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Is ‘gray divorce’ real?

We have written about “gray divorce,” the growing phenomenon of older and long-married U.S. couples getting divorced. We have been told that more and more, people who have been married for 30 years or longer have chosen to end their unhappy marriages, instead of just sticking it out to the end.

This suggests that the chances of divorce may go up slightly, or at least stay flat, after a certain number of years together. Perhaps reaching a certain age makes married people take stock of their lives, and question whether they want to spend their remaining years with their spouse.

However, a British study refutes the idea that gray divorce exists at all. The think tank the Marriage Foundation claims that the risk of divorce goes down for year of marriage.

In an article in the Daily Mail, the think tank says that data suggests there is a linear connection between the chances of divorce and the year the couple got married. A chart claims a couple who gets married this year has a nearly 40 percent chance of getting divorced. By comparison, couples married in 2000 have less than a 20 percent risk of divorce, and those married before 1980 are virtually guaranteed to stay together ‘til death, the group claims.

It appears this study was based on data from the U.K., so this hypothesis may not apply here in Buffalo. And, of course, trends do not dictate what any particular individual decides to do about his or her own life. It is never too late to get out of a bad marriage, though the issues that older divorcing people face tend to be quite different than for younger people.