Divorce After 40: Who's Asking for It and Why?

Remember the days when people over 40 were OLD? If one was married at age 40, they expected to stay married forever, regardless of their situation -- and those still single at age 40 could pretty much count on being single forever.

Well, phew! Those unenlightened "old days" are over, but new times bring new challenges, including the incidence of divorce for couples over the age of 40. It's fairly simple to figure out the why: If mama is no longer fun and papa is out running around, it may be time to take a hike; but you may be surprised at who is initiating the proceedings.

Two-thirds of divorces after age 40 are initiated by wives, debunking the myth of an older man divorcing his wife for a younger woman, according to a recent survey by AARP the Magazine.

"The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond" surveyed 1,147 people ages 40 to 79 who had divorced in their 40s, 50s or 60s. The survey found that women over age 40 seemed more aware of problems in their marriages, while men were more likely to be caught off-guard by their divorces. Twenty-six percent of men said they "never saw it coming," compared with just 14 percent of women.

The increase in women initiating divorce reflects the empowerment of women to leave bad marriages, said Linda Fisher, AARP's director of national member research. The AARP study found that most women said they filed for divorce because of physical or emotional abuse, infidelity or drug and alcohol abuse. Men said they sought divorces because they fell out love, they had different values or lifestyles, or infidelity.

In our parents' generation, it was generally expected and accepted that the passion in a relationship would lessen over time. Relationships were formed primarily to fulfill our survival needs, not our romantic emotional needs. Extramarital affairs were not a reason to consider divorce. Husbands were admired for staying with the family despite their extracurricular activities. The survival of the family was much more important than whether one got laid and by whom.Contemporary women can provide for themselves. They want more than just a good provider for the family. They want emotional support, romance and monogamy. If her husband needs another woman to be passionate, the contemporary woman would rather start over with a different man who wants her passionately. A woman who has been nurturing a dependent and immature man, along with nurturing her children, may be ready to step out on her own without any attachment. When she wants to grow and he tolerates decay or just being stuck in the past, she may choose to leave the relationship in order to nurture her desire for change.Women have also stepped into their power and learned that they have a voice in physically or emotionally abusive relationships. Once the children have left the nest and are no longer dependent on her for survival, a woman can re-evaluate her marriage.
Ditto for a man who has been putting on appearances for the sake of his children or his business. Perhaps he is ready to be with a woman who is more sexually energetic or who wants to nurture him in a way that his wife is no longer willing to do. It's important to keep in mind that just because a man or woman has left a bad or "blah" situation does not automatically mean that they are in for smooth sailing. They still need time to heal from their loss -- divorce is a big life change, even if it has been a long time coming. MarsVenus.com suggests that it is important for both men and women to maintain a healthy sense of balance on the road to finding happiness after divorce.For men, this means taking time alone to feel his independence, self-sufficiency and autonomy. A man will often feel the need to sleep around after a divorce to feel good about himself. If that is the case, he must be careful not to move right into another committed relationship before he has taken the time to heal any feelings of loss.In the process of getting better, women will find balance by regaining a healthy sense of self-assurance, grace and interdependence. She needs to be selfish for a while, hanging out with friends, going on fun vacations, and really pampering herself. It's a great idea for a woman to date around and enjoy the interest of many men. However, even if she is the one who initiated the divorce, a woman still needs a certain amount of time to heal, and during this time it's better for her not to become involved in a serious, exclusive relationship.
People today, especially women, are more likely than in the past to expect more out of their relationships. The empowered, confident woman of the new millennium wants, and deserves, a lot out of her marriage. If you recognize yourself in this situation, you can take steps now to remedy the issues between you and your partner before it's too late. Effective communication is essential in any relationship, but remains an elusive skill for many, especially if complacency has set in after many years of togetherness. If you would like to learn how to approach your spouse to discuss your vision for your shared future, an AskMarsVenus telephone relationship coach can help. Call 1-888-627-7836 or visit www.askmarsvenus.com for more information. John Gray has helped millions of men and women develop better relationships with his phenomenal New York Times bestseller Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (HarperCollins, 2004). For insight into dating and relationships today, visit Relationship Advice from MarsVenus.com.
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Source: Relationships & Love

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