Why are so many baby boomers giving up on their marriage?
Baby boomers – about 79 million in number, are those babies born between 1945 and 1964. They were so significant in population size that they created many of their own social trends and carved a swath through United States history. They were part of the 60’s era rejection of their parents’ social norms, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and often lobbied for civil rights and the rights of women and gays. The boomers were a largely indulged group who enjoyed the benefit of a strong postwar economy. This freedom from economic concerns empowered them to question authority and explore on every front, resulting in a sexual revolution. Women in particular had more sexual partners than in the past, and this experimentation led to a new belief that maybe marriage doesn’t last forever, and that perhaps self-fulfillment is more important. Part of this belief was fueled by the increase of new workplace opportunities for women. Unlike their mothers who by and large were homemakers, many women could see the possibility of earning their own living, and creating a more exciting, and independent life for themselves.
So as they age, baby boomers’ attitudes towards marriage has changed. While their parents often remained together out of a sense of duty and commitment, baby boomers see themselves as vibrant 50 and 60 year olds, looking for opportunities to live life to the fullest and continuing their search for self-realization. If their current spouse or partner doesn’t seem to be on the same trajectory, then why spend 20 or 30 more years with them?
Laying the groundwork for a strong, long lasting relationship requires great communication, a shared vision for the future, and a lot of mutual effort and determination. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, those couples who grow together, stay together. My good friend told me that her husband and she recently joined a curling group. This involves pushing a large flat stone across the ice with sticks, into your competitor’s circle. You’ve probably seen them in the Olympics, madly sweeping the ice to warm it up and increase the speed of the stone. Anyway, she wanted a specific activity that they could do together, which would involve interacting with other couples, and be an entirely new sport that they could learn together. I think this is the perfect example of how to approach a mature relationship. Find an activity which will keep up the mutual enthusiasm and energy level. It can help you see your spouse or partner in a new light. Working towards some fun goals with immediate gratification, can create important bonds in a relationship. Of course the typical day to day grind of distant financial or parenting goals are also important, but it’s a crucial skill to balance pleasure and work.
Do you feel that you and your partner are off balance? Are you looking for some guidance on how to approach the future together? We here at San Diego Family Mediation Center are experts in mediation and have years of experience assisting couples who have lost their marital compass. We look forward to discussing your issues and needs as you work towards a more mutually satisfying relationship. Let us help you find the way.