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Divorce Looms Ahead for Long-Term Married Couples

Although the recent announcement by Al and Tipper Gore that they are separating after 40 years of marriage has shocked the country, a recent CNN article indicates that more long-term relationships in this decade are heading toward divorce than ever before. Break-ups between long-term married couples are still far rarer than between newlyweds, but factors such as longer lifespans and a growing acceptance of divorce are accelerating the divorce rate among older couples.

According to the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau data, most first-time divorces occur around the 8th year of marriage. Experts say there are three “divorce-prone” points in time that will either make or break a marriage. The first is after the initial two years of marriage, when the couple has passed the “honeymoon period.” The second is around the five to seven year mark, when children are typically born. The final point is when the children leave home for college and the couple becomes empty-nesters with fewer ties to one another.

Couples like the Gores who have successfully navigated their marriage past all of these divorce-prone points often cause the greatest shockwaves when announcing a separation or divorce.