Gray Divorce is growing, and in some ways has its own unique set of challenges. DivorceForce had the pleasure to speak to Barry Gold, a Gray Divorce Expert, recently.
We think you will find the information he provides in the following interview quite interesting and informative.
DivorceForce: From what we can tell, you created the word "Di-Curious." Please explain. Also, please define “Gray Divorce.”
Barry Gold: "Di-Curious" is short for Divorce-Curious. I just thought it was kind of funny to play off of the much better-known term "Bi-Curious." I can't prove it, but I firmly believe there a lot of people who are Di-Curious—people who have been married for 25-30 years, who've raised their kids; and now, as they look ahead to the future, are wondering if they want to spend perhaps three decades or more with their spouse. These people know what their life is like. They know who their spouse is. So the question becomes, will I be better off if I get out? You can't possibly know how it will go if you do, so you have to gather as much information as you can to help make that very difficult decision. And one of the best ways to gather that info is to hear what other people experienced in their own divorces and recoveries.
I would define Gray Divorce as a split that includes people who are 50-ish or older. Studies have shown that Gray Divorce has become much more common, even as divorce in other demographics has declined.
DivorceForce: How is “Gray Divorce” different than other divorces that occur for younger people?
Barry Gold: For one thing, it's unlikely a Gray Divorce will include child custody issues. So that's certainly one huge point of contention that’s missing. Don't assume, however, that it's easier on the children just because they're older—their issues may be different than those experienced by young kids, but still do exist. On the other hand, property settlement could be more difficult and complicated. A 30-year marriage has likely produced significant assets that have to be split. There may be retirement accounts, a business or partnership, a longstanding family home—in other words, more stuff to fight over.
DivorceForce: In your book “Gray Divorce Stories – “The Truth About Getting Divorced Over 50 From Men and Women Who’ve Done It,” you provide individuals' stories. Is there some recurring theme or scenario from these people?
Barry Gold: There are a few themes that come through in the book. For one, most couples had trouble with some combination of three issues: communication, sex, and money. Many of the people admit to making a bad choice of spouse to begin with; marrying for the wrong reasons; ignoring obvious red flags. A few married because of pregnancy.
And then there's the pain. A divorce, whether you wanted it or not, hurts. Almost all the interviewees went through some very difficult times. It's been compared to mourning—you go through a process of grieving the loss of your marriage, or at least the loss of your plan for the future. But then you come out of it. And you move forward. A majority of the interview subjects now consider themselves better off. Some even celebrate their divorce now, saying it's the best thing that's happened to them in years. Many are glad they did it; some wish they'd done it much sooner.
DivorceForce: The book covers 18 different people, 14 of them women and 4 men—a disproportion of women/men. We find the same scenario on discussions on DivorceForce with regards to speaking out. although our members are pretty close to 50/50 women/men. Why is there a significant difference in the number of women who share their story compared to men?
Barry Gold: I really don't know. At first, all the respondents were women. I finally had to put a note on my website pleading with men to step up and tell their story. And even then, just a few volunteered. It seems like women are just more open to talking about this stuff. Though frankly, I think I would have enjoyed being an interview subject and telling my tale. A few commented that it was cathartic. I totally get that; it feels good to unload, particularly with the anonymity of these interviews.
DivorceForce: Most of the men interviewed had not yet begun a post-divorce sex life, and the one who had didn't offer any details about that aspect of his relationships. However, many of the women who’d begun dating again were absolutely thrilled with their sex lives. What does this say?
Barry Gold: The most important thing it shows is that even women who went years without having sex with their husbands did not lose their libidos—they just needed the right person to reignite them. These women were completely turned off to sex because they just couldn't stand their ex. But now, finding partners who communicated with them, who were respectful, and who were complementary has really gotten them going. It was so interesting to hear these women say things like, "I've never been this horny," "I'm having the best sex of my life," and "If only my ex could see how things have turned around for me."
DivorceForce: Any parting words for people navigating Gray Divorce?
Barry Gold: Any divorce is difficult, and painful. Gray Divorce adds an extra challenge: how do I start over at 50-plus? But I firmly believe that a Gray Divorce does give you the chance to hit the reset button, get back to being who you want to be, and move forward into a brighter future. It's going to be slow, and it's going to hurt along the way. I believe you go through a survival stage, in which it's just about taking care of formalities and keeping your head above water; then you move into revival, where you work on yourself, pursuing your interests and getting back to being "you'; and finally you get to thrive, where you embrace who you are and the opportunities that are available.
Barry Gold runs the website DivorcedOver50, and just released the new book, Gray Divorce Stories: The Truth About Getting Divorced Over 50 From Men and Women Who’ve Done It. His site was created to serve those going through a Gray Divorce, providing content that addresses their needs and interests. The site hosts original material and aggregates articles on topics like dating, romance, and sex; health and fitness; financial and legal; and family and friends.