(Revised and updated on July 15, 2023)
Divorce is hard. But adjusting to divorce after 50 is really hard. Baby Boomers have the highest divorce rate among other generations at 34.9%.
What Adjusting To Divorce After 50 May Look Like:
It may proceed much like this: You go through all the paperwork and heartache of a divorce proceeding and the court grants you a divorce.
Unless you get the family home, you will have to scale down. Because as a woman, you typically don’t make as much money as your ex-husband.
He may look for a brand new condo close to his office. You may be looking for an apartment you can afford in a less enviable neighborhood. Your lifestyle may be changing rapidly. As well as your self-confidence, self-esteem, and possibly your mental health.
One or both of you may find a therapist to deal with the painful experience of ending the relationship. Or perhaps it’s a mediator who is trying to get the two of you on the right page of the divorce process in terms of assets.
Retirement accounts must be discussed and disclosed. As well as health insurance and life insurance policies.
The task is daunting, I won’t kid you. You never thought you’d be starting over at age 50 or 60 or even 70. If you’re over 50, it’s what’s referred to as a “gray divorce.”
Statistics say that a male born in the United States today has a life expectancy of 74.5 years old on average. On average, US women are 5.7 years older, reaching an age of 80.2.
You may have spent most of your adult life with this person who has now moved out and moved on. There may be kids involved who are torn and devastated over the split.
You Will Probably Be Scaling Down Instead Of Up:
He comes home one day and says he wants a divorce. Or you find out he’s been doing things behind your back that you can’t live with and you’re the one to leave.
Maybe he has been planning this and has cleaned out the bank accounts. He may have caught you completely unaware of the circumstances until it is too late. If you’re lucky, you live in a state that mandates a decent amount of alimony in the divorce settlement.
Like me, you will possibly be looking for an apartment in a complex where they all look alike. Less space, less storage, and very generic. Definitely a step down.
No, this is certainly not where you thought you’d be at this point in your life.
Do you keep that couch where you once cuddled with him and watched movies? Probably not. It doesn’t matter how expensive it was, the memories that come with it may cost you even more.
But life goes on. You may now be way out of your comfort zone with expenses and household finances. So you may need to make an appointment with a financial advisor.
Your new life may also mean making new friends since you are no longer part of a couple.
Where Do You Begin?
Get a good divorce lawyer and find out where you are financially.
You want to be in control of your own finances and future. Your husband has been in control long enough. It is important that you take the reins now.
Check out neighborhoods where you can afford to live. Make a list of what you must have and what you are willing to live without. Most of all, find the safest neighborhood you can afford.
If you have a job, find a place that is closer to your new home so you spend less money on gasoline or other transportation.
My advice, from someone who has been there, is to keep things that are of great significance to you. Like family heirlooms and photos. Then sell what you legally have the right to sell so you have a little cushion in your bank account to move forward.
What To Look For In A New Home/Apartment?
I needed a fenced outdoor space for my dogs. That was non-negotiable, as they were now not only my companions but also sort of my small scale support group.
In my price range, that basically boiled down to one apartment complex. I lived there for 8 years, then moved to a senior complex. Nothing fancy, but I feel safer here.
Create A Cozy Home For Yourself:
Please don’t put off creating a cozy and comfortable home for yourself. You’ll be surprised what you can do with a shabby piece of furniture. Just spend some time on Pinterest where the inspiration is endless.
You want to be able to look around you and say that you can have a pretty home without his money. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
You quickly learn that you don’t need “fancy.” It’s just another word for having all those pretty things in a beautiful home, but feeling lost inside it.
I went from a 2300 square foot garden home in a cul-de-sac to living in a one bedroom apartment. I moved from a home that had just been renovated to a 1960s apartment that had had virtually no updates in years.
However, smaller doesn’t equate to squalor. You can still lead a good life if you’re careful with your finances. The grief of adjusting to divorce after 50 recedes after a while.
I now get social security benefits and Medicare, so my situation isn’t as dire as it first seemed.
As for the ex, he died 4 years ago, making the new wife a widow after only a handful of years.
I know that most of my life is behind me rather than ahead of me.
It’s now been over 11 years of adjusting to divorce after 50. I don’t want another relationship. And I will never marry again.
I like living alone with a pet. My two beloved dogs have since died. But I adopted a beautiful cat named Ivy in 2018.
Scaling Down Your Belongings & Moving:
Scaling down just means a smaller puzzle with fewer pieces. And you have to find a way to make all those pieces fit. It may be a challenge. Embrace that challenge and let it be what motivates you in starting this new chapter of your life.
Change what the landlord will allow you to change in your new home. If they won’t do updates, maybe they will allow you to pay for updates yourself if you can afford it. Bargain with him/her, and say you’ll put everything back the way it was should you move some place else.
I advise adopting a pet if you don’t already have pets and the landlord will allow it. You will be less lonely and help you fight the depression that may ensue.
If you don’t have an outdoor space, focus on a few indoor house plants. Nature can come in small doses and enliven small spaces. You can have a potted herb garden on your kitchen window sill.
Maybe you were a wonderful cook and a great homemaker. Suddenly you feel adrift. But you can still be a wonderful cook and a great homemaker. Just on a smaller scale.
In adjusting to divorce after 50, there will be unique challenges for you to face. Hold your head high and tell yourself you can face most anything now.
Try New Things:
Learn a foreign language. Take college courses. Sign up for a yoga class. Volunteer to help others less fortunate.
You can date again once some time has passed. But I won’t kid you. The odds are against women our age.
My ex-husband left the courtroom with his girlfriend the day of our divorce, headed to a luxury apartment they’d moved into the night before. She sat in front of me the entire time we were in court.
I felt no jealousy. She could have him along with my blessing. I wanted to say “good luck with this one,” but I refrained. She’d quickly learn and I owed her nothing.
Divorced older men often date women much younger than they are. But the same doesn’t usually apply to divorced older women.
My ex liked to say: “Men age like fine leather. Women just age”.
That is of course sexist and disgusting. But it is unfortunately true that older women are not a hot commodity in our society.
You May Like Living Alone:
You may find that you really like living alone. I certainly do.
It doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. It just means living in a one person home. There’s a vast difference between the two.
Isn’t it better to live alone than live with someone you no longer love? Isn’t it better to eat alone than sit across from someone and have absolutely nothing to say to him?
You deserve better. Listen to your instincts. Take control of the situation and move forward.
If you’re adjusting to divorce after 50, you’ll learn that older wings can still fly. And with the wisdom you have gained during this adjustment period, you may even begin to soar.