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Stepping stones

The Challenge and Opportunity of Middle Aged Divorce

January 1, 2015

Yes, it’s frightening to contemplate shaking up your comfortable life in your fortys, fifties or sixties, but it is happening with greater frequency these days. The US Census American Community Survey shows the rate of divorce among the 50- 60 year old population is increasing. The reasons for this increase need further study, but perhaps as we live longer and healthier lives, we are demanding more fulfillment from our later years. The realization that a sour marriage is not the place for us to achieve this fulfillment may come with a sense of questioning, disappointment, sadness, embarrassment, dread, or even fear. It is important to acknowledge and work through those feelings. And, if the marriage cannot be saved, it is equally important to realize that there are a host of positive new feelings that will come with closure.

Middle age divorce presents its challenges as well as promises. Surely, there will be upheaval. There is the prospect moving or of living alone, something some people may never have done. You may have to leave the comfort of your established marital home, or the community in which you raised a family. There may be financial set-back as you divide assets. However, with these challenges also is opportunity. The community that you love may no longer suit your needs, you may have outgrown it, but without a catalyst you would not move. Divorce can provide just the motivation to branch out, perhaps move from the suburbs to the city. Or it may motivate you to downsize to a more manageable home, allowing you more time to spend on yourself.

Today, more and more people are living alone, and enjoying the independence and privacy it permits. The latest US Population Survey finds that in the 55-64 age group individuals living alone increased from 13 to 23 percent.–surpassing those age 75 and older. The changes discussed here do not mean isolation or losing the old friends, but rather an opportunity to branch out and find new friends –even lovers– who may enhance your life in all sorts of different ways.

A stagnant marriage in middle age also may signify a staleness in other aspects of your life. The work to keep the marriage together may have sapped energy from other pursuits, and stymied your personal growth. Once vibrant and promising in your twenties or thirties, you may not recognize yourself today. If you allow yourself to shed the clothes of a feigned domestic happiness under which you were hiding, who knows who you may find underneath. As you view your middle age divorce as opportunity, worlds of new adventures may await you. Doors will open that previously you never knew existed. It is important to stay positive, remember why you are making this change, and know that there are many resources out there for people just like you.

If you wish to learn more about the challenges and opportunities of middle age divorce, please give us a call.