It’s hard to know who you’ll want to be with in thirty years. So said a friend going through divorce. She isn’t alone: studies show that an increasing number of people over 50 are leaving their marriages, sometimes after decades.
For women, especially, the consequences can be devastating—unless you plan ahead.
Why we leave
Why are so many middle-aged marriages ending? Life expectancy is one theory. As we live longer, we’re more likely to change at a different rate from that of our spouse. Over time, the likelihood grows that we’ll simply out-grow each other.
Women’s economic power may also play a role. Unlike our mothers and grandmothers, women today have more earning power than ever, sometimes commanding higher salaries than their spouse. Not dependent on their partner to “bring home the bacon” as previous generations of women have been, they may be less inclined to remain in a marriage that isn’t working.
The internet has also contributed to marriage’s decline, some say. People who use Facebook are more likely to divorce; one third of divorce filings mention the social media site, and one in three alludes to an online affair.
Baby boomers, the post-World War II generation born, roughly speaking, between 1946 and 1964, sparked the divorce trend: They were, as a group, the first to split from their spouses and remarry during their young adult years. Divorcing once makes it likely that we will do so again; divorce rates are 2.5 higher for remarriages than for first marriages.
Planning well: the best revenge
Being over 50, in itself, doesn’t make it more likely that your marriage won’t last--but it does make planning for the possibility one of the wisest things you can do for yourself.
Studies show that divorce can be devastating to older women. Not only do their Social Security benefits tend to be low—especially if they have relied on their spouses’ income or taken time off from work to bear and raise children—but gray divorcees as a group suffer a poverty rate of 25 percent. Too often, that is because they don’t take care of their financial future while they are still married.
Almost no one says, “ ’Til death do we part” with divorce in mind. Contemplating the worst may even feel like a betrayal in itself, or an invitation to disaster.
But there’s a reason for the truism that life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans. Like it or not, we can never be certain of what each day, or even each hour, will bring. And I’m pretty sure that no divorcee has ever regretted having a financial plan and emergency fund in place.
How would you fare if your spouse asked for a divorce? If you had to live without their income and sell your shared assets, how would you take care of yourself for the rest of your life?
Now, while you’re feeling secure, is the best time to ponder these questions. And what better person to help you shore up against uncertain times than a trusted Financial Planner? Expecting the unexpected is what we do at Fulcrum Financial. Call today and find out how we can help you take care of you, no matter what tomorrow may bring.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.