The overall divorce rate in the United States has declined over the last two decades, except for one segment of the population; the rate of gray divorce has not only increased, but it has actually doubled. Gray divorce refers to older couples – typically over 50 years of age – who are in the process of going through a divorce.

You might think that couples who have managed to make a marriage last into their 50s are set for life. However, there are some common reasons for gray divorce.

Growing apart

By the time a couple reaches 50 years of age, they have likely raised a family and the kids are now out of the house, leaving them “empty nesters.” They now have far more time to spend together – and may come to realize that what connected them decades ago is no longer relevant – they have simply grown apart.

Retirement

When a couple reaches retirement age, they sometimes struggle with balancing their unscheduled lives with their desire to continue to make an impact somewhere. Considering how spouses grow in different ways throughout the years, this can further expose the widening gap in their marriage.

Living longer

Americans today often live longer than those in past decades. For some people, the thought of living many more years in an unhappy marriage becomes unbearable.

Lifestyle

One person may want to use all their extra free time to travel, play golf and explore new restaurants while their spouse just wants to stay home and read a book or watch television. Different interests can lead to an irreparable fracture in a marriage.

Money

Money is always one of the main reasons for divorce, but it can become a significant divorce factor after a couple retires. Living on a smaller, fixed income may necessitate a cut in spending. If both partners can’t agree on a budget, divorce may seem like their only option.

Couples who have spent decades building a life together may possess numerous assets, which can tend to complicate a divorce. Nevertheless, some people would rather get divorced than stay in an unfulfilling or unloving relationship. And for many individuals, that has nothing to do with age.