Divorce on the rise for couples over 60

This week’s (June 2010) announcement that Al Gore and his wife Tipper are divorcing after more than 40 years of marriage has caused many to ask: why bother? If you’re old enough to divorce after your daughter has been divorced, maybe that’s a sign that you are too old.

Now, there are many fascinating aspects to this development, including the chance to reread the Gores’ jointly authored book on the joys of marriage, Joined at the Heart, or indeed to follow the new Twitter trend of thinking up pick-up lines for Al (“wanna see my hanging chad?”). But unnoticed among them is the fact that it is pensioners such as Al (62) and Tipper (61) who are the only ones bucking the trend of a lower divorce rate.

It’s as if, like taking up golf or ballroom dancing, this is another hobby that you have time for only in your retirement.

The Office of National Statistics shows that the rate of divorce is dropping sharply in every age group, except the over-60s – this includes every age over 60, because the statisticians never anticipated the need to start separate graphs for the seventies, eighties, and nineties. The world’s oldest divorcés, Bertie and Jessie Woods, made history last year by divorcing when they had both reached the age 98.

So why, instead of cruising off into their dotage hand in hand, are the grandparent generation single-handedly dragging the average divorce age up every year? I talked to Andrew Smith about his parents’ recent separation. Normally you would expect to conduct this discussion with a shell-shocked pre-schooler, or a resentful teenager. But Smith is himself 55, and his parents are in their eighties. Was that not, I inquire tactfully, a little late in life to look for pastures new?

“I think so, yes, in that this is the time of life when they actually need each other,” he says. “But there is also an intolerance that comes with age. My mother and my father wanted different things in terms of where they wanted to live, and in the end they decided not to compromise. At lot of people of their age lead increasingly separate lives – separate bedrooms and so on. But they needed more. There’s independence of spirit there, but selfishness too. The support that my mother needs, other people in the family have to take that responsibility.”

Stephanie Coontz, the author of Marriage, a History notes that getting married in the late 1960s or 1970s was a big risk factor. Why? Partly because people still married very young (Tipper was 21 and Al 22 when they got hitched). And partly because life expectancy is now so much longer that those who are unhappy by the time the kids leave home know they have many decades stretching out ahead of them.

Read more via Divorce on the rise for couples over 60.


At first blush

With my wife still in the process of moving out, my first extended weekend alone wasn’t quite what I expected.

I’m not sure it’s something I ate or what, but I seemed to have all sorts of energy for fixing things, arranging things, and cleaning things.  I mowed the lawn, planted the flowers I had started from seed, cleaned the refrigerator and threw expired items away, threw the junk food out of the pantry and cleaned that up, did laundry, cleaned the bathrooms, cleaned the outdoor grill, painted the deck, installed a towing hitch on the wife’s car and washed her car…  There’s probably other stuff too, but I forget because it was almost I was on autopilot and just kept going.

I think that was a good sign, like I was getting on with my life already and wasn’t just going to sit around and feel lonely.  In fact, for the first weekend anyway, it felt liberating.

If I felt like doing something or throwing something away, I just did it.

I also had some other ideas, like I should go camping more.  I looked online for old campers and trailers, and then realized I didn’t need anything like that.  But I could have gotten one if I wanted to.

Then, even though I have a great old dog, I started looking at pets:  miniature pigs, peacocks, weird animal pets.

In fact, I settled on picking up a batch of pheasant chicks after work today.  Hence, my “picking up chicks” blog.


P.S.  I even responded to a couple of college kids that were looking for a room to rent.  I like coming up with possibilities and being able to act on them.  I’m cancelling the land line phone and cable TV too, and just going with internet and Netflix.


WANTED: A quiet senior-citizen roommate, good cook, likes to clean house, do repairs, run errands, walk the dog and pay a lot of rent to me!


In these tough economic times, many BOOMERS are looking for ways to cut their monthly expenses, so ads like the above are becoming more commonplace in senior community newsletters and on roommate websites.

It could be tough finding an agreeable roommate because other than spouses, most of us haven’t roomed with anyone since our college days. And let’s face it…….as we age, we definitely become more set in our ways.

If you decide taking in a roommate is the panacea for your monthly financial shortfall, then it’s critical to set guidelines upfront or you could end up in a situation like the “Odd Couple”.

Some basic topics that should be covered in writing are:

read all about it via Adventures in Retirement: Roommates.

How to pick up chicks at 60

I got a number off the local Craigslist for chicks at 2 bucks apiece!

The old guy (he’s probably younger than I am) has about 600 of them, and said he’d have another 200 in a few weeks.  Apparently they’re hatching out all over the place.

So tonight after work I’m going to go cruising for chicks in a senior citizen kind of way, and on a senior citizen budget.

I’ll need to stop at the farm supply store and pick up a heat lamp, a water tank, and a feeder.  And since they’re young chicks, I plan on keeping them in the garage to stay warm until they get a bit older and the weather turns more toward summer.

pheasant chicks

How to save a drowning swimmer…

Awhile ago I remembered what they taught us in swimming life saving. One of the first exercises was having our “Bo Derek” instructor jump off the boat and start thrashing around yelling “help! help!”, and as a young teenage boy I dove right in to rescue. When I got to her, thinking about how I was going to come up behind and throw my arm around her chest, she lunged for me and grabbed on tight. As we went flailing toward the bottom of the lake, I suddenly remembered her instruction to use my feet to push her away and swim up to catch my breath. You have to protect yourself or you both drown. It’s not easy to rescue a panicked swimmer.  Or a depressed spouse.

Without Sanity

You don’t.

Let me expand. You don’t LIVE with a depressed wife, you co-exist with a depressed wife. You know those commercials that play the dramatic bass piano sounds and show people sitting and staring out windows and rubbing their shoulders. You know  the ones with the dog bouncing around walking to play ball and the man is leaning against a wall with his eyes closed and they look back at the dog and the dogs all sad and depressed? Where the kids are moping around because the Mom is too tired to play with them. The woman at her job is rubbing her forehead and co-workers are looking at her strangely. Yeah those.

 Then they say “Depression Hurts. Everyone”

They’re right. On so many levels.  Depression affects everything we do, it affects our immune systems, as females it can affect our menstrual cycles and eating habits. Depression…

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Husband Leaves Wife Because Her 550 Cats Kept Stealing His Food.

In divorce papers filed with a Rabbinical Court in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, a man claimed living with his wife has become unbearable ever since she took in some 550 cats.

The man complained that the cats would regularly block his access to the bathroom and made it impossible to cook or eat, as they would constantly swipe his food off the table. He also alleges that their insistence on sharing the couple’s bed prevented him from getting any sleep.

Though the pair reportedly tried to reconcile, they ultimately decided to go their separate ways after the wife refused her husband’s request to dump the cats.

via Husband Leaves Wife Because Her 550 Cats Kept Stealing His Food.