What the middle-aged regret: marrying the wrong person

Divorce rates among the over-50s have rocketed by a third in 10 years

Regrets? The over-50s have had a few...  and one of the most common is marrying the wrong person.

That is the rather unromantic conclusion of new research revealing the unspoken insecurities of the middle-aged.

While the most common regrets were fairly mundane – 23 per cent said they hadn’t seen enough of the world, and 19 per cent said they did not save enough money for retirement, other responses hinted at heartache.

Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) said that marrying the wrong person was their biggest regret – although the survey did not reveal how many were still with their original spouses, and how many had joined the ranks of the “silver splitters”.

In addition, one in 10 of the respondents said that falling in love again was on their “bucket list” of things to do before they die. 

The research also found that 17 per cent regretted never telling their parents how much they meant to them, while 15 per cent regretted not asking their grandparents more about their life.

Remorse for prioritising work over family life and hobbies is also reflected in the polling. Working long hours (16 per cent) and not spend enough time with their children (15 per cent) were among the top 10 regrets, alongside never having learned a musical instrument (15 per cent).

Divorce rates among the over-50s have rocketed by a third in 10 years, relationship support group Relate revealed last year. Stars including Ronnie Wood, John Cleese and Bill Nighy all divorced their wives when well into their 60s.

Martin Lock, chief executive of Silversurfers, a lifestyle website for the over-50s that commissioned the survey, said: “It was slightly strange to see so many thought they had chosen the wrong spouse, but with the high level of overall divorce rates maybe it isn’t that strange.

“It feeds into this trend of the silver splitters. Maybe earlier generations would have stayed together as divorce wasn’t the done thing. That has changed.”

Travel dominated the bucket lists of the 1,000 over-50s polled for the survey, with a quarter wanting to head off on a cruise around the world; others wanted to go on safari or travel around America.

A further 17 per cent wanted to fly first class, and only slightly fewer dreamed of moving abroad to live. One in 10 still harbours dreams of swimming with dolphins.

Of those aged over 65 years old, 28 per cent revealed that they had no nest egg saved at all. Those aged between 50 and 55 were slightly better off, with 17 per cent having saved up to £50,000, and a quarter having saved £10,000.

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