“Grey” divorce is a growing trend and “recovering” from it is extremely difficult.
Divorce is never an easy process, however in most cases it is the most ideal solution in order for two people to be able to continue and “rebuild” their lives, as everyone can and as they dream. But what happens when this decision is made after 50? Experts call it a “grey” divorce and point out that its challenges are much greater than an earlier divorce – although not insurmountable.
According to American studies, “grey” divorces have literally doubled in the last 10 years and almost tripled since the late 90s. The reasons vary:
- In most cases couples realize that they need to separate much earlier, but they wait for their children to grow up and become somewhat “independent”.so as not to “hurt” them with a divorce while they are young.
- That matters nowadays people marry at a much older ageconsequently they will be older when they decide to divorce.
- It may also have to do with the general one increase in life expectancy, which leaves room to make changes in your life even at an older age. If you are 65, for example, with the prospect of living but a good 20 years, you even have time to get married – Richard Gere had his second child with his much younger wife at 70!
- Nowadays financial dependence also disappears which in previous years forced non-working women to remain in a broken marriage. Now almost all women work, so even if they divorce at 60 they don’t need their husband’s pension to live on – they have their own.
Of course, this is not true for all. There are not a few cases of women who, while working, decided – after consultation with their husband at the time – to stop in order to raise their children. What happens when he leaves home at 65?
“Grey divorces bring with them extremely difficult emotional, financial and practical complications. Recovering from such a divorce is not at all easy because literally your whole life is turned upside down,” describes Dr. Ann Gold Buscho, clinical psychologist specializing in divorce. “However, it is not impossible,” he adds and gives some valuable advice.
Illustration: Eleni Kastrinoyannis
How to get back on your feet after a gray divorce
1. Accept your strong emotions
There will be times when your emotions will shake you: it is perfectly normal to feel anger, sadness, melancholy, but also relief. Allow yourself to feel them, express them, ask for support from your people and from a therapist if you feel you need it.
2. Set boundaries
If you have grown children, maintain the healthy boundaries you have set regarding both your personal lives and your finances.
3. Love and show compassion to yourself
“Many women who come to me tell me they’re afraid they did something wrong and the husband left them,” says Gold Buscho. “They blame themselves, they feel guilty,” she continues and advises them: “Understand that divorce can happen at any age and in no way defines your worth.”
4. Take care of yourself
During this period, your immune system needs even more support, as stress can threaten it. So take care of your mental and physical health with exercise, meditation, proper nutrition and adequate sleep. Sunlight will improve your mood and a systematic activity will have a positive effect on your mind and body. If you are facing a financial problem, after taking care of yourself, slowly start exploring your professional prospects.
5. Create new routines
A new daily routine will bring stability and structure back into your life. It will help you regain control. Wake up relatively early, do exercise, organize your chores. Don’t let the gloom sink you.
6. Focus on your health
Make sure you don’t neglect your standard check-ups. As you get older, making your physical and mental health a priority is essential. It is equally necessary to follow a healthy diet and exercise.
7. Build a support network
This is the time when your friends and family are called to be by your side. Talking to people who understand and love you can be incredibly comforting – especially if they are people who have been through the experience of divorce. You realize that you are not alone in all of this and that other people who have been through this process have made it!
8. Stay socially active
Isolation increases feelings of loneliness and depression, especially in older people. So try to stay socially active by joining groups of people you enjoy spending time with. e.g. voluntary.
9. Take up your hobbies again or discover new ones
Participating in activities you enjoy gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and helps you focus on the positive aspects of life.
10. Find an experienced divorce attorney
It is very fortunate to part amicably, but this is not always possible. In any case, a good lawyer is essential during the process, as they will help you with all legal issues, division of property and income, any alimony, insurance policies, etc.
11. Do careful financial planning
After many years of marriage, the family’s finances are usually so regulated that everything is done “automatically”. This is why, especially for a non-working woman living alone in old age, figuring out where she stands financially and how she will cope in the future can be a big challenge. An experienced accountant or financial advisor can get you out of this maze.
12. Think about whether your home suits you
Is it too big now? Are you not comfortable with its location? Is it too expensive? Consider moving to a home that is more convenient for you.
13. Rebuild your identity
A divorce after so many years can make you feel like you no longer know who you are and what you want. It can be difficult to look at life in a positive light, but it is also an opportunity for personal growth. Time to write a new chapter in your life.
13. Reevaluate your goals
Maybe until recently your common goal was to go on a trip together. Think now what you want and make a plan to reach it. To find yourself in new places? Learn something new? To meet new people? This will boost your confidence again.
14. Consider the possibility of a new relationship
Why not; Take your time, go on dates if you want and think about whether you are in the mood to give yourself to another person again. You never know…