Gray Divorce: Coping & Moving Forward
A gray divorce refers to the separation of a couple aged 50 or older. This colorful name comes from the gray hair that many of us sport as we get older. According to a 2012 study, these divorces are becoming significantly more common – in 1990, just over 200,000 Americans aged 50 and older got divorced, and in 2010 this number increased to nearly 650,000.
A gray divorce presents unique challenges that many people find hard to overcome; getting divorced after spending many years together is often just as traumatic as your spouse passing away. In fact, a grey divorce can be even more difficult to deal with because your spouse has not passed away, he or she is still around and living life without you.
Even if you were the person who wanted the divorce, it’s still very common to be left feeling lost and hurt, and moving on can be very difficult. We put together this guide to help those going through this increasingly common life event cope and move on with life.
Learning To Cope With The Emotions Of A Grey Divorce
The first thing you are going to have to do if you are a bit older and are getting divorced is to learn to cope with the many emotions you’re going to feel You will probably feel sad, alone, hurt, and perhaps angry at your spouse. You may blame your former spouse for what has happened, and in some cases, you may even be right. The problem with all of these negative emotions is that they are going to hold you back and slow down the healing process. No matter how painful your divorce is, you need to learn to move past the hurt so that you can move on with your life.
Common Reasons for a Grey Divorce
- Grown Apart
- Desire to Make a Change
- Money Problems
- Lifestyle Differences
- Regrets About the Past
Three Steps for Moving On
Share the Blame
The first part of moving on is learning to share the blame with your former spouse for the divorce. It’s possible that he or she should bear the brunt of the blame. That said, no matter how perfect you may think you are, at least some of the fault for your divorce likely falls on your shoulders as well. Part of moving on is accepting your part in what happened so that you can learn from your mistakes and grow as a person.
Let Things Go
You must also learn to accept what you cannot control and stop obsessing over it. Realistically, all you can do is control your own actions and emotions and do your best to move on. Has started dating? Do you feel that he or she is moving on too soon? These situations are painful, but you have to come to terms with the fact that they are no longer your spouse and you really have no say in how they spend their time. You may not approve of it, but obsessing over what they are doing and who they are doing it with makes it that much harder to get closure and move on with your life.
Be the Bigger Person
Finally, you have to understand that it may take time to get back on good terms. If you are going through a divorce or have finalized the divorce already, there’s a good chance that things have not been good between you and your former spouse for some time. With that being said, it’s still perfectly normal to feel hurt if they mistreat you or talk to you in a hurtful way. Unfortunately it’s often easy for someone that once loved you to now passionately hate you. Over time, the resentment should fade, and your former spouse will likely become more amicable toward you. Until that day comes, all you can do is avoid acting negatively in return. Do your best to not react to any mistreatment. Until the relationship improves, avoid spending significant time with your former spouse unless it is absolutely necessary.
Don’t Let Your Divorce Affect Your Other Relationships
A long marriage inevitably leads to many shared relationships – children, other close family members, and common friends friends. One of the most painful parts of any divorce is dealing with shared friends and family members, especially if they have taken the other person’s side during the divorce. This adds a whole new level to the pain you are feeling, and it’s easy to allow the betrayal you feel to ruin your relationship with these people. Instead of breaking off contact, a better option is to find out why someone acted the way they did and why they chose your former spouse’s side.
Believe it or not, this can actually give you some insight into your own behavior and it can help you to grow as a person. On top of the benefit of learning from your experience, you can work to repair these damaged relationships. You will have that much more companionship and support as you move on with your life.
Learning To Cope With The Financial Implications Of A Grey Divorce
When you are married, your spouse is both your romantic and financial partner. He or she is someone that you can count on to help you to deal with the monetary issues that are a part of modern life. From paying bills to dealing with unexpected expenses, your spouse has always been there for you so that you don’t have to face these challenges alone.
When you are a part of gray divorce, you will suddenly find yourself thrown through a loop in more ways that one. While you and your spouse may have been planning for retirement, now the burden of how you will cover your expenses will fall squarely on your shoulders. In many ways, the stress you feel from no longer having a partner that you can count on for financial support can be just as traumatic as the emotional loss that you feel.
Taking Care of The Financial Parts Of Your Divorce
While it doesn’t always happen, if there is a way that you can stay on amicable terms with your spouse during the divorce process it will make things significantly easier (and less expensive) when dealing with the financial issues involved. One of the main things that the two of you will have to work out will be the division of your assets. Here are a few things to remember:
If you have been married for a long time, then you probably have a lot of personal property that will have to be equitably divided. In most cases, it’s difficult for a couple to agree who should get what, but if the two of you can work together it can save you a lot of time and money contesting the issue in court. Lawyers aren’t cheap.
Sell Your Home
When dividing assets, you should consider selling the home that the two of you shared. Since you can’t both keep the home, selling it and splitting the money is usually the best option. On top of that, selling your home will free up the money that is tied up in equity, which you can then use to pay down your debt.
After dividing your assets, you’ll need to address the issue of spousal support. Child support typically isn’t an issue in gray divorces due to the age of the couple. However, spousal support could still tie the two of you together in a financial sense for some time. If you can show that you sacrificed your ability to advance your career so you could help your spouse to advance theirs, such as if you were a stay at home parent, then there’s a good chance you will be able to claim spousal support.
Seek Out Legal Counsel To Protect Your Interests
Even if you and your spouse are behaving amicably toward each other and are cooperating in terms of division of assets and spousal support, you definitely need to retain the services of a good lawyer to protect your interests. Your marriage may have been founded on love, but now that the love is over it’s up to you to pick up the pieces of the monetary aspects of your marriage so you can move on. The last thing you want is to have some term of your divorce be decided in an unfavorable manner that could end up being very financially costly to you.
Do yourself a favor and hire a good divorce lawyer. Contact your spouse and let them know you have hired a divorce lawyer. You can even use this time to explain to them that you are not trying to escalate things, you are simply trying to protect your interests. Encourage your spouse to find an attorney as well.
Life Goes on After Divorce
If you are in the midst or aftermath of a divorce, your entire world can feel like it has been turned upside down. In many ways you’ve lost a partner that loved you and that you counted on for emotional and financial support. Suddenly, you are more alone in the world. The good news is that things will get better. You will get over this, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. Start by putting one foot in front of the other and taking little steps. Over time those little steps, which may not seem like much at the time, can help you to get to where you want to be.
Dillon, Joe, Facing a Gray Divorce? Watch Out for These 7 Critical Issues, Equitable Mediation
Meyer, Cathy, Gray Divorce: Don’t Let Divorce After 50 Keep You Stuck, Live About
Stark, Lubov, Coping with a Gray Divorce, Huffington Post
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