How to Recover After a Divorce in Your 50’s

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Is There Life After Divorce At 50?

Going through a divorce is pretty much one of the hardest things in life. It can tear your guts out like nothing else, except possibly the loss of a child.

Somedays it feels impossible to get out of bed when you are going through a divorce. You wake up and remember that your life is falling apart.

I was in my early 50s when my divorce happened. It was the hardest time of my life. There were so many overwhelming emotions, some days it just felt like the pain would never end.

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If you are thinking about getting a divorce and you are over 50, this article is for you. Despite being incredibly soul-crushing, you will survive your divorce. Not only will you survive, I believe that you have the potential to thrive in your new normal!

How To Survive A Divorce After The Age of 50

Statistically midlife divorce is on the rise, and surprisingly, it is often initiated by women. Due to the notable growth in divorce statistics for this age group, there is now a term for midlife divorce: Gray Divorce.

You can recover from a divorce in your 50s!

Divorce Can Be Financially Devastating For Midlife Women

Gray (or grey) divorce is defined as the increasing trend of divorce later in life. Researchers believe that Gray Divorce is particularly difficult due to the impact on assets that have been accumulated over a long-term marriage. Retirement, equity in properties, and other financial gains are often dramatically impacted as a result of midlife divorce.

Typically, divorce splits all accumulated assets in half, unless you had some type of prior agreement (a prenuptial agreement for example). For women, divorce is particularly financially damaging. At a minimum, it is a step down in lifestyle, and more likely it will take you closer to the poverty threshold.

Moving On After A Divorce At 50

Divorce is never easy, especially when it happens later in life. If you’re over fifty and going through a divorce, it can feel like you’re completely alone in a world where everyone else is settled and happy in their relationships.

But trust me – you’re not alone. In fact, divorces among middle-aged couples are becoming increasingly common. But how do you navigate through such a tumultuous time and come out stronger on the other side?

Let’s start with some basic information to help you navigate divorce after the age of 50.

What You Need To Know About Divorce After 50

The Process is Different

If you’re over the age of 50 and divorcing, the process is going to be different than it would be for a younger couple. For one thing, you’re likely to have more assets, which means there’s more to divide up. You may also have children who are adults, which adds another layer of complexity to the process.

You May Need to Make Some Adjustments

Divorcing after 50 also means that you may need to make some adjustments in your lifestyle. If you’re used to a certain lifestyle, you may need to downsize or make other changes to make ends meet. This can be a difficult adjustment, but it’s important to remember that it’s only temporary and that things will eventually get better.

You’ll Need to Be Patient

The divorce process can be lengthy, especially if you have numerous assets to divide up. It’s important to be patient and understand that it may take some time before everything is finalized. In the meantime, try to focus on taking care of yourself and making sure that you’re in a good place emotionally.

You May Need to Seek Professional Help

Don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help if you need it.

If you’re finding it difficult to cope with the divorce, you may need to seek professional help. This is nothing to be ashamed of – many people find it helpful to talk to a therapist or counselor during this difficult time. If you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to, there are also support groups available for people going through a divorce.

Finances Will Be Important

Finances are always important when going through a divorce, but they can be especially tricky when you’re over the age of 50. This is because your income may be lower than it was earlier in life, and you may also have more debt. It’s important to sit down with a financial planner or accountant and figure out what your best options are moving forward.

Your Relationship With Your Children May Change

If you have children who are adults, your relationship with them may change after divorce. They may no longer see you as a family unit and may start spending more time with their other parent.

Additionally, if you have grandchildren, you may find that your relationship with them changes as well. It’s important to be prepared for these changes and to try to maintain a positive relationship with your children and grandchildren despite the changes in your family dynamic.

Isn’t It Easier If You Wanted The Divorce?

A common misconception is that if you are the one who wanted the divorce, it should be easy on you to go through the process. That is completely wrong! There is no easy way to disassemble a life!

No matter how things fell apart, your marriage began with the typical hopes of love, security, and living into the golden years together.

Even if you are the one that filed for divorce, you will want to be surrounded by empathy and compassion. When a marriage ends, everyone wants to know the “juicy” details. Did someone cheat? Are they having financial problems? Didn’t they try counseling?

Most People Will Judge You During Your Divorce

Family, friends, and complete strangers will judge you when you are divorcing. It can feel like everyone feels entitled to know your personal business and most private emotions. Remember, you are not obligated to share any information with anyone. This includes your mother, your co-workers, and your nosy next-door neighbor!

As difficult as it is, there are people in your life that will feel compelled to judge your decision to divorce. Some family members will choose to take sides and you might just be the one that is left out. As hurtful as this is, there is a possibility that down the road, your relationship with those folks will improve and begin to heal.

Going Through A Divorce After 50 Requires Hope

The only way to go forward is to go through the process with sincere hope for a better future. We cannot go around our highest mountains, we cannot sleep through our deepest difficulties. Going through a divorce after the age of 50 can cause sleeplessness, spontaneous crying, and deep pockets of grief.

When you feel like you cannot get out of bed, you must focus all your energy on this one thought: You will feel happiness again. Affirm it, digest it, feel it in your bones, you WILL find happiness again. It will look different, it will feel different, but there is hope on the other side of divorce.

I Just Wanted To Find A Way To Hide From My Divorce

I remember wishing that I could take a magic pill that would make me sleep for two years. And when I woke up, I would have a new life! A new perfect life, chosen and decided by someone else, and then simply handed over to me.

Clearly, I had some real issues with wanting to avoid the painful turmoil of divorce!

How To Stay Strong During A Divorce After 50

Focus on These Things to Help You Get Out of Bed While Going Through a Divorce

Prioritize self-care: During a divorce, you might feel like your world is falling apart – and it probably is. But before you start to pick up the pieces and rebuild, take a step back and focus on yourself.

This could mean taking up yoga, starting a new hobby, or even just taking long solo walks. Whatever it is, make sure you’re doing it for yourself and that it’s something that brings you joy

Take care of practical matters: Divorce brings with it a slew of practical decisions that need to be made. This can include changing friendships, figuring out living arrangements, and possibly even finding a new job. Try to tackle one thing at a time, and make a checklist if that helps you to stay organized.

Make sure you exercise. It is critical to move your body during a divorce. Research has linked exercise as one of the best ways to beat depression. It does not matter what you choose to do, get your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day.

Making sure you exercise with friends will help you deal with a divorce.

Now is a great time to begin training for the 5K you always dreamed of running. Weightlifting was my go-to exercise, it wore me out and helped me sleep. The choice is up to you, but make sure you are moving your body.

Things Will Get Better After Your Divorce Is Over

Remember it will not always be this way. You are in tremendous pain, everything hurts. Your spirit, your soul, and most likely, your body hurts as well.

Accept the temporary pain, allow your body to feel the weight of the divorce. And then remember, it will get better. Research done on divorce indicates that the first year is the most difficult.

Further research shows that when a divorced person approaches the two-year mark, they are well underway to being stabilized and have begun to heal. Of course, every person has a unique timeline to healing and feeling whole after a divorce.

It’s okay if you are still struggling with negative emotions as a result of your divorce, but please consider exploring your feelings with a licensed therapist or qualified relationship coach if you feel stuck.

There will be healing in your story, give it time.

Reach Out For Support During Your Divorce

Build a support system: You don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out to friends, family, or a spiritual support person, like a pastor or priest to help you through the process. It can be difficult to be vulnerable, but the people who care about you will most likely be more than happy to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on.

Find your people and let it all hang out! Choose one person to share all the dirty details with, preferably someone with a bad memory!

I had one friend that listened to my divorce despair, and she was a godsend for me. She was accepting and empathic. And conveniently she has a terrible memory, so I did not have to be worried about hurtful gossip leaking out.

Allow yourself time to grieve: This may seem obvious, but it’s an important step nonetheless. It’s completely normal to feel sadness, anger, and confusion during this time.

Allow yourself to feel sad. It’s important to grieve the ending of your marriage.

Go ahead and feel those emotions, don’t try to push them aside or bottle them up. If you feel like you’re struggling to cope, consider reaching out to a support group for people going through similar experiences.

Focus On Finding Yourself After Divorce

Give yourself permission to move on: Ultimately, the end goal is to move on from your divorce and start a new chapter in your life. This can be easier said than done, but it’s important to give yourself permission to do so. Whether that means dating again, taking a big trip, or simply enjoying your newfound freedom, remember that you deserve to be happy and fulfilled.

Start something new that is yours alone. Search for a new hobby, personal goal, or take action to learn more about something that has always fascinated you. While being part of a couple is enjoyable, it can be hard to define yourself as a unique person when you are married. Take this time to carve out a new identity for yourself as a woman.

The Worst Thing To Do When You Are Going Through A Divorce

Do not make your child your therapist! Treat that advice like it is the 11th Commandment!

It is abusive and inappropriate to vent to your child about the other parent. No exceptions!!

Even if your child is a full-grown adult, DO NOT dump your divorce pain on them. See a therapist, grab your best friend, journal all your anger until your fingers fall off- BUT do not make your child your confidante.

Complaining and oversharing with your child during your divorce will negatively impact your relationship. No matter what happened to cause the divorce, you should not expect your child to listen to your fears and anger.

Don’t share your anger and fear with your children. It might backfire and negatively impact your relationship with them.

Bad Behavior During A Divorce Impacts Your Adult Kids

As a relationship coach, I have worked with a number of adult children of divorced parents. The actual divorce isn’t always the most painful part. It’s the repair work that has to be done as a result of the divorcing parent’s irresponsible emotional behavior.

Adult children will resent your attempts to poison them against their mom/dad. Be assured, if there has been unethical or malicious behavior, they will notice what has happened.

Your adult children have the right to decide their relationships. Trying to control their behavior by smearing the other parent will backfire on you. Practice extreme self-discipline and refrain from sharing gossip or hurtful behavior with your children.

You Can Heal After A Divorce

Divorce sucks. Getting out of bed while you are going through a divorce is challenging, but you have what it takes to make it through. Feel the pain, accept the loss, and allow yourself to dream again about an amazing new fulfilling life.

Focus on self-growth and give yourself permission to grieve, laugh, scream, and sleep as your body directs. Trust me, you will heal and most likely, will be closer to the person you dreamed of being during the dark divorce days.

Happier days are on the way, don’t give up hope!

It’s easy to feel like your life is over after a divorce, but this isn’t true! Many people find that they’re actually happier after getting divorced, as they no longer have to deal with the stress of being in an unhappy marriage.

Conclusion

Going through a divorce after the age of 50 can be a challenging experience, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. By prioritizing self-care, building a support system, taking care of practical matters, allowing yourself time to grieve, and giving yourself permission to move on, you can weather this storm and come out stronger on the other side. Remember to be patient with yourself, and trust that the future has good things in store for you.

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Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.

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