’s.
Finding your way through this thicket of financial concerns isn’t easy, especially when you’re under the emotional stress of ending your relationship. Search for the services of a good divorce attorney, preferably one with ample experience in handling gray divorces.
image courtesy of thedishh.com
It is easy to make that choice. I was married ,42 yrs to a man I never really knew. We married a week after ,I turned 18. We had three kids, grown and two of the three were gone. My daughter decided when she was in her ,30's to start hitting me when she flew in a rage. Old hubby never came to my rescue! The police were involved both bad times. The last time, he k
Had an assault rifle and after shooting two clips into our pond, he turned the gun on me. He said if the police arrest her, you will die first, then he could play ,"suicide by cop,.". I filed for divorce and went thru two years of constant phone calls, death threats, turned my utilities off etc. He is "Nuts". Deemed homicidal and sucuide. Now he and my daughter live together and he drives her nuts and she him. They say Karma gets us all, but it took me 42 ,yrs to call it quits. I am remarried and very happy, but I will carry those emotional and psychological scars to my grave.
I married my husband a second time and we are happy now
Dan, you and I are in similar situations. I was married for 21 years. My EX fooled around during the last 6 years of our marriage. I didn't put all the pieces together until the last year of the marriage. I remarried after 5 years of being single. Lessons learned from the experience. I wasn't the perfect husband but she violated the marriage vow (more than once). She had/has serious self esteem issues. I believe this was the root of many marital problems. The other relationship she sought (a former church deacon) never panned out. After she wasted most of the divorce settlement money she tried to cozy back up to me but I wasn't ready for 21 more years of irrational behavior. I politely declined her advances. My life has been better without her - hers just the opposite. I remarried a woman who came out of an emotionally abusive relationship (she was married for 23 years). She brought her own baggage to our 2nd marriages but is BY FAR a better companion than my first wife ever was. We have far more in common with each other than we did with our former spouses. Our former spouses were extremely self centered and generally selfish. Kate has been the partner I never had - and she feels the same about me. My message to Dan is don't give up. There is life after divorce. Give yourself time to heal. Be a friend to your EX even if she has done nothing to deserve it. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people! You must be able to communicate and compromise with whoever you decide to share a relationship with. What you do/don't do may have no impact on the ultimate outcome of your relationship. Never put all the blame on yourself or the other person. Seek council from someone you trust - therapist, pastor, friend (with similar experience). Read books on relationships - you will find that your story is like a million other ones. Finding peace in your own life is most important. As you reach out to help others you will find healing for yourself. Make sure you are living a balanced life - physically, spiritually, and mentally. You will come through this like millions of others! Mark.
It's too bad that you are so weak minded that you let something that doesn't exist run your life. Treat your partner like an equal and you wont have to worry about divorce
I'm 54. My wife is divorcing me after 22 years. She reconnected with someone from high school through facebook. She told me I was too negative, so she left about 2 years ago. I've been broken emotional since then, things get better but depression is just below the surface. At work there are a bunch of men, just average guys, whose wives initiated a divorce. I think women are driven to have babies when they are 30 something, then after the kids are grow they're done with the baby daddy man. I was a good person, didn't have issues that so many in divorce class had, like infidelity, alcoholism, drug abuse etc. I just don't get it.
God doesn't you brain washed cult fool
More women work now and don't need a man to support them.
I also waited until the kids were out of high school.
Sad that you explain how to go through divorce but do not mention how to keep the marriage together.
I put God in control of my life, but your help will be good for my advice to those who are going under the stress of forecasting divolce.