5 reasons long-term marriages end in divorce

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Since Bill and Melinda Gates announced their 27-year marriage is over, a question has been on the lips of many talk show hosts and everyday people: How can it be, after all this time. together?

Billionaire philanthropists aren’t the first high-profile couple to separate decades after tying the knot. Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper have ended their marriage after 40 years. While not divorced, actors Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman have separated after 30 years together.

Quarantine breaks are much more frequent than a generation ago.

“Seniors today are much less likely to be willing to stay in what we call ’empty shell marriages’,” says Susan L. Brown, co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at the Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

In fact, the divorce rate for people over 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010, although it has remained stable since then, according to Brown’s research. In 2019, this represents 10 divorced people for every 1,000 married people aged 50 and over.

“Marriage is now more about personal growth and personal happiness than it was decades ago,” observes Brown, “and we have very high expectations of what constitutes marital success.”

So what are the main culprits that lead to divorce after a long marriage?

1. Infidelity

Suzy Brown, 74, says she tried for “three long, painful years” to persuade her husband to break off an affair with someone he met at work. But, finally, after 33 years of marriage, she filed for divorce.

Brown, from Kansas City, Missouri, was devastated, hurt, sad and furious. She found herself doing things she would never have thought of, like hiding behind bushes in the parking lot in front of her ex-partner’s apartment – at 2 a.m. – to see if the woman was the.

Much has changed for Brown since then. As a midlife divorce survivor, she started the Midlife Divorce Recovery website in 2007, following the release of her book, Radical Recovery: Turning the Desperation of Your Divorce into Unexpected Good. She offers programs for women and men, as well as one-on-one calls, to help overcome the painful and overwhelming feelings that divorce often brings.

Brown, who remarried in 2004, has a lot of adjectives for her life these days: good, fun, adventurous, determined.

“One of my biggest defeats has become something I’m proud of because I’ve been able to help so many people,” she says. “Life is coming and we have to find a way to move forward.”

2. Money problems

In the American Psychological Association’s 2020 “Stress in America” survey, 64% of adults said money was a major source of stress in their lives. And since different people often manage their money in different ways, conflicts easily arise.

It’s not always about how much money a couple has, says Karen Covy, a divorce coach and divorce lawyer in Chicago. People “want what money means to them. There is a whole emotional component to it.

A classic example of marital tension over money is that of the spender versus the saver. For the spender, money is synonymous with freedom; for the saver, it represents security. Spenders may view savers as frugal or stingy, and savers may view spenders as frivolous or wasteful.

Another common source of conflict is when one partner agrees to stay home with the children while the other supports the family financially. Once the children grow up, however, financial support often wants the stay-at-home spouse to enter or re-enter the workforce, but that spouse may be unable or unwilling to find work outside the home.

“The two spouses have different views on the deal and who broke it,” Covy said. “That’s why you have to deal with issues as they arise, because the more you let them go, the more resentment grows. There is a tipping point, and if one spouse lets the other pass over their tipping point, the game is over.

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