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What Is Gray Divorce?

·351 words·2 mins

“I don’t get why they split up now,” she says.

“I mean… if you’re gonna split up, you gotta split up sometime,” I reply. “Could be sooner, could be later. Every relationship is different?”

“I don’t know about that,” she counters. “After a while, you’ve been together so long, why not just stay that way? Who wants to date in their old age? Who wants to risk the devil they don’t know? You’ve been together. You know what you’re in for. Especially if you own property. Have kids. Why start over?”

I nod, thinking about what I want to say. She’s an older woman who openly despises her husband. I’ve wondered many times why she didn’t just divorce her husband. When her kids were younger, she tells me that she stayed together for their sake. But they grew up and moved out. And she’s been living with someone she can’t stand for a long while now. So I know that her reaction to what our mutual friends are going through is related to her own choices.

But I don’t know how to say that without being rude. Thankfully I don’t have to. She does it first. “Maybe it’s because I keep sticking with my husband, even though I’ve been unhappy for a long time,” she says.

“I’m sure that’s a factor,” I agree.

“I just don’t get this whole gray divorce trend though. You made your bed. Might as well lie in it,” she says.

What Is Gray Divorce?

Gray divorce (alternative spelling grey divorce), also known sometimes as “silver splitter” is the name for a trend that’s been observed in recent years whereby older couples are increasingly getting divorced. By all accounts, this shift began as early as the 1980s, but the name didn’t take off until the mid 2000s.

The causes of this change are likely complicated and multifactorial, but the following factors have been implicated as possibly being involved:

  1. People living longer.
  2. The widespread availability of anti-impotence drugs.
  3. The social shifts that can occur when spouses retire from the workforce and spend more time with one another.


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