The “gray divorce” phenomenon is getting more and more attention. Although there historically hasn’t been much conversation surrounding divorce involving couples over 50, it happens quite often. Now more than a quarter of all divorces in the U.S. are gray. The dialogue is starting to change as more people are open about their experiences with divorce later in life.
How to Overcome Gray Divorce
Gray divorce can be especially difficult when a couple has spent a long time together building a life. So much of who you are appears to be rooted in your marriage and shaped by the person to whom you are married. This can make moving on and starting over painful.
Luckily, divorcing after 50 doesn’t have to be a confusing, hurtful experience. Overcome a gray divorce and confidently start this new stage in your life by implementing the following tips.
Know That It Was the Right Decision
It’s challenging for many women over 50 going through a divorce to rebuild because they’ve yet to accept that it happened. They may also have a tough time admitting that a split is a right decision.
Instead of doubting the decision to get a divorce, have an honest conversation with yourself about why the divorce was necessary. Reflect on the signs you noticed in your relationship that it was time to move on.
For example, maybe you couldn’t rebuild trust after infidelity. Maybe your partner stopped mattering to you as much and you stopped involving them in important life decisions. Or perhaps you and your ex had divorce on your minds for a very long time.
These are all signs that ending the relationship was the right thing to do. Trust your reasons for getting a divorce and grow comfortable with the decision, regardless of who made it.
Embrace Your Authentic Self
When you accept that divorce was the right decision, start focusing on embracing your authentic self. It’s easy to lose yourself in a long-term relationship. But it’s essential to find yourself again if you want to thrive after divorce over 50.
Who are you, and what would it take to be your genuine self all the time? Answering these questions will get you started embracing all of who you are. You may find that making a few tweaks to your schedule and taking up new hobbies help reveal your authentic self.
Alternatively, you may need to do something big like moving to a new place that supports who you truly are. For example, let’s say you identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. It may be worth it to move to a city accepting of LGBTQIA+ community members. There you may find a support system that welcomes you and offers resources and events to help you thrive.
Rediscover What Makes Life Meaningful
Women emerging from a divorce after 50 may find that nurturing their relationship and raising children was the most meaningful part of their life. While you should consider your children during a divorce, many children of gray divorcees have grown up and moved out of their childhood home. You need to create meaning in life post-divorce and post-children.
During this next stage in your life, you must rediscover what makes life purposeful for you. Consider changing your career, starting a business, returning to school, or traveling to ignite your excitement for life again.
Prioritize Your Holistic Health
Prioritizing your holistic health will also help you overcome a gray divorce. You put a lot into your marriage. Maybe you even put your health on the backburner. But now that your marriage is over at a later stage in life, prioritizing your overall health is critical.
Getting into the best physical shape of your life, strengthening your mind, and becoming more emotionally mature can help you better cope with the adverse effects of gray divorce.
Of course, you aren’t going to have the same energy you once did. Luckily, there are specific steps you can take to boost your energy once you’re over 50, including:
- Fueling your body with nutritious food;
- Getting in some physical activity every day;
- Immersing yourself in nature;
- Sleeping well each night;
- Flexing your mind-muscle.
Taking care of your mental, physical, and emotional health will help you develop a better relationship with yourself, and that positivity will spill over into everything you do.
Don’t Rush Into Your Next Relationship
A huge part of caring for yourself is also opening your heart to romantic relationships. But it’s important not to rush into your next relationship after a gray divorce. The end of a marriage can leave you feeling incredibly lonely. And that loneliness can lead you to latch onto the next person who shows you a little attention.
It’s wise to resist this temptation. Instead, take your time with dating, sex, and relationships. You can absolutely enjoy time with someone or multiple people, but don’t feel like you have to take it any further than that. Set boundaries around pursuing romantic connections and ensure you’re moving at a comfortable pace.
Being in love and then losing it one day can be one of the most harrowing experiences you ever have — especially if you’ve been married to someone for a long time and are divorcing decades after you first met. But the tips above can help you overcome a gray divorce with the grace and confidence you need to move forward in life.