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Divorce After 50 Can Be Heartbreaking and Liberating

By Martha Bodyfelt April 07, 2016 Family

Divorce after 50 is especially tough on women. For years, divorce was stigmatized and many women were left to feel ashamed by their situation. They felt like it was their fault and that they didn’t deserve a chance to start over.

That’s a lot of guilt to press on someone already reeling from the shock and anxiety of splitting up after decades of a marriage. And that stigma is what continues to make many women feel heartbroken, bitter and unable to move on.

Fortunately, in my time as a divorce coach, I have seen a shift in this antiquated mentality. While hard feelings may linger, remember that not all the divorce after-effects are bad. Once the heartbreak subsides, divorce after 50 can actually liberate you. Let’s examine how.

Divorce Has Made You a Survivor… and Survivors Can Do Anything

It is commonly said that, when it comes to the most stressful events in somebody’s life, divorce is ranked with the death of a loved one. While most of us wouldn’t wish these events on anyone, consider this: because you have made it through one of life’s most stressful events, you are a survivor.

Many of us don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve for having gone through the trauma that is divorce, but think of all the incredible things you accomplished during that time. You navigated the crazy legal labyrinth and did not get lost. You held your head up high even during your most painful, heart-breaking moments.

During your most stressful times, although you did not know it, you were performing crisis management, because you no doubt continued to live and work and carry on with grace despite the fact you were going through a mess.

If that isn’t facing your fears and proving you can do anything, I don’t know what is. You demonstrated to yourself that nothing is insurmountable for you as you continue to move on with your life.

Divorce Has Given You the Gift to Rediscover Who You Are

Many of us tend to view divorce as a loss – it represents a loss of security, loss of the partner and life we thought we knew and the loss how we even identify ourselves. But divorce can actually be a gift because it gives you a chance to really get to know yourself.

As you leave behind the part of your life that identified you as being the other person’s spouse, you have a chance for a kind of introspection that you never had when you were a part of a couple. Being on your own will give you the chance to deep-dive and examine things you may not have even thought of before.

  • What were some of the things in the relationship that you did not like?
  • What were the things you did not like about yourself during the marriage?
  • Were there certain parts of your partner’s behavior that you know you could not have in a future partner?
  • Did you feel like you couldn’t do certain things while you were in a relationship? What’s stopping you from doing them now?

Now that you have the ability to look at the relationship from an outside perspective, you have the gift of better understanding yourself. You finally know what things in a relationship cause you stress and make you angry. You are able to clearly identify non-negotiables so that, if you choose to have a future relationship, you can have an awareness that will hopefully prevent the same unhealthy patterns and dynamics that occurred previously.

Divorce Has Given You a Second Chance at Life

When we feel devastated, wondering if we’ll ever be able to move on after divorce, it is easy to forget that we are actually being given a second chance. Granted, it can be difficult to regard divorce as a second chance when we are heart-broken and think the life we knew has been taken away from you. All the same, it’s essential to remember the opportunity it has given you.

Whether you wanted it or not, divorce after 50 allows you a “do-over” with your life. It gives you myriad second chances that you had never imagined possible: to be happy again, to be independent and answer only to yourself, to grow and challenge yourself unlike you ever have, to travel, to understand yourself better and to define life on your own terms.

I’m not saying that accomplishing these things, had you stayed in the marriage, would have been impossible. Rather, life after divorce accelerates this opportunity, pulling you out of your comfort zone.

So, while many people think that their divorce after age 50 is a huge loss to be mourned, it is important to remember that it is actually the chance to liberate yourself. You are a survivor and you can do anything.

You now have this incredible gift of introspection that can serve as a guide if you let it. And you are given a second chance at life that many others long for but may never receive. So, embrace your gifts of divorce freedom. The best years of your life are waiting.

Have you or someone you know gone through a divorce after 50? What advice would you give the other women in our community? Do you think that divorce at our age is different somehow? What things in your life are you doing differently now that you are single? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach who helps professional divorced women over 50 overcome their divorce loneliness and break free from the patterns keeping them stuck so they can feel fulfilled, have more fun, and live fearlessly. To find out what's *really* keeping you stuck after divorce, take the 30-second quiz.

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