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Surviving a Divorce After 50 Teaches Some Surprisingly Positive Lessons

By Martha Bodyfelt August 31, 2022 Family

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 to and 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 has 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 relatives. 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 learn 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.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

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.

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Michelle Sartori

Hi. I’m 52,& recently divorced. I honestly did not think I could make it through this past year. But I have & come out so much stronger.

Mary Alice

After 48 yrs, he ask for the divorce. We had 4 daughters, 9 grandkids, 1 great n 2 great on the way. I was 65 years old. I never told any one about my abuse, mental or phsical abuse. I got house n car both paid for. First time in my life I was on my own. My health got the best of me, but I took of that first, then seeing a therapist, talking to my pastor helped. My family were all hurting, and didn’t know how to help me or their siblings. I doing better now, health is good now. He did married 7 months later, so the family didn’t ever know this person . That took a toll on my family. Yes, I knew her, she was the secretary of the church we attended. My ex became her 4th husband. It took years to put my family back, I enjoy my grandkids, n great grandkids. I had to love life, and let go and let God help me.

Lori Sandison

So true. The hardest parts for me were the intense grief over the loss of all those years of my life (as ridiculous as this sounds) since at that time, in my mind, it all came to nothing (I see this ďifferently now); the pressure to get out there and find someone new (been there, done that, not interested); and the resulting changes in my life, attitudes, and friends. I’m fine with all of this now. But, what a time!


At first I felt lost but everything fell into place. I finished my masters and became a teacher. The hardest part has been learning to trust and date again. It’s been many years.

Sue Legree

I can relate. After saying goodbye to the dream. Selling the home my kids grew up in and my future grandchildren would never know, I grieved. That was 8 years ago. After doing the dating scene, and seeing what is out there I have been single for a year and a half. I now feel like I did in my 20s living in Toronto. The relationships I have had since my marriage were not positive so not seeking that anymore. Just filling my days with what I like to do, taking really good care of myself. Spending a pandemic alone with no man to lean on has given me a resiliency I never thought possible. Going forward if the relationship doesn’t work for me on every level, I will be the one saying goodbye. I need all of my energy for me. Its my time!!!!!

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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