Here’s a fun game: whose joint statement about the dissolution of their relationship is whose?
- “We have realized we are better as friends and look forward to remaining so.”
- “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
- “We have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”
a. MacKenzie Scott and Jeff Bezos
b. Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez
c. Bill Gates and Melinda Gates
Answers at the end, and immediate props to the publicists who crafted grown-up versions of the classic breakup line, “We’ll still be friends.”
You may have heard the term “gray divorce,” which Boomers (like Bill and Melinda) made a thing. Research shows from 1990-2010, the midlife divorce rate almost doubled. Yet it’s too simple to blame these splits on marrying too young or working too hard.
Instead, it may be helpful to look at irreconcilable differences through an individual development lens. After all, as divorce lawyer Nicole Sodoma points out:
The people we marry are not the people we divorce because people change.
For those of us focused on personal growth, that point may ring especially true.
The Gen eX-Factor
Generation X has been more likely to stay married than our folks. The reasons are a bit counterintuitive. While we were the first generation to normalize having divorced parents, we also have tended to stay married longer. So far, anyway.
But according to recent US Census Bureau data, divorce rates are highest (about 43%) among both sexes in the age bracket we’re approaching: 55-64.
Speaking of aging, we GenXers are riding the longevity wave to perhaps triple digits. So the whole “until death do us part” concept begs re-evaluation — especially if the person you said “I do” to doesn’t do it for you so much anymore.
With or Without You
We have a lot of scripts when we’re young for how [life] should look. There’s no script for midlife. You get to create it on your own.
This entails taking an honest look at who you are today. Do you and your partner desire similar things? Do you still want to create a life together? What are the financial, social, and familial implications?
While you’re soul searching, you might consider the meaning of the word “divorce.” From the Latin “divortium,” it means to divert. In other words, turn to exploring a new direction.
And, for the record, that doesn’t have to gray out all the positives of the life you’ve shared to this point.