By: Martha Bodyfelt | SixtyAndMe.com
When divorce is mixed with other transitions in your life, like retirement or taking care of an ailing parent, it’s tempting to never want to leave the house. Although feeling overwhelmed and confused during divorce is normal, avoiding these common boomer mistakes can save you unnecessary drama and stress so you can move on with your life.
Divorce feels awful because, as a society, none of us are taught to plan ahead for it.
Funny, isn’t it? For years, doctors have been telling us to take care of ourselves so we will feel better as we age. Financial advisors preached about planning for retirement for years. Why don’t we apply those same principles to divorce?
We stumble into divorce and panic, instead of logically asking ourselves, “What’s the game plan? Where do I want to be in a year with this divorce and how can I get there?” It’s no wonder why you feel like we no longer control our own life.
Planning where you want to be six months or a year from now and then implementing those steps has bigger dividends than struggling to make it through the day. This method can also help plan for contingencies and worst-case scenarios.
When you strip away the heart-ache of splitting from your spouse, divorce is actually a business transaction: dividing assets and debts and moving on. That’s not to minimize your decades-long marriage, but it’s absolutely critical to keep emotions at bay when dealing with the business side of things.
Your head understands, but the part of you that is angry may spend months fighting over things that have nothing to do with business. It’s understandable: we all make decisions based on emotions because we are hurting. And the only way we know how to deal with those emotions is by projecting it onto our business decisions, especially after a long marriage.
We over-react because we think we will “win,” the divorce, and “get back at” our spouse. This tit-for-tat only prolongs stress and ensures a future of bitterness. You deserve better than that – you have worked for years and deserve the chance to enjoy yourself now. Why be bitter during this next chapter of your life?
Nobody wins in a divorce and you must make your decisions from a clear-headed and rational place. Otherwise, you will find yourself robbed of time, money, and emotional energy – assets that are put to better use in your post-divorce life.
When you’re going through a messy divorce after 50, it can be easy to say, “You know what?!?! I’m just going to let my lawyer figure it out for me.” Or, “Okay, fine. If agreeing to the demands of my spouse will get them off my back and let me move on, whatever.” Or, you may seek advice people whose information may not necessarily be in your best interest.
There is nothing wrong with educating yourself or asking for advice. But, remember that, ultimately, this is your life and your future. It is your right and your responsibility to take ownership of your divorce decisions.
Sure, you can have people advise you – divorce professionals working with you is never a bad thing. But remember, at the end of the day, it is you who has to live with the divorce decisions – shouldn’t you be the one making them?
Remember the phrase, “Knowledge is Power?” It’s popular because it’s true.
Divorce can feel overwhelming. At this point in your life, you may have thought that the hard work was behind you and that you had a good handle on things, but then this curve-ball is thrown at you and you’re not sure how to plan for it.
The only way to ease that fear and uncertainty is to educate yourself about the process. Quality divorce resources online are plentiful, many divorce lawyers and coaches offer free consultations and there are support groups and community classes that will help you understand your rights and offer assistance so you do not get run over in the process.
The more you read, reach out and take advantage of the resources out there, the less scared and helpless you will feel. That type of knowledge is pretty powerful, indeed.
Once you and your spouse split, you are given this amazing opportunity to heal, rediscover yourself, and reclaim your independence – things that only you can do. So why would you invest yourself emotionally with someone new, when you haven’t had any time to learn how to be on your own? And how much worse will you feel when that “new, promising” relationship doesn’t work out?
Sure, as humans we want to be loved. It’s understandable to feel lonely after sharing much of your life with your spouse. Separation is a lonely place to be, but you know what’s even worse? Dependence – depending on another romantic relationship to make you feel loved and validated.
Now is the time to break that cycle. Lean on your friends, your family, a good therapist and divorce support groups to listen and encourage when you are lonely. Find the happiness by discovering and enjoying your new-found freedom. You deserve to put yourself first right now.
The divorce journey is a long a tricky one, especially later in life. But educating yourself and reaching out for help can steer you away from these mistakes and get you back to enjoying the best years of your life sooner than you thought possible.