Divorce, Boomer Style

Posted on June 12, 2012


NPR has reported today that, after 115 years together, one couple is calling it quits. Bibi and Poldi are giant tortoises who bonded when they were young. But after more than a century together, Bibi decided she’d had enough. She began biting her partner’s shell. The staff at the Austrian zoo said they’re not sure what caused the break up. Animal behaviorists have tried bonding games and aphrodisiacs to reunite the pair, but so far, no luck.

The story of Bibi and Poldi is being repeated with increasing frequency in our country According to AARP, while the overall divorce rate has decreased since 1990, it has doubled for those over 50. One in three Boomers will face older age unmarried, most of it due to divorce.  And, unlike Bibi, most Boomers will have to resort to consulting with attorneys, although a fair number would probably prefer to simply sink their teeth into one another.

Huff/Post asks, “Whatever happened to “til death do us part”?  The answer is pretty much that death, like speaking with a customer service representative, is now taking an unusually long time to occur.  The likelihood of a successful marriage was much higher when people bore children, raised them to adulthood, and then were conveniently whisked away by the plague or rotted teeth.  But, with ever-increasing life expectancy, many people can now look forward to the prospect of spending the next 40 years with someone who refuses to take the trash out and leaves small curly hairs in the sink bowl.

Another factor is that with children grown and gone, Boomers can, with their leisure time, have the luxury to dwell on how miserable they are. “Happy” and “self-fulfilled” are notions that aren’t fully considered during the joyful years of child-rearing, when pesky issues like toilet training or newly licensed drivers destroying the family car tend to take front and center attention. But when Boomers have nothing more exciting to do than to stare at each other, problems tend to arise, like wondering just who this person is who has been sucking the life out of us for the past 20 years.

The good news is that as in all areas of modern life, even the most tragic occurrences can provide joy for the people who make money from them.  Divorces, like death and breast cancer, are big business.  Entire websites are devoted to divorce parties and companies have lines of divorce greeting cards, notecards, tee shirts, underwear,  Christmas tree ornaments, and dildos.

Boomers are the largest group on online dating sites and comprise most of the attendance at singles group events. While MSN Health reports that “single baby boomers generally have poorer health and less money than their married counterparts,” they clearly can dance better.

Just in case Boomer singles have run out of fun options on home territory, there are an ever-increasing number of travel sites, geared to single Boomers. One site, Singles Travel Services, advertises as follows: “The generation responsible for the population explosion is still exploding.”

Clearly, Boomers are changing the face of divorce, just as they changed the face of married life. But let’s not be deluded into thinking that divorce is all fun and games. Sometimes, as Poldi is experiencing now, it can just bite.