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Newsletter Archives > Another Shade of Gray - August 2013

Another Shade of Gray: Gray Divorces

This ‘shade of gray’ isn’t very inspiring! A recent study announced that “Older adults (aged 50 and over), unlike the U .S. population as a whole, have faced rising divorce rates over the past 20 years.” In fact, the study suggested that rates were doubling over the decades. In 1990 fewer than 10% of those aged 50 & older got divorced; today 25% of those in this age group get divorced. This is a very significant issue because more than half the married population is now over 50.

The divorce rate is a matter that I have written about before in my Update. Why such a focus? Because I believe that with knowledge and tools, people can make conscious decisions about their marriages rather than waking up one day and saying “I have had enough!”. Maintaining intimacy and friendship in marriage over time IS possible – if you know how to work it. 

If you are in a struggling relationship and are in the Gray group (even though you may not look it), you may be wondering whether you should start focusing and preparing for the financial and emotional impact of separation and divorce. As complicated as family break up is when there are young children and teens in the home, divorce is still quite complicated as you get older. There will now be less time left for you to financially and emotionally recover and you may even be less flexible and able to do so. Unfortunately, re-marriage divorce rates are 2.5 times higher than those of first marriages. Not because there isn’t enough love between people but because life is more complicated even with grown children. Adding grandchildren, financial planning, and other challenges into a brand new relationship wears away at the fragile bond of new love.

If it isn’t too late, I would like to encourage you to consider focusing on trying to solve and resolve the issues that are driving you both in that direction. What does that mean? You can learn to cultivate and re-energize commitment, passion, friendship, and emotional intimacy.      

I often remind people that we often don’t know how to fix, improve, change, or accept our marriages. If we did, I am convinced we would all try to make the improvements. What we have learned and helped individuals and couples work toward is restoring, enhancing, strengthening and even, transforming our intimate relationships. After years of counseling, teaching, practicing and emphasizing the importance of relationship skills, we know that in most cases mutually satisfactory outcomes can be reached. Loving relationships can in fact be regained.

There are a number of paths to successfully revitalize your marriage; many include exploring the critical issues that may help you discover what happened to the love you once shared. With our guidance you can safely explore your hopes, disappointments, fantasies and fears.  We focus on questions like:

Much of our life together has changed but we are still doing many of the same things, why don’t we re-visit what we’d each like to now change?

Our bodies and sex drives have changed and we’ve grown less intimate & physical, what do we really need and want from each other at this stage?

How can we regain some of our best feelings from the past and build on them for the future? To strengthen our trust, to feel secure in our love.

Our future can really be the best time yet for us; what do we want to get rid of or change to make that happen?

The bottom line is that if you are near middle age or older and still in a committed relationship, this “gray divorce boom” report may generate or re-generate some fears or concerns you’ve previously felt.

Rather than thinking that you are the exception, take a moment to consider that there are ways to get more out of life for yourself and those you love. If you are really fortunate and in the top 10% of couples who are vitalized and energized in their relationship, go and celebrate your love for each other. 

However,  if you have questions or want to seriously reassess the situation, ask the tough questions, open up a dialogue, allow yourself to become vulnerable, and shore up the weak spot, Rita DeMaria, Ph.D. is sincerely dedicated to helping you do just that.

Please visit our Classes & Groups page to check out the upcoming classes or call Rita DeMaria at 215-628-2450 for an appointment to discuss your needs.

Ref: http://ncfmr.bgsu.edu/pdf/working_papers/file108701.pdf