After Full Lives Together, More Older Couples Are Divorcing/廝守一生「沒電了」 熟年離婚漸夯


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讀紐時學英文
2015/12/04 第94期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
 
 

紐時周報精選 After Full Lives Together, More Older Couples Are Divorcing/廝守一生「沒電了」 熟年離婚漸夯


紐時周報精選
 

After Full Lives Together, More Older Couples Are Divorcing/廝守一生「沒電了」 熟年離婚漸夯
Abby Ellin
王麗娟譯

Hilary Stephens was 57 when she decided she had had enough—enough of her job, of caretaking, of her marriage of 28 years. So she did something many people fantasize about: She walked away from it all.

“Sometimes it’s the only solution," said Stephens, now 58 and the mother of two adult children. She moved from Washington to the Philadelphia area, where she is now vice president for development at Woods Services, a nonprofit.

希拉蕊.史蒂文斯57歲時,認定她受夠了。受夠了工作,受夠了持家,受夠了28年的婚姻。於是,她做了件許多人幻想要做的事─遠離這一切。

現年58歲,有兩個成年子女的史蒂文斯說:「有時這是唯一的解答。」她從華盛頓遷居費城地區,現為非營利組織「伍茲服務」負責發展事務的副總裁。

Late life divorce (also called “silver" or “gray" divorce)is becoming more common, and more acceptable. In 2014,people age 50 and above were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. For those over 65, the increase was even higher.

At the same time, divorce rates have plateaued or dropped among other age groups.

熟年離婚(又稱「銀髮離婚」或「灰髮離婚」)日益普遍,也更為人們接受。根據俄亥俄州博林格林州立大學「全國家庭與婚姻研究中心」的統計,2014年,50歲以上(含50歲)的人離婚率是1990年的2倍,65歲以上者增幅更高。

與此同時,其他年齡組的離婚率則趨於穩定或下降。

One explanation is that many older people are in second marriages; the divorce rate is about 2 1/2 times larger for those who have remarried and are often grappling with blended families or greater financial challenges.

Life expectancy also plays a role. In the past, “people died earlier," said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the love, sex and relationship ambassador for AARP. “Now, let’s say you’re 50 or 60. You could go 30 more years. A lot of marriages are not horrible, but they’re no longer satisfying or loving.They may not be ugly, but you say, ‘Do I really want 30 more years of this?'"

一種解釋是,這些中老年人許多是二度婚;為了家庭混合以及財務挑戰加重而忙碌的這些再婚者,離婚率約是2.5倍。

壽命長短也是因素之一。美國退休人員協會的愛、性與關係大使,西雅圖華盛頓大學社會學教授派普.史瓦茲說,過去,「人們死得較早,現在,比方說你是50或60歲,可能還有30年好活。很多婚姻並不恐怖,卻不再令人滿足或洋溢著愛。這些婚姻並不醜陋,但你會問:『我真的要這樣再過30年?』」

Besides realizing that “adequate" does not suffice,separation no longer holds the stigma it once did. Just look at Al and Tipper Gore, who split in 2010 after 40 years of marriage and four children (they have yet to make it official). Or Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his wife,Dianne, who filed for divorce in August, one month after their 50th wedding anniversary.

But perhaps the biggest reason for the increase in late-life divorce is the changing status of women, who initiate about 60 percent of divorces after age 40, according to AARP. This does not mean that the men aren’t disenchanted too. It just means that women actually take the decisive step.

除了意識到「差強人意」已無法滿足自己之外,分手也不再像過去一樣須背負罵名。艾爾和提波.高爾就是一例 。兩人結縭40載,育有4名子女,但2010年宣告分手(至今尚未正式離婚)。阿拉巴馬州州長羅伯.賓特利和妻子戴安今年8月訴請離婚,就在結婚50周年的一個月後。

熟年離婚增多的最大原因,可能是女性地位的改變。根據美國退休人員協會的資料,40歲後離婚案例,60%是由女方提出。這並不意味男性不會厭倦婚姻。只是意味實際上是女性採取決定性的一步。

“I think men don’t want to rock the boat, and they’ll put up with a not ideal situation," said Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, 54,whose marriage dissolved five years ago and who runs 20-first, a gender consulting firm in London. " Part of the shift is that now women have been liberated, empowered,moved around, know how to get what they want. They are increasingly breaking up the relationships to find someone else or to be on their own."

Schwartz agrees. “Women have higher expectations for their emotional life," she said. Schwartz, 70, has personal insight into the issue: She and her husband divorced 15 years ago. They had been married for 23 years, she said, but “the marriage had run out of juice."

54歲的艾薇娃.威滕柏格─柯克斯5年前婚姻告吹,目前在倫敦經營兩性事務諮詢公司「20-first」,她說:「我認為男人不想改變現狀,他們會忍受不理想的狀況。這種變遷部分是因女性現在已獲得解放,擁有權力,東奔西跑,知道什麼是她們所想要的。她們結束婚姻關係,另覓良緣或獨自生活的越來越多。」

史瓦茲同意這項觀點。她說:「女性對她們的感情生活有更高的期待。」70歲的史瓦茲對這個問題有親身的洞見。她和丈夫15年前離異。兩人維持23年婚姻關係,她說,但是「婚姻沒電了。」

Schwartz added that she and her former husband were still friends and often celebrated holidays together when their two children were younger. She is currently engaged to her boyfriend of nine years.

By the time most couples enter their mid- to late-50s,children usually have their own lives, and it becomes painfully clear that their parents don’t need to stay together “for the kids." Not that adult children don’t want their families to remain intact. They usually do, experts say, no matter how old they are, unless the relationship is exceedingly hostile or volatile. But many “happy enough"people feel that their children no longer get to dictate the terms of their relationship.

史瓦茲說,兩個子女還小時,她和前夫仍是朋友,也經常一起過節。她目前已和交往9年的男友訂婚了。

多數的夫婦在邁入55到60歲時,子女通常已經有自己的生活,而且情況至為明顯,他們的父母並不需要再「為了孩子」待在一起。這並不表示成年子女不希望家庭維持完整。專家說,無論年紀再大,通常他們還是希望家庭完整,除非這項關係極端對立或是不穩定。不過,許多「夠快樂」的人覺得他們的夫妻關係不應再受子女支配。

Many women also feel they should be good role models for their children. “What you are really showing your kids is whether to live for love or for fear," said Wittenberg-Cox,who remarried in the spring. “Will you stay because you love what you have or because you fear the unknown? In the end, I chose love. I hope they will, too."

Beyond the emotional toll, personal economics factor in,both in keeping people in unhappy unions and in inspiring them to check out. Women still earn less than men. Because they also tend to live longer, they face greater economic risk on their own.

許多婦女同時覺得他們應該成為子女的好榜樣。今春再婚的威滕柏格─柯克斯說:「你真正向子女展示的,是活在愛中,還是活在恐懼中。你留下來是因為喜歡你所擁有的,還是因為對未知的恐懼?最後,我選擇了愛情。希望他們將來也會。」

除了感情不再,個人經濟因素也對讓人待在不快樂的結合中或激勵他們退出都有影響。女性的收入仍低於男性。而且因為他們往往活得更久,一旦獨立,面對的經濟風險較大。

“After retirement, male spouses are around 24/7, the cracks in the relationship deepen into crevasses, and the emotional distance becomes more apparent," said Julie Schwartz Gottman, a clinical psychologist at the Gottman Institute in Seattle. “As women gain financial independence, they feel safe leaving an unhappy union."

 


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