While it’s easy to think married couples who have lasted for decades may never split, it’s not the fact. Since 1990, the rate of gray divorce has doubled, according to the latest report by the Pew Research Center. In 1990, five out of 1,000 married couples aged 50 and above divorced. In 2015, it was ten out of 1,000. For married couples aged 65 and above, the rate has tripled. The sharp rise in gray divorce rates is unfortunate, but why do they increase?
It could be because it’s been a long struggle. “Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the future we’ve tried to build with a spouse or significant other begins to fall apart,” states J.D. Milliner & Associates, divorce lawyers based in Salt Lake City, UT. For the Baby Boomers, the problems may have been planted long before, but couples chose to stay in the relationship because of their kids.
Now that the children are grown up, and after all court orders have been said and done, what should you do? Here are things that might help you cope in the aftermath of a gray divorce.
Be the Bigger Person
It’s easier said than done, but it’s one way to show that you have finally accepted your and your ex-spouse’s fate. Be the bigger person by not pointing fingers. Blaming can lead to outbursts and an even worse way of ending the marriage. Instead, if you’re ready, thank your ex-spouse for all the memories and apologize for the difficult times.
From there, let things go. Don’t let your pride hold you back from being finally free from a trying marriage. You will probably feel angry at your former spouse, but if you want to keep moving forward, learn from the past but let it stay where it’s supposed to.
Stay with Your Kids for a While
Because you’ve spent the better part of your life with your ex-spouse, it can get lonely when you wake up alone. To manage this feeling, stay close to your family, especially your kids if you have a good relationship with them. After the divorce, you will need someone to talk to and someone to be with. Staying with your kids also gives you a chance to explain the real reason for the divorce.
In turn, your kids (and even your grandkids), can help you go through the circumstance. In this isolating situation, it’s important that you feel a human connection. Staying with your kids is also an opportunity for you to strengthen your relationship with them and heal together.
Join A Recovery Group
While all kinds of divorce present many challenges, gray divorces have more unique ones. Since older adults are either retired or fast reaching the age of retirement, they may have slimmer chances of recovering financially from the costs of divorce. The divorce may even lead to health issues.
No one understands these challenges better than those who are facing them, too. Find a support group for gray divorcees and reach out to them. You can vent out your feelings to this group and give each other advice. The most important thing about support groups, however, is that you won’t feel isolated.
More than a legal process, divorce is a personal and trying time. You’ve shared memories with your ex-spouse all those years, raised kids, and grew old together. But some things change and have to end. If your marriage is one of those, you don’t have to feel alone and defeated for a long time. Recovery may be difficult, but you can start by accepting the matter wholeheartedly and seeking support.