Family Law Blog

Avoiding Conflict in Senior Years Contributes to Lower Rates of Divorce

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Overall, senior citizens above the age of 65 have lower divorce rates compared to younger persons. That could be because they are more likely to look at ways of diffusing conflict to settle an argument, as opposed to allowing the dispute to blow out of proportion.

Those are the results of a new study that was conducted by researchers at San Francisco State University. According to the research, as couples grow older, they are much more likely to settle disputes and resolve disagreements simply by changing the subject. This serves as a very effective way of defusing a potentially conflict state, and calming down a situation that has the potential to become very nasty.

In fact, the research only confirms the findings of earlier studies that have indicated that as couples age, they tend to avoid conflict and use more positive ways of handling conflicts. This could be partly because many older couples understand that they do not have many years together, and they want to make the most of the time that they do have together.

The researchers assessed the results when married couples used a type of technique called the “demand-withdraw pattern,” as they became older. In this kind of technique, one partner simply blames the other partner for the unresolved problems in the marriage, and pressures him or her to change. The other partner will simply avoid talking about the problem, and withdraws from the situation altogether.

Among younger couples, this kind of technique can be counter-productive, and could actually destabilize the marriage. However, the researchers found that older couples benefit from a situation when one person simply changes the subject and avoids discussion altogether.