By the time a woman is 30, there is about one chance in two she will ever get married. And at 40, only one chance in five. By the time she is 50, the chances she will marry are just one in 16. And after 60, her chances drop to one in 62.
Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s, according to a Pew Research Center report.
However for many women that comes at a great cost. If she’s been a homemaker, she may not realize how bleak the job market may be for someone over 50 with a scant work record.
Her style of living will change drastically in many cases. She might lose her beloved home and end up in an apartment around younger people who party a lot. And that is likely not appealing.
Divorce rates in the United States are declining—except for people over 50.
When you’re over 50 and getting divorced, your finances have probably been intertwined for decades. Which makes it even more complicated.
And then there are the Social Security benefits, pension plans and retirement plans to think about. You can’t just focus on their current value, but their value down the line.
Add to that taxes, which are complicated and worrisome to begin with. But realize that that will come into play during a divorce. You have to divide and distribute your assets, especially your retirement funds.
Divorce is never easy, but the older you are, the more complex everything is as well.
It seems that January is the most common month people file for divorce. Maybe they are thinking ahead to tax time in April. Or being happier is a New Year’s resolution.
Gray Divorce is the term used to identify couples who divorce in middle age or beyond. I suppose that’s fitting.
First you Survive… Then you Revive… and finally you Thrive.
A widely-circulated finding from a study by a London professor suggests that while marriage increases the happiness of men, married women are actually more miserable than single women.
So potentially the divorcing woman over 50 is looking at brighter days and a healthier outlook on life.
Think about it. You only have yourself to look after. No more picking up his dirty clothes. No more nit-picking and arguments. Or sticking to routines he desired but you’ve long since outgrown.
There is a bright side to divorce over 50, and I will attest to this myself. My divorce was a gift, though I didn’t know that at the time.
It was the beginning of a new and healthier life. I came to know myself for me, instead of looking at myself through his eyes.
That gift did not show up right away. At first I was terrified and uncertain.
But I knew that the divorce was not a mistake. I knew that there was no way to salvage years of infidelity and misery. The whole thing had been a mistake to begin with, I finally realized.
I looked back on the years wasted and cursed myself. But then, in the beginning you are looking at your relationship through rose-colored glasses. And rose-colored glasses lie.
You stop thinking about what he might want, and begin focusing on what you want.
Not everyone wants to get remarried. I swore I’d never even date again. And I’m quite happy with that decision. There’s a lot to be said for fixing meals for one, cleaning up after one, and being in charge of one.
You can eat pancakes for supper and decorate however you want. You have only yourself to please.
You can move the furniture around at 3 a.m. if you so desire and sleep with three dogs and two cats. Your life is your own!
There is light at the end of the tunnel. If you have not made enough money while married to build up Social Security benefits for retirement, there are ways you can tap into his.
Facts from the Social Security website:
If you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they have remarried) if:
- You are unmarried;
- You are age 62 or older;
- Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and
- The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
Your benefit as a divorced spouse is equal to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount (or disability benefit) if you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age.
The benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive.
If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment).
If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on their record if you have been divorced for at least two years.
I started receiving benefits right before I recently turned 62 because my ex-spouse died. He had been a high earner, so although I was at least 5 years from full retirement age, I was still able to receive a decent amount of income.
Not everyone wants to get remarried. I swore I’d never even date again. And I’m quite happy with that decision.
It takes awhile to find joy. To realize all the wonderful things to look forward to about life after divorce. You can take up a hobby you’ve always been interested in. Have more time to join a book club.
There’s a lot to be said for fixing meals for one, cleaning up after one, and being in charge of one. You can eat pancakes for supper and decorate however you want. You have only yourself to please.
You can move the furniture around at 3 a.m. if you so desire and sleep with three dogs and two cats if that’s your choice. Your life is your own! There is so much freedom you didn’t realize you were missing.
I love living alone. It was the very prescription for life that I needed. I can say that I am now finally comfortable in my own skin.
More than likely you saw fissures in your marriage long before you came to the decision to get a divorce. Those fissures widen and move you farther away from one another as time goes by.
I am reminded of lyrics written by Leonard Cohen:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
Those cracks terrified you when you found that you could no longer ignore them. But that is how the light gets in. That is how you find your future.
I found a website I shall be digging into later. It is for those of us aged 60 and over. It is called Sixty And Me.
Another website is called Midlife Divorce Recovery. Here is a link to a great article on how to survive divorce after 50.