Lessons From A Porch: the Rise of Divorce Later in Life
Kristen and I were lucky enough to spend the weekend in Provincetown. The Land’s End Inn is our favorite place to stay for many reasons — but chief among them is its magnificent porch with views of the harbor. Our purpose this weekend was to get away from the office to do some strategic planning for the firm, and so we have happily holed up on a wicker couch with coffee, laptops, and our agenda.
The inn is in Provincetown’s relatively sleepy West End, and feels much farther from the bustle of downtown than its 1.8 miles. In addition to lawyers seeking quiet, it generally tends to attract the baby boomer set.
I knew we had selected the perfect location for our retreat, but I didn’t expect to learn so much about divorce from our colleagues on the porch. You see, the Land’s End is one of those places where people talk to other people. The conversations, which begin with a “where are you from?,” quickly drift into much more intimate discussions. Ah, the safety of strangers.
So many people here are sharing the fact that they are — in their words — reinventing themselves. Sometimes it’s a new career post-retirement; sometimes it’s ending a marriage.
We know from our experience in practice that so-called “silver divorce” is on the rise. The New York Times has written about it, and it’s a major theme in Netflix’s popular show Grace and Frankie.
According to the Times, “in 2014, people age 50 and above were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. For those over 65, the increase was even higher. At the same time, divorce rates have plateaued or dropped among other age groups.”
Pepper Schwartz’s CNN article tackled the question of “why baby boomers are so divorce-prone” later in life, finding that:
They are still making it up as they go along, inventing middle age pretty much the same way they made up adolescence and marriage, redefining the parameters of personal relationships and reinventing what different stages of the life cycle could look like. They are fighting fiercely to remain youthful, to stay employed and/or passionately engaged with life, sexually vibrant (particularly with the help of new medical interventions) and regard their 50s and 60s as every bit the opportunity for love and sexual attraction that their 20s and 30s were. At age 55 or 65, they look at spending 20 or 30 more years with the same person — and unlike their parents, whose sense of duty was stronger and opportunities to repair weaker, they are ready to walk if things aren’t up to their hopes, dreams or delusions about marriage.
What I am hearing anecdotally on the porch tends less towards a focus on finding new love and more than towards finding one’s self.
They are also scattered about with photos from our retreat, but now it’s time for me to stop talking and let the wonderful guests of the Land’s End speak:
“What works in one season of your life doesn’t necessarily work in another.” — Gentleman on the Porch
“I turned 60 and I realized I haven’t ridden a bike in 40 years. I wanted to find out if I remembered. He didn’t, he was good.” — Lady on the Porch
“There was so much I wanted to do and see and try. I had to go live.” — Lady on the Porch
“I figure it’s time for me to stop saying I’m brave and start being brave.” — Gentleman on the Porch
Freed Marcroft’s attorneys guide select clients through the legal aspects of divorce while remaining mindful of their overall wellness.
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