Baby Boomers have always been trendsetters. They were the first generation to rock out to bands such as the Beatles and they were the generation that was on the front lines of the feminist and civil rights movements. Baby Boomers are culturally associated with rejection and redefinition of traditional values. And holding true to their reputation, Baby Boomers as a group are now trending toward later in life divorces.
Until recently, it was fair to say that the couple down the street, married for 40 years with three adult children, were not separating any time soon. Indeed, in 1990, fewer than 10% of divorcing couples were over age 50. Now, it’s one in four.
In an Op-Ed piece in the Los Angeles Times entitled A ‘gray divorce’ boom, the author attributes this trend to the dramatic changes in the meaning of marriage over the last several decades:
Today, we live in an era of individualized marriage, in which those who wed have high expectations for marital success. Americans expect marriage to provide them not simply with stability and security but also with self-fulfillment and personal satisfaction. Roles are flexible; the traditional breadwinner-homemaker model is no longer the status quo. Good spouses engage in open communication and are best friends. This is a high bar for many to achieve, let alone maintain over decades while juggling work and child-rearing.
The above-described cultural trends toward individualism, independence and gender role reversal have shaped the Baby Boomer generation. It is no surprise, therefore that in a recent HuffPost Divorce piece by blogger Joy Cipoletti, the tag line read “What’s it like to be divorced in midlife? In a word, freeing.”
Baby boomers are not a generation that settles. After all, as a generation, they are idealists, genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. Now, after raising their families, it is their time to fly out of their empty nests.
As Cipoletti concludes:
With all the challenges in the early years after divorce, I wondered if it was possible to enjoy life as a midlife divorced breadwinner mom, and to my delight, it is. By strengthening my spiritual connection and letting go of the picture I had for how my life “should” look, I have created a life I love today. I have rewarding work and time for things that are important to me: spirituality, great relationships with my kids (two now in college), friendships, exercise and nutrition, reading and more. From surviving to enjoying -– that’s what happened after my midlife divorce.
______________________________________________________________________________ Eliana T. Baer is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and a member of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Eliana practices in Fox Rothschild’s Princeton, New Jersey office and focuses her state-wide practice on representing clients on issues relating to divorce, equitable distribution, support, custody, adoption, domestic violence, premarital agreements and Appellate Practice. You can reach Eliana at (609) 895-3344, or firstname.lastname@example.org.