We Have Nothing in Common - the Graying of Divorce

I heard a radio program this morning about the graying of divorce and reference was made to a Wall Street Journal article entitled The Gray Divorcée. So of course, as soon as I arrived at Starbucks to do my morning work I looked it up.

 Here it is the Wall Street Journal article about the graying of divorce.

The information in the article is not surprising to me, since I've been in the helping couples line of work for 25 years. Nevertheless, it is eye opening. I recommend you check it out.

Basically the article states that it used to be that only 1 in 10 divorces was someone over 50 years of age. Just before the article was written the rate had skyrocketed to 1 in 4 divorcing people is over 50. In most of the cases, (men, take note) it is the woman who files for divorce.

Here is something I found interesting in the well written WSJ article about predictors for a late life break up:  According to John Mordecai Gottman, founder of the Gottman Institute in Seattle and author of "What Predicts Divorce?," the behavioral precursors to late-life or empty nest divorce are no different from those for younger couples—criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling."

Now that I think about it, I can see that when my mom and step dad began to have obvious issues in their marriage, the thing that I observed most clearly as an 18 to 22 year old was the contempt. I remember my mom criticizing everything that he did for years, though often behind his back. Meanwhile he scratched his head and could not figure out what was wrong.

Eventually the resentment built up until it came out as open unabashed utter contempt and resentful dirty looks and snickering at each other, even at the dinner table.

She was determined to turn everyone against him and then destroy what they had together. She almost succeeded in turning the kids against him, and she succeeded in destroying what they had. She lived out the rest of her life in poverty.    

The radio program where I had learned about the graying of divorce phenomenon was also informative. It was a Focus on the Family interview with a Ted Cunningham, author of Great Parents, Lousy Lovers. It aired on February 24, 2014. The author who was being interviewed talked about children centered marriages and how when the kids have left home, the empty nesters, for reasons I'm sure you can guess (and it's usually not infidelity), such marriages will think of breaking up.

What is mentioned in the radio program and which I agree with and have been warning people about in some of my other articles and posts is this: The empty nesters who decide to divorce rationalize that "since the kids are grown up it won't affect them." But they are wrong. Their divorce hurts the kids.

The sound byte version of why it hurts the kids is because their divorce is a broken promise. The parents have done their best to put up a good front and to act like their marriage is who they are and that commitment is what life is about. Now their infidelity to those values is like a broken promise, a lie, a betrayal.

Two books by adult kids of parents who divorced, even when they the kids were already grown up, and about how they feel about their parents divorce and how it has affected them are

The Way They Were: Dealing with your Parents' Divorce after a Lifetime of Marriage and

Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and Dealing with our Pain

But it goes far deeper than that. Marriage is more than you think. It is not about getting our needs met, nor is it just some sort of arrangement. It is sacred. It is a framework within which to work out our differences and learn to be unselfish.

But just as Rome was not built in a day, a marriage is not ruined in a day. The hurt feelings, undercurrents of resentment, and bitterness have been coming for a long time.

Can the marriage be salvaged? I cannot say. But one thing I can say, is that your emotional and spiritual health can be salvaged. It does not really matter what the other does--whether that person changes or not, whether they appreciate you or not, whether communication improves or not.

If you remain resentful, it will undermine your well being. The emotion of resentment creates an inner atmosphere which you take with you everywhere. Even if the world were suddenly to become perfect, then you would still resent others for their joy, their superiority to you, the fact that they did not worship you or some other reason.

Here are some principles to reestablish a calm happy spirit

1. Let go of resentment and judgment. I cannot tell you here all the reasons why resentment is bad for you, I have 17 books on the subject.

2. Check out my meditations. They are designed to help people calm down, cope with stress, and get in touch with their own calm center of dignity. There you will find intuition, and when you follow what you know in your heart is right, it will help you sort through things and find your way.  
    The meditations don't work for everyone, but for some, they are a God sent.

3. Don't try to change others.

4. You must realize that you are surrounded by wall to wall temptation. There is a lot of error and deceit out there. You must learn how to get in touch with your intuition and follow it. Remember it is your little corner of the world, your home, your life, your health. Some so called expert who eggs you on to divorce will not be hurt in the slightest or even care if you follow her advise, throw away what you have spend years building and ruin your life.

5. Don't be in a hurry. First get centered. Take some time to get to know yourself and learn to overcome stress. If you are resentful, you are being conquered by stress. Don't let this happen. You have seen what not dealing with stress properly has done to others. Remember what I said - your first line of defense is to not become resentful. 



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