Does Everything Fall Apart? Life Assessments Following a Gray Divorce

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The divorce–stress–adjustment theoretical framework emphasizes not only the negative consequences associated with marital dissolution but also the positive outcomes that can eventually emerge after former spouses part ways. This study aims to examine the subjective life assessments of the heterosexual gray divorced population within the first 3 years of their marital splits with respect to this framework. Qualitative data based on 66 in-depth interviews of the gray divorced population were collected and analyzed using grounded theory methods. Negative consequences of gray divorce included financial worries and loneliness. However, participants also identified positive aspects of their new lives, including higher levels of overall happiness, liberation from their ex-spouses, and enhanced independence and freedom. These results show that immediately after their marriages dissolve, members of the gray divorced population experience complex reactions in accordance with the divorce-stress-adjustment framework. More specifically, these men and women see both challenges and opportunities after their gray divorces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1438-1461
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • adjustment
  • divorce consequences
  • gray divorce
  • interviews


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