That ‘new’ feeling gray divorcées are chasing is fleeting. At some point, they will wind up in the same spot they were in with their exes.
First, Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos. Now, Bill and Melinda Gates. Divorce among middle-aged adults is so popular these days there’s a term for it: gray divorce, or married couples who break up in the second half of life. Gray divorce doubled between 1990 and 2012 and is largely a Baby Boomer phenomenon.
It’s not one their children would like to repeat. Indeed, researcher Susan L. Brown found that younger Americans are far less accepting of divorce than the previous generation. “Nearly two-thirds [of adults over age 50] agree that divorce is the best solution when couples can’t work out their marriage problems versus fewer than half among younger adults.”
That’s a critical finding. Young people view marriage differently than the way their parents do. Clearly, millennials and Gen Zers want to get married and stay married despite many of their parents’ inability to do so. So with that mind, here are four key takeaways for the younger set from the news of the gates’ split.
1. Having a Lot of Money Isn’t the Road to Marital Bliss
I know your parents told you to get your careers in order and your bank accounts full before getting married. This was supposed to give you options in the event of a divorce, but you can see now that it doesn’t work that way.
For one thing, the overemphasis on education and career at the expense of marriage caused many young people, ironically, to rack up so much debt that marriage has become all the more elusive. For another, even if young people’s finances were strong and steady heading into marriage, this has little to do with marital success.
As America’s billionaire divorces prove, the opposite is often true: having a lot of money in the bank can work against the success of a marriage due to the vast complexities and conflicts that occur as a result. Lesson learned: having a lot of money has nothing to do with having a happy or a stable marriage.