Older divorcing adults show similar characteristics to younger peers

 Factors Influencing Adjustment to Late-Life Divorce

From a study by Karen Brown Wilson and Michael R. DeShane

Although the rate of divorce among older Americans has increased steadily, little attention has been paid to late life divorce. To describe the role of age and other factors which might influence adjustment to divorce in later life, data from a larger pilot study were used: 81 divorced persons over the age of 60 completed in-depth, structured interviews; and data were collected from records of 240 individuals filing for divorce, in which one of the spouses was over 60.

Results showed that divorcing older adults shared many characteristics with younger divorcing persons, e.g., low occupational status, few assets, weak religious ties, urban residence, weak kinship ties, and early marriage. The cause often given for divorce was lack of emotional gratification, generally precipitated by a particular stressful event.

Although women were more likely than men to rate their marriage as of low quality, they reacted more negatively to the idea of divorce. Men were less successful than women in post-divorce adjustment. A divorce adjustment model developed to predict low post-divorce adjustment suggests a set of relationships between five predictor variables: anticipated cost, divorce experience, consequences, time, and sex. Sex, type of divorce experience, and overall consequences accounted for over half the variance in post-divorce adjustment scores. The findings sugggest that without the roles of wife and mother, older divorced women are ill-prepared emotionally, socially or financially to adapt to divorce.

Source:  www.eric.ed.gov

Take the Fisher Divorce Adjustment Scale at www.DivorceSeminarCenter.com


  1. Gene Gorman
    Posted February 23, 2008 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been avoiding a confrontation with my spouse regarding a divorce for about 4 years-somehow I kept hoping I would start seeing things differently.I,sad to say,have lost my attraction to her and yet still have sex drive and fear I may end upseeking romance elsewhere.I don’t want to be untrue yet we have no real romance life and I don’t really care for one with her.I feel we have just grown apart and even though I respect her and want whats best for her,I feel we must part.The last thing I want is to hurt her yet I must take care of myself as well.I’ve been miserable for some time and yet I try to put on my happy face and this leaves me very angry.Probably at myself for being too cowardly to take the action I need to take.Any advice would be greatly appreciated.Gene

  2. Posted February 26, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Dear Gene,

    The inevitable changes we experience in our lives are reflected in our relationships. In fact, every long term relationship is a series of relationships in which the partners discuss, renew and renegotiate aspects of their relationship as personal and familial needs change. And, as you’ve experienced, people do grow apart.

    I see the respect you have for your wife and your attempts to balance that with respect for yourself. Living truthfully is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to another. There is no substitute in any relationship for lovingly sharing who we are and what we desire. True intimacy is built on this honesty as partners work through differences, find common ground and re-commit to their union.

    I suggest that you see a counselor to help you prepare your message to your wife, then with both of you together at the counselor, share your concerns and desires. She may feel similar emotions. This can open a new path for both of you, and in doing so make it easier to part ways, or because of honest discussion, possibly create a new relationship together. You cannot know how this will be until you have this discussion.

    Be open to change, both in yourself and in your relationship. If divorce is the only course, then at least mutual respect can be established to make that process as honest and forthright as possible.

    Good luck to you.

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