What Can the Golden Bachelor Teach Us about Second Marriages and Gray Divorce?

gray divorceIf you haven’t seen the first season of the Golden Bachelor yet, spoiler alert: This post gives away everything, but also has some great lessons about divorce later in life and about gray divorce that anyone can benefit from — fan of the show or not.

The Golden Bachelor followed 72-year-old Gerry Turner as he wooed 22 hopeful women in their 60’s and 70’s. Many of the women claimed to have given up on romance. Gerry himself was a widower from Indiana with two grown daughters, happily retired, living in a lake house, and ready to pledge his heart again.

The usual shenanigans ensued. While New Jersey resident Theresa Nist—also a widower with grown children—was an early favorite, it was clear that Gerry considered several women as potentially great matches. A few of those women fell hard for him. That made the ending especially poignant, when he eventually returned to Theresa and chose her as his new bride-to-be. Milking it for all it was worth, the show soon presented viewers with a glitzy tear-jerker of a TV wedding.

And then this spring, only three months later, Gerry and Theresa announced their divorce.

They won’t be slugging it out in court though. Wisely, they signed a prenuptial agreement. And that is probably the number one lesson to learn from the show. If you are getting married late in life, and especially if you are getting remarried, make sure you have a prenup. 

Now let’s look at what happened to Theresa and Gerry.  

Reality Is Not Always Golden

Since this was a reality show, it’s hard to know how much of the full picture we got all along. America’s thirst for drama is apparent in the various takes about what happened. According to a CNN article, the couple just could not see living together when each was so happy in their separate lives, she as a still working woman in New Jersey, and he as a happily retired man in Indiana. On the other hand, if you go looking for the “tea” you will find out that some people believe Gerry was a dastardly heartbreaker more interested in seeking fame and fortune than love.

Let’s give Gerry the benefit of the doubt and listen to what both of them told Good Morning America. They still love each other. They looked at homes in various places, including New Jersey, but they could not agree on where to live. Eventually, they decided that neither of them wanted to move away from their families. 

Theresa shared another big factor in a podcast, “I still work, so that’s the hurdle.” Indeed, Theresa’s career path is inspirational. She became a financial services professional in her late 40’s, clearly loves her job, and is in no hurry to give it up.  

Reality show love, whether as seen on the Bachelor or one its many spin-offs and twists, may not be completely accurate, but it does tend to show us what most adults already know: For love to last, infatuation is not enough. Practical matters, like what a person does for a living, where the job is, and whether they want children or already have children are the things that can make or break long-term plans. The fact that divorce rates are higher in second marriages makes sense in this context. There are just more pieces to put together to make the puzzle of marriage work.

Gray Divorce and Prenuptial Agreements

Gray divorce—divorce between spouses over 50—has been on the rise for some time now. Some gray divorces happen between couples who have grown apart after being married for many years. It is common, for example, for people to wait to divorce until their youngest child has flown the nest. Other gray divorces happen after second (or third) marriages when two people discover, like Gerry and Theresa did, that marriage is going to be harder than they thought it would be. In the end, theirs is a typical story about two older people trying to merge well-established lives, with deep roots connecting each person to specific people and specific places.

When two people already have substantial assets and grown children, they need to consider what will happen to those assets if they remarry and then either divorce or pass away. People with children from previous relationships usually want most of their assets to go to those children. A prenuptial agreement, together with an estate plan, can ensure that each spouse’s wishes are carried out. 

Even without a prenup, the fact that this couple was married for such a short time would probably make it easy for them to separate. All the kids are grown, and there wouldn’t be much marital property to consider. They certainly did not plan for such a brief union, though, so the prenup was a wise choice. The second thing that they did right was to stay friendly. If they did have loose ends to tie up and there was no prenup, they could no doubt have gone to mediation and pursued an uncontested divorce.

Read More: 10 Ways to Survive a Gray Divorce

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