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Monday, 25 June 2012

Baby Boomer Divorce Rate Doubles

Baby Boomer Divorce Rate Doubles - It wasn't easy for 59-year-old Margie White to ask her husband, Dick, for a divorce after 37 years of marriage.

"It really was the most courageous thing that I had to do," she said.

The couple met in college and married young. They settled down in a rambling, split-level house in the leafy suburbs of northern Virginia and raised two sons, now grown. But they struggled over the years to communicate and connect, they say, and they slowly grew apart.

When one son and his wife had a child, Margie spent more than eight months living in Pennsylvania helping out with the baby. It was during her time there that she realized how much she preferred living on her own.

"We really did struggle," she said. "We gave it our best shot. We really tried. We were no strangers to marriage counseling, when it came to that, and individual counseling, but there just wasn't the glue to hold it together anymore, for me."

Dick agreed.

"It was always sort of lurking in the background there," he said. "When Margie put it on the table it just seemed like, OK, yeah, we really should do this, and let's try to do it right."

The Whites' story is part of a larger trend. Even as divorce rates for the general population have stabilized over the past several decades, they are on the rise among baby boomers. Divorce rates among couples over 50 have doubled in the last 20 years, according to a study by Bowling Green State University. In 1990, fewer than one in 10 people who divorced were 50 or older. In 2009, that figure was one in four.

Using data from the federal government's 2009 American Community Survey, the study also looked at the demographics of divorce and found that rates for those over 50 were highest among black couples and lowest among white couples. Hispanics fell in the middle. Older adults who divorced also tended to be less educated than those who remained married.

The authors identified several factors that could explain the rising rates, from longer life spans to the changing marital biographies of many baby boomers. They found the divorce rate for those who were in their second or third marriage was 2.5 times higher than for those in first marriages.

"Increasingly, these are baby boomers. They were the first generation to come of age when we saw the rapid acceleration in premarital cohabitation and divorce rates in the 1970s and the early 1980s," said co-author Susan L. Brown.

She also pointed to boomers' changing ideas about marriage.

"We have high expectations for what constitutes a good marriage today and we're looking for self-fulfillment and individual happiness in our relationships," Brown said. "When you are 60, 65 you retire, (and say) 'Well, I can live another 20, 25 years. Do I want to spend my life with that person? Is she or he making me happy?' And if not, well, divorce is a viable alternative."

Dick White, now 62, said members of his generation are used to getting what they want and that what many boomers want is changing now that they are entering a new phase of life.

"There was a joke that one of the retirement counselors made at a seminar that I went through as part of my retirement planning," he said. "The counselor said that couples will look at each other and say, 'Well, I married you for life, but not for lunch.' That, OK, now you have all day looking at each other, trying to deal with each other. What do we do for lunch? Previously, you kind of went through your business day in your own world and you got together in the evening for family time, children time, relationship time. Now you have deal with each other for all day long, and that's different. And can you do it for another 20 years? Maybe not."


Source: cnn