Divorce is not easy at any age…
But a divorce after half a lifetime married to someone is probably as hard as it gets. You’re no longer in the first flush of youth, perhaps you have teenage children or even children who have left home, and you’ll have very well established habits and friends. This is why being divorced or seeking divorce in your fifties or sixties or even older can be a very daunting challenge.
At a time when you might have been looking forward to a more relaxed pace of life, and to enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of being busy, instead you’re forced to strike out anew: potentially a new home, new circumstances, changing relationships with family and friends, perhaps one day a new partner, all overwhelming thoughts to start with, even aside from the emotional difficulty of divorce. For the victims (female and male) of a mid-life crisis, divorce can be a particularly bitter deal.
How older children are affected
Even if your children are adults who have left home they will have strong opinions,
and the break up of your marriage will probably have a significant impact on them as the very foundations that their life had been built on will seem to them to be crumbling. The thought of a stable home is gone and the realisation that no relationship is safe might be quite disorientating.
How to help them through it in some ways will be the same with children no matter what age (e.g. do not put them in the middle, and keep calm) but other issues might be more difficult, e.g. how much to tell them (see article “How to break it to older children”.
Dividing up ALL the stuff
The longer you were married, the more daunting the prospect of dividing up a lifetime of acquisitions. You may not even remember who initially owned what when years of ‘ours’ has to become his and hers. It can be very difficult – where do you even start? There’s no easy way – just take one day at a time and you will get through it. Treat it as though you were moving house, start with a room and some boxes and work through slowly. It may help to have someone else with you when you do this, as dividing out goods can be an endless prodding of sore spots and bittersweet memories.
Getting back into the single life
And after the dust has settled? It can be very difficult to fall back into the groove of a single life after you have been in a couple for so long, and indeed loneliness can be a real challenge to overcome. You might not even believe that there are single people of your age!
Meeting people and avoiding loneliness
There are PLENTY of older single people who are nice AND normal. To meet them, join a club with a friend or alone, in something that you enjoy. You could join the ramblers and make friends while you get fit! Signing up to a course is also a great way to meet people and build up your self-esteem as you learn something new.
Isolation can be a big problem when you have, for many decades previously, shared a house with a partner and children. Make sure that you keep busy. Even if you are unable to fully enjoy the activity, it is better than sitting at home alone, with all the scary thoughts about the future and the sadness of going over old memories. It is easier said than done and might sound a bit trite but it really is the key to the future.
There are plenty of ways to get out and about and make friends that do not cost a fortune. You may know or meet someone who is in the same position as you are. Lean on them, and let them lean on you, and then get out there and take the world by the scruff of the neck. If you are totally on your own, try finding groups through Meetup.com – which is where you’ll currently find Divorce Club meets as well.
It might feel like you never want to get romantically involved again, but inevitably, people change their mind (honestly, we are all romantics at heart). Whatever you decide, it can be really uplifting to look at all the other 40+ singles out there on sites such as 40 Plus Dating Group and Mature Free and Single. This can really bring home that you are not alone in this situation.
Try something new
In the real world, now is your chance to do all those things you have put off, like learning a language, travelling, or taking up a hobby. Doing something new is a real opportunity to work on yourself as an individual. Many single people enjoy going away with holiday providers for the single over-fifties. You will feel so much more confident knowing you are becoming a new and improved version of yourself.
Once you have had a chance to recover, however long it takes, there is an exciting world out there. In the meantime, if you are still in the recent throes of divorce and finding it hard to cope do use the website/ forum. Divorce hits us all hard whatever age we are but The Divorce Club is here to help.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 7 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.