The term “gray divorce” has become much more common as we near the end of 2013. Essentially, five years ago, baby boomers were not splitting up at the rate they are now. In our prior posts, we have highlighted the reasons why older couples are more likely to divorce (e.g. better financial positions, changes in societal trends). However, the trend suggests that senior citizens are simply following an evolutionary process established by other animals.
The Los Angeles Daily News used an example set by a pair of giant tortoises who had been living together in captivity for 115 years.
According to the report, the pair had been living together at the Austrian Zoo, and their “marriage” was the longest on record. However, last year, the female turtle had bit off part of her mate’s shell. After that, the pair refused to live together. Handlers did what they could to try to coax the tortoises into sharing space once again, but their efforts were in vain. The couple did not want to want to be with each other.
The story was an example of what happens with older married couples. One party does something that appears surmountable, but the marriage is essentially over. It shows that older Americans are reevaluating what it means to be married, especially in the second half of their lives. After all, baby boomers were the first generation to divorce and remarry in large numbers. With more Americans living longer, it will be more common to see older married couples make decisions to move on with their lives without their spouses.
Source: DailyNews.com, Divorce: seniors do it, even giant tortoises do it, August 26, 2013