Surviving a Divorce After 50 Teaches Some Surprisingly Positive Lessons
Divorce for women over 50 gets a bad rap. We have this cultural conditioning where we tend to see a divorced woman left with nothing. She has nowhere to turn and having no clue what to do with the rest of her life.
The process of ending a marriage, especially a decades-long one, can definitely shake up your life in all aspects. From the financial to the emotional, there are many unexpected good lessons that divorce in later-life have in store for us.
Discovering a Whole New Side of Yourself
Ending a decades-long marriage is traumatizing. For years we defined ourselves as wives, mothers, partners, and always as part of a unit. From an early age, we may have been taught that there was no greater goal for a woman to obtain, and so we dutifully carried out that role.
Then the divorce happened. We felt like our life and world disappeared in a matter of seconds. Everything was in jeopardy and we felt like we lost a part of ourselves that would never return.
Yet, through the navigation of divorce, something started to happen. In a search for solace, we made the wise decision to do things to bring us comfort and joy. In an effort to not feel alone, we may have joined a book club or support group.
Maybe we started to spend more time with friends and family. Perhaps we pursued interests and hobbies that we felt we never could in our marriage. We may have returned to work.
At first these things seemed scary because we were not used to them. But gradually, as we started to enjoy these new pursuits, we may have discovered that they were opening a door to a whole new world for us. One where we could start defining ourselves as businesswomen, fierce gardeners, amazing friend, world travellers. New, richer self-identities emerged that in an earlier life we never thought possible.
Being Alone Can Be Amazing
One of the reasons many of us chose to stay in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship was that we did not want to be alone. We told ourselves that being with a partner, even if the love and respect we deserved was no longer there, was better than being with no partner at all.
However, as the divorce progressed, we may have noticed something happening. The house that we came home to was peaceful for once. Everything was where we had left it, without anybody to clean up after. There was no resentment to grow. We were able to read a good book on the couch. There was no worry about the TV blaring a sports game we never cared about.
We discovered that we liked coming and going as we pleased. There was no partner to worry about. The ability to set our own schedule and run our homes and lives without worry about our spouse was liberating.
The ability to sit by ourselves, go places and explore the things that we wanted to do was wonderful. The feeling of freedom started to replace that fear of being alone. The panic of having nobody there faded. The pain of agonizing about life without a partner dissolved.
You Are Stronger Than You Can Ever Imagine
Women over 50 do not give themselves the credit they deserve. We may have panicked during the divorce process. We may have spent sleepless nights thinking, “I built my life around this marriage and I have done everything for this partner. What on earth am I supposed to do without him? Where will I go?”
But a funny thing happens during the split. We figure things out. We don’t run to our partners, telling them “I have no idea what to do! Please come back to me!” Instead, we start researching our options. We start consulting divorce professionals who help us navigate the murky waters of divorce.
When we started to panic about the financial aspect of things, we learned how to budget. We discovered how to save, how to cut back, and how to make things work for our lives, regardless of income.
Slowly but surely, day by day, before we even knew it, we were taking care of ourselves. We are making the best decisions for ourselves and for our future. Figuring out how to get our happiness back and reclaim our own lives becomes a priority.
Isn’t it funny how a major life change can transform us? Something we didn’t think we could ever survive, let alone prosper through, can mold us into the heroines we never knew we could be.
Divorce can help us lean unexpected lessons about ourselves. We discover our new identities, embrace our time alone, and realize our own strength. These are not only unexpected lessons from a divorce, but some of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.
Did you survive a divorce after 50? What unexpected lessons did you learn along the way? What strengths did you discover as you rebuilt your life after divorce? Please join the conversation.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce coach, whose website “Surviving Your Split” helps readers navigate their divorce with less stress and drama, so they can move on with their lives. For your Free Divorce Warrior Survival Kit, stop by Surviving Your Split or drop Martha a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her on Facebook.