SOME married soon after high school or college. Others continued to date for an additional 10 years before saying ''I do. Whatever their histories, the of people divorced in their middle years is increasingly visible. Census figures show that the percentage of Americans divorced between 40 and 54 in made up nearly 14 percent of the population, up from 11 percent a decade ago.
Specific figures are not available on the marital status of Long Islanders by age. The State Health Department found that of the 2, divorces filed in Nassau and Suffolk Counties,one-fourth involved couples who had been married 15 to 30 years. Officials, lawyers and other experts attribute much of the increase in midlife divorces to social and economic changes over the last 30 years.
Women who work and are unhappy in their marriages are more likely to get divorced once their children leave, because they have something to fall back upon.
A major factor are the personal and social changes of midlife, Ms. Linton said, adding:. When the children are there they often act as buffers between the husband and wife.
But when they leave, when the connections with children are gone, suddenly you've got two people staring at each other across the dinner table without that much in common, and everything dries up. Some people attribute the rising divorce rate to expanded expectations.
Although the children may have left, many continue to be financially dependent. That, combined with aging parents, means that the middle aged are often burdened with added responsibilities.
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Watson said. Those disappointments, combined with the accommodations that couples have to make in the empty-nest years, can jeopardize relationships. Other disappointments may include business failures or debt. Steinberg, a matrimonial lawyer in Westbury, said. So the marriage gets the blame. Divorce becomes a way out, because, frankly, it cuts off responsibility for everything after a period of time. One consequence is economic duress. Linton said. Many women call because they cannot maintain the house, and their homes go into foreclosure.
Many middle-age Long Island women do not work outside the house while they raise their children. A lawyer for the Nassau Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Helen Scofield, said: ''This is especially true for women in their 40's and 50's who were raised with the expectation that they would be homemakers and mothers and that their husbands would be providers.
At that age it's very difficult to get a well-paying job, and no one can live on a minimum wage. Courts routinely award half the house to the woman but the maintenance is usually for a limited time. Scofield said, ''the man is better set up. Chances are he's been working all his life and has an income and pension plan. While she may be entitled to half of that, she has to hire a lawyer to force him to share it.
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On Long Island housing costs are high, Ms. Scofield said. I don't think there's tremendous understanding by the courts about how much it costs to live here. A study in June published in The American Sociological Review indicated that women's postdivorce standard of living decreased by 27 percent and men's increased by 10 percent. Yet divorced middle-age men have their own troubles.
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In addition, men often suffer a loss of connection to the family home and their community. One solution for newly divorced men is remarriage. Men who remain single may have to learn to establish a household. After his divorce four years ago Mr.
Hasnas attended a cooking class at a local high school, and he learned to wash his own laundry.
Because some divorced fathers fear losing daily contact with their children, a remain in Nassau or Suffolk, often in the town where their children go to school. Spouses frequently experience a sharp sense of isolation from former friends and neighbors after a divorce.
Watson said, ''Long Island is traditionally the bastion of the married. And once you get divorced it's more likely in the suburbs that you get dropped like a hot potato. Very often both sides of the couple feel like they've been abandoned by their entire social structure. Such was the case for Marcia Feuer of Westbury.
1. you may not be in the relationship for all the right reasons.
Feuer recounted. Even when a couple has well-established roots in the community, those who become divorced find they no longer have as much in common with old married friends. Watson said, ''have enormous difficulty trying to meet people of the opposite sex in the suburbs. But it's much more difficult for women because there are fewer single men around. One reason for that scarcity is that many suburban divorced men tend to remarry quickly while others move to the city.
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Census statistics from indicated that Nassau and Suffolk had 39, divorced men and 67, divorced women. Another problem is that older men often prefer to date younger women. A partial solution has been the creation of clubs and social activities specifically deed for those who have become single in mid-life.
Perhaps the best known of these is The Dallenger, a nightclub in the Garden City Hotel that is host to dances on Friday nights for those over The club, which opened in June with live music and video screens, accommodates over 1, single middle-aged Long Islanders on Friday nights. The club's popularity, according to Brian Rosenberg, general manager of The Dallenger, is as much a result of the proliferation of Long Island singles as it is of the club's marketing techniques.
Rosenberg said. And this time it's no longer the health club scene but nightclubs where people can talk and meet. A survey conducted at The Dallenger showed the needs of that older singles population who wanted to meet others at the club. The club's goal, he added was Huntington aged men dating focus on fun and entertainment and not necessarily be a place where people expect to find a mate, but where they meet others with whom to socialize.
That's when I decided to go out myself, to come here and meet people. Ideally, I'd like to find someone to be with for the rest of my life, to grow old together. But meanwhile I'm just here to have fun. Other Long Island organizations offer still more creative ways to meet middle-aged singles.
Among the best known are the semimonthly Saturday night tennis parties at Rockville Raquet and the Sunday night parties at the Jericho Westbury Tennis Club sponsored by Marion Smith, an entrepreneur. Smith, who began giving tennis parties on Long Island 14 years ago. Smith, who organizes singles dances at local country clubs and in Manhattan hotels, has over 14, Long Island singles on her mailing list.
Smith maintains that it is easier for singles to socialize on Long Island than it was in the past.
2. he may have a lot more—or a lot less—time for you.
But today, many of the divorced people have remained in the suburbs. They like the outdoors, the tennis, the golfand the amenities that the suburbs offer,'' she said. The growing singles population in the suburbs has also motivated some individuals to start activities through nearby institutions.
Intwo single middle-aged members of that museum approached the director, Constance Schwartz.
Before long, the museum announced a six-program membership called Singles Friend. Today the museum accomodates singles, most of whom are middle-aged, in their Singles Friends group. One reason for the program's popularity, according to Mrs.
Schwartz, is its location. One of those enthusiasts was Joan Oliver, a former teacher and an aspiring artist who recently attended a wine-tasting party at the museum. Like many divorced middle-aged individuals, Ms. Oliver believes that being single can be viewed as an opportunity to explore interests she neglected when she was married, rather than as an empty time between mates.
Oliver, who has been divorced for seven years after a long marriage. I don't go to activities specifically because they are deed for singles. I participate in activities that interest me.
Being single can be interesting as long as you keep an open attitude and simply try to enjoy what is. View on timesmachine. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. Linton said, adding: ''It may be related to the empty nest syndrome.