No one knows better than I do just how difficult moving on after a divorce can be. In many ways, recovering from a divorce as an older woman is especially difficult.
Not only do you have the usual emotions of anger, resentment and shock to deal with, but, you have invested decades in your previous relationship.
Your retirement plans were probably closely tied to your ex. Now, you have to figure out how to survive – and hopefully thrive – as a single older woman.
Many women in the community have told me that their divorce changed everything in their life. Many of these same women wonder if moving on after a divorce is even possible.
I can tell you from my own experience that the pain of a divorce eventually fades. At the same time, I wanted to get some advice from an expert on this topic. So, I asked Martha Bodyfelt, founder of survivingyoursplit.com, to join me on the Sixty and Me Show. I hope that our conversation inspires you and gives you hope that thriving after a divorce is possible.
Here are a few of the pieces of advice that Martha gave us during our conversation.
There is an old saying that “time heals all wounds.” When it comes to divorce after 60, this is definitely true.
Well, I should probably caveat that a bit. Most of us will never truly forget our divorce or the impact that it had on our lives. At the same time, at some point, the emotions that we feel retreat to the point that we can get on with our lives.
Martha says that the first step in recovering from a divorce is to give yourself permission to take the time that you need to heal. During this time, you may also want to consider speaking with a counsellor or joining a support group. Divorce is a lonely experience, but, that doesn’t mean that you need to go through it alone!
When we are in a marriage, we have a tendency to define ourselves in terms of what we mean to other people. We think of ourselves as a “good wife,” “good mother,” or “good friend.”
Moving on after a divorce requires you to broaden your perspective on your place in the world. It’s important to express YOUR goals, YOUR, life and YOUR passions.
I told Martha about some advice that a good friend gave me when I was going through a divorce. He told me to imagine that I was in a Broadway show. He then invited me to think about the cast of characters that I wanted on stage with me. The show was all about helping me to find my own voice and it worked!
Independence is both an emotional and a practical issue after a divorce. It may not feel like it, but, these are actually two sides of the same coin.
After my divorce, I remember ordering an Ikea table for my apartment. I ended up sitting on the floor for 2 hours crying. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t put the darn thing together. As I sat there, I realized just how much I had relied on my husband for these kinds of small tasks.
The bottom line is that doing things for yourself is empowering. Try to see every new challenge as a learning experience. Did your husband manage your family finances? Then, it’s probably time to get smart about your money. Was he responsible for fixing things around the house? Maybe it’s time to learn how to use that screwdriver sister!
On a larger level, it is also possible to develop an encore career after a divorce. It’s amazing how much we let other people define us, especially if we are in an unhappy marriage. Take the time to think about what you have always wanted to do with your life. Divorce is a horrible experience, but, it is also an opportunity.
Taking care of the practical considerations after a divorce is vital. Once you’ve balanced your check book, identified your true friends, taken a trip and thought about your future, it’s time to go inside and talk with your inner child.
When you are ready, write down 3 things that you love about yourself. Now pin these somewhere that you will be forced to see them every day. You are an amazing person and you deserve every possible happiness in the world.
Of course, as many women have found out the hard way, it’s hard to think your way to happiness. Sometimes, the only way to feel happier is to do things that make us happy. This is why following your passions is one of the most important steps when it comes to moving on after a divorce.
What are you passionate about? Are there hobbies that you left on the back-burner when you were raising your children? Are you interested in volunteering? Where? Are there places that you have always wanted to visit? Are there skills that you want to develop?
These are all powerful questions that can help you to build the life that you deserve.
It may not feel like it at the time, but, divorce can actually be a gift. Martha says that women often laugh when she says this. A common response is. “Yeah, right! Tell me how living on a fixed income and not having a man in my life is a good thing?”
Martha responds that going through a divorce gives you an opportunity to be a better person. Nothing is stopping you now.
Of course, going through a divorce can present financial, emotional and social challenges. No one would deny this. All I can say is that every woman I know who got divorced 5-10 years ago now feels like it was a good thing.
It took me a decade to get to this same point, but, now that I have, I am grateful for the wonderful life that I have built.
If you are going through a divorce in your 50s or 60s, I wish you all the best for the future. Never forget that you are stronger than you think. You can do this. Our community of over 200,000 women over 60 believes in you!
Have you gone through a divorce? What advice would you give to the other women in our community who are going through a similar experience? Please join the conversation.