essays

Breaking Up Is Not So Hard To Do

angry boomersBoomer break-ups in the news have most likely given many boomers pause. What causes boomers to go splitsville after 25, 30 or more years? Who wasn’t a little shocked to hear that Al and Tipper threw in the towel after 40 years?

Maria and Arnold? That’s easy. He was known as a serial groper and she must have been in denial about that from day one. But Al and Tipper dated in college and represented the quintiessential couple that lasts---until they didn’t any longer. Did they really come to that place where they wanted to go in different directions? They just had enough of each other and thought it was time they went their separate ways to pursue separate ambitions? If it could happen to them....

The conventional wisdom is that boomers are used to getting do-overs and second chances, so there’s no reason not to go for it and pursue their dreams in life’s second half. A Pew Research Center study found that baby boomers were less inclined to remain in an unhappy marriage than their adult children-- by a 66% to 54% margin.

We’re reinventing retirement, so it should come as no surprise that we are taking another look at how to achieve the happiness we want later in life. Not ones to drag our carcasses over the finish line, just to prove that we could do it, boomers apparently have something better in mind. Some observers see a parallel to the way boomers led the way into a sexual revolution.

Who’s at risk here? College-educated couples who married young head the list, followed by unhappy couples who strived to produce happy kids. angry boomersThen there are the “what-happened” couples who don’t know where the love went. Just behind them are really old people who are plain fed up. Last, but definitely not least demographically, are the trophy hunters-- men and women who just think they can do better than what they’ve got.

Married couples have most likely always been challenged by the “grown apart” phenomenom. The only difference now is that many baby boomers are clearly not going to accept this as the status quo. Once each partner is less vested in the other, boomers are more inclined to break the chain and seek the happiness they feel they deserve.

As I’ve said many times before (thank you Harvey Fierstein), “Is that so wrong?”

 

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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