Is this the tea time of your life, the time after the hurly-burly of kids, school and making one's way in the world when you are looking forward to a glass of wine in life's Happy Hour.
Just when you thought it was safe to relax and enjoy a less stressful life along comes the deep rumble of marital dissatisfaction which can predict an earthquake and even the calamity of a divorce tsunami.
A dangerous time of life
All of a sudden life after divorce is upon you and your life will never be the same again. This can be a good thing but mostly it isn't. Third decade divorce is happening more often according to recent statistics. The key trigger for these ominous events is the kids leaving home/going to university.
These are classic life changes which can expose the underlying fissures and fractures in the relationship. If this coincides with early retirement/redundancy then that's a potent combination which needs to be handled with all the care and respect you would give to a rapidly overheating nuclear fuel rod.
So what are the reasons for divorce?
OK, so that enough about when this might all happen but what about checking out whether your relationship is strong enough to get through the danger period. There are a simple set of reasons or grounds for divorce which are written into law. In the real world the one that counts is "unreasonable behaviour" as it can mean anything you want such as "I just got bored with our marriage."
Most divorces occur for a complex set of reasons which often have their origins way back in the marriage or even before it. These are often suppressed for the sake of the kids, the career or just through understandable emotional inertia.
How do I recognise the signs?
So, how are you going to spot the signs of a grey divorce coming your way? Just like earthquake prediction it is not easy and just like earthquake prediction finding the stress points where the emotional tectonic plates move against each other is the way to start. There are no surface signs, you will both have to look deeper.
Firstly talk about it (I know everybody says this in relationship counselling but that's because it's true). Make sure your spouse is feeling as loved and cherished now as ever before. If these lifestyle changes are causing some difficulties for you then it's pretty certain they are doing the same for your spouse.
Make you the centre of your relationship
Second, now that you are no longer beset by as many trials and tribulations of everyday life as you were now is the time to concentrate more upon each other. You need to indulge yourselves and gear the relationship to function with the two of you at the centre. Your children will always need your love and support but now they are out there fending for themselves.
Plan your new future
You could have another twenty years or more to go. When you got married you probably had a vision of your future together. So now you might need another one to take you through the next stage of your journey. Have a real conversation about your expectations for the next 20 years.
Discuss it, think about the options and feel the satisfaction of a joint decision. If this discussion demonstrates that you have very different ideas for the future then a cool, gentle and mutually agreed divorce might be the way to go. But, remember that life after divorce may not be the answer to your difficulties.
Biology plays its part
Lastly understanding the biology of it is crucial. Women do experience considerable hormonal change around this time which can have significant behavourial effects. That's the way it is and does not mean that relationship difficulties are caused by the woman. However, it's just a good idea for both of you to bear this in mind because it can make a difference.
Grey divorce, as it is becoming known, is now far more common. So if you do feel this is the only route to take you will not be alone. There is a good life after divorce at any age.