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There is Life For Divorced Women Over Fifty

Relationships

July 5, 2021

Stigmas from the past

For most of you reading this, you are old enough to remember how divorced women

over forty were depicted in the ’60s and ’70s. They were classified as failures

relating to femininity, family, stability, and morality. That is a long list of the most

important things in life or what society perceived them to be. As a child, my first

recollection of older, divorced women was from television. Even in the ’70s, in the

midst of the feminist movement, this was seldom spoken of as a phenomenon.

Although divorce was becoming more and more common by then, it was still

considered tawdry and came with a stigma that was both humiliating and alienating.

The blame game

The circumstances or chain of events that caused the end of a marriage were not

important. In many cases, the wives were characterized as the main culprit

regardless of the circumstances. When the husband cheated or left his wife for

another woman, society still blamed the wife for the marriage’s unraveling. Perhaps

if she had lost 20 pounds, kept a cleaner home or had dinner on the table at exactly

6:00 every night, he wouldn’t have strayed. When the wife chose to work outside of

the home, society would often blame that for the marriage’s demise. Due to the

above-mentioned reasons, she was putting her own career and selfish needs over

the betterment of her marriage and family.

The perception of divorced women back then was that they were somehow deeply

flawed. Why else would her marriage not stay intact? She must be emotionally

unbalanced, frigid, or just not wife material. Not only did women go through

financial devastation, but also they found themselves being labeled by society,

including their family and so-called friends. There was a huge price to pay that took

years to recover from, including rebuilding their lives, reputation, and financial

stability.

The high price of leaving

In many ways, the fallout for women today going through a divorce is the same now

as it was then. I left my husband about 10 years ago; I had more than enough

reasons to do so, yet I took all of the blame. A friend tried to warn me that my

children, family, and friends would view me as the bad guy if I left. She

recommended that I stay and make him so miserable that he will eventually leave.

Then I can play the victim card, and my husband will be blamed for the break up of

our happy family. In my naiveté, I couldn’t fathom this actually happening. After all,

this wasn’t 1972, and I had good relationships with my daughters, family, and

friends.

Boy, was I ever wrong. Even though my reasons for leaving were valid and there

was never a third party involved, I absolutely took the blame. I suffered

insurmountable losses both financially and emotionally. In many ways, I went

through exactly what the courageous women before me did, complete alienation

from my daughters, family, and so-called friends. Ultimately, I was blamed and most

of my relationships did not withstand the divorce.

The unraveling

I understand more than most the fallout and pain that comes along with divorce

later in life. It takes courage and blind faith that you will eventually come out the

other side happier, wiser, and stronger. Over fifty is a difficult age to face the

process of divorce and the uncertainty that lies ahead. In many ways, this goes

against human development and societal expectations. This is supposed to be when

you’re just starting to enjoy the empty nest, have the time and desire to rekindle

your relationship and you can finally see retirement around the corner.

Unfortunately, going through separation and divorce destroys all of that.

Many marriages fall apart during this time due to simply growing apart. I had a

friend years ago whose parents had been married for almost 30 years. Her father

was an airline pilot and therefore was seldom home. Her mother always joked that

when her husband retired that she would have to leave. They had 4 children, and

she felt that the children were the only things they had in common anymore. Sure

enough, he retired, and she up and left about four months later.

The perils of dating

At about this age, we realize that if we are going to pursue happiness, it needs to be

now. We come to grips that we aren’t getting any younger and that time stands still

for no one. In today’s world, it is hard enough to be single when you’re young yet

alone in your 50’s and 60’s. Let’s face it; when it comes to dating at our age there

are not many good fish left in the sea. So many of us decide after fishing for a while

that it’s not worth the effort or disappointment of trying to catch a keeper.

Let’s face it, we all come with baggage and a passport full of stamps from life’s

experiences both good and bad. The hard part is finding someone whose baggage

can coincide or compliment ours. At this stage in life we need to accept each other’s

past, appreciate what we have and find the courage to try it again. It is possible to

find love, and for many couples this last love is by far their greatest.

Finding your new tribe

After a failed attempt at fishing some turn their attention to other things. We take

up hobbies that we’ve always meant to but never quite found the time or desire.

Suddenly we find ourselves with nothing but time. The adult children that we

successfully launched into the world seem to be so entrenched in it that we seldom

hear from them. All of the married friends we once had are suddenly busy and

obviously sympathetic but only from a safe distance. This leaves us with few

options. The reality is that we need to make new friends, preferably with other

single women our age that still know how to have fun. Our goal is not to form a pity

party consisting of jaded, bitter divorced women. There are plenty of those to be

found, but we need to avoid them at all costs for our sanity and spiritual well being.

I want you to know that there is life after fifty and divorce. It might not be the life

we planned or dreamed of, but it is ours. None of us saw this coming and after going

through it, wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I have more respect for the brave women

that reach out for happiness than those that hold back from fear. I used to have a lot

of friends that took the latter path. Some were miserably married, sleeping in

separate rooms, but neither one miserable enough to take action. Taking action like

marriage counseling or separation would be embarrassing, expensive and messy.

And they are right but it is the only way to come back to yourself and if you’re lucky

to each other.

Your own path

For my sisters who are contemplating divorce or for those who have already

embarked on the journey, I want you to know that I see who and what you are. Even

if the rest of the world or even the people closest to you can’t I do. Please don’t

forget that if you are on the right path for yourself that is reason enough. I promise

that the strength, faith, and resilliance you’ve proven not only to yourself but others

have made a difference. By taking the path to find self-love, happiness and

reinventing our lives, we have inspired and empowered other women especially

those brave enough to follow in our footsteps.

Coming back to you

We should be thankful for the women who made the beaten path before us with

their tears, resolve, and hope. We are a sisterhood, and we need to support each

other with compassion, respect, and honesty. I will not tell you that the journey

you’ve chosen will be an easy one because it won’t be. But I am here to tell you that

you are not alone and that in the end, you will have self-respect, perhaps finally love

yourself and realize that you are far stronger than you ever imagined. These

accomplishments are what really matter in life, and sadly for most people, they will

never achieve a single one. I honestly think that we are the chosen ones to push

ourselves to heal, grow and eventually come back to love. I am a proud member of

this club, and we welcome you with loving, and supportive arms.

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Aging gracefully

relationships

spirituality

mental health

Categories

Reading suggestions

Embracing Our Age

 Spiritual Practices

Healing From Within