7 Things you must do if you’re going through a divorce in your 50s.
May 25, 2021
The news that Bill and Melinda Gates are ending their marriage after 27 years reflects a growing trend amongst people in their late 50s and 60s. They explained their decision by saying that they no longer “believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”. The fastest growing rates of divorce in both the US and UK are in that age category and they’ve been termed ‘The grey divorce’ or ‘The Silver Splitters’.
There are a number of reasons why there is this increasing trend. Now that life expectancy is well into our 80s, and health levels have improved, we can reasonably expect to have a long retirement. Couples are re-evaluating what they want out of this next chapter in their life – particularly after the pandemic - whereas previously they would have just stayed together. It’s still a long time to stay in a marriage at that stage of your life if you’re not happy.
The empty nesters who may have stayed together for the sake of the kids now feel that this is ‘their time’ and choose to go their separate ways. Many reinvent themselves, starting a new career, launching their own business or embark on new exciting adventures.
There is also less stigma and shame around divorce nowadays, whereas previously it was considered a failure if your marriage ended. Many couples who split at this age have just grown apart and want different things out of life. There’s not necessarily a single cause for the split, such as an affair.
Here are 7 things you must do if you’re going through a divorce in your 50s:
- Make sure it’s what you really want – Divorce is a major life changing decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I always recommend that you do everything possible to make sure you leave your marriage with no regrets. If there is any chance of saving your marriage then see if counselling can help you to work through your issues and resolve them.
- Get clarity on your finances – Divorce will have a major impact on your future finance and potentially your lifestyle. You’ll have two households to support going forwards and your assets will be split between you. Get clarity on your financial position by looking at your income and expenses and the assets you have between you, including pensions. It’s always worth seeing a Financial Adviser early on in the process to help you get clear on your position which will help you make better decisions.
- Have your support team in place – Going through a divorce is traumatic and you will need a good support team to help you get through it. Surround yourself with friends and family who light you up, make you laugh and feel good about yourself. Sometimes the people we think we should rely on, are not always the best, as they are too close to the situation and invariably have their own opinion, which might not be the most objective. If you decide that you need a solicitor make sure you choose one who you feel comfortable with and that are within your budget.
- Practice self-care – This should always be a priority but needs to be non-negotiable during this time. Make sure you nourish your body with good food which will sustain you. Try to exercise regularly, even if that just means going for a walk and get out in nature if possible. Take time to just ‘be’ and listen to your body and what it needs.
- Keep emotions out of your decision making – This can be a highly emotive time for everyone involved but try to do everything you can to make the best decisions for your future. If you are feeling stressed or angry, practice some mindfulness or breathing techniques to bring down your heart rate and blood pressure or exercise or dance to loud music. All of these activities help to change your mood which will help you to think clearer and more objectively.
- Create a future you’re excited about – This is the best thing you can do to help you move on and let go of the past. Make a list of everything you love doing and what you loved to do when you were younger before you were married. What have you always wanted to do but couldn’t whilst you were married? Start a Breakup Bucket list of everything you want to do after your divorce and start putting plans in place to tick some of them off.
- Experience your emotions – You’ll experience a roller-coaster of emotions during this time which is totally normal – you’re grieving the loss of your marriage and the life you had together. Make sure you sit with your emotions and really feel them - you need to do this as part of the healing process. Don’t be tempted to avoid your emotions by over working, turning to drink or drugs or partying hard.
There’s no reason why you can’t have an amazing life after your divorce. This is just the next chapter of your life and it’s completely within your control to create a future that lights you up.
If you’re struggling with divorce and finding it difficult to move on, book a free discovery call with me so we can have a chat about how I could support you and help you to move through the process quicker than you could do on your own.