Retirement can lead to divorce among older couples

Many couples spend their entire working lives together making plans for retirement and taking steps to ensure that their finances will allow them to enjoy their later years. Although financial concerns are an essential part of retirement planning, some couples overlook the need to plan for the emotional pressures that retirement can bring. In some cases, these sorts of pressures can lead to divorce.

Over the years, spouses can settle into habits regarding their roles and responsibilities in their relationships. Even in situations where spouses retire at the same time, the change in lifestyle can surprise some couples and leave them unprepared for how best to deal with fundamental changes to the dynamics of their relationship.

Over the last quarter century, the divorce rate in the U.S. has actually dropped. Nevertheless, according to studies by the National center for Family and Marriage Research, headquartered at Bowling Green State University, the rate of divorce among couples age 50 and up doubled from 1990 to 2010. Currently, about 25 percent of all divorces in the U.S. involve couples who are over the age of 50.

Experts suggest that a number of factors has contributed to the increase in divorces among older couples. First, baby boomers are the first generation in U.S. history for which 20 to 30 years of retirement are not uncommon. This means that couples must develop strategies to remain together for decades after they decide to retire. Second, for the first time in U.S. history, the current generation of retired women is able to afford divorce. Unlike previous generations, it is not a given that a woman must rely on her husband to provide for her in her later years. Finally, current social and cultural attitudes toward the necessity of marriage have changed.

More than anything else, the key to maintaining a strong relationship with a spouse late in life is keeping lines of communication open and remaining open to new ways of doing things. It is also important for each individual to understand his or her own needs and to communicate these needs clearly.

Nevertheless, no matter how well couples plan, conflicts still occur. In some cases, a decision to separate or divorce your spouse may, in fact, be the best option. If you are considering filing for divorce, consider speaking to an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney can explain the process and help you better understand your options.