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The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Divorce After 60

By Martha Bodyfelt February 22, 2024 Family

For months, even years, I knew that my marriage was crumbling. Yet, I lied to myself, telling myself a million things that would somehow justify the reasons why I should stay in the marriage. The main one dealt with time.

I have put too much time into this marriage for it to end.

I have sacrificed way too much and invested way too much time into this relationship. I’m not just going to walk away from it.

You may have told yourself the same. But viewing your marriage as a time investment, especially when it is no longer healthy, serves no purpose but to prolong your suffering.

If you are doing the same, embrace these five lessons, so that you can move on and be happy.

Quit Viewing Your Years of Marriage as an Investment

The time you have put into your marriage is not a non-refundable down payment, so do not treat it like one. In a healthy and happy marriage, time spent together is beneficial – you have good memories and a beautiful life. But once the marriage unravels, you cannot invoke those years spent as a justification to stay in a relationship, especially when both partners are no longer invested in it.

Accept that You Deserve Better

Your life and happiness are not a commodity that you can barter. Unless you are practicing the piano or you are an Olympic athlete, erase the idea that time put into something (even a marriage) equals a guaranteed return.

Your life is not a commodity subject to negotiation, and treating it as such will only hurt you.

Those Married Years Taught You a Lot, but They Don’t Owe You Anything

You probably have some good memories, and it is important to acknowledge them. They helped you grow. Yet be cautious of your selective memory. You must also recognize that the years in between those memories – the not-so-good-ones – are not collateral and an excuse to remain in a marriage that is no longer working.

You may have been married 20-40 years and made sacrifices during that time. You may think that you are owed something because of those unhappy years. But to treat those sacrifices and unhappy years as a bargaining tool, thinking it entitles you to happiness, gets you nowhere.

You must think of those married years as experience; you learned about relationships, families, and yourself. Be grateful for those lessons, but do not attempt to use them as a bargaining tool to remain in a marriage that is no longer sustainable. To do so denies you the opportunity to move on.

Don’t Stay in Your Marriage Just Because You Don’t Know How to Start Over

It’s okay to feel scared. Fear is what makes you human, but it’s the courage to give yourself another shot at happiness – even in your 60s – that makes you truly remarkable.

You may feel that the years invested in your marriage, even if you weren’t happy, gave you comfort. Your life, for the most part, was predictable. Moving on can be scary because it ends the vision of the life you had for yourself. You may be afraid to start over, afraid to go “back to the beginning” – whatever that means – because you think you are too old, too financially unstable, or too emotionally distraught to do so.

Give yourself more credit than that – recognize that you are smarter, more organized, more adaptable, and stronger than you even know.

A Long Marriage Does Not Necessarily Equal a Happy Marriage

Marriage is not a vending machine, where, if you put in a certain amount of money, you are guaranteed a certain item. In this case, putting in time does not mean you are necessarily guaranteed security or happiness. But you can find those things on your own, no matter what stage you are in life. It’s okay to move on, okay to start over, and okay to find happiness on your own terms.

As you start or continue to make a new life for yourself, you are given a choice about time. You may choose to spend it angry, bitter, or heartbroken about the end of your marriage, or you may choose to invest time in yourself and your own happiness.

You are not destined to live a life of hurt and misery because you are separating or divorcing. However, you can be destined for greatness and the opportunity to move on and become stronger, more compassionate, and a happier person. And putting your energy into that happiness is time well spent.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you, or someone you know, recently gone through a divorce? What did the experience teach you? What advice would you give to someone who is going through a divorce after 60? Please join the conversation.

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Such good advice. I’m sorry to say I stayed way longer than I should have – 42-year marriage – but it’s a journey. Over 4 years now since we separated and now divorced and learning so much about myself in the process. Learning how to let go, stop enabling behaviours with my youngest daughter and the codependency cycle but I’m definitely making progress and truly grateful I made the decision to end my marriage. Wishing everyone hope and positivity moving forward.


I so like your article very much. I fine I am at a fork in the fork with my marriage. Me and my husband are so different and I feel most days I just settle because I feel to leave now at 67 very scary. Mainly because I feel it is going to be a battle and I wondering if I have it in me.

Catherine Vance

Smart advice, Do you want to be on your deathbed someday wondering, “If only I had left him, what wonders might I have discovered?” You are going to live ONE TIME on this planet. Don’t waste what can turn out to be wonderfully peaceful and liberating.
Being on your own is much better than being with the wrong person for your next chapter.
Leave that “good job” if you dread walking in the door that morning.
Leave that “long-term marriage” if you find it draining or depressing.
Your ROAD OF LIFE has many forks in the road. They are there for a reason.
Divorce Attorney (30+ years)


AMEN! Thank you for this article – it is SO true! Sometimes this kind of article can help move you to making that decision. Yes, you deserve better.


This article rings true to me and is validating. As a 60 plus woman faced with an unexpected divorce I am really trying to thrive and navigate my uncertainties.


I wish you success, Dylan. Look after yourself.

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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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