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Starting Over After 50

Lately, it seems like a lot of people over 50 years old are getting divorced. Partly, it may be because there are a lot of Baby Boomers who are in relationships. People are living longer and are in relationships longer.

But they're not always happy, so they have some of the following experiences.

  • Some relationships seem to "wear out" as couples pass 50 years of age.

  • Some couples are in second or third marriages. Statistically, those marriages are very likely to end in divorce.

  • Many of them are suddenly facing a divorce they hadn't planned on. Their spouse may have decided to leave the relationship, but didn't warn them. That can be a huge crisis.

  • The flip side is that many Boomers have finally decided to pull the plug. They will go forward on the divorce they kept thinking about, but which they just couldn't face. They know they have a lot longer to live, and they just don't want to continue in a bad living arrangement.

  • Some people also have health or financial problems that make life much more difficult.

All of these people face somewhat similar circumstances. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are some suggestions to help you get through the process.

What to Expect --

1. Shock. The first reaction may be shock, if the other spouse somehow isn't expecting it. Once that decision is made, both parties need a little time to let it sink in and to make adjustments in every phase of their lives.

2. Relief. The reaction could be relief if the spouses have been discussing the decision openly until one or both commit to ending the marriage. It's a difficult decision for so many reasons. Sometimes both parties feel the relief.

3. Fear. A common second emotion is fear about the future. Past plans come undone. Finances get stretched thin and new arrangements need to be made. The need to work may put off retirement and will affect spending. So many things that are taken for granted suddenly have to be changed. There's a lot to be concerned about.

4. Changing relationships. Relationships with grown and nearly-grown children may change and will probably be a little awkward for a while. You or your spouse may lose friends, churches, and other activities. Each of you will probably have holes in your lives for quite a while.

5. Recognizing opportunities. With changes comes some new freedom to change course and try something new. Most people at 50 will still have 30-40 more years to live. You can move to a different job or another neighborhood or a new town . You might downsize and streamline your life. New hobbies and activities are possibilities. You can also make new friends.

6. Start with small changes. With so many new and different directions you can take, don't go crazy and completely start over. Generally, you will be more comfortable with adding small changes at first and then making bigger changes as you get used to new arrangements. Everyone needs some stability which can come from carryover aspects of your life.

Important — Don't rush out and get remarried. Take your time and get to know the person. There's plenty of time!

7. Expand your horizons. Use this opportunity to try completely new things that maybe you couldn't do while you were married. You don't have to re-create your old married life. Try some new interests and make some new friends. Take some classes. Reconsider your assumptions about how you want to live your life. This could be the beginning of an interesting new life. If you don't want to do a lot of new things, you still can have a fresh start to some old activities.

One other thought: If you are facing divorce after 50, you should look into using the Collaborative Law process for a civilized, less-destructive divorce. Be sure you talk to a trained Collaborative attorney who actually handles Collaborative cases. Collaborative Law won't work in every case, but it will in a great number of them.