Study Examines Life Satisfaction After Gray Divorce


  • With the prevalence of gray divorce, many face uncertainty, regarding what the next step is at their age after their marriage ends.
  • A study examined the post-divorce life satisfaction of individuals age 50 and older.
  • The results showed a greater level of stress and pressure associated with the divorce, but a higher level of happiness in new relationships.

For some, being emptynesters is not all that it is cracked up to be. Not all of these couples relish in the alone time they may get, now that their children no longer live with them, and they do not enjoy the uncertainty of what the future holds from here on out.

Many of these couples begin to experience marital problems and come to the conclusion that they are better off ending their marriage at this time, so that they can enter into a new phase of their life, enjoying the time that they have left.

This occurrence is called gray divorce, and while many who pursue this avenue have built up the necessary finances to do so and still live their days comfortably, this is not with the guarantee that they will actually be happy.

The study

A recent study, published in the Journal of Family Issues, by the University of North Carolina examined post-divorce life satisfaction in cases of gray divorce, or late-life divorce.

The study used an analytical sample of 150 men and 131 women who reported a divorce at age 50 or older and analyzed them, examining their situation, self, support, and coping strategies. They looked to see how these factors could influence the post-divorce life satisfaction that they may or may not experience.

The results

The results of the study showed that the divorce caused 28 percent variance of the life satisfaction of the women surveyed and 40 percent variance of the life satisfaction of the men surveyed, according to the regression model utilized by the researchers.

The researchers also found that being in a new relationship had a positive influence on both sexes, no matter if the new relationship was a new marriage or a new dating relationship. Similarly, stress or strain had a negative influence for both sexes.

In terms of those who have children, having at least one child age 18 or older at the time of the divorce was positively associated with the life satisfaction of women, in comparison to women without children. The results for men with or without children were not available.

The researchers stated that the social support and availability of companionship from a new spouse or partner may help account for the higher level of life satisfaction of respondents who stated that they were in new relationships.

The overall life satisfaction of divorced men and women showed higher levels of stress, strain, or pressure.

This is understandable because of the uncertainty of the moment. Those that pursue a divorce do not have any sort of guarantee that they will find someone new in their lives, and for those over the age of 50, the pressure of finding someone new may escalate, due to the fear of not knowing how much time they actually have left.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Combatting uncertainty

When you are pursuing a divorce, you are choosing to end a dysfunctional and unhappy relationship, and that act can take place at age 23 or age 73. Not knowing what comes next can be distressing, but should not be the determining factor in deciding to stay in an unhappy marriage.

There are methods, to which individuals over the age of 50 can ensure themselves greater life satisfaction after their divorce. One of the most important ways is to make sure that they are protected both in the divorce decree and with the status of their estate. These legal actions require having an attorney that can help you through the divorce experience and an attorney that can help you navigate the ins and outs of estate planning and asset protection.

After the legal, financial, and health aspects are settled, you can take the time you need to process the end of your relationship, in order to move forward on an emotionally-healthy level. You can enjoy aspects of your life that matter most to you. For those that have kids, that can mean spending more time with them. For those that enjoy their job, it could mean devoting more time at work.

Whatever the avenue may be, you can achieve a higher level of life satisfaction during a gray divorce without worrying about the uncertainty and pressures of the future. It is possible.

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