Many people think of divorce as an issue that affects young people who married too quickly or too young, but modern statistics tell a different story. Divorce rates among younger adults, including Millennials, are relatively low, while divorce rates among older adults close to or over the age of retirement, also known as gray divorces, are on the rise.

Why would couples who have spent years or decades together choose to end their marriage as they approach or enjoy their retirement? There are a number of reasons why these gray divorces are increasingly popular.

The stigma associated with divorce has gone down

Some people really do stay married because they simply don’t want to deal with the social fallout when they end their marriage. They may worry about what people at their place of employment or church will say about them.

However, cultural attitudes about divorce have changed in the last few decades, and there are significantly fewer moral and ethical judgments that occur when someone shares the fact that they got divorced. Knowing that they won’t wind up judged or rejected for ending their marriage can motivate older adults who were previously suffering in silence to pursue a happier situation in their golden years.

People live longer and want more from retirement now

With improvements in health care and increases in life expectancy come longer average marriages. Better health care also means that people are more active and social in their retirement years, as opposed to living in a state of significant physical or mental decline.

Living longer and feeling more healthy and youthful through those extra years is a valid reason for wanting to make the most of life after retirement. If you and your spouse have grown apart over the years, the thought of sitting at home with them all day may be very unpleasant. You may not want to provide medical care or travel with them, let alone share a tiny suite in a nursing home as your health declines later in life.

Addiction, finances and even sex can play a role in gray divorce

The creation of synthetic opioid drugs has definitely contributed to an increase in addiction across the country. Older adults who are at increased risk for broken bones and other painful injuries may wind up addicted, which can change their personality and strain their marriage.

Painkiller drugs aren’t the only medications that can contribute to gray divorces. The increase in accessibility for erectile dysfunction drugs may increase one spouse’s demand for sex or even lead to an extramarital affair.

Finally, mismanagement of the finances or financial abuse, where one spouse closely controls access to financial resources, could also prompt a divorce. Regardless of the reason why you find yourself considering a gray divorce, knowing your rights under Colorado law regarding things such as spousal support and a fair share of the pension can help you make better decisions about your marriage.