In the past few decades, divorce has become more normalized than ever, and people of all ages are choosing to dissolve their unions. Grey divorces for people 50+ are filled with their own unique challenges that younger people don't face. Yet, there are ways you both can come out on the other side happier than ever.
What's a Grey Divorce?
Also known as a silver divorce, a grey divorce is when someone 50+ gets a divorce. As divorce rates rose in the 2000s, grey divorces were on the rise, too. Yet, most grey divorces aren't happening between disgruntled partners 30+ years into their marriage. Rather, it's most often people who have already been divorced before, according to a study called The Gray Divorce Revolution.
Interestingly, this study also found that grey divorces disproportionately affect lower income individuals than ones with massive linked assets. Because of factors like these, grey divorces can pose their own unique problems. While there may be a sense of relief or freedom that comes with a newfound independence, there can be financial, social, and familial difficulties that can rock the boat for anyone.
Tips for Navigating a Grey Divorce
Whether you're on your fifth divorce or your first, don't let your third act be full of stress. Instead, look to these tips to help you navigate the situation and prepare for your new life.
Surround Yourself With a Support Network (That's Not Your Family)
While you're in the weeds of it and once you come out, you're going to need a support system to help you process all of the ups and downs. This isn't the time to rely on your adult kids or nieces and nephews to be your emotional support system; rather, surround yourself with friends and peers that you can turn to when the road gets tough. They'll be able to be objective about the situation and push you to succeed in your new life instead of mourning your old one.
Prepare for the Financial Fallout
It's never too early to get control of your finances. If you weren't making money during your marriage, then jumping into the workforce can be scary. However, getting financial independence is exhilarating, and the quicker you can start earning money for yourself and how to manage your money after the divorce, the more settled you'll feel into your new life outside of your marriage.
Let Yourself Mourn the Marriage
Even if you've been ready to dissolve your marriage, there will always be things you leave behind in a relationship that you'll miss or need to grieve. It's natural to mourn the loss of any relationship, no matter what age you are or how ready you were to leave. So, give yourself the space to feel the loss and work through it.
It's OK to Think About Yourself
A marriage is all about compromise, and that can leave anyone feeling like they never truly get what they want. Once you're single again and living an independent life, you get to make choices with only you in mind.
The beauty of having this freedom when you're older means there are fewer things tying you down. So, think about your needs and desires and carve out a daily life that excites you. Buy some funky furniture, don't do laundry for two weeks, get a huge aquarium that takes up your living room. Simply, make your life one you're thrilled to be living.
Date if You Want to (But Don't Feel Like You Have To)
Chances are, it's been at least a little while since you were on the dating scene. Now that you've experienced committed monogamy for a time, you can enjoy the fruits of casual dating or even hooking up. Sex and flings aren't only for the young, and if it's something you're interested in trying, start getting out there.
However, some people won't feel like having another relationship ever, and that's valid, too! It embodies the idea that you should give yourself the freedom to create or avoid romantic/sexual relationships in your life in whatever way you see fit.
Come to Terms With Not Pleasing Everyone
At the end of the day, there's no way that you're going to please everyone. Because divorce impacts more than just the two people in the relationship, you'll run into people who disagree with your decision. This can make an already tough situation even harder than the judgement that you just didn't try hard enough.
Take some time to work towards accepting that you won't be able to please everyone, and that them processing their emotions about your divorce doesn't have anything to do with you. You may need to set some new boundaries after the divorce.
Celebrate the Third Act of Your Life
Society and culture's finally beginning to understand that aging isn't a death sentence, and older adults can participate in the world with just as much vitality and recklessness as younger ones. It's time to throw out the age-old narrative that a divorce after 50 will ruin your life, and embrace how it can bring an optimistic wonder to your third act, instead.