Babyboomer divorce rate is soaring as more of us make the decision to go into what should be our 'golden years' alone.
According to a recent report produced by Relate who offer relationship counselling the babyboomer divorce rate of over-60s is rising each year.
We are being called the "silver splitters", or grey divorcees.
We were the generation that seemed to have it all but we're still searching for that elusive magic called "happiness" even in retirement.
the divorce rate drops among other age groups, the babyboomer divorce
rate between couples in their 50s and 60s continues to rise.
Not so much a seven-year itch as a 27- or 37-year one, the number of over-60s divorcing has risen by over a third in a decade.
This is a worrying trend that could have all kinds of implications to our well being in later life. The babyboomers could be the first generation for whom living alone in old age may be the norm, with all the troubling related issues of caring, loneliness and financial security.
The babyboomer divorce rate isn't helped when we've seen several high profile celebrities divorce after what appeared to be long and happy marriages.
Ronnie and Jo Wood divorced after 23 years.
Bill Nighy, 63, and Diana Quick, 66, separated
after 27 years with such dignified silence that it took 18 months for
it to be reported.
John Cleese, 70, made it his business to bitterly complain about the settlement when he divorced his third wife, Faye Eichelberger, 64, after 16 years. He has since remarried.
Then there was Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger and who can forget the sudden split between Al and Tipper Gore after 40 years of marriage.
Why would people choose to split after years of marriage just when they are hitting retirement?
Years ago retirement was seen as nearing the end of your life, moving into the 'slow lane of life' making the best of what was left. Today the babyboomer generation tend to look upon retirement as an exciting new phase in their life, a time to fulfill dreams or take up a new challenge.
Many of us are retiring from 'the day job' and taking up new careers. There are growing numbers of babyboomer entrepreneurs starting new businesses. There are many babyboomers taking up new interests and hobbies.
Retirement seems like the last chance to throw off the shackles of responsibility that we may have had with children and elderly parents to care for. It's also a time when many couples are thrown together 24/7 for the first time for years other than holidays.
There will inevitably be couples who have drifted apart over the years and developed different interests. But is it bad enough to actually split up and be on your own?
It's alright for celebrity and wealthy couples to divorce where there's enough money and assets to divide up giving both parties enough to buy a separate home with all the trappings they've been used to. But for the average couple it could be the beginning of financial insecurity, loneliness and issues later in life should they need care.
Being a divorcee myself I can't see any reason to stay in a truly unhappy marriage just because you fear living on your own. There is nothing worse than being alone and miserable in a marriage. One thing about divorce is that it tells the world you on your own.
For those brave enough to make the move becoming single again after the break up of a marriage can give a feeling of liberation and lead to a completely new life with new friends and social activities. However in my experience it needs a lot of confidence and effort to make a new life alone.
For others however, those who thought they were going to be together for ever and didn't instigate the divorce, it can be devastating at a time of life when it's difficult to make new friends and certainly difficult to improve on income. Life is much easier financially with two pension pots rather than one.
When someone is bereaved their social circle seem to be much more supportive to the partner left behind unlike divorce which can lead to friends taking sides and falling out.
Women particularly are in danger of becoming isolated in the home with social invitations becoming less and less. Men it seems tend to replace a partner much easier than women do and not surprisingly it is usually for a much younger model!
Retirement can put a strain on relationships. People's identities change when they leave the workplace, declining health and shifting dynamics at home are all challenges. But with the right support, there is evidence that suggests our relationships can play a key role in making later life a more positive experience.
If you know there are issues in your relationship do you want to become another statistic in the babyboomer divorce rate or should you seek help sooner rather than later?
http://www.relate.org.uk/ is a good place to start with plenty of advice and guidance on relationships.
Only 14% of the couples that Relate sees are over 50 and just 1% over 70. Relate's Chief executive Ruth Sutherland said "couples needed to prepare to get old together: "Retiring is a good time to think about your relationship: is it ready for the changes that later life can bring?
People often don't seek help until things are going badly wrong in their relationship and we're encouraging people to invest early to get the most out of their old age."
There is much evidence to prove that those who are fortunate enough to enjoy good health, financial security and good personal relationships, are more likely to be happier and live longer.
What the babyboomer divorce rate report shows is that good relationships have a direct impact on health and wellbeing, and that loneliness and isolation have negative impacts on both our health and wider society more generally.
It's worth considering therefore that as we age the fabric of our social networks will change, as people themselves change and loved ones die. So it's important to think about which relationships we take with us into old age.
Those that we consider important are worth hanging on to and
working at and those that are causing unhappiness we should surely ditch. Life is too short to be unhappy.
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