“Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s…Among those ages 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990, reaching six people per 1,000 married persons in 2015. – Pew Research Center, 2017
The trend of divorce among seniors – older people has been rising, and it seems the pandemic – Covid-19 has contributed to the trend of divorce among seniors.
“Couples can divorce later in life for the same reasons younger couples split up – infidelity, financial pressures, regrets about earlier decisions, or a desire for greater independence. But when you’re over 50, these reasons are framed by aging and the realization that you have more years behind you than ahead of you. Older couples face unique aging-related issues that can factor into the decision to divorce – including health concerns, tensions brought on by living in closer proximity in retirement, losing parents and friends, and even the unsettling loss of youth.” – https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/special-issues-late-life-divorce-32335.html
However, the pandemic has changed people in ways that experts – sociologists and psychologists could never have predicted.
Divorce rates have tripled in the last 20 years for people over 65! Anna and Raven interview human behavior expert Dr. Patrick Wanis to reveal the reasons that seniors are getting a divorce.
Listen below or read the full transcript further below.
Anna: There’s been an uptick in divorces, and it’s not just among the young. It’s actually the elderly. Seniors are divorcing. Why? Dr. Patrick Wanis is a behavioral expert. You can visit them online. PatrickWanis.com. Dr. Wanis, why are all these older people getting divorced by now? Why, Grandma, why now? Like you’re leaving Grandpa?
You are a really good question. Why are seniors divorcing? Why now? And the “now” is the answer. It’s because of all of the changes that are happening to all of us. There are extraordinary changes in behavior as a result of the pandemic. And I think the first thing, and this is so looking at as a big picture, it’s not just that older couples are divorcing, it’s that people are moving house; people are changing career; people are moving from one state to another; people are moving from one country to another.
And the way that I view it is to think about it as if you’ve just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. That means suddenly, as a result of the pandemic, we’re facing mortality and saying, ‘Wow. If my life were to end now, is this the way I want to live?’ And suddenly a lot of people question what they value. Now, of course, there are other reasons, too, because this has been an evolving pattern. And I think the first thing to say is the taboo of divorce has been progressively eroding.
And maybe as a result of the fact that we’re almost like a disposable society, we know we can swap out the phone, we can swap out the computer, we can swap out the car, swap out the TV, that we no longer settle for something that doesn’t really satisfy us, something that doesn’t really give us great joy and meaning and happiness and purpose. I think that for a long time, a lot of people stayed in marriage out of convenience, out of routine, security, and that security came in the form of familiarity:
‘Well, I know my partner; my partner knows me.’ But I think we’re finally in the place of saying, ‘If I’m not happy, I’m not going to accept it.’
So, this is more and deeper than just, ’Hey, we’ve been stuck in this building looking at each other, these four walls for the last, you know, two years right here. And I’m sick of you at this point.’
Raven: You believe it’s actually more rooted in the fact that there’s been some soul searching and some clarity, really, on what people want and what they’ve been doing and how they want to move ahead?
Well, you’re right on both points. The first ‘being stuck together’ is what we refer to as “forced togetherness.” And then you go, ‘Oh, now that I really know my partner, I don’t like them.’ The second is almost like the existential crisis: “Who am I? Why am I here? What am I doing? How much time do I have left? What do I want to do with it?” And when answering that question, ‘Who am I?’, I think we tend to go really deep and say, ‘Wow, look at the way the world’s just stopped. What’s going on? Who’s in charge? I want more security. I want more stability. I want more freedom.’
Anna: I read a stat somewhere that says that divorce rates for people over 65 has tripled in the last 20 years. So, if you’re over 65 and you’re like, ‘you know what, I’m done with you. We’ve had our kids, we’ve raised our families. Now I’m going to go party on my own.’ Where do you find love? Like, I just have a hard time imagining my grandmother going on Tinder and I don’t want to picture it makes me sad. It makes me scared. I don’t want to think about it.
I’m not sure that your mother would go on Tinder, but I’ll give you an example of a client’s mother – a senior who after divorce found love. And she was 74. She did that through her church. So, for her, she already had a place where she had an opportunity to meet new people. And she found someone that was roughly the same age, maybe a few years older, and they married and they stayed together another fifteen years. Wow. So, yes, you’re right, your grandma is not going to maybe go online or use Facebook. But if she goes out to church, to some sort of club, to some sort of hobby, I’m not talking about a nightclub.
Anna: I was trying to imagine my grandmother would glowsticks.
it’s simply a case of where can this older person meet other people. Then that’s another way. There are ways to meet people at all ages.
Anna: All right. Good stuff. Dr. Patrick Wanis, you can visit him online at Patrick Wanis.com.
“What’s pushing gray divorce is people are living longer and they feel more entitled to living fully. They’ve contributed to raising children, they want an emotional journey, it’s their time now. They may have (decades) ahead and don’t want to be unhappy anymore.” – Lili Vasileff, certified financial planner and president of Divorce and Money Matters
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.