We all remember milestones from our life: our first kiss, the birth of a child or buying our first home. With each event we typically felt pride, happiness, and an increased sense of self worth.
Conversely, midlife transitions tend to feel different. The graduation of the youngest child from college, reaching a big “0” in birthdays or your parents passing away can trigger feelings that cause stress and for many, it may force them to reevaluate their current life and where they want to go.
So outside of these midlife transitions, what are some complementary triggers for divorce?
1. Increasing life expectancies – It’s both the good news and the bad news – we are all living longer which makes us look outwards to the future with the desire to “get it right”. So what is the bad news? If you are in a less than satisfactory relationship, do you really want to continue down that unfulfilled path for the next 30 or 40 years? Probably not.
2. Second marriages that haven’t worked out – Boomers who have already experienced a first marriage and have remarried are unfortunately more likely to end up seeking a second divorce. According to the US Census Bureau, 60 percent of second marriages and 73 percent of third marriages will end in divorce.
3. The children have their own lives – Whether they have entered into or graduated from college, are pursuing a career or have a family of their own, there is less pressure to stay married ‘for the kids sake’. There is less worry about keeping a cohesive family unit for holidays and other events. This can spell a chance for freedom for many boomer marriages.
4. Being prepared financially – After spending years building a career and acquiring assets, folks who hit middle age are now more financially comfortable in being able to call it quits. Although assets will require dividing, including retirement savings, most women will wait until they feel like they can take care of themselves before pulling the divorce trigger. If the husband is ending the marriage, he is usually the one that feels prepared; unfortunately this can often put the wife in a financially precarious position.
5. Simply falling out of love – Long-term couples have had years to learn each other’s patterns. The time spent together either develops collaborative communication strategies that bring them closer together or breeds negative behaviors to push buttons, triggering even greater negative reactions. Years of controlling or rejecting behavior may eventually extinguish the passion that brought you into the marriage in the first place.
6. Competing lifestyles and values – When the kids are young, a couple with different interests can usually figure out a schedule to accommodate each other’s interests. However, when it is just the two of you alone at home and you are both off doing your own thing, this can often lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation and remember, you did get married to have a partner in life. Similarly, you may find that you value community involvement, your faith or personal well-being but you partner does not; this often causes friction and a disengagement by one or both individuals. Long-term couples can become strangers to one another.
7. Infidelity – A big topic with many areas in which to deceive. A spouse may be a financial cheat and is hiding how much they have borrowed or spent. This behavior is often just as devastating as a spouse who cheats with another person romantically. Your financial and romantic lives both require trust. Once that trust is broken, it can be almost impossible to recover the relationship.
8. Abusive relationships – Abuse can be a verbal, emotional or physical attack. Each time it happens it becomes easier to decide that you are just not going to live with an abusive partner for the rest of your life. With increasing life spans, it makes sense that women are deciding that they are just not going to take it any longer.
In the end, most people show incredible resiliency at the end of divorce. For women, discovering their independence, freedom and self-identity is a liberating experience as long as they don’t have increased financial stressors resulting from the divorce.
About Michelle Cortes-Harkins: Michelle is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Wealth Management Advisor and partner at Harkins Wealth Management, a financial firm which advises individuals before, during and after divorce. For further information, please go to our website at: http://www.harkinswealthmangement.com or email Michelle at [email protected]