It’s very easy to imagine that your grandparents have always been grandparents. That they simply began as gentle, elderly and unable to properly work their new phones. Sure, you might hear stories about their lives before their hair got grey(or fell out), but it’s difficult to imagine them dating, gossiping and having sexy shenanigans similar to anyone currently in their 20s or 30s.
But here’s the thing: the divorce rate amongst the over-65s is rising. These so-called ‘silver splitters’ are paying off their mortgages, retiring from their jobs, looking at their significant others and thinking ‘I could do better’. Honestly, it might seem saddening. I look at my partner and imagine us sitting quietly in a garden in our golden years and that doesn’t sound too bad. Nonetheless, I think it should be celebrated that people are leaving unhappy marriages to find someone who will cherish them instead of tolerating them.
There will be one deeply tragic loss in this situation. The demise of the boomer-ish I-hate-my-spouse humour. But (and do bear with me on this) sexist jokes made at the expense of people you’re supposed to love aren’t actually very funny. If you truly believe that your wife is an old nag or a ‘ball and chain’, perhaps it’s time to find someone you can enjoy cohabiting with. If your husband is lazy and only interested in golf, maybe you should seek someone who uplifts you, instead of grumbling. A divorce at the end of an unhappy marriage is a good thing. It might not be easy or pleasant, but when it’s done the former spouses will probably be better off.
So, why are couples more likely to divorce? A few different reasons have been suggested. Firstly, people are working longer. This means they’re more financially independent and can afford to live alone and bear the costs associated with divorce. Really, this is pretty sad and concerning: imagine your spouse only staying with you because they don’t have the funds to live separately, rather than because of any love or affection they feel towards you. The second explanation is a little more fun. Apparently, the over 65s are getting into online dating.
Now there are some sites that cater specifically to older people looking to fall in love again, and perhaps more will be established if the divorce rate stays high and the market grows. Personally, I’m just concerned that they’ll need help using their online dating accounts and their long-suffering tech support (grandchildren) will accidentally read their sexts.
People might be getting divorced later, but they’re also getting married later. The average age of a bride in the UK is 35.8 and grooms are 38.1. Perhaps this will work out well too, in the long run. Boomers often got married in their late teens/early 20s and now they’re getting divorced. It’s possible that younger generations are spending more time with their prospective spouses before committing to marriage and that could, in turn, translate to happier and longer-lasting unions. I can confidently say that it would have been wrong for me to marry anyone I dated when I was 18 or 21. Maybe the ‘wilderness years’ of dating, exploring and being alone will give the younger generations time to find out what they want in a partner and only get married when they’re sure they’ve found the right person.
Divorce isn’t the only thing that’s becoming more common for the over 65s. They’re also remarrying. In fact, the number of weddings between the over 65s has increased more than any other age bracket for the past decade. Part of this is probably because of the size of the aforementioned age bracket: as people live longer, more of them will fit into the ‘over 65’ category. Nevertheless, it seems clear that single, older people are still looking for love and ready to recommit with the right person. Some of this is, undoubtedly, because they’re using dating sites, but it’s also important to consider the wider impact of the internet. Sites like Facebook can help reconnect people with old friends and former sweethearts. I can only speak for myself, but the idea of a couple who were separated by circumstance in their early 20s reuniting with grey hairs and smiles full of false teeth and deciding to finally tie the knot is wonderfully sweet and romantic. Plus, bachelorette parties full of grannies? Sign me up.
The idea of idly swiping through Tinder and coming across your grandparents is, undoubtedly, an odd one. If you’re afraid of it, I’d recommend checking your age restrictions. Initially, headlines like ‘divorce rates rise amongst the over 65s’ might seem sad, but it seems clear that grandparents are simply shifting and finding people who they’re happier with. I don’t mind if my grandparents separate: what I want is for them to enjoy their golden years with someone they love.