Divorce After 50
Adam Dodge and Dr. Jill Murray
According to a study by AARP, two-thirds of divorces in the over 50 population are initiated by women. That’s not a statistic to overlook. While divorce rates in general are declining in the U.S., they have been steadily on the rise in those over the age of 50. Twenty years ago, only one in ten spouses over 50 divorced; now that statistic is is one in four. Here is what you need to know.
When a woman divorces after the age of 50, it is not a decision that she has made lightly or impulsively. Aside from the fact that women are extremely relationship-oriented, they also seek security and stability. Starting over after what may have been decades of marriage, as well as plans as to how their life will look at this stage is devastating. Just when a woman thinks she should be in the home stretch—kids raised and launched, financially more secure, and perhaps retired—life as she’s known it is a huge uncertainty. Noted psychotherapist Virginia Satire said, “Most people prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty”. Women who choose to divorce over 50 are most certainly facing a high-wire act without a net.
As the population continues to live longer, marital partners have more of an opportunity to grow apart from each other. More women work—perhaps out-earning their husbands—and may feelgreater financial independence. However, in general, divorce is statistically more financially devastating for women than for men. Less than twenty-five percent of men are severely adversely affected by divorce as opposed to more than forty percent of women. Despite the fact that many women are earning more than ever before, women live longer and their earnings or savings must last longer as well.
Six Emotionally Healthy Steps to Take During and Post Divorce
1. Don’t get stuck in blaming your husband—Of course, you may be angry, emotionally crushed, frightened, or lonely but the truth is, the more you focus on your husband, the less you can focus on yourself. Blaming your husband gets you exactly nowhere.
2. Don’t be a victim—I’ve never met a successful victim. Take responsibility for your part in the demise of your marriage and move forward with grace and courage.
3. Don’t jump headlong into another relationship—You may have spent many years feeling lonely in your marriage. Maybe you’re looking for someone to make you feel attractive and desired. That’s natural. But take your time getting to know yourself first. A rebound relationship rarely works and the outcome can only make you feel worse about yourself.
4. Do you—Find what YOU enjoy and who YOU are. After years of compromising in a marriage and motherhood, you have the incredible opportunity to put yourself first and re-discover what makes you tick. Find new people and new hobbies. There is a whole, interesting world to investigate with no one holding you back.
5. Find a good therapist—Your girlfriends and family members are sick of hearing about your divorce and they can’t give you good or unbiased, thoughtful advice anyway. A good therapist can uncover hidden gems about you that you didn’t know existed and gently lead you on a path of self-discovery that can be life-changing.
6. Remember what you can control—Your own thoughts, your own behaviors, and your own reactions. You can’t control anything about your wusband so give up trying and control what you have power over. The rewards are endless.