Why Do Middle-Aged and Older Men Seek Divorce?

Why Do Middle-Aged and Older Men Seek Divorce?

The divorce rate for middle aged and older men has increased significantly since the 1990s. Every third person who gets divorced in the US is older than 50. Even more astounding is that one out of every ten people getting a divorce is 65+.

As a divorce mediator, here are the reasons that I hear all the time, from my older male clients, as to why they feel compelled to divorce their wives and voluntarily step into the world of single silver-haired people.

Bored to Tears

Many marriages are tossed to the wind by a man who is bored to tears with his current life. He can see no way out of his misery until he can escape his current marriage.

Kind men, however, often do not broadcast this fact to their wives. There is no nice way of telling your wife that the life you two built together has left you feeling irretrievably numb and drained of the spark you know is inside of you. That is why so many of these men’s wives tell me they were “broadsided” and are literally in shock that their marriage is over. 

These men often find someone else to light up their mojo … and they often end up getting caught in their transgressive behavior by their wives. Many times, though, I suspect this “getting caught” is not entirely by accident. It is a clear communication – without having any painful conversations -- that the marriage is over. This is the classic situation that prompts the most common phrase I hear from philandering spouses: “the marriage was already over before I cheated”.


Many men count on their wives to fulfil their need for appreciation and love. They don’t usually go their friends or other family members for these basic human needs. If their wife is busily focused on the kids, friends, other family members, career, volunteer work, etc., her husband can end up feeling like he is “just there”. Like piece of furniture.

If an older or middle-aged man cannot find the words to speak up for himself – or his wife simply does not care that he is feeling left out – this can end the marriage.

Often times, these men describe their relationship as feeling like they are in the way. They try and help; but can never seem to do anything right. Their wives don’t include them in much of planning anymore and these husbands are often left scrambling to keep up with what is going on in their own household. They notice, however, that their pay checks are welcomed with open arms and gobbled up with lightning speed. This infuriates them and leaves them feeling used.

Feeling like a “tool” is miserable. Men who feel unappreciated and unloved often call me to help settle their divorce so they can begin their search for someone who cares.

Too Much Chaos

Some middle-aged men are just done with the chaos of family life. Their stress meters are off the charts. Even if the kids are teenagers or college students living at home, family life still runs at a higher RPM than single life. Life in a family home is often messy, uncontained, and inconsistent. Some people do not have the skin for this type of lifestyle.

If family life – or even just life with a spontaneous and energetic spouse – is wearing a man out, he might either physically leave the marriage or, as I commonly hear from my female clients, he might just completely withdraw from the family or his wife. This is sometimes referred to as “emotional desertion”. Both are marriage enders (one active and one passive).


Men end marriages because they want to feel alive, they want to be appreciated, or they want to be left alone. The communication patterns, disrespect, and resentment have gone on too long. A completely new life, in these situations, is often seen as easier (and more exciting) than course-correcting and revitalizing their current marriage. That is when my phone rings.

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