Why many marriages aren’t able to endure through the retirement years

In recent years, there has been much reported about the so-called graying of divorce. An Oct. 8, 2014 Time article reported that roughly 25 percent of divorcees in the U.S. are over the age of 50. The increase in divorce among this age demographic has raised red flags among social scientists who worry about the ramifications of divorcing later in life such as financial insecurity.

While many have studied and written about factors contributing to the gray divorce phenomena such as growing acceptance of divorce and longer life expectancies, few studies examine the issue from the other perspective. Namely, what it takes, later in life, to make a marriage work.

A University of Cornell professor recently released his findings related to a survey of 700 male and female 65-year-olds about those factors that make for an enduring relationship and marriage. The findings of this study, which are included in a new book entitled “30 Lessons for Loving: Advice From the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships and Marriage,” provide insight into what’s needed to sustain a marriage and why so many marriages end in divorce.

Many survey respondents spoke to the importance of having common interests and hobbies with a spouse. This makes sense as, with age, a growing percentage of a spouse’s leisure time will likely be devoted to pursuing interests and hobbies. In cases where spouses don’t have common interests or even resent one another for the amount of time and money spent pursuing an interest or hobby, spouses are likely to grow more distant.

Survey respondents also noted that it’s important that spouses truly enjoy spending time together. With age comes more wrinkles, health problems and decreased sexual activity; it’s crucial, therefore, that above all spouses are good friends who enjoy each other’s company and respect and value one another’s ideas and opinions.

When entering into a marriage, there’s obviously no guarantee that it will be till death do us part. However, there are steps a spouse can take to increase the likelihood that a marriage will either endure or end.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Forget ‘Gray Divorce’: Here’s How to Make Love Last,” Diane Cole, Jan. 19, 2015

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