She Said, He Said: What Makes Aspen The Divorce Capital of Colorado?
Lori and Jeff: A recent 24/7 Wall St. review of Census Bureau data identified the city in each state with the highest percentage of divorces. Aspen took the title of the highest in Colorado, with a divorce rate almost twice the state average. Aspen was also reported as having the sixth highest divorce rate in the entire US. While this may not be a surprising statistic to some—given Aspen’s glitz and glamour reputation—it does raise concern for those of us who passionately believe in love and work diligently toward creating stronger relationships in our community.
The report didn’t make any suggestions as to why certain cities had higher rates than others. Curious, we perused the list looking for common elements among the “winners”. Admittedly, we hadn’t even heard of most of the cities (though our favorite was Truth or Consequences, New Mexico—kind of fitting), so our search was somewhat futile. As a married couple and relationship coaches, we’d like to offer our perspectives on a few factors that have contributed to Aspen being dubbed the divorce capital of Colorado.
Jeff: Aspen is an amazing beautiful place, with endless year-round outdoor activities. It’s culture (music, food, intellectual events) is second to none for a city its size. What is there not to love? Well, for starters, Aspen has extremely limited resources for the average Joe. Career opportunities, housing options and an affordable night out are rare commodities. While Aspen can seem like a fantasy land, it also has a significant level of discontent roiling up just beneath its glittery surface. The three years I worked in community mental health revealed some of the ugly underbelly of the place that has earned the tagline, “Relax, it’s Aspen.”
So what does this have to do with divorce? Many relationships are built on hopes that our partner will bring out the best in us, and help us create the life we really want. So when discontent arises in our world, it’s common to project our frustrations onto our significant other. The knee-jerk solution for fixing the discontent is often to trade in our partner for a newer, shinier model. This is especially pertinent in the age of technology, where finding a new mate is as easy as swiping right on the latest dating app.
Lori: The Aspen lifestyle in particular supports a value of instant highs and continuous gratification. Culturally, the notions of patience, putting in the effort and steering though the storms can take a backseat to pleasing the Id. Consequently, many women (and some men) who seek a partner with whom to grow, find themselves competing against the “Peter Pan Syndrome”. The fun, free-spirited climate of our town does a particularly good job of fostering the never grow old (or up) mentality. But this lifestyle often doesn’t meld well with the energetic and emotional commitments of starting a family. When partners are not 100% honest and open about their wants, needs and expectations in adulthood, toxic resentment builds quickly.
Lori and Jeff: An intimate bond with someone who knows, loves and accepts you is one of the greatest gifts a human can experience. It’s worth fighting for. Even the strongest of bonds have difficult times and require effort, commitment and perseverance through growing pains. If the target of your discontent is pinned to your partner, take a step back, and explore the sources of your unhappiness. If that displeasure truly is rooted in the relationship, reach out to a counselor or coach to help you work through the truth or consequences of your connection.