Baby Boomer Break-Ups

Posted on July 13th, 2011 in Counterculture/New Age,Me Generation,Midlife,Sexual Revolution by Terry Hamburg

I beg of you, don’t say goodbye
Can’t we give our love another try
Come on baby, let’s start a new
‘Cause breaking up is hard to do

Baby boomers are divorcing at greater rates than their parents – and kids. A Pew Research Center study found that boomers are less willing (66% to 54%) to repair unhappy marriages than their adult children. Surprised?

These are typically long-term marriages with partners in their 50s or even 60s. The seven year itch has long passed. Other than the proverbial male midlife crisis when a guy runs off with his 20-something secretary, it doesn’t make sense. Baby boomers may have had a wild youth, even a divorce early on, but they gradually settled down and even grew conservative.

The logic can run the other way. Traditional marriage was based on economic inequality and a life span between 60 and 70.

Women who might have stayed in relationships for economic security command more education, skills, and freedom today. And with longer life, expectations change. Who are the most likely baby boomers to get divorced? College grads.

It may all come down to expectations. As a Russian immigrant in The Sopranos remarked: Americans are the only people in the world who expect to be happy.

Baby boomers took that one step further. To paraphrase an anti-Viet Nam war chant:

“What do we want?!
“When do we want it?!”

New Age enthusiasm, the human potential craze, and “liberation” movements  encouraged gratification and self-fulfillment asap, with the emphasis on “self.” Baby boomers were also known as the “me” generation. Marriage is “we,” not “me.”

Add to this the anticipation of longer and healthier life. In the old days, after 30 years of marriage, there wasn’t much time left. But if 40 is the new 60, the game changes. It’s a world of Cougars and Viagra.

So are baby boomers leading a new sexual revolution? Perhaps, but a word of caution. How did that first sexual revolution turn out? A mixed bag. So, likely will this one. If your previous marriage failed, a change of scenery might not be enough.

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

Baby Boomer Trivia Questions

Only one of these celebrities has been divorced:

Jeff Bridges
Ronald Reagan
Warren Beatty
Jamie Lee Curtis

Match Game: Not made in heaven. Connect the mates to these marriages that lasted less than 9 months:

Drew Barrymore
Lisa Presley
Melanie Griffith

Don Johnson/Nicholas Cage/Greg Allman/Tom Green

Answers at end of post

By the Numbers

Per 1000 married women: 1950-2000

Number of first marriages (per 1000 women age 20-24)

1960: 265

1970: 230

1985: 110

Notable Quotables

A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time. ~Anne Taylor Fleming, journalist

Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then. ~Katherine Hepburn

If you made a list of the reasons why any couple got married, and another list of the reasons for their divorce, you’d have a hell of a lot of overlapping. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Answers to Baby Boomer Trivia Questions

He was also the first divorced candidate to be elected President.

Match Game

Heartbreak Hotel

Drew Barrymore→Tom Green
Lisa Presley→Nicholas Cage
Melanie Griffith→Don Johnson*
Cher→Greg Allman

*Their remarriage went better, lasting seven years.

Related Post: Battle of the Sexes

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One Response to 'Baby Boomer Break-Ups'

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  1. on September 6th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks Terry, for the great article and analysis of the increased number of baby boomer break-ups.

    So many of our generation are now looking to answer the question, “Where do I go now?” and are preparing themselves to bounce back and begin living their lives again. Information like what you’ve presented in this post is extremely helpful in identifying what went wrong, and what can be changed to bounce back again.

    Looking forward to exploring your site further.
    Donna Marie Thompson

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