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Don’t Be Shocked If Your Parents Call It Quits After A Zillion Years Of Marriage

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baby boomers divorceI’m at the stage where my friends are getting divorced. Most of them have a couple of kids, many of them have since moved in with a new partner and his children from a previous marriage. It’s still jarring when I hear of yet another split, though it’s certainly become a common scenario among my generation. Now it seems we’re not the only ones: divorce rates among baby boomers (couples over 50) are on the rise. In fact, they’ve doubled in the last 20 years, according to a recent study by Ohio’s Bowling Green State University.

To put it in perspective, fewer than one in 10 people who divorced were 50 or older back in 1990. Two decades later, that rate was one in four. Study authors attribute the growing divorce rate to several factors, including boomers’ changing ideas about marriage.

“We have high expectations for what constitutes a good marriage today and we’re looking for self-fulfillment and individual happiness in our relationships,” said co-author Susan L. Brown. “When you are 60, 65 you retire [and say], ‘Well, I can live another 20, 25 years. Do I want to spend my life with that person? Is she or he making me happy?’ And if not, well, divorce is a viable alternative.”

As Brown goes on to explain, boomers were the first generation to come of age when divorce rates began to accelerate in the 70s and early 80s. Before then, it was frowned upon – certainly more so than today. I guess I’ve always been naive in figuring that most couples who have been together for 30-plus years – many with adult children and grandchildren – are less likely to divorce than, say, the 30-somethings with young children and busy careers. But it seems that’s no longer the case.

What’s interesting is that I now picture all these young parents not only having to emotionally deal with their parents’ divorce, but having to explain it to their own kids, as well. Though that’s besides the point. Because what really matters is that these boomers are happy. For the first time ever, many of them feel like they actually have a choice. And as I’ve always believed, the true definition of feminism is being allowed to choose what sort of life you want.

(Photo: Mincemeat/Shutterstock)