Divorce is never a pleasant experience for anyone, at any age. But, it can be particularly difficult if you are getting a divorce in your fifties.
If you’ve been married a long time, have children, grandchildren and decades of memories together, it can be particularly traumatic. Untangling two lives which have become intertwined over twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five years or more, doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger either. It can feel like a band-aid that has been stuck on your skin through many weeks of dirt and showers. Peeling it off hurts like hell.
Take It Slow – Very Slow
One advantage of being older (and there are many) when you get divorced is that chances are you are much less impulsive than your younger counterparts. Middle-aged people naturally slow down in life. This can be a huge advantage when you are divorcing.
Snap decisions about finances, for example, and your future, are not wise. Taking the time necessary to think things through, plan and then plan some more, can help you not only adjust to the new normal that is about to take place in your life as a divorcee’, but to make better choices and decisions as it pertains to your future.
It also allows the grieving process to occur, which is absolutely necessary if you are to emerge from this time with a healthy sense of self and a life that could very well mean being alone if you choose to remain single. Speaking of remaining single, it’s not such a bad idea. At least, for a while – years even.
Stay Center Court – Avoid Rebound Relationships
You might be tempted to run out and find a replacement spouse after a divorce, especially if you were married for a very long time. People are built for companionship and if you’ve had a companion for most of your adult life, being alone not only feels strange, but it might also be scary. Resist the temptation to jump into a rebound relationship. Besides, how often do those types of relationships really work?
Taking the time to step back and self-reflect after a divorce is a very good idea. Maybe your prior marriage was not an emotionally healthy one. Why not? Did you contribute to that in some way? Are you a co-dependent personality? Why do you think your marriage failed? What can you learn about yourself?
These are important questions to ask yourself if you desire to pursue another relationship in your life. Without asking these types of questions and evaluating your behavior in your previous relationship, it could very well be that you take the same baggage and issues into another relationship and set yourself up for failure once again.
If you find that dating and being around other people helps you cope, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Just resist the temptation to jump right back into another relationship too soon. Besides, you might find that being alone is easier and very satisfying. You can squeeze the toothpaste in the middle and have bed picnics while you watch your favorite night-time drama. But, you won’t know that if you do not give yourself a chance to be alone.
If you are already a career woman who has a source of income and a career path that you are happy with, career choices in your fifties may not be something you have to give much thought to. But, what if you haven’t worked in a very long time during your marriage? What if you have stayed home with your children and given up what could have been a lucrative career? What if you’ve never worked outside of the home? What if your career path does not provide the type of income level that you are accustomed to? Now what?
These types of questions and issues can be some of the more daunting and stressful issues you deal with during a divorce in middle-age. Add a broken heart and grief on top of it and it can seem almost unbearable. But, if you can begin this process by assuring yourself that change, while incredibly scary at times, can be a great time of growth. You might find that starting over with a new career or beginning one for the first time in your life is exhilarating and life affirming.
This can also be a time to be thankful for an economy that has pushed the age of retirement well into the age of seventy. People are choosing to work long past what used to be considered retirement age of sixty-two. Some are working because they just have to; others are working because they want to. As a result, employers are embracing the older worker more and more as well.
We have life experience. We are not afraid to get our hands dirty. We understand the value and sense of self-worth that a job well done can bring to your life. And some of us have learned that it’s a privilege, not a chore, to be able to physically work and carry out day to day responsibilities. Few young people have figured this out yet, so, believe it or not, your age can be an asset. Embrace it and use it to your advantage.
Redefining Your Life as a Single Woman
If you boil life down to the bare bones, it’s all about how we define ourselves, how we define our world and how we fit in into those definitions. These life definitions guide us and lead us forward. Life definitions are in our career path, whether we are parents or not, our gender, our culture and yes, our marital status, among many, many other things.
Life definitions can give us hope and a positive sense of the future or they can fill us with discouragement and despair. And again, when you are going through a divorce and still coping with grief, the process can feel overwhelming.
It’s imperative, if you want to survive and ultimately enjoy life again, to realize that you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to how you define yourself and your life. If you choose to see yourself as a victim who has been damaged beyond repair, then you will be setting yourself up for failure and more pain.
But, if you choose to redefine your life in a positive way and seek to find the good things in your newly acquired status as a single woman, then you can lay a foundation for peace, happiness and contentment.
Not to mention, that putting out positive energy in your life will open doors for more opportunity and more positive life experiences to come your way. There is great truth to the notion that you “reap what you sow”. Choose to sow good seed of hope, forgiveness and self-acceptance during this time of healing and redefinition and you will find that your life gives back an abundance of good fruit to enjoy.
A new haircut, a new handbag and a great pair of shoes are not a bad idea either.