523 – Preventing Gray Divorce

Addressing the Stresses of Late-Life Marriage
Barry Jacobs & Julia Mayer

While there’s an expectation that marital happiness will increase in the last third of life, when many couples are freer of children and family responsibilities, the reality is more complicated than that. Empty-nest syndrome, decreased physical intimacy, poor adjustment to retirement, and the advent of chronic illness are all driving rates of so-called “gray divorce” to record highs. Spouses over 50 are now twice as likely to divorce than they were in 1990. For those over 65, the likelihood is three times higher. In this workshop, we’ll look at the stresses of long-term, late-life marriages, and examine couples therapy modifications for older clients. You’ll discover how to:

  • Identify each spouse’s existential mission and whether it’s supported by the relationship
  • Create effective frameworks for couples’ negotiations of upcoming life changes
  • Facilitate the processing of loss through mindful reflection and grief rituals
  • Support couples in setting new boundaries and expectations with children, grandchildren, and extended family members


Barry Jacobs, PsyD, is the director of behavioral sciences for the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program. He’s author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers, and coauthor with Julia Mayer of AARP Meditations for Caregivers.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Barry Jacobs is a faculty member of the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program. He is an author for Guilford Press and receives royalties.
Non-financial: Barry Jacobs is a member of the American Psychological Association; America Family Therapy Academy; Collaborative Family Healthcare Association; and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

Julia Mayer, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in women’s identity, caregivers, and relationship issues. She’s author of A Fleeting State of Mind.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Julia Mayer is in private practice.
Non-financial: Julia Mayer has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

Scroll to Top