18 Surprising Reasons Why Baby Boomers Are Getting Divorced

By Aaron Stone

Divorce rates for Baby Boomers are on the rise, surprising to many. While people are under the impression that Boomers are leading idyllic lives, underneath, some mature couples are struggling in their marriages. We take a look at 18 reasons why Boomers are choosing to divorce:

Redefining Marriage

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Boomers grew up in a time of shifting societal norms and may have entered marriage as that was the tradition. As time has passed, so have the needs and wants of some Boomers who feel they have forged an unhappy union.

Increased Life Expectancy

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The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 76.1 years, just approximately 6 years longer than it was when Boomers were marrying in the 1960s and 1970s. Living longer means marriages have to weather more storms, often resulting in divorce.

Financial Independence

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Women in Boomer marriages are more likely to be financially independent than when they married. Instead of relying on their husband’s “breadwinning” wages, women have money from their careers and want to spread their wings if they’re in an unhappy marriage.

Empty Nest Syndrome

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Many marriages are held together for the sake of children. When older children leave the family home, the empty nest may not be as fulfilling as Boomers had hoped. Couples often realize that once their children have left home, they don’t want to stay together as they have grown apart.

Unmet Emotional Needs

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With a focus on mental health in recent years, Boomers are more open about emotional well-being. Some may discover their needs aren’t met in their current marriage and want to explore other options before it’s too late.

Prioritizing Happiness

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After many years of building a career, a home, and a family, some Boomers feel unfulfilled as they reach the later years of their lives. They may be less willing to settle for an unhappy marriage, prioritizing personal fulfillment and how society expects them to behave in their senior years.

Discovery of Sexuality

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Later-life exploration of sexual identity can lead some Boomers to realize their partner isn’t a good fit for them. Exploring new opportunities for romantic partners can give Boomers a new lease of life as they become aware of their authentic selves.

Health Concerns

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A serious illness or traumatic event can become a turning point in someone’s life. They can be prompted to reevaluate their priorities, sometimes leading them to seek a more fulfilling partnership.

Caregiving Challenges

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Caring for an aging parent can be physically and emotionally demanding. Spouses often take on unequal shares of the responsibility, leading to resentment and exhaustion. The stress of caring for aging parents can strain marriages, leading some couples to separate.


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While often associated with younger couples, affairs can still happen in long-term marriages, leading to divorce. Data from KLS says that 20% of Americans ages 55 or over admitted to having an extramarital relationship.

Substance Abuse

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Like infidelity, substance abuse is often linked to younger people, but older people can suffer from addiction, too. Boomers may suddenly begin abusing drugs and alcohol, or unresolved addiction issues can resurface later in life. The behavior can jeopardize marriages, often leading to divorce.

Domestic Violence

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With increased awareness and support systems, boomers who may have stayed silent in the past are now leaving abusive marriages.

Communication Breakdown

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Poor communication can fester over several years, and when a partner realizes that retirement means spending hours talking to their spouse day in and day out, it all feels too much. Poor communication often makes conflict resolution difficult, leading to divorce in some circumstances.

Different Retirement Visions

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Disagreements about how to spend retirement years can lead to friction among couples. While some couples can come to a compromise, others will eventually separate and divorce.

The “Gray Divorce” Trend

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Social acceptance of divorce at any age is becoming more widespread, reducing the stigma for boomers. According to Pew Research, this has led to a doubling of divorce rates among Boomers in the last 20 years, hence the “gray divorce” trend.

Online Dating

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Online dating has been an epiphany for some Boomers who have wanted to leave their spouse for a while but are worried about meeting someone new. Online platforms offer new opportunities to find companionship outside their current marriage.

The “Silver Lining” Divorce

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Some boomers view divorce as an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to find happiness later in life. While divorce can often feel one-sided, many couples are coming to a joint conclusion that they’ll be happier apart.

Blended Families

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Remarriage is common these days, and many blended families come together harmoniously. But, for some blended families, it can be complex and overwhelming, leading to a second divorce later down the line.

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