People going through a Divorce Over 50 have a wide variety of issues to deal with, but among the most important, and trickiest, is their finances.
To get some help on that subject, I sat down with Steven Pompan, a Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley. Full disclosure, Steve’s a long-time friend, and handles my investments. He’s also been Divorced Over 50, and has made tremendous progress in finding his brighter future. Steve specializes in working with people in our demographic, and I’m confident you’ll find value in the interview that follows:
Divorced Over 50: First off, your philosophy regarding relationships sounds very similar to what we say here at Divorced Over 50.
Steve Pompan: Yes. Ideally, everybody should have a happy marriage. We all went into our marriages thinking they would be successful. However, things happen in life and directions change. Everyone deserves happiness. The Divorced Over 50 (DO50) network for both personal and business has helped my progress in adjusting to a new life.
As parents, we all want to set good examples for our children. If, for instance, they see us treating everyone we encounter with respect, chances are good they’ll do the same. Personally, I’m always gratified when one of my sons orders by asking the waiter if he can “please have the filet mignon,” and then thanks him when it arrives (perhaps not as happy when the bill comes, but whatever…).
I’m sure all of us had hoped to model marriage-lasts-a-lifetime-behavior for our kids, too, but as we know, life doesn’t always work out as we expected. In my case, their mom and I went through a basically mutual, fairly amicable split after 27 years; though it was nice to show them how to have a civilized divorce, that still wasn’t the ideal.
There was, however, a positive to be gained from the negative. I believe going through my divorce gave me insight into why the marriage was what it was, and went where it went. I’ve come to more clearly comprehend the thoughts and choices I made, and the assumptions I held, concerning getting married. And I discovered that some of them were, shall we say, less than correct.
Not surprisingly, the overwhelming winner for best was “freedom.” And the most common answer for worst was “loneliness.”
I wrote a piece for Huffington Post discussing the loneliness aspect, aimed at the Di-Curious. The premise is that loneliness can be attacked and overcome. And that a Di-Curious person, weighing his or her options, should not be scared off from Divorce due to that specific fear.
For the Divorced Over 50 community, that decision has already been made, whether by you, your ex-spouse, or mutual agreement. Because such a large percentage (including many who wanted the divorce or whose split was mutual) are facing loneliness, it’s important to discuss it on these pages as well.
Back at the end of April, I offered Divorced Over 50 users a quick survey. It asked respondents their gender and how long they’ve been divorced, and then presented two open ended questions: “What are the BEST things about being a divorced person over 50,” and “What are the WORST things about being a divorced person over 50.”
I summarized the responses into an article which started running at Huffington Post on May 4th. The article was aimed at those who are Divorce Curious, or Di-Curious as we call them around here. And its point was to offer additional information to that Di-Curious man or woman, hopefully helping him or her better understand how life may go if they choose divorce, or one is forced on them.
For the users of this site who are already divorced, I thought you might be interested to compare your experiences to the survey results. And for you Di-Curious who missed the article on Huffington, here’s a look at what you may experience if it comes to a Divorce Over 50. (A quick note — the HP article offered readers a chance to take the survey, too, so many additional responses have come in and are reflected in what follows…)
We all know the reality of Divorce Over 50, because we’ve lived it.
We know that you can reach a point in a long marriage where you say, “This is not the way I want to live.” Or you have to decide, “Do I really want thirty more years of this?” Or you muddled through while living parallel lives, but “when the money ran out [and you] had to face each other,” you chose to get out.
And now a lot of non-DO50’s are learning about it, too.
You’re in your fifties, married around 25 years, with kids recently launched. Over the past few years, while those children were becoming more self-sufficient, you were able to shift attention back to your spouse. Which led to a realization: You are really not happy in your marriage. It has not gone the way you wanted. And the idea of spending thirty more years with your spouse is not one you relish.
But then again, if you do get divorced, there are no guarantees about the future. It’s a scary world out there. Dating again, at your age? With some body parts that don’t look, and others that don’t function, like they used to? What if you never find someone, and end up alone? Maybe you’re better off just staying with what you know rather than striking out into uncharted territory.
Deborah Copaken is a best-selling author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and other leading publications. Writing for The Mid, she addresses dating at our age, answering the questions she hears so often from her married friends. Topics include how she finds dates, what she does on the dates, and, of course, sex.
Beyond the nuts-and-bolts, though, she expresses her philosophy about relations, love, and marriage with tremendous clarity, maturity, and honesty. This piece is not only perfect for our Di-Curious (Divorce Curious) users, it’s extremely valuable to any single person Over 50. In fact, in the long and illustrious life of Divorced Over 50 (two and a half weeks!), Deborah’s piece is the first to be declared a Must Read.