It can be a surprise to hear of a couple who have been married for many decades suddenly breaking up and getting what's known as a gray divorce. Sometimes even the other partner may be taken by surprise.
Of course, what may seem sudden to the outside observer may have been brewing for many years.
The assumption is that if a couple has been together that long they surely must be happy together. But that assumption may be completely off base.
Sometimes it has taken till now for things to come to a head, or for one partner to decide that they are now able to take a shot at happiness that they haven't found in their marriage.
According to an article on Businessinsider.com, the divorce rate among those who are 50 years of age or older became double in 2009 what it had been in 1990.
Children that need tending to are most likely no longer on the scene to distract from intimate problems or friction. Even if adult children are at home, they aren't the consuming focus any longer.
A couple has also moved past the time when they may have stayed together for the children. They've put in their time protecting the youngsters and now it is time for mom and dad to finally have a shot at happiness.
What may have seemed like a happy home can suddenly be revealed as having been at the core an unhappy marital relationship making the best of things while raising children. Once that's finished, so is the marriage.
Enter the gray divorce.
Retirement can be great if you enjoy each other's company. It may also turn into the final straw that blows a couple apart. If you didn't much like each other before, having hours and days together may be more than you can stand.
Even couples who aren't at odds may find this time period to be an eye-opener, with children and work now off the table as preoccupying focuses, they may realize they just don't have much in common anymore. Liking each other may not be enough.
Gray divorces are sought by women two-thirds of the time. Unlike in past decades, more women are financially able to be independent and feel less like they have to have a man in their lives.