Cultivate a positive attitude. Look at your divorce as a new beginning and a chance for a fresh start that may lead to a happier, more content life.
Breaking up a marriage is hard to do, especially if the marriage had a solid foundation at one time and included some good, even blissful years. Divorce is difficult at a younger age. It is difficult during middle age. And it is difficult in later years. But life goes on, and life after divorce can be happy and healthy…no matter what your age may be.
People rarely marry expecting the union to end in divorce, particularly after spending decades together, meeting life’s challenges together, and raising a family together. But, the reality is that every married couple does NOT stay married until death parts them. Marriages break up. Divorce happens. At any age.
What a lot of people may find especially surprising about current divorce statistics in the United States is that many of the couples going through divorces today are in their seasoned years. In fact, the number of divorces among older Americans has risen dramatically over just the past couple decades.
A study by researchers at Bowling Green State University determined that the 50+ age group in the United States has become one of the largest demographics for divorce in the country. According to the study, one in every four Americans over the age of 50 divorced in 2009 while only one in 10 people above the age of 50 divorced back in 1990.
There are many reasons why divorces may have surged so significantly among those of us in later generations. People are living longer, which means couples are together longer and some couples simply grow apart over the years. Married couples facing retirement may be looking at decades of togetherness. Ten, twenty or thirty years can be a very long time to spend simply going through the motions of marriage, especially if the union is troubled or without shared love.
In addition, divorce no longer holds the social or religious stigma it once did. There was a time when a divorce was condemned and looked down upon as a failure. But now, it is much more accepted and seen in a less negative light. Even the Catholic Church has been re-evaluating its stance on divorce.
Although the volume of divorces taking place in later life has gone up, the increase does not mean the decision to end a marriage can or should be made lightly… and it does not mean divorcing in later years is ever easy. Anyone who has been through a divorce will tell you that divorce is very serious… it is difficult… it is challenging… and it can be heart-wrenching.
No matter how long a marriage has lasted or how old a couple is, a divorce undoubtedly will have a life-changing impact on both partners. It’s important to fully understand your reasons for choosing to divorce. It also is important to really think about exactly what a divorce will mean to your future. And it is important to have a game plan for moving forward with life following divorce.
Of course, ending a marriage may not be a choice at all. If there is a threatening or dangerous element in a marriage, the only step to take is to get out while everyone is still safe. In some instances, the idea of divorce may be thrust upon you by your spouse. The divorce may not be something you desire at all, which can be hard to accept, make peace with, and move on from.
The goal after divorce is to find your way to a happy and healthy existence. It is usually best to keep looking forward, not behind you. Here are some suggestions from a few folks who have gone through and survived a divorce in their later years.
Give yourself time to grieve. Yes, grieve. A divorce is an ending. In that way, it can be similar to a death.
Don’t beat yourself up. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you may have made during the marriage or during the divorce. Little will be gained by obsessing on what might have been a mistake or what you could have done differently.
Love yourself. Always be kind to yourself. Always treat yourself the way you would treat a loved one or dear friend who was dealing with the same challenges you are now facing.
Don’t live in the past. Try to let the past stay in the past. Make the most of today and look at the future as a wide open, limitless chance for new opportunities.
Enjoy your children and grandchildren. Of course, a divorce impacts and entire family, but it does not have to disintegrate or fragment the family. If you’ve been able to keep a friendship with your spouse, you may be able to continue to enjoy your family together. If your divorce is not amicable, it may be best to do so separately.
Discover new talents. Find something new to do that you enjoy and are pretty good at (or can learn to become good at). Tackle a new hobby, like knitting or woodworking. Take voice lessons or learn to play a musical instrument. Attend a yoga or dance class.
Heal your emotional pain. The struggles involved in a divorce can be stressful and hurtful. The experience can lead to depression. Make sure to do whatever is necessary to deal with the lingering effects of a difficult divorce. Speak with your doctor. He or she may recommend that you visit with a mental health profession who specializes helping people who have divorced.
Stay involved with people. Don’t shy away from socializing and enjoying the company of family and friends. Reconnect with friends you have not seen in a while and focus some effort on making new friends as well.