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Men Are from Golf-land; Women Are from Freedom-ville

A new study concludes that men view retirement as a final chapter, while many women see a fresh start. Maybe a hint to the rise in "Gray Divorce"?

Much has been made about the increase in the so-called “Gray Divorce,” referring to couples older than 50 who are splitting up. But a new study may shed light on why marriages are especially susceptible at this age.

Conducted by the MIT AgeLab, the study examined the words people use to describe life after career. The data indicates key differences between men and women. Overwhelmingly middle-aged and retirement-age men used words that reflected brochure imagery of retirement, e.g., “rest,” “relax,” “hobbies.” In contrast, women of the same age described life after work as “freedom,” “peace,” and phrasing like “time for me.”

Women described this chapter of life with words like “freedom,” “peace,” and phrasing like “time for me.”

“Women clearly see more in their later years than careers ending and playtime beginning,” Joseph Coughlin, co-director of the MIT lab wrote in Forbes. “Women are more likely to see retirement years as a continuing journey, a life stage that might finally offer them time to reflect on what they want and to pursue dreams delayed.”

Read More: The Rising “Gray” Divorce Rate: What’s Behind the Shocking Epidemic

Give Us Freedom, Dammit

After many years of caring for children, then maybe aging parents, women near or at retirement age are not having any of this “retiring.” Some go back to work; others devote their time to volunteering. Still, others—which there are increasingly more of—start their own businesses.

Entrepreneurship can be described as the new (older) woman’s movement.

“Entrepreneurship can be described as the new (older) woman’s movement,” writes Coughlin. An estimated 13 million businesses, or 42 percent of all companies in the United States, are reported to be owned by women—primarily older than age 50. While AARP estimates that nearly 28 percent of new businesses started by older women are to ensure financial stability, the majority of new older woman entrepreneurs leverage their economic security and see their retirement years as an opportunity to bring past dreams to life and to focus on starting a new business.

The Clingy Man?

The differences in how men and women view these years lead to a situation that has been the basis for countless plaques in knickknack shops, ones emblazoned with sayings like, “I married him for better or worse, but not for lunch,” or “My husband just retired. Please rescue me.”

Because men traditionally have a smaller social network, they often look to their wives for sustenance as they near retirement age. Women, on the other hand, are commonly spending their days pursuing new goals and with friendships nurtured over years. Certainly many women cherish time to travel and to spend time with their significant other, but how much time may vary.

On our NextTribe trips, we meet many women who echo these sentiments, whose husbands become more resistant to travel and adventure, while they’re going in the opposite direction. We hope that couples can find a way to navigate this touchy time, coming up with a solution that will give each what they want most now.

Read More: Unhappily Retired? How to Survive 24/7 in the House with a Spouse

By NextTribe Editors


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