When You Outgrow Love: What Is Grey Divorce And How To Thrive After


What Is Grey Divorce and How to Redefine Your Story

Divorce is never an easy decision to make. But sometimes life happens and you have to do the unimaginable. Grey divorce is one such experience that can feel like an unthinkable decision, yet, you know you just need to take the step. But what is grey divorce?

In life, at a certain stage we may feel that it is absolutely crucial that we start over, not only to survive but also to thrive. It becomes necessary that we step into the unknown regardless how scary or irrational it may sound. And the same goes for a marriage. 

Even if you may have shared a lifetime together and created lasting memories and experiences, a divorce may be the only option left for a happier, healthier and better life. That’s the reality for an increasing number of couples who find themselves in the realm of “grey divorce.” 

Today, we’ll explore the intricacies of grey divorce and shed light on what causes grey divorce, the challenges of life after grey divorce, and the possibilities that can emerge in the aftermath. 

What is Grey Divorce?

Grey divorce, also known as diamond divorce or silver splitter, refers to the dissolution of marriages among couples who are in the later stages of life, typically aged 50 and above. It’s a significant departure from the traditional notion that marriages last “till death do us part.” 

So what is grey divorce? It challenges the assumption that older couples are immune to the trials and tribulations of separation. In fact, older couples may struggle with unique relationship issues, compared to younger counterparts. These may include financial difficulties or challenges, such as dividing retirement savings and assets accumulated over decades.

Emotional issues and adjustments may also significantly contribute to a grey divorce. Moreover, older divorcees may experience concerns related to health insurance, social security benefits, and housing options.

Related: The Grey, Gritty Details of Long Term Marriage: Is “living happily ever after” really a thing?

Let’s take the example of Jack and Diane to better understand what is grey divorce. Jack and Diane, a couple in their late 50s, have been married for over 30 years. As they approach retirement, they realize they have grown apart over the years and no longer share common interests or goals. 

Despite attempts to reconcile, Jack and Diane decide to pursue a grey divorce to seek happiness and fulfillment in their remaining years. Studies have found that earlier marital dissolution in older adults was characterized by widowhood. However, with the rise in grey divorce, marital dissolutions in older adult are becoming more and more voluntary, occurring through divorce instead of widowhood 

“Among older women, about one-quarter of marital dissolutions are through divorce. For older men, a majority (52%) of marital dissolutions occur via divorce,” state researchers.

The fact is, grey divorce represents a growing trend, challenging the assumption that older couples are immune to the trials and tribulations of separation. This trend can be attributed to various factors, including longer life expectancy, changing societal attitudes towards divorce, and evolving expectations of marriage.

Ultimately, grey divorce underscores the importance of ongoing communication, mutual respect, and adaptability in maintaining a healthy and fulfilling marriage, especially as couples navigate the unique challenges of later life stages.

What Causes Grey Divorce?

Wondering why someone would consider getting a divorce in the later stages of life? “Gray divorce is especially likely to occur among couples who are socially and economically disadvantaged,” revealed a 2016 study. However, there can be many other reasons for grey divorce.

Here are some common contributing factors that can help us gain a deeper understanding about “what is grey divorce?” –

1. Evolving Personalities and Goals

Over time, individuals change, grow, and sometimes outgrow their partners. The once-shared aspirations may no longer align, leading to a sense of emotional distance and dissatisfaction within the marriage. In fact, couples may even fall out of love.

2. Empty Nest Syndrome

When children leave the family home, couples are often faced with a void. The absence of a shared purpose or shared responsibilities can amplify existing issues or reveal underlying conflicts that were overshadowed by the busyness of parenting. This is what causes grey divorce.

Related: Is An Unhappy Marriage Better Than Divorce?

3. Financial Independence

With greater financial independence, particularly among women, the fear of being trapped in an unhappy marriage due to financial reliance has diminished. This newfound autonomy can embolden individuals to pursue happiness outside the confines of an unsatisfying relationship.

4. Longer Life Expectancy

As life expectancy increases, so does the number of years individuals spend in marriage. Couples may find themselves contemplating whether they want to spend the remaining years of their lives in an unfulfilling partnership or take a leap into a new chapter. 

We must consider these factors when exploring what causes grey divorce.

Life After Grey Divorce

What does life look like after a grey divorce? How does life unfold after a grey divorce? Here’s how the journey of rediscovery and renewal may look like –

1. Emotional Rollercoaster

Grey divorce can bring forth a wave of emotions, ranging from grief and loneliness to relief and newfound freedom. It’s essential to acknowledge and process these emotions, seeking support from loved ones or professional therapists to navigate this turbulent period.

2. Rebuilding Social Networks

After a long marriage, social circles often become intertwined. Following a grey divorce, individuals may find themselves needing to rebuild their social networks. They may establish new friendships and connections that align with their newfound sense of self.

Related: Midlife Crisis and a “Silver” Divorce

3. Rediscovering Personal Identity

When you know what is grey divorce, you realize that it provides an opportunity for self-reflection and self-discovery. People can reconnect with their passions, hobbies, and personal goals that may have been neglected during the marriage. This rediscovery aids in cultivating a renewed sense of identity and purpose.

4. Financial Considerations

Grey divorce can pose unique financial challenges, particularly when it comes to retirement planning. Dividing assets, adjusting to a single income, and reassessing retirement goals require careful financial planning and potentially seeking professional advice to ensure long-term financial stability.

Things to consider

What factors should you weigh before pursuing a grey divorce? Here are some crucial considerations for navigating this significant life transition –

1. Impact on Adult Children

Adult children often experience a mix of emotions when their parents divorce. They may feel caught in the middle or worry about their parents’ well-being. Open and honest communication, emphasizing that the divorce is not their fault and ensuring their emotional support, can help navigate this period.

Grey divorce involves legal considerations such as property division, alimony, and healthcare arrangements. They may need to update their estate plans, wills, and beneficiary designations. Seeking legal counsel specializing in family law is crucial to ensure a fair and smooth transition.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Your Husband Won’t Divorce You, Even If You Are Both Miserable

3. Intimacy and Relationships

After a grey divorce, individuals may contemplate future romantic and sexual relationships. Redefining personal boundaries becomes essential when exploring new connections. 

It’s important to approach intimacy with openness, honesty, and consent, prioritizing emotional well-being and fostering healthy relationships. It is also crucial that you focus on self-awareness, learning from past experiences, and setting healthy boundaries in new relationships.

4. Health and Well-being

Grey divorce can have a profound impact on the health and well-being of individuals. The stress and emotional upheaval associated with divorce can contribute to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and physical health issues

It is crucial for individuals going through a grey divorce to prioritize self-care, seek professional help if needed, and engage in activities that promote overall well-being.

5. Housing and Living Arrangements

One of the crucial aspects of knowing “what is grey divorce?” is realizing the importance of planning for living arrangements.

Grey divorce often necessitates a reevaluation of living arrangements. Couples may need to downsize, sell the family home, or explore alternative housing options. 

This transition can bring both financial and emotional challenges, as individuals navigate finding a new place to live and creating a comfortable and stable living environment.

Related: 10 Losses You May Not Expect in Divorce

6. Grandparenting Dynamics

Grey divorce can impact the dynamics of grandparenting. The separation of grandparents can result in changes in visitation schedules, geographical distances, and strained relationships with grandchildren. 

Open and honest communication with adult children about maintaining meaningful connections with grandchildren is essential to ensure continued involvement and support.

7. Impact on Friendships

Divorce can sometimes affect friendships, especially if friends were part of a couple’s shared social circle. While some friendships may endure, others may change or fade away. 

It’s important to nurture existing friendships and seek opportunities to create new connections and expand social networks.

In navigating these aspects of grey divorce, it’s crucial for individuals to approach each challenge with self-compassion, seek support from loved ones and professionals, and embrace the opportunities for growth and renewal that lie ahead. 


So what is grey divorce? Grey divorce represents a significant life transition, often filled with uncertainty, but it’s also an opportunity for personal growth and rediscovery. 

By acknowledging the emotions, rebuilding social networks, and embracing newfound independence, individuals can navigate life after grey divorce with resilience and optimism. 

Remember, it’s never too late to embark on a new chapter and embrace the possibilities that lie ahead. Life after grey divorce can be a transformative journey towards self-discovery and new beginnings.

Related: A Perfect Divorce: 12 Tips For Having A Healthy Divorce

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What is considered a gray divorce? 

A grey divorce refers to the dissolution of marriage among older couples, typically aged 50 and above.

What are the regrets of a grey divorce?

Regrets of a grey divorce may include financial strain, loneliness, and the emotional toll of ending a long-term relationship.

How does grey divorce affect adult children?

Grey divorce can impact adult children by causing emotional distress, shifting family dynamics, and influencing their own relationship perspectives.

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