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AIBU to wonder why more Baby Boomer marriages haven't failed?

101 replies

ComposHat · 16/04/2013 13:17

I was talking to my dad about divorce and they commented about the high rate of divorce amongst his age group.

I am actually surprised that it isn't higher given the 'typical' marriage pattern of baby-boomers. Very early marriages (my parents were engaged at 17 and married at 21 without having serious relationships with other people.)

They'd had no experience of living together or even being an independent adult - both moved straight from their parents homes to their marital home. Several of their friends 'had' to get married as the bride was pregnant (yet a surprising number of these marriages have lasted too)

Late teens seems absurdly young to pick your life partner, I couldn't pick a pair of socks to wear at that age. It seems that the 'typical' baby-boomer marriage was a bit of pot luck and keeping your fingers crossed for the best.

AIBU to be surprised that so many marriages made in these circumstances have turned out to be successful (or at the very least endured!)

OP posts:

Fudgemallowdelight · 16/04/2013 13:23

I have some aunts who just stayed in unhappy marriages because it wasn't the done thing to divorce. They just put up with it. In fact my own parents did the same. They are so unsuited and should have split up years ago.


saycheeeeeese · 16/04/2013 13:26

I've been with my DH since 18, didn't live together til I married him at 24.

Does that mean we're doomed? ?


NorthernLurker · 16/04/2013 13:27

Yes yabu. You're talking about a group of people who married young with the knowledge for most of them that their parents married for life. People who marry young (I was 20 and pregnant btw) either grow apart or grow together till your life is so wrapped up with the other person. My dh drives me mad sometimes but we've done our growing up together. I don't think we are divorce proof, nobody is, but it would take a lot to break us now.
Marriage in the 21st century involves often older people - for whom it is harder to do the growing together. It involves a lot of money and sex related stress. Frankly the more people you've slept with the more you have to compare your current sex life to. Marriage today is not modelled as a life long commitment and there isn't enough honesty about working at it. You see this on every child free wedding thread - loads of guff about it being the bride's day etc etc. A wedding is an end in itself now. I thought Ben Affleck's comment about his wife at the Oscars was spot on - that they'd been working at their marriage for a decade and it was the best kind of work but it was work.


currentbuns · 16/04/2013 13:27

From my observations, I think a lot of people (particularly women) in that age-bracket were/are more willing to tolerate unhappy relationships and to overlook abuse of various kinds and infidelity.


Squitten · 16/04/2013 13:27

I would imagine because most of them were raised to believe that divorce was unnacceptable. Doesn't mean they were necessarily all happy


salcz · 16/04/2013 13:31

They didn't have the choices we have now.

I've been with DH since we were 18 but my parents would have gone mad if we had got married that young.


saycheeeeeese · 16/04/2013 13:32

Northern I agree, my parents married young and are best friend, intrinsically linked to each other. My DH and I are best friends too, I'm very lucky to have parents with a happy marriage.


Pagwatch · 16/04/2013 13:34

Equally it doesn't mean they were unhappy or things to be endured.
My parents, my aunts, uncles etc all had happy marriages and remain together today (barring death of course).


PoppyAmex · 16/04/2013 13:37

I was reading last week that several studies have proved that statistically people who have less partners tend to be happier in their relationships. Me and DH must be doomed then.


saycheeeeeese · 16/04/2013 13:38

I'm definitely doomed...DH is my one and only.


Tailtwister · 16/04/2013 13:42

I think there is still a stigma about divorce in that particular age group. Also, the majority of women would have given up working to bring up children and would be less financially independent than later generations.


Timetoask · 16/04/2013 13:43

My parents have been married for 52 years.
The marriage went through some serious trouble when I was a teenager. I think that if they had been married during this generation, they would have divorced without a doubt.
But my very strong mother stuck with it, they worked hard on it, they are now inseparable, they are best friends and live for each other.
I am so happy they didn't separate when they went through the trouble.


Mrsdavidcaruso · 16/04/2013 13:43

Not always the case - My aunt is 58 and has been married for 41 years, her and my Uncle are still a couple of lovebirds they hold hands all the time and are still as much in love now as they were when they met 42 years ago, they have been through so much together - death of a child redundancy (at least 3 times each in their working lives) they are wonderful together.

They both fiercely believe in marriage - not due to being religious or believing marriage is better, but they believe in commitment and seeing things through as a couple and that had certainly stood them in good stead throughout their lives.

In fact when I left my Aunt last night she was busy filling in a claim form for my Uncles Pension credit and changing the word 'Partner' to 'Wife'


HepzibahFlurge · 16/04/2013 13:45

Doomed here then as well! ...dh is my one and only. Been together since 17, Married at 24, lived together for 9 months before we got married. (both 41 now). Neither of us have slept with anyone else.
We've been through some trials that i know have split up other couples upincluding my cancer diagnose. We've had to work really hard at our marriage but it has been worth it
He is my best friend and I can't imagine my life without him in it.


SunflowersSmile · 16/04/2013 13:46

I think even today it is easier to divorce if you have no children.
Big decision to make if you do... in my opinion...


TigOldBitties · 16/04/2013 13:50

Different attitudes to marriage I think plays a major part. Divorce was less common and seen as more of an extreme option.

My grandparents are still married, as are all their siblings, or were until they died. My parents and all but one of their siblings are still married. Same can be said for DH's parents and their siblings. As far as I know only one stayed in an unhappy marriage, the rest have enjoyed themselves for the most part.

I like the attitude that marriage is for like and I can think of very few circumstances in which I would divorce DH. We met when we were teens and are in it for the longhaul.


Wannabestepfordwife · 16/04/2013 13:51

I will probably get flamed for this but I think expectations of relationships were far more realistic in those days and people were far more willing to work at their relationships.


Owllady · 16/04/2013 13:54

I married my husband when I was 19 and I am now 35 Confused we both love each other, it's not endured. We have worked through things though. His Dads death, my sisters, severely disabled child, moving county several times, redundancy, money trouble etc etc. It hasn't been particularly easy but life isn't meant to be okay


vitaminC · 16/04/2013 13:54

I think for many people divorce just wasn't even on their radar. They just put their heads down and "got on with it". My mother seems to think I'm unreasonable wanting to be happy (retraining for a new career), and that life's just about working with what you've got and "plodding on"... Hmm

I also think, that for many women, by the time they realised there was an alternative (and that in many cases, they'd been putting up with what younger generations would definitely consider abuse), they were close to retirement age, with elderly parents to care for, not-quite dependent young adult children and, often, grandparenting responsibilities, which meant divorcing would be a logistical nightmare!

My own parents have little in common and pretty much just house-share these days, but don't really see an alternative. Starting again at this age would be almost impossible... Sad


Xroads · 16/04/2013 14:00

We met at 19 and got married when we were 27, we are 31 now and have grown up together, there have been rocky patches but over all we are best friends, in love, very passionate and we work at our relationship. I hope we always will do.

When we have had rough times it has been due to money worries or lack of sleep/ overworked/ stressed not because either of us are horrible people.


DontmindifIdo · 16/04/2013 14:00

Remember that was the first generation to divorce, and my parents being younger end of baby boomers, when my mum had my DB, she was one of the last not to get maternity leave - you got 6weeks to physically recover and then were expected back at your job (and there was no leave for before hand) - so most woman resigned. Woman were a lot more dependent and there was less help for single parents.

there was also less of an expectation about what they should get from life and much more acceptance of bad behaviours from partners. Being single wasnt the option it is now.


digerd · 16/04/2013 14:01

There are 4 of my class mates I still have contact with.
All married at 19
1 marriage remained in tact.
The other 3 not. 1 has a 3rd DH, 1 got divorced in her 40s and the other left after 3 years and went home to mum.

Sis and DB are still together, DPs were together since 15 and 18, but married later and stayed together til death separated them.
All had no other sexual partners when they married.


WTFisABooyhoo · 16/04/2013 14:04

older people were mostly brought up in a time when marriage was for life and it wasn't encouraged to leave an unhappy or even abusive one. also, until very recently (in older people terms) it would leave a woman in a very vulnerable situation if she were to leave her husband, especially with children. even with teh improvements in the law WRT women and security, older people tend to have formed habits and beliefs that wont be altered by new laws or changes in society.


Weegiemum · 16/04/2013 14:05

My baby boomer parents managed 14 years and my mother was having an affair for several years before she left.

Dh and I got together when I was 19, he was 20, didn't co-habit before marriage at 24 and have been happily married over 18 years.

As dh and I are each others "only partners", I can expect this to carry on then? anyway the sex is too good to give up


arabesque · 16/04/2013 14:40

I think because divorce is more socially acceptable now, a lot of couples are prepared to give up at the first hurdle and go their separate ways, instead of realising that all marriages have their tough patches and it is working through those that makes you strong as a couple.
When I see a very elderly couple walking down the road laughing and holding hands I think it is incredibly romantic; they must have been through so many traumas, sadnesses, financial worries and difficulties in their years together but there they are, many years on - still able to laugh and hold hands.

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