After 20, 30, or even 40 years of marriage, countless vacations, raising well-adjusted children, and sharing property and finances, what could go wrong?
Gray Divorce is a provocative look at the rising rate of marital splits after the age of 50. Renowned author and researcher Jocelyn Elise Crowley uncovers the reasons why men and women divorce—and the penalties and benefits that they receive for their choices. From the outside, many may ask why couples in mid-life and readying for retirement choose to make a drastic change in their marital status. Yet, nearly one out of every four divorces in the United States is “gray.” With a deft eye, Crowley analyzes the differing experiences of women and men in this mid-life transition—the seismic shift in individual priorities, the role of increased life expectancy, and how women are affected economically while men are affected socially. With a realistic yet passionate voice, Crowley shares the personal positive outlooks and the necessary supportive public policies that must be enacted to best help the newly divorced. Engaging and instructive, Gray Divorce is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary American culture.
1. The Coming Tidal Wave of Gray Divorce
2. Before the Gray Divorce
3. Shortchanged: The Economic Gray Divorce Penalty
4. People Who Need People: The Social Gray Divorce Penalty
5. Moving Forward Personally
6. Moving Forward Publicly
Data Appendix by Marc D. Weiner, JD, PhD
Jocelyn Elise Crowley is Professor of Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She is the author of The Politics of Child Support in America, Defiant Dads: Fathers’ Rights Activists in America, and Mothers Unite! Organizing for Workplace Flexibility and the Transformation of Family Life.
“Research shows that gray divorces pose a significant health and financial risk for those couples who come apart later in life, as well as for their family members. I know firsthand just how painful and devastating gray divorce can be. As a relationship expert and modern love doctor, I’ve worked with hundreds of couples who’ve experienced gray divorce. I believe Gray Divorce illuminates, through its stories and information, many of the reasons for this new phenomenon. It’s my deepest wish that by understanding gray divorce, we can also create new ways to prevent the harm it can cause and promote healing for those who experience this life crisis.”—Dr. Brenda Wade, author, psychologist, five-time national television host, regular expert guest on The Dr. Oz Show
“Gray divorce: blame the doctors for allowing people to live longer; blame the chemists with their little blue pills that allow for sexual rebirth; blame capitalism, which after all is a raging success that allows the privileged few to have serial marriages and divorces and pay for discarded wives, the children they put in boarding school, and so on. But it’s a reality of life and it’s going to get worse or better depending upon which side of the age barrier you live. Dr. Jocelyn Elise Crowley has done a brilliant job describing the landscape of gray divorces. Celebrity divorces are described: they are, let us say, ‘mature’—or at least fraying at the edges. She then goes into the statistics and demographics of divorces, and then personalizes it with interviews with everyday people. The bottom line is that these divorces are acceptable, alive, and well in America—and people who are bothered by them are just going to have to suck it up.”—Raoul Felder, internationally recognized divorce and family lawyer, named one of America’s 100 most powerful lawyers by New York Law Journal
“Dr. Jocelyn Elise Crowley has written an incredibly insightful and engaging examination of the growing phenomenon of ‘gray divorce.' She is at the forefront of observing the trend that everyone will soon be talking about it as it impacts more and more families. Gray Divorce excels in making us understand what makes long-term marriages fail and can be reverse-engineered as a guide to making marriages work.”—Francesca Hogi, Today Show relationship expert, matchmaker, and love coach
“The coming tidal wave of mid-life divorce will stress the fabric of our society. Fortunately, Dr. Jocelyn Elise Crowley has delivered a great, data-supported read on this critical, little-understood subject.”—Eddie R. Hartman, cofounder of LegalZoom
"Dr. Jocelyn Elise Crowley tells the fascinating stories of couples all over the country who are experiencing a gray divorce—or divorce over the age of 50. Some of the stories will make you laugh, while others will make you cry. By the end of the book, you will be cheering for them all to make exciting new lives for themselves.”—Vikki Ziegler, family attorney and TV personality
“Dr. Jocelyn Elise Crowley eloquently describes some of the intimate stories and causes behind gray divorce, a relatively new cultural phenomenon. As the author of Your Best Age Is Now, I was fascinated to learn some of the more intricate and in-depth reasons why some mid-lifers are motivated to make this marital choice. Dr. Crowley describes for her readers the private portrait behind the often two-dimensional statistics described in the news. And in doing so, she provides a relatable and empathic picture of the reasons behind this complex and difficult decision. Fortunately for us, her book reads more like a page-turning novel than a straight psychological textbook. Dr. Crowley’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in the psychodynamics and challenges behind the midlife divorce and the real-life trials it can pose for those who find themselves in this situation.”—Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, television commentator, and author of Your Best Age is Now
"Highly appealing to scholars, students, and educated general audiences."—Dr. Barbara Risman, author of Gender Vertigo: American Families in Transition
“Gray divorce will only become more prevalent in the coming years, and our ability to understand—as well as help—the millions of people going through divorce at older ages depends on insightful social science research like that presented here by Dr. Jocelyn Elise Crowley. She uses compelling individual stories to show how the causes and consequences of gray divorce differ for women and men, and to build a case for personal and social intervention to help individuals and families in this situation. This is a valuable book about a subject of great—and growing—social importance.”—Phillip N. Cohen, author of Enduring Bonds: Families and Modern Inequality
“We should all be incredibly grateful to Dr. Jocelyn Elise Crowley for her most important book. Gray Divorce is a must-read for everyone over 50 and everyone close to someone over 50, as well as for physicians, therapists, clergy, and others who work with them. Dr. Crowley has done us a great service by showing what’s at stake, the losses, the gains, and the changes that come with a gray divorce. Millions are in that ‘before it’s too late’ category of wondering if they should end their marriage now or hang in there for the duration. This book will help them feel they have a wise companion to help them through a most confusing and stressful period. My greatest admiration and gratitude go to Dr. Crowley for this book.”—Mira Kirshenbaum, Clinical Director of The Chestnut Hill Institute and author of Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay and I Love You but I Don’t Trust You