Hey Baby Boomers: What Happened to Til Death Do Us Part?
How often do we hear those infamous words from a long time married family or friends! “We are getting divorced!” Baby Boomers always the trendsetters are now seriously hitting the Divorce trail in growing numbers. The National Center of Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University notes that the divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled in the last 20 years and feel this is an upward trend, despite the fact that overall divorce rates have declined. In fact baby boomers now account for roughly one in four divorces today in the United States.
Why are Baby Boomers now deciding to forgo “Married Life” for unknown futures? According to a 2009 Pew Research survey, when it comes to divorce Baby Boomers are less conservative than younger generations: 66% say divorce is preferable to staying in an unhappy marriage compared with 44% of younger adults.
With many boomers the kids have often left home and these “Empty Nesters “want a material change in their lives. This group also has a net worth 47 times that of young adults so money is not necessarily a significant impediment. Communication issues are frequently mentioned in a boomer divorce and many times infidelity is the catalyst leading to a final breakdown of the marriage, creating a reason to move on to a new relationship?
Baby Boomers usually have the economic feasibility to make a divorce a reachable solution. Recently job losses and strained finances have become a major problem in some boomer marriages causing extreme stress leading to a divorce. The older Baby Boomers will impact the divorce rate which will then continue a peak and then fall sharply.
In any divorce there are always two divorces, the legal and emotional divorce, in boomer divorces financial considerations are pronounced. Aside from the loss of a spouse, a child or a parent to death, it has been said that Divorce is the most egregious, emotionally debilitating experience a man or woman may have in a lifetime. The grief to each spouse is very real, personal, and frequently irrevocable in causing emotional and financial scarring.
Concurrent with the emotional roller-coaster, a boomer couple has to determine where long term assets will end up and almost emotionally detach themselves from these assets and accept the reality of a lowered standard of living. Many boomers realize they may never marry again and there financial situation will dictate their final retirement package and needs. Often men feel they have worked a lifetime and are losing everything and many women cannot imagine life without their current assets.
Could this be why children and grandchildren of baby boomers are waiting to marry? Since 1979 the average age of Grooms has risen from 24 to 28 and from 22 to 26 for Brides. Nobody wants to inherit what turned out to be a perceived troubling trait of an older generation and many children of divorce look like they are trying to change the trend for the better.