Carol Orsborn

They’re getting a g-vorce

Not sure if two out of my last two conversations with women friends constitutes a trend, but this is what I've been hearing a lot of lately. For discussion's sake, I'm calling it a g-vorce.

What's a g-vorce? Best to have my friend Patty give it to you first hand.

"Roger and I have decided to do live separately. And if it goes as well as we both think it’s going to, we’re ending the marriage."

"You can’t be serious, Patty," I replied. "You and Roger have been married thirty years...and you seem so happy together. Is there another woman involved?"

"No. Not a woman. But there are irreconcilable differences. You see, Roger wants to retire to the sticks and go fly-fishing for the rest of his life, and I am determined to move back to the city and visit museums and the symphony. Plus, I'm still planning on working, at least part-time. What am I going to do all day with myself living on a river? We've gone back and forth about this for years and apparently, we're both more invested in our dreams than we are in our relationship. Our irreconcilable differences are not about another woman, or how much money we should be giving to our adult kids — it's about geography."

"A g-vorce?" I ventured.

"Yes. That’s exactly what it is."

I would have thought Patty and Roger to be the exception to the rule, so attached to a vision centering on place and lifestyle that they would be willing to sacrifice the marriage. But then yesterday, I got an email from another friend on the very same theme.

I called her immediately.

"I want to move to live near our grandson and Barry says he's done moving. I've been stuck here all my life because of his job, and now that we can finally pick up and do something new, he’s dug his heels in."

Another g-vorce.

Here's what I know. Woman 50+ are far more likely to initiate a divorce from their husbands than any other age group. And according to AARP, the top reasons they cite are "freedom, identity and a need for fulfillment." Code words, in these two cases, for a new life in a new place.

Not so surprising, really, when you put this into the perspective of how vital we feel at our age, and how the many years of an elongated lifespan both promise and provoke us to rethink how we want to be spending not the five years or so anticipated by woman reaching retirement age in decades past, but thirty or more.

It is highly probable that our mothers, for instance, would have loved to ditch the condo on the golf course hubby believed he deserved for a little cottage on the French countryside, but they were conditioned to ask “why bother?” Formed in pre-liberation times, they felt they had neither the time nor choice to upset the applecart and start fresh. But our generation of women, many of whom worked most of our lives, contributed to or dominated the family income and feel entitled to reinvent ourselves any way we please.

In most cases, it’s not that either of my friends actively dislike their husbands. It’s more that they’ve been there and done that and are raring to go all-out for the life of their dreams. If their spouse comes along for the ride, fine. But if not, they’re determined to part friends.

When our generation of women pioneered the implementation of gender equality in the workplace, I doubt if any of us saw all the implications that would come as by-products of women's liberation. And certainly, nobody I knew ever considered adding the phrase "To be willing to move wherever I see fit until death do us part" into their vows.

But to our younger sisters and daughters: if you want to avoid getting a g-vorce down the road, perhaps it's not a bad idea to add a g-nup into the pre-nup.


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