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Why are there more 'gray' divorces these days?

Baby boomers have been trend setters in many ways. Here's another: they're one of the first generations to see higher divorce rates as they grow older. According to the Star Tribune, 25 percent of all divorces in 2007 were people who had been married for two decades.

Just over 23 percent of people over the age of 70 have been divorced, but people in their 50s see more dissolved marriages. In that age group, almost 36 percent have been divorced.

"Gray divorces," as they are called, tend to end quietly, according to experts. One says that those kinds of marriages kind fade away, in a way - when couples grow apart - and aren't often initiated by a big crisis, such as an affair or financial meltdown.

Part of the reason for the uptick in the older age group is that there are fewer taboos than there used to be. Baby boomers have seen everything under the sun. Gone are the days when divorce was scandalous.

A study in 2004 found that nearly two thirds of these divorces were in fact initiated by the women. But that doesn't necessarily mean that only the wives wanted their marriages to end; it appears they are just more comfortable than men in initiating the proceedings with an attorney.

On the other hand, women are more financially secure than in previous generations. More so than their mothers and grandmothers, baby boomer women have successful careers, and with it money to support themselves financially.

Sometimes for baby boomers, as with any couples, things just don't work out in a marriage. It may take children leaving home for that realization, or a midlife crisis. Whatever the case may be, people seem to feel more comfortable ending a marriage than staying in an unhappy one.

Source: Kansas City Star, "Gray divorces: Long-married boomers cut the knot," Bill Ward, 18 July 2011

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