What’s behind the sharp increase in empty-nest divorces?

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2023 | Divorce |

In Kentucky, couples who have raised kids and face the prospect of an empty nest are divorcing more than ever. While many factors can trigger this decision, the following illustrates some common reasons for divorce as people transition through this phase of life.

Changing priorities

A certain number of empty nesters may head toward divorce because they have grown apart over the years while putting their energy into raising the kids and not investing in their marital relationship. Additionally, as people have a longer life expectancy, they may divorce rather than face the prospect of three or four more decades together.

Divorce is often expensive, and some married couples may have stayed together while raising their children, in part, because they could not afford to divorce and support two households. Many couples may divorce once the children are grown because they are in a better financial position.

Other potential factors

Many parents find fulfillment and joy in raising their children and may put their lives on hold until the children are grown. This behavior can lead to a sense of purposelessness without the kids, which strains a relationship and can lead to divorce.

As empty nesters, parents may find encouragement in focusing on self-discovery and individual growth, making them feel they no longer have much in common with their partner. Finally, technology plays a part because it allows people to make new, external connections. These connections may cause them to re-evaluate their existing relationship and choose to divorce.

Navigating a new life stage

When the kids leave home, many couples start questioning their marriage, and redefining the relationship is a normal part of the transition. Some couples benefit from seeking counseling to help define their future. This next phase can include downsizing the home, living elsewhere for part of the year or continuing to live as you always have.

Communication and respect can help couples find a relationship that suits them whether that includes divorce. With retirement on the horizon, include financial considerations in your discussions because you may still have college tuition and other bills to pay, which can affect outcomes.

Regardless of the path you and your spouse take – together, apart or somewhere in the middle – remaining optimistic and surrounding yourself with supportive relationships can help make sense of this transitional period.