I was struck by a recent conversation I had during a consultation. “Daniel” had expressed how unhappy he has been for the past seven years in his 32-year marriage. Both children were grown and married, his career was incredibly rewarding, and he had a good number of close
friends. However, he found himself living like a roommate with his wife. Intimacy was nonexistent for the most part, and they had grown apart in every other aspect of their relationship. Marriage counseling throughout the years would be more of a “band-aid” fix, only to result in a few months of improvement, yet never lasting more than that.
During our conversation, he explained that each time he worked up the courage to decide on a divorce, he talked himself out of it by being convinced it would not be worth leaping into the unknown. I could relate to him more than most people know. I found myself in a loveless marriage for too many years. I too wanted to leave my marriage, however, I allowed the fear of the unknown to keep me paralyzed and staying far too long.
Often, a life-changing event will put many things such as our mortality into perspective and we realize that this is our ONLY life to live, why not live it to the fullest? For so many of my clients over the years, sadly it’s a death of a friend or family member that will make them come to this conclusion. For “Daniel” it was the loss of his brother, who had been living a very unhappy life and was about to have a new chapter as his divorce was almost finalized. This was his “ah-ha” moment, which many individuals including myself, have.
There are likely many factors contributing to why more older couples are getting divorced more now than in previous generations. One reason is that the meaning of marriage has shifted. Our expectations for what constitutes marital success and happiness have changed over time.
A good marriage is now defined by questions such as Does this marriage make me happier as a person? Is my marriage contributing to my self-fulfillment? And Am I genuinely authentic in who I am in this marriage? If the answer is no, then divorce may be an option/solution.
Let’s look at 3 reasons why people will divorce over fifty:
- No longer communicating: A major part of having a connection with your spouse is having communication. When this breaks down, we tend to lose our bond with our spouse no matter how hard we may try. If there is a lack of effective communication, it simply leads to the distance tearing the couple apart.
- Self-change: As we become older, our mindset, lifestyle choices, and our perspective of the world change. With these changes, comes personal growth which is a wonderful thing. Who doesn’t want to grow as a person? However, with this growth, you and your spouse no longer communicate or work well together. Sometimes to move forward, a person needs to be able to leave the past, even if this results in a divorce.
- Fear of losing missed chances: This is usually the case when someone has been unhappy for a long period. No matter what you try to do to find happiness in your marriage, you cannot seem to find it. You desire a change, however, that may look.
Getting a divorce over 50 may seem terrifying, but that’s nothing compared to the idea of living together with a person you fell out of love with for the next twenty to thirty years. Take the time to think through (with as much detail as you can) what your ideal life looks like.
What do you want out of life for yourself? What does that life look like on a day-to-day basis? Who do you want to be part of that life – friends, family, professional contacts?
Write it down. Invite only the people who make you better or nourish your soul, to be a part of your next chapter.
So, that brings me to the question I’m often asked, “Is it worth divorcing over 50?” The answer in my opinion is if you truly believe you can no longer be happy, and fulfilled, have your emotional and physical needs met, and be authentic in your marriage, then yes, it is. We have only one chance at this journey we call life! Why not make it the happiest it could be?
The Divorce Coach For Men