We boomers are the best at everything, aren’t we?!? Sad to say, according to sources researched by Renee Fisher, this includes divorce. So how do we fix that problem when it crops up? By saying “I did, I didn’t, I do.”
Statistics on U.S. divorce rates vary wildly, from under 35 percent to over 125 percent, depending on which source you look at and how annoyed you are with your spouse at the moment. But, no matter how you slice it, Baby Boomers are getting divorced at a much higher rate than their parents’ generation. One source quotes the rate at three times as many; that would be three times as many Boomers getting divorced than other generations.
Some experts attribute our higher divorce rate to the much greater opportunities that we have than our parents ever did. More education, greater employment choices, and increased mobility combine to raise the bar on Boomer expectations. Others, specifically non-Boomers, say that Boomers will simply do whatever they can to call attention to themselves.
If we are at the top age of Boomers — the leading edge of our generation — our parents’ generation had to deal with pesky issues like the Depression and World War II, so maybe they weren’t keeping track of who was taking out the trash more times than the other. And we are living longer, which is a huge factor. The Census Bureau reports that in 2008, one-fourth of new divorces took place in marriages of over twenty years. The same year, almost 51 percent of all divorced (but not remarried) people were Boomers.
Let’s be realistic here: if you are miserable after twenty years of marriage, and your life expectancy is, say, fifty, you are probably too busy checking your blood pressure to worry about whether you are happy. But if your life expectancy is 85, you could get seriously depressed at the thought of spending the next 35 years with someone who spends all of his leisure time eating deep-fried Twinkies and watching McHale’s Navy reruns.
The important point to all of this is, if you are a Boomer and you are divorced and are considering remarrying, you’ll want to know what makes a second (or third, or whatever number) marriage successful (that is, aside from marrying someone who lives on the opposite coast and just sends you large checks each month).
The answer, you might not be surprised to know, is that the same factors that make a good first marriage will make a good subsequent marriage. Try as we might, we just can’t get away from those boring issues like communication, commitment, and equality. So, if you had an issue with any of those in your first marriage, know that they won’t go away in your second unless you are prepared to choose differently, behave differently, and/or experience differently.
And for those of you who are thinking this doesn’t apply to you because everything that went wrong was your spouse’s fault, you could end up competing with a woman named Linda Wolfe. She’s been married 23 times and is still looking for Mr. Right. Considering a relationship with Linda, any man in his right mind might choose to be Mr. Left, instead.