If your Divorce has already worked its way through the court system, this post won’t do you much good (though it will have info you can pass along to others, or keep in mind if your next marriage doesn’t work out, either…)
But if you’re Divorce-Curious, still living together though someone’s leaving soon, or in the initial stages of your split, you will be faced with an important decision: File for Divorce, or start with a legal separation? Different states have different laws, so your location may affect your choices. But if you have an option, there are a number of factors you may want to consider.
If you’ve just joined the ranks of the Divorced Over 50’s, or you’re in the process of doing so, chances are excellent you feel like crap. Whether you wanted the split or not, you’re hurting. A lot. A lot of the time.
It may seem hard to believe right now, but you will get through this. And at some point, eventually, you’re going to emerge a better, stronger, happier, more secure person.
Many Divorced Over 50 parents have kids of college age. Which means those parents are either spending a lot of money on their children’s tuition, or are about to.
Financial aid may be available, but getting it requires the daunting task of filling out a detailed application called the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). For divorced parents, it gets even more complicated.
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.
When you finish reading a great book, closing it up for the final time, is your first thought, “Wow, what a failure”?
Or when you take the last bite of a meal, do you consider it a fiasco just because it ended? Or walk out of a party, thank the host for a great time, and then immediately think, “That was some disaster”?
Of course not. You viewed those experiences for what they were — a period of time you spent doing something that eventually came to an end. You may have loved it, or hated it, or something in between, but it certainly wasn’t a failure.
So why is that when a marriage ends, it’s seen by society, and often the formerly married parties, as a failure?
Your marriage is on the rocks, and you’re overwhelmed. Your life wasn’t easy before, and now it’s close to unbearable. You’re arguing with your spouse, you’re talking to attorneys, you’re worried about your kids, you’re concerned about your finances. You are wrung out, completely drained.
And another major issue is looming: you’re going to be moving out. You’re going to have to find a place, set it up, and run it – something you may not have done for years, or decades, or ever.
When we were kids, it seemed like there was a shame about getting Divorced. Those going through it felt like failures, and were the objects of sympathy or pity. If the neighbors’ split was discussed at your family dinner table, it was in hushed, sad tones (though your parents probably gossiped about it giddily when they were alone).
Today, Divorce has become so common — particularly in our Over 50 demographic — we almost greet the news with a “So what else is new?” attitude. But is it possible for divorcing people to not only avoid feeling shame, but to actually celebrate their divorce?
Divorce, as we all know all too well, is an extremely stressful event. You feel it as a significant loss, but the rest of the world expects you to just carry on with business as usual. There’s no time off from work, there’s no ritual where your loved ones gather to offer support. Meanwhile, you’re hit with all the burdens of divorce: the meetings, the calls, the gathering of financial records, all the decisions you have to make. Even a solid, squared-away person can become a raving lunatic.
But could understanding what’s actually happening in your brain during a divorce help you cope better?