Based on interviews with three women in the 50 and 60s, each of whom decided to call time on long marriages, the picture painted is one of mixed emotions – anxiety and self-doubt battling with a determination to escape stagnant relationships with husbands who had long lost their allure.
There is Lynda, now 61, who left her husband Graham after 32 years, and 57 year-old Susan, who divorced her husband Ray after 23 years.
Sue, 67, ended her marriage to Jim after as long as 37 years.
If the article is anything to go by, none of the women’s husbands did anything desperately wrong or unusual. Sue “often felt unloved”, and there were vague suspicions of possible infidelities in Lynda and Susan’s marriages. But both welcomed rather than resented these suspicions, seeing them instead as convenient excuses to end relationships they were keen to leave.
When Lynda discovered that Graham had developed a friendship with another woman, she was less than upset, telling the paper:
“It was a relief to have an excuse to leave. The next morning, I went to a solicitor and filed for divorce. I really don’t know how close they were but that wasn’t the point.”
“It gave me the perfect moment to say I wanted a divorce. For most of our 23 years together we had been happy, but I could see life drifting away.”
I think that is a very telling comment. Boredom appears to have been the thing that really ended these two marriages – they did not split despite their decades together, but because of them. When Susan one day found her 64 year-old husband planning his TV viewing for the next two nights, she realised she wanted more from life:
“I just thought ‘Is this what my life has become?’ ”
This is an uncomfortable emotion common to many of us at a certain point on our lives. One day we realise we are no longer as young as we used to be and that time is no longer on our side. Ambitions and plans suddenly seem that little more urgent and the urge to shatter routines, leave our comfort zones and make life-altering decisions before it is too late can become overwhelming. Some people change careers, some people buy Harley-Davidsons, some people go trekking in Nepal, and some people end decades-long marriages.
Photo by oatsy40 via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence