Divorce rate on the rise for those in their 50s and 60s

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

Divorce is on the rise for the over-50s, a statistic which suggests just one thing – women are giving up on marriage at an age when they’ve most likely achieved, or are about to achieve by way of their pension, some kind of financial independence.

Silver splitters, it seems, no longer fear being left alone and though, inevitably, they may have less money to live on than men, they are taking the chance of changing a lifestyle which, most likely has failed them in some way.

Children moving out can be a factor in women wanting a change

Children moving out can be a factor in women wanting a change

Up to 2003 divorce rates had been falling, now they’ve gone into reverse.

Last year there were six per cent more divorces than in 2015 according to the Office of National Statistics.

We’ve all seen the older groups of women holidaying together in Mediterranean resorts, having a whale of a time, enjoying cocktails at midday and dancing in clubs to the wee, small hours.

Yes, they may just be trying to re-live their youth, but I suspect not.

Years of child-rearing, running the home and a job while husbands can enjoy the weekend on the golf course safe in the knowledge he will get his dinner set down to him when he returns, takes a toll on the female mind-set.

When the children leave home, no longer dependent, women see two things ahead, loneliness or the opportunity to enjoy that freedom they’ve craved over a lifetime.

They’ve no hesitation in demanding their share of the family fortune – the marital home free of a mortgage – and setting up on their own in a modern apartment.

Most women by that age are confident in their skills to run their own lives, men, on the other hand, are frightened of change which is why they stick to their hobbies hoping her indoors will calm down and get on with making his dinner.

Children moving out of the family home can often be the big factor in a woman wanting a change of lifestyle.

If those children are living round the corner or even in the next town, at least she might be able to build up her grandmothering skills and feel useful.

On the other hand, those children might leave the country altogether and mother is soon well down the favourite list when the offspring find a wife/husband of their own.

That empty nest, filled only by a husband set in his ways, is a great test of endurance and many women suffer loneliness and depression at the prospect of a home without the patter of children in rugby boots or taking up mirror space in the bathroom.

Moving on from that requires a great leap of faith for change because divorce, after all, is fairly drastic.

The statistics show that more than 6,000 of the women who divorced last year were in their 60s, an interesting age which can mark a change in many of the things a woman normally takes for granted, such as her looks, her ability to keep up with the times, her relationship with her children, health and her role in the workplace if she has a career.

Those without a good network of friends may suffer; those with a husband or partner who takes them for granted will want a change.

With possibly just two decades of reasonable health left to them isn’t there a whole world out there to be enjoyed? Does this mean long marriages will become a thing of the past?

There are and were many famous older women in long standing marriages; Meryl Streep (40 years married next year), Strictly contestant Debbie McGee married her late husband Paul Daniels in 1988 and Joanne Woodward was married to the late Paul Newman for 50 years.

Next month the Queen will celebrate 70 years of married life.

Her’s has been a happy marriage. Yet three of her four children have divorced and two have re-married.

Divorce is one problem shared by Royalty and commoners alike.