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Divorce rate rises among older couples

Here in Illinois and across the country, the divorce rate has been rising among a certain unexpected demographic: people over 50. Whereas in 1990, only 10 percent of divorcing spouses were over the age of 50, today that number has increased to approximately 25 percent. It's a surprising trend, and one that has left many wondering what caused it.

The reasons seem to be based in gradual changes in our society. For one thing, people are simply living longer now than they ever did before. This means that by the time a couple reaches 50 years old, they can reasonably expect to have two or three decades left together. If the spouses are unhappy with their relationship, they are more likely to divorce and move on rather than spend this time in an unsuitable marriage.

The growing financial independence of women also plays a role. Women today are more likely to have a career of their own, and draw their own salary. In the past, a woman might have been reluctant to end her marriage out of fear of financial insecurity. Today, this fear is greatly diminished.

Of course, not all divorces can be neatly categorized. Every marriage is unique, and the issues faced by couples are affected by their own personal lives and histories. Whatever the reason that a spouse may have for divorcing, the goals are always the same: to end a relationship that does not satisfy the spouses' long-term happiness and move toward a new future that will enable each person to pursue a fresh start.

Source: National Public Radio, "Older Americans' Breakups Are Causing A 'Graying' Divorce Trend" Ina Jaffe, Feb. 24, 2014

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