You have more power than you ever did when you were younger! (Note from the blogger: C’mon research people! Can’t you think of a more complimentary badge than “Grey divorce”?! Even though many folks are opting for natural grey hair color, the word grey suggests colorless and bland, hardly accurate descriptors of the lively divorced individuals in my personal circle of well-past-55 clients.)
Grey Divorce vs. Younger Divorce
Here’s the difference between grey divorce and divorce in younger years:
- After 55, children leave the nest, and the ready-made connections of children’s activities and the accompanying adult parents evaporate.
- Careers are at the apex, rounding toward retirement, or starting second callings. This means transition – another big life change happening at the same time as divorce.
- Divorce over 55, 65, 75 or even 85 often means ending a long-term partnership. Regardless of the reason for divorce, a lifetime of cohabitating must be modified. Old habits die hard. Reminders of the marriage appear around every corner. Suddenly living in the formerly shared house alone can be distressing.
- Grey divorce means redefining old friendships. Many couple friends alter their vision of you. You’re single, now. If you’re a woman, your formerly-friend-female-component of the couple may find you a threat: are you interested in my husband? If you are male, are you making moves on my wife? You may be thinking: Of course, I’m not interested in your husband/wife – you’re my friends! Heads up – friends in long, stale marriages can be jealous of your newfound freedom and suspicious, even as you depend on their friendship. For you, It’s another potential loss before you’re back on your feet with a new set of friends.
- Age can become a frightening factor after the gavel comes down. During the divorce process, older individuals may be so focused on completing the divorce that they may fantasize about how good it will feel when the divorce is final. However, unrealistic self-criticism and fears can hit hard after it’s all signed and sealed. Am I too old to start over? Am I undesirable? Will anyone ever love me again? What if my friends desert me? How will I make it on a limited income?
All these Grey Divorce Issues Have Solutions!
The first step is to accept your reality. I know it’s hard, and you may not want to face it head on. Believe me, once you do, the dragon of divorce begins to shrink.
Here’s the reality: you are now single. Whether you wanted the divorce or not, this is where you’ve landed.
Fact: You aren’t 25. Fact: That’s good news! For the first time in your life, you can define who you want to be without anyone else trying to shape you into who they they think you should be. You have a lifetime of knowledge now. Even if you need to do some work to rediscover your authentic self, you know more about who you are, what your talents are, and how to cope than you ever did when you were that pesky 25 year old. Life wisdom really does outweigh the impetuousness of youth, every time. You must believe that – and when you do, miracles begin to happen inside you.
The secret to success: Keeping a positive mindset is a 24/7 job. You must work at it, practice, and improve – just as you would any new job. The demons of doubt will sneak in. You will criticize yourself. You will fear the worst. Be prepared. Be vigilant. Practice the tips you’ll find below to defeat those demons.
3 Grey Divorce Tips to Use 24/7
Here are my top three tips for my clients to combat rejection, loneliness, and sadness during grey divorce:
- Take care of yourself, first. When I was in graduate school, the first thing they taught us was that numero uno (yourself) always comes first. You can’t possibly step out in the world as a new person, start a new life or care for others (children, older parents, even pets) if you don’t care for yourself first. What does that mean? Eat well. Get enough sleep. Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself to the things you love – reading the paper, movies, long walks with your dog, get massages, meditate. It’s called “ESC”: Extreme Self Care.
- Slow down, but keep moving. It may take longer to recover from disappointments for awhile. Allow yourself to slow down, even stop for awhile, but not for good. Give yourself permission to spend some days alone. However, be aware of the pity-party monster. It will keep you in its clutches. No more than three days alone. Then, get out and walk, or go to a meeting of some flavor – where you can suck up the energy of the rest of humanity. Keep moving. Check out this show on HBO: If You’re Not in the Obits, Eat Breakfast. Here’s the YouTube preview. These “mature” comics talk about how to live a long life. Their secret? Keep moving!
- Learn to self-soothe and give yourself honest, loving messages. Self supportive messages are crucial for to maintain mental balance. To get you started, here are a few I suggest to my clients: Yes I can. Of course I can!; I’m proud of myself and the hard work I’ve done!; I am not alone. I have friends and myself to count on: I will get through this just fine – a new life awaits me. If you are interested in a new partner, add a phrase that reassures yourself that someone is out there for you. When I’m ready, I will find the right new partner. (Know that there are lots of potential new partners – male or female – out there. Other people are getting divorced, spouses get sick and pass on, folks who never wanted partners decide to reverse that after 55.)
In spite of your newfound post-divorce freedom, grey divorce – divorce over 50, 60, 70, or even 80 – can raise scary doubts about yourself. Grey Divorce Advice: Never give up on yourself! Use these three grey divorce tips 24/7. You have more skills, knowledge and wisdom than you ever had at 25! You can thrive! Yes, you can!