Recently I attended an online summit called ‘Transitioning into Retirement’, that was convened by a Coach in Florida. Truly interesting talks, from the dark side of retirement, to how to start an encore career. The Americans are talking actively about the difficulty adjusting to a retirement lifestyle in our 60’s. One interesting new term I had not heard before was “grey divorce”. This is a term for those divorcing in their 50’s and 60’s.

As always, I visited the web to find out more. Shockingly, in the US the grey divorce rate doubled between 1990 and 2010 – the only age group where the divorce rate increased! Apparently one in 4 couples in their 60’s divorce in the US. A study by the Paris school of Economics found the surprising fact that couples who had been married 35 to 40 years were as likely to divorce as those only married for 5 years.

One journalist said it was the divorce of Al Gore and his wife after 40 years that sparked the research into grey divorce. So what triggers a couple married that long to divorce? It seems that we now live in a society that places more value on freedom and independence than the generations before us. Our parents and grandparents simply continued to live parallel lives once they found they had little in common as a couple, and simply lived separate lives in their later years. But now, the baby boomers are no longer prepared to live the charade, and are filing for divorce. In 66% of the cases in the US, divorce is filed by women.

The Japanese have a lovely term for it. They call it ‘Retired husband syndrome’! This encompasses the problems that arise from the stress caused by the changes in lifestyle that occur in retirement!

Therefore ensuring that communication lines are open and planning is done together for retirement is essential. Sure, if there is nothing in common any more, divorce maybe inevitable, but if lives have simply grown apart due to energy being invested into career development, surely having the conversation is important?

What do you think?  I would love to hear your comments.