Famous Couples Who Split After Long Marriages
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Gone to Splitsville1 of 6
It may come as a surprise that Michael Douglas, 68, and Catherine Zeta Jones, 43, are separating after 13 years of marriage. But their decision reaffirms a growing trend. According to a July 2013 study from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, one out of every four divorcees is over the age of 50—a rate that's doubled since 1990. Take a look at five other famous married couples who, like Jones and Douglas, chose to part ways in their golden years—and find out how the major life change can affect boomers.
Morgan & Myrna2 of 6
After being married for 26 years, a then 70-year-old Morgan Freeman and his wife Myrna Colley-Lee, a theater and film costume designer, separated in 2007. Their divorce was finalized in 2010. Fortunately, a 2012 study in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that divorcing later in life has less of a negative effect on health than divorcing at a younger age. A possible reason? Older folks have developed more coping skill for dealing with divorce.
Robert & Lola3 of 6
Robert Redford and Lola Van Wagenen were married for 27 years, long before Redford was famous or rich (he claims he had only $300 when they wed in 1958). He said their decision to divorce in 1985 was a mutual one. According to divorce coach Dr. Karen Finn, Ph.D., one major reason couples divorce later on is that they can better afford it. A divorce that reaches a settlement within a few months of negotiations could range between $10,000 and $20,000. But a 2-year battle over custody and assets could easily cost hundreds of thousands, says Randall M. Kessler of Kessler & Solomiany.
Jerry & Patti4 of 6
Following 36 years of marriage and six children together, comedian Jerry Lewis left his wife Patti to move in with dancer SanDee Pitnick who was 24 years his junior. He married Pitnick shortly after his divorce was finalized. For someone remarrying quickly post-divorce, Finn recommends watching out for two things: That the new person you're marrying isn't exactly like your ex and that he isn't the complete opposite. "In actuality, most people will be happier with someone in between the two," she says.
Al & Tipper5 of 6
Despite being known for their very public displays of affection, former Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore, his high-school sweetheart, separated in 2010—less than one month after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. But appearances can be deceiving, says Finn, who herself divorced after 18 years of what most people thought was the perfect marriage. "Behaviors can be habituated. It can become a habit that you hold onto each other in public even when there are problems," she says.
Arnold & Maria6 of 6
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver's separation was front-page news back in 2011 when Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a son with their housekeeper. Shriver filed for divorce the same year, which has yet to be official. During the divorce process, take time to grieve, says Finn. But then consider the possibility of a new beginning. A few suggestions: Take a career assessment test or start meeting new people (dating sites like ourtime.com especially cater to those over 50). "Divorce doesn't have to mean being alone for the rest of your life," she says. "It remains your choice."