The State of American Marriages
For many baby boomers with seemingly stable long-term marriages, the notion of separating or divorcing after surviving so many years together remains almost unthinkable. Yet those couples who do separate or divorce in the latter stages of life are doing so because the factors that once kept them together -- raising children, accumulating assets, planning for the future -- have become less important than the question of how they want to spend their time or whether they want to spend it with the same partner, says Dr. Terri Orbuch, also known as "The Love Doctor(R)."
Do the Gores' marital problems presage a spike in divorce rates among seniors? Not necessarily, says Orbuch. Many couples report they are happier by their 35th anniversary than they were in the early years of their marriage. That said, these couples recognize that every marriage, no matter the vintage, requires regular attention to keep it fresh and avoid the boredom and stagnation often cited by those who decide to separate after many years together.
Dr. Orbuch adds that although late-in-life divorces like the Gores' are rare enough to garner attention, there is less stigma attached to these break-ups than in previous generations.
"There definitely is life after long-term marriage for individuals who find themselves suddenly single," says Dr. Orbuch -- a professor, federally funded research scientist on the topic of long-term marriages, marriage and family therapist, and relationship consultant to SeniorPeopleMeet (www.seniorpeoplemeet.com), the nation's largest online dating site devoted to seniors. "While every marriage and the reasons for ending it are unique, in many cases both parties have been going through an emotional separation well before making the actual decision to part. Eventually, over a period of time that is unique for each individual, they become ready to move forward with a new life that addresses what has been missing from their marriage -- whether that is a second career, a passion for a hobby or personal pursuit, or a relationship with someone whose interests may be more closely aligned with their own."
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