Let me just start by observing that grey divorces are the new black in the divorce arena. People over 50 are almost as likely if not more so to get divorce than their younger counterparts and this did not always used to be the case. It used to be if you survived in your marriage past the age of 50 you were probably married for life.
What has caused the change in how people perceive being divorced in their grey years? Well people are living longer and working longer. Retirement years are going up. Cosmetic surgery as well as pharmaceutical advances and the proliferation of gyms have turned 50 into the new age 25. Think about it: Janet Jackson and Halle Berry are both 50. Madonna and Julianne Moore are way past that. These are not “old” women. So one reason that these people are refusing to live and die in unhappy marriages is because they realize there is a lot of life left to live and they cannot justify being miserable for 40 – 50 more years with a spouse they no longer feel it for.
But there are some things that get lost when grey divorces occur after a long period of matrimony. They include:
- Your sense of routine
- Your relationship with long term mutual friends
- A “sexual” comfort zone (now you have to think about sex with new people which can be terrifying!)
- A sense of general security
- A significant chunk of your personal history
- Financial security (possibly)
- A sense of “wholeness”
- Your identity as a “married” person who is part of a “couple”
- An familial “cocoon” for your children
- Societal status (possibly)
In spite of the things you potentially lose when you divorce after a certain age and after a certain number of years of marriage, it is still possible to create a whole new life and whole new histories for yourself. And there are many resources to help you do it. Author Karen Covy has a nice list of tips for surviving divorce after 50. You can find the article here.