Now a survey by older persons’ organisation Saga has looked into why this might be happening, with some interesting results.
Figures show that 28 per cent said they divorced because their partner was emotionally cold and distant, while a quarter cited a loss of interest in sex. In addition, 27 per cent said they were no longer committed to their marriage.
The main reason for men ending their marriage – cited in a third of cases – was a lack of interest in sex, while most women said their husband was ¬emotionally cold.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised with these reasons coming so high on the scale. The more common suggestions we have come across include the fact that with the children having flown the nest, cracks in a relationship that had used the children as the glue to keep them together, simply caused a marriage to fall apart. Couples who had lots in common when they were younger found that in the “children years”, they had grown apart and this was thrown into the spotlight when the family home was empty again.
There is also the fact that women are generally able to have greater financial independence by returning to work after raising a family, which means that more women have the means to initiate divorce proceedings.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, around 22,000 over-50s divorced this year – compared to a peak of around 25,000 in 2004 – which suggests overall we are not seeing a rise but perhaps it is a more vocal contingent we are now hearing from.
If it is a lack of intimacy in marriages between over-50s, is there anything that can be done to help counter this? Would counselling geared specifically towards older couples help? I don’t know but I would be interested to hear of anyone’s experience in this.
Divorce for those in later years can bring a whole set of problems that young couples ending their relationship often don’t need to worry about so much. If a couple has been together for many years, they will both have a lot more invested in their relationship, both emotionally and in terms of possessions. Any assets are likely to be larger, while larger and multiple pension pots can also need greater investigation by experienced professionals.
I would suggest that the best way for us to help then is to look at offering more help to older couples going through problems to save money and heartbreak all round.