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Divorce in Later Life

Divorce rates in the country have gone down in recent years, but according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate for couples over 50 had doubled between 1990 -2009.  There has been such a dramatic increase that the over 50 divorce has been termed the “gray divorce”. Why are people divorcing in later life?

People are divorcing in later life for many of the same reasons younger people get divorced: infidelity, drifting apart, etc. As couples get older, entering into their retirement and empty nest years, they are evaluating seriously how and with whom they want to spend the next 20 or 30 years of their lives. Decades ago, statistics showed that people only lived a few years past retirement. Currently, the golden years bring a whole new phase of life and possibilities. 

What are some of the things to consider when dealing with the stress and fear that can accompany later life divorce?  Additionally, how best do you handle the loss of a relationship that may have been the main part of your life for decades? Preperation is the key!

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare 
Self care is extremely important. The stress of such a major life transition, the reactions and feelings of close family members, and the legal and financial realities can produce many up and down days for a person going through a divorce. 

 

  • Eating properly and proper nutrition during times of stress is very important.
     
  • Exercising in any form possible (walking, biking, chair yoga, or any form of movement can relieve stress).
     
  • Relaxation activities: Deep breathing, relaxing music, meditation, or any activities that allow your mind to rest and let go of the stress for a while.
     
  • Relaxation activities: Deep breathing, relaxing music, meditation, or any activities that allow your mind to rest and let go of the stress for a while.

Analyzing and researching legal and financial matters ahead of time. Researching or talking to someone who can help you understand your rights and where you stand is important ahead of time.  It is important to take account of all finances, analyze shared debt, assets, and retirement benefits ahead of time. Formulate ideas about wants and needs, and constructing a realistic view of the situation is important before things get too far along. Doing this will most likely save time and money. Updating beneficiaries, trusts, and wills is also something to consider, as couples separate, legally after a long time together. 

A strong social support network is crucial to getting through the stress of divorce the best way possible. Family relationships and friends will change during divorce. It is important to build your own network of family and/or friends you can lean on. Community supports, spiritual supports, and social networks can be potential areas of support and stress relief.

Most importantly KEEP A COOL HEAD and PROCEED SLOWLY.  Your marriage was built over a long period of time, it will take time to sort out how your lives will be separated. Give yourself time to process and think as clearly as possible about your divorce and your life ahead. 

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