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Baby Boomers’ Booming Divorces: Self-Fulfilling Prophesy?

84120557The rate at which baby boomers are divorcing each other defies many traditional expectations, obliterating marriages that have already lasted 25 plus years. Perhaps it’s not so surprising when you remember that the generation came of age as supporters of the cultural upheaval defining the 60′s. Again, many baby boomers are breaking tradition.

You would think marriages that have lasted so long would continue lasting throughout the end of the spouses’ lives. But statistics have been consistently proving that perception wrong, as more older couples enter the divorce process without looking back. There is a theory circulating that gray divorces are the result of the generation’s original expectations going into their marriages, expectations involving the high-held goal of self-fulfillment.

The Stats Tell A Story

Although the overall divorce rate peaked in the 1980s, a study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research shows that the baby boomer divorce rate has doubled in the last 20 years. Among those 50 years old or older, the divorce rate went from 1 in 10 in 1990, to 1 in 4 today.

Experts speculate this is partly due to empty-nest syndrome. As opposed to fidelity being a main cause, divorce attorney Don Cosley says, “The reality is that lack of communication is often the deal breaker. Empty nesters wake up one day and realize they have nothing in common with their spouse. That’s because they haven’t kept up the communication in their marriages.” It’s possible that children may have been what was holding a relationship together, so that when they leave the nest, so might love.

Self-Fulfillment, Individual Needs, and Happiness

Social workers and relationship coaches, Linda and Charlie Bloom, offer up another theory regarding the age of entitlement. In addition to baby boomers living longer than any other generation thus far, “those born after 1946 have entered marriage with a goal that was not shared by any previous generation: self-fulfillment.”

At the base of this hypothesis is the notion that, growing up in an era of greater affluence and opportunity, these baby boomers–like the generations that have followed them–feel a sense that they deserve happiness handed to them on a silver platter. And this is the kind of expectation that fueled their motivation to venture into marriage.

While there is nothing wrong with valuing happiness, your individual needs, and personal growth, believing that someone else, your lover, can simply bring all of that to you is a grave mistake. The marriage becomes a blame game of him or her not doing their part to make you happy, when in fact, much of your happiness and success depends on you and the work you put into it.

As the Blooms emphasize, lasting love and happiness comes with your own “willingness to take responsibility for the fulfillment of a desired outcome and making the effort to bring it about.”

Lesson to Learn

Maybe it’s time for the term “self-fulfillment” to be taken more literally, meaning that we fulfill ourselves independently from spouses, and he/she is wonderful icing on the cake. When that shift of attitude takes place, marriage becomes a game of mutual helping and progressing, not finger-pointing. Judging by the high rate of seemingly successful baby boomer couples filing for divorce, it’s likely that they can benefit from this change of perspective.

Delaying Divorce: Delaying the Inevitable?

57441057The sadness and emotional stress the divorce process involves makes it tempting to delay a divorce, perhaps permanently. The question anyone who is contemplating divorce would benefit from asking themselves is this: “Am I just delaying the inevitable?” It is a tough question no one can answer but one spouse or the other. If the answer is “yes,” then delayment means staying in a marriage that is in a constant state of turmoil in favor of putting off the other, more temporary, turmoil of cutting the marriage ties.

There are a few clues that point to the reality of imminent divorce, the basic one being that you are utterly miserable on a daily basis. That’s a pretty good sign. Otherwise, coming to the decision to divorce can be confusing and daunting. It’s usually time to divorce when you are preoccupied with the constant thought of doing it, and all attempts at convincing yourself or your spouse to change things have failed.

Lost, Desperate Causes

Sometimes grim reality is hard to face. But as soon as you face and accept difficult things, the quicker you’ll be able to do something about them and move forward. This philosophy is what therapist Abby Rodman incorporates in her article chronicling common cycles in which partners delaying divorce find themselves entrapped. Here are a couple to look out for:

Trying to Change Your Spouse’s Mind

We’d all love to have the superhuman power of magically changing someone’s perspective or feelings regarding a long-standing issue, whether it be the story of how your marriage went wrong, or whether divorcing is the right thing to do. The tough reality of this kind of push-pull situation, Rodman explains, is that it doesn’t work. Emotional stances that serious rarely, if ever, convert to the other side of the argument. So taking months or even years to attempt this feat is unnecessary delayment.

Pushing the Blame

Another type of counterproductive attempt at persuasion is fighting to determine the blame of the relationship’s approaching demise. Part of escaping this trap is taking responsibility for mutual blame. As Rodman says, “You’ve both played a role in the disintegration of the marriage. In the end, does it really matter who shoulders the blame?” Arguing over a faulty, biased claim like blameworthiness is never-ending and definitely doesn’t solve anything.

The Choice is Yours

A main piece of invaluable advice when residing in the limbo of divorce that’s possibly looming on the horizon, is to follow your heart. As cheesy as that may sound, it’s the key to staying true to yourself. Only you know the day to day reality of your marriage and how it’s affecting your livelihood. If the thought of filing for divorce repeatedly haunts your mind, it must be for good reasons. Trust yourself and the life you want your future to hold.

What do our readers think? What do you believe are the clear, tell-tale signs that divorce is the right decision?

Alimony & Sexism

76755050When the word sexism pops up, it’s common to tag it as a women’s problem; women face injustices in the workplace, and in home-life expectations. But sexism affects men as well. Questions and activism are on the rise regarding the fairness of alimony, and the regular handouts men are oftentimes required to pay ex-wives after filing for divorce. A centuries old system, alimony is beginning to be labeled as out of date with the changing times and gender roles of modern society.

Although every divorce case is different and requires special discretion, many states still require husbands to pay lifetime alimony, with few exceptions. It is especially deemed unjust by these husbands when the wife is fully capable of supporting herself if she so chose. The alimony law’s unfairness in these cases brings up the question of its value and promotion of a different kind of sexism that holds firm to strict gender expectations that are no longer appreciated.

“It’s not fair; it’s the law”

The main argument against lifetime alimony law is that ex-wives are reaping these monetary benefits for no good reason, other than the law states they should because it’s stuck in a 1950’s mentality. Opponents, consisting of both men and women, as discussed in an NPR article, are in favor of modifications, such as the new law in Massachusetts that customizes and determines alimony according to marriage length.

One such alimony opponent discussed in the article is Tom Leustek, a New Jersey based professor whose ex-wife has a Ph.D. Still, he was ordered by a judge to pay her lifetime alimony, since she had ended up quitting a high-paying job to start a less financially rewarding psychology practice. Leustek argues her earning potential is still alive and well. He quotes the judge, who said, “It’s not fair, Mr. Leustek; it’s the law.” That was the turning point leading him to take up activism through a group, called the New Jersey Alimony Reform, that seeks to modify the law in a similar way Massachusetts did.

Stuck in the 1950’s?

The term sexism comes into play when you consider the state of marital affairs of the past, in which most women in America stayed home to care for the house and children, while the breadwinning men trotted off to work. It was and continues to be a limiting stereotype that is still in the process of being eradicated as more and more women step into the workforce and increase their opportunities.

Businessman Raymond Posa is another alimony questioner who faced a similar situation to Leustek’s, agrees that the divorce law needs to change with the times. Referring to the assumptions made by alimony enforcement, he says, “It’s like you’re incapable of getting on your own two feet, and you need to depend on this person for the rest of your life?” If women are making their own money, it makes sense for the patriarchal notion of depending on a man to fall to the wayside where it belongs.

Evolving Divorce Opinions

Times and commonly held views are changing, and new research on Americans and the Brits further points to exactly how. It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, divorce is becoming less taboo and more accepted, even while the dream of marriage is still alive and well.  Granted, this greater acceptance of the divorce process is more prevalent among younger people than older generations.

The growingly popular opinion is while divorce remains rampant and many have had to feel the pain of it themselves, or through other couples who are parents, relatives, or friends, it has also become more normalized. The news of divorce is no longer the shock it once was perhaps because it has become so common. The perspective is beneficial to people who might otherwise feel shame, adding to the emotional turmoil already accompanying the split. Essentially, divorcees no longer have to worry so much about what others think of their choice.

The British Take

A new study published in the UK Daily Mail shows how the amount of people labeling divorce as a stigma is shrinking. Specifically, out of a poll of 2,000 people, about two thirds say the stigma is no longer existent. There are significant differences in opinion according to age, with 56% of 18-24 year-olds saying divorce is still taboo, and 67% of 24-54 year-olds saying divorce is still taboo.

The article quotes British relationship counselor Christine Northam explaining how it’s changed from past generations: “Divorce has become much more familiar in modern life; it’s not the hushed secret it was years ago…There is no such thing as a painless divorce; we are just getting better adjusted to it as a part of modern Britain.”

At the same time, many if not most people are still hopeful and greatly value the institution marriage and all it implies. Only 4 percent said divorce was a word they most frequently associated with marriage, the most common words associated with marriage being commitment and love. They consider 28 years-old the best age to tie the knot.

What Americans Think

Americans view divorce as much less of a shame than other behaviors possibly perceived as immoral. According to a recent Gallup poll, an impressive 68% of the Americans surveyed believe divorce is morally acceptable.

Similar to the Brits, there is still a high value placed on the sanctity of marriage, with a whopping 91% saying marital infidelity is morally despicable. There is a strong sense of despising hypocrisy in how people choose to live out their romantic lives. It seems the prevailing opinion is you are either in a marriage all the way, or you might as well file for divorce.

A respect of individual choice then is becoming much more important than traditional views of sticking through a marriage through thick and thin. While divorce is now seen as more of a personal choice that should be accepted as normal, when you are married, happily- and faithfully-ever-after is the ideal.

Unhappy But Unwilling To File For Divorce? 4 Steps You Can Take

Unhappy but unwilling to file for divorceFor some couples, divorce is never an option. It doesn’t matter whether they’re happy, unhappy, or indifferent. They signed up for “till death do us part” and they’re not breaking that pact. But if you refuse to file for divorce, then you owe it to yourself and your spouse to improve upon the things that are lacking in your relationship. That’s why we’ve decided to take a look at four things you can do to turn things around if your marriage is faltering. Here goes!


Counseling is probably the most obvious option for what you can do to repair what is broken in a relationship. Counselors are trained listeners, who can help you both break down the barriers of communication that are keeping you apart. They can also offer helpful advice regarding how you communicate and what you can expect from each other. Whether you’re constantly at each other’s throats or simply weighing a non-combative do it yourself divorce option, you should at least give counseling a try before calling it quits.

Start Planning To Do More Things Together

Sometimes unhappiness can overtake your marriage without either of you even expecting it. You don’t really have anything against the other person, but you both seem like you live in different worlds. It could be work, school, or other factors keeping you apart. Regardless, snap out of it! Make some time to speak to your partner and say something like this: “Listen, we haven’t gotten to spend a lot of time together lately. I feel like we’re in a rut, and we need to do something about it.” Then, plan things that you can do together. Play tennis, pick a book that you would like to read and take turns reading it aloud to one another, go to the symphony. Communicate what you like to do, and then take turns actually commit to doing it together.

Stop Blaming Each Other

When a marriage falls apart, communication (or the lack thereof) is usually to blame. Stop blaming the other person, and realize that assigning blame is less important than fixing the issues.

Sleep Apart

This is probably going to be the most controversial suggestion, but there is actually some science to back it up. According to a recent study from Ryerson University (reported by The Daily Mail), sleeping in different beds/rooms can actually help a struggling relationship by allowing both partners to reach deeper stages of sleep. This occurs because a person’s sleeping activities are often to blame for disrupting the other partner’s rest throughout the night.

“People can have very good and satisfying relationships sleeping apart,” explains Colleen Carney, author of the study. “Some people might be headed to divorce and then they actually sleep apart and find this new way to connect.”

If you’re sure that you want out of your marriage, then our DIY divorce site can help you through the process in a flash, if uncontested. But if neither of you want out but feel your marriage could use a boost, try the steps above, and you may be able to reignite your feelings for one another.

Unreasonable Behavior Overtakes Infidelity As Grounds For Divorce [Study]

Unreasonable BehaviorUnreasonable behavior has overtaken marital infidelity as a primary cause of divorce, according to a new study out of the UK.

The study, conducted by Co-operative Legal Services, looked at more than 5 million divorce cases in the United Kingdom dating back to the 1970s and found that cheating was less of a motivator to file for divorce than it was close to 40 years ago.

The actual numbers: 29 percent of divorces were caused by infidelity in the ‘70s, while only 15 percent of cases today make the same claim. Incidents of unreasonable behavior have gone from 28 percent to 47 percent over the same period of time.

What Is Unreasonable Behavior? 

These odd behaviors could be anything from “an unsociable husband making his wife feel guilty when she wanted to go out with her friends” to “a cross-dressing husband who decided to have a sex change, and a spouse withdrawing all the family savings,” the Guardian noted.

Co-operative Legal Services officially defined “unreasonable behavior” as “when the Respondent’s behavior supports a claim that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.”

“It depends on the particular facts and circumstances of each case,” the website states. “Examples of unreasonable behavior the court would consider include physical violence, verbal abuse, demanding sexual relations too frequently or denying them all together, cruelty, and intimate relationships with people of the same or opposite sex, even if they don’t actually include intercourse.”

Our Personal Experience

In our own personal experience as a do it yourself divorce service, it’s hard to cut through to the root of domestic divorce causes. The “no-fault” nature of many states throughout the US allows many petitioners and respondents to call it quits without citing a specific reason, though whether fault is stated explicitly or not, something has generally occurred to make spouses feel their marriages have become irreconcilable.

That being said, we do notice certain trends in who is initiating a DIY divorce action as well as characteristics common to filers. One of the most consistent for us has been the fact that most filers are women (63 percent) who earn close to $10k more per year than their husbands.

If you’ve thought about getting a divorce or have just gone through the proceedings, did you have an underlying reason that was more in line with infidelity or unreasonable behavior? Share your experiences with us in the comments section.

Civil Partnerships And ‘Divorce’: How Are Same-Sex Couples Faring?

same sex marriage and civil rightsWhile the United States hasn’t made any hard data available yet on the success rate of civil unions compared to those of traditional marriages, the UK has released a new study specifically targeting the success rate of civil partnerships, which became legally recognized in 2005.

According to the findings, same-sex couples saw a surge in dissolutions in 2012 indicating a seven-year itch similar to that of heterosexual couples.

(Dissolutions carry the same legal weight as when a spouse in a traditional marriage decides to file for divorce.)

The Telegraph notes that figures from the Office for National Statistics also showed that lesbian couples were “markedly more likely to dissolve civil partnerships than gay men.”

The highest chance of dissolution, according to ONS, generally occurs between the four-to-eight-year window in which a couple is together.

Overall figures indicate that — over a seven-year period — 60,454 gay and lesbian couples have formed civil partnerships (120,908 people).

The government expected to have between 11,000 and 22,000 people in civil partnerships by 2010, indicating a much larger than expected embrace of the legal recognition.

Actual Success Rate Thus Far

Combined, England and Wales showed a 20 percent surge in the number of dissolutions that occurred from 2011 to 2012. However, as attorney Randal Buckley points out, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the same-sex couple dissolution rate.

According to the ONS statistics, of those 60,454 civil partnerships, only 1,807 have resulted in dissolution, meaning that just three percent of same-sex couples have legally called it quits thus far.

Buckley attests that “the 20 percent rise in dissolutions is not a result of the myth of the ‘7-year itch’ but merely a predictable increase consistent with the rise of LGBT seeking this legal recognition.

One factor that the ONS study did not touch on was the amount of civil partnerships that went the do-it-yourself divorce (or dissolution) route versus those that ended up in litigation. So for now, we can draw the conclusion that same-sex couples are faring better than married couples, but we still have little clue about the hostility of breakups for such relationships.

(It can get quite heated in the heterosexual world.)

Also, to be fair, the data ONS provided, though insightful, isn’t very extensive. After another five or six years, there will be a clearer picture of how same-sex couples are truly faring compared to their heterosexual friends. One thing to keep in mind: in 2007, there were just 41 dissolutions. In 2012, there were 794. That’s a massive increase.

If you’re thinking of going the DIY divorce route, you’ve come to the right place. Let us help you reduce costs and streamline the process!