8 top reasons couples divorce after decades of marriage
• Infidelity. Infidelity can happen at any time during a marriage — from those who are newly married to those who have been married for decades. The impact of the infidelity is as shocking, even when the marriage is long-term. The cheated party obviously feels hurt and betrayed, and there is a breakdown in trust, none of which is good for a healthy marriage. However, one of the crucial reasons why infidelity is so damaging is that it is often an indicator of something more fundamentally wrong in the marriage. In other words, it is a symptom of a problem that accelerates the breakdown, rather than the root cause of the breakdown
• Disintegration of relationship. Many people stay in marriages for their children. They want to provide their children with a solid home and family setting to grow up in, so they stay together, putting up with unhappiness and sometimes other, more fundamental problems within a marriage. The marriage, however, is not good, and both parties likely realise this. Therefore, once the children grow up and move out to establish lives of their own, thoughts turn to divorce.
• Wanting different things in life. This is where a person looks at their life while in their 40s or 50s and finds unhappiness with what they have achieved, or with the way they live. People also find that they want different things in life if they marry too young and don’t feel that they really had a chance to live before their marriage. People also grow apart, and priorities change. If too much of a gulf exists between those priorities, people often choose divorce.
• Not enough in common. A couple who have spent two or three decades raising children go through a significant transition period when those children grow up and leave the family home. This is because many parents build their lives around parenting and providing for their children. When they no longer have to do that, major adjustments have to be made, and they have to decide what to do with their time. Couples deal with this in many different ways. Some take full advantage of it together, while others realise that, without the children, they don’t actually have much in common with the person they married.
• Abuse. Abuse in a marriage can last for many years, and this includes the full spectrum of abuse, including verbal, physical and sexual. Oftentimes, the abused spouse puts up with it for long periods of time without seeking a change or outside help. There are many reasons for this, including trying to maintain the family unit as much as possible for the benefit of their children. On the other hand, people also decide to break the cycle of abuse for a number of different reasons. They can simply decide that enough is enough, or perhaps the abuse starts to change or become more dangerous. In other cases, the person can seek support through family members, professionals, or the criminal justice system.
• Stigma. People who married 30 or 40 years ago may have felt that there was a significant stigma attached to divorce in the early years of their marriage. Therefore, they stayed in a marriage that didn’t actually make them happy. This can be closely connected to other reasons on this list. For example, they end up focusing their lives on raising children and building a family home, but as the couple gets older, they feel fewer stigmas around the issue of divorce, and feel more comfortable with it. The reduced stigma surrounding divorce has many contributing factors, including changes in societal attitudes and religions becoming more sympathetic to those attitudinal changes.
• Traumatic event. Experiencing a traumatic event can be a powerful trigger for divorce. This could be a serious health scare, an accident, the death of a child or something similarly damaging. People who go through these types of events deal with them in very different ways. Some people find it very difficult to cope, which can lead to conflict in a marriage and a breakdown in communication, which can ultimately end in divorce. Again, this can be tied in with other reasons that appear on this list, such as a substantial change in the behaviour of one of the spouses, or a realisation that they want different things from life.
• Spousal changes and addiction. People often change as they get older. These changes can be triggered by a number of different things, including illness, stress, job loss, financial difficulties, or a traumatic event. The personality and behavioural changes that can happen include psychiatric problems, alcoholism or substance abuse. Other people suffer from gambling addictions, or they get into trouble with the law. Spouses sometimes find themselves in a position of helping their partner through the difficult period, but for many, particularly when the outlook is bleak, the only escape and possibility for future happiness is getting a divorce.