The “gray divorce” rate among spouses ages 50+ has doubled since the 1990s. Greater life expectancies, better health, and greater financial independence for women are some of the leading reasons why older spouses are choosing to end unhappy marriages rather than languish in them, according to the Pew Research Group.
While couples should make every attempt to solve their marital problems, there are some that simply can’t be fixed. Here are seven signs that indicate it’s probably time for you and your spouse to part ways.
- Your plans for your future no longer include your spouse. Empty-nesters have the time, and often the funds, to change how they live. Whether it’s moving across the country, changing careers, or traveling to exotic destinations, your vision for your golden years should also incorporate your spouse’s needs and desires. If your future plans don’t line up, it’s an indication that you’ll likely be journeying solo.
- Your toxic marriage is taking a toll on your health. Living with domestic abuse, untreated addiction, or mental illness can wear you down emotionally and physically. If your spouse refuses to get treatment, or doesn’t respond to treatment, you may need to end your marriage in order to protect yourself. No marriage is worth losing your sanity and your dignity. Take note: if domestic violence is an issue, you must develop a safety plan before exiting.
- You stopped having sex a long time ago. Most couples are not as sexually active as they were in the beginning of their relationship, but a pattern of sexual estrangement is a sign that one or both of you has left the marriage emotionally. Couples and/or sex therapy can give you tools to remediate the problem, but it’s tough to overcome years of sexual disconnection.
- Your adult children are telling you to get a divorce. Your children know your marriage better than anyone on the outside, and they may have a more objective perspective than you. Although you may have convinced yourself you can continue to live unending conflict, misery, and estrangement, they may worry that you can’t. Getting “permission” from an adult child to end an unhealthy marriage can ease the guilt and discomfort many couples feel for dismantling a family.
- You hate the thought of growing old Do you look for reasons to avoid one-on-one time with your spouse? Does the thought of growing old together fill you with dread? If you can’t bear being alone with your partner now, how are you going to manage when one and or both of you begin a mental and physical decline?
- You’ve lost respect for your spouse. No amount of comfort and material possessions can compensate for not liking, or respecting, your spouse. If you don’t like the way your partner acts, you may be exhibiting some bad behavior yourself: criticizing, withholding, being passive-aggressive. Do you really want to spend the last years of your life with someone who brings out the worst in you? Better to move on and enjoy your own company than silently seethe next to someone you loathe.
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