Grey divorce

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Grey divorce[1][2][3] or silver splitter,[4] is a term referring to the demographic trend of an increasing divorce rate for older ("grey-haired") couples in long-lasting marriages. Former American vice-presidential couple Tipper and Al Gore's decision to separate after over 40 years of marriage is an example of this trend as is the former married research and writing duo Masters and Johnson and music duo Captain and Tennille, whose own divorce came in 2014 after 39 years of marriage.[5] Another example of this is the divorce of the world's 4th richest man, Bill Gates and his wife of 27 years, Melinda French Gates as of May 2021.

In the United States[edit]

Grey divorce was documented in the United States as early as the 1980s,[6] but wasn't labeled as such until around 2004.[7] The phenomenon entered the public awareness with a 2004 AARP study[8] and was further elucidated in Deirdre Bair's 2007 book Calling It Quits containing interviews with grey divorcees.[9] Older couples are responsible for the overall increase in the divorce rate in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] While wives seek divorces at a higher rate than husbands, some have argued that an increase in older husbands' infidelity, facilitated by the development and increased availability of nitrate-based anti-impotence drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, has led to the divorce increase,[10] though this account has also been disputed.[11] Other researchers have pointed to the increase in human longevity, the cultural values of Baby Boomers, and women's increasing financial independence as potential causes.[12]

Statistics on grey divorce[edit]

In May 2004, the AARP conducted a study titled The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond.[13]

Some of the findings consisted of:

Who initiates divorce in later life?

  • 66% of female participants initiated divorce
  • 41% of male participants initiated divorce

Participants' age when divorced

  • Age 40–49, 73% of participants divorced in their 40s
  • Age 50–59, 22% of participants divorced in their 50s
  • Age 60 and older, 4% of participants divorced in their 60s or later

In Japan[edit]

In Japan it is referred to as retired husband syndrome (主人在宅ストレス症候群, Shujin Zaitaku Sutoresu Shoukougun, literally One's Husband Being at Home Stress Syndrome).[14][15] While devoting years to his career, a husband may rarely see his family.[15] As a result, a husband and wife may not interact extensively. When the husband retires, both can feel they are living with a virtual stranger.[16] This can cause particular stress for the woman who, as society dictated in her youth, is now expected to attend to her husband's every need.[16] The stress of change in lifestyle brings a number of problems,[15] including feelings of resentment towards husbands.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Owen, Rhodri (2004-03-05). "Grey divorce - the 50-something itch". The Western Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  2. ^ "Grey divorce on increase as love dies". Irish Independent. 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  3. ^ Deborah Carr, Ph.D. (2012-11-06).
  4. ^ "'Silver splitters' – are over-60s divorcees creating a new generation rent?". The Guardian. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  5. ^ Kingston, Anne (2010-06-01). "Al and Tipper Gore's grey divorce". Macleans. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  6. ^ Clift, Elayne (2005-03-06). "Grey Divorce on the Rise". Women's Feature Service. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  7. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (2004-08-08). "The 37-Year Itch". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02. Those professionals, along with people going through so-called gray divorces, point to many factors
  8. ^ Kingston, Anne (2007-01-27). "The 27-Year Itch". Macleans. Archived from the original on 2010-08-12. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  9. ^ Hampson, Sarah (2008-11-06). "The wrinkle in grey divorce: retirement funds". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  10. ^ Heddeker, Terry Martin (2006-01-01). "Paradise Lost (Domestic Division)". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  11. ^ Leving, Jeffery M.; Glen Sacks (2006-01-30). "'Gray Divorce': men must be wrong". Cincinnati Post. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  12. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (2004-08-08). "The 37-Year Itch". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  13. ^ Montenegro, Xenia (2004). "The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond" (PDF). AARP The Magazine. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Retired husband syndromeあるいは「主人在宅ストレス症候群」 [医学・科学関連]" (in Japanese). November 15, 2006. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
  15. ^ a b c BBC News (February 22, 2006). "Japan retired divorce rate soars". BBC News. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  16. ^ a b c Faiola, Anthony (October 17, 2005). "Sick of Their Husbands in Graying Japan". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-11-29.

Further reading[edit]