Divorce is no walk in the park at any age. But, when you are older, it can be particularly painful. To help you with this tough transition, here are a few important tips.
Meeting New People
Friendships outside of your marriage may be affected by your divorce. It can force friends to choose sides and leave you feeling defensive and lonely. Do not let yourself be isolated. Potential social interaction outlets might include volunteer activities, hitting the campaign trail for your favorite cause or candidate, or going to community events. Yet, you should not immediately jump into a new relationship. This is especially true if the divorce is not final.
Your Kids Will Still Be a Factor
Visitation orders and child support are not part of the discussion in most gray divorces. But, the divorce proceedings may still involve adult children. It is not unusual for adult children to rely on their parents for financial support. Unless the child is in school or has a disability, support for adult children is not generally something written into a divorce agreement. However, your sons or daughters are likely to react emotionally to your divorce.
You Will Likely Lose Half of Your Retirement Money
Retirement funds and other assets are commonly split evenly even if one spouse was at-fault for the divorce. Once your retirement savings are cut in half, they may not look like much and you may worry about how you’ll be able to afford long-term health care costs or the prospect of moving into assisted living facilities. To avoid making alimony payments, many seniors offer up more of their pension. Yet, you should be careful when doing this since it may not be in your best interest to trade potentially taxable income for tax-favored investments.
No One Benefits from Bitterness
Try to keep conversations neutral with your soon-to-be ex as emotions tend to run high during a divorce. Having a contentious divorce only makes things worse. Of course, being amicable with your ex does not mean you have to be an open book. Your spouse could get considerable negotiating power over you when you share info about favorite possessions, desired assets, and future plans. Instead, keep your relationship business-like.
Keeping Your House May Not Be Worth It
Giving up your marital residence is hard. When courts split assets evenly, it just makes financial sense to give up a longtime home. If you take the house, your spouse will get something to balance it out. Also, keep in mind that the home will just remind you of the marriage that is now over.
Getting through divorce can be a difficult and unsettling challenge, but it is one that you can recover from, if you allow yourself to move on. Learning how to forgive yourself and even your ex, is an essential part of the process which will allow you ultimately to look towards the future with fresh hope.
While there will naturally be a grieving period involved with the end of a marriage, it’s important not to have your head in the sand. By tackling some of the more difficult aspects of divorce head-on, this is the quickest way to get through this rough phase of your life and to find new energy to be able to move forward. Of course, having the right support system in place is vital and you may feel that you could benefit from some personalized divorce coaching. Having someone there to cheer you on and guide you through specific challenges is a great way to put your fears aside and embrace the rest of your life after marriage.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are looking for advice and support in healing after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
The way forward isn’t easy, but it’s the best direction to go.
You can’t change what’s happened, no matter how much you may want to. The fact is you cheated.
Now, what you do about it, no matter what it is, will completely change your marriage.
Obviously, your actions broke your spouse’s trust. What may not be so obvious right now is that you also damaged your self-respect. It’s the impact your behavior has on you and your mate that has you wishing you could change the past.
The first step out of this mess is to figure out why you cheated and why you cheated now.
People have affairs for all kinds of reasons. According to Esther Perel, some people cheat in search of “an expansive experience that involves growth, exploration, and transformation.” And sometimes people betray their spouse because there are significant problems in their marriage.
Don’t be surprised if you have a hard time figuring this out. It’s actually a good thing if this is difficult for you because it means that you’re being completely honest with yourself. It’s also an indication that you might do well to work with a helping professional to get to the bottom of why you strayed.
Next, you need to decide what you want.
Do you want to maintain your marriage? Do you want to maintain your adulterous relationship? Do you want a divorce? Do you want an open relationship?
These aren’t necessarily easy questions, but they are very important ones. Deciding what you want is the first step to moving in that direction with respect and honesty.
And just because you’ve decided what you want, that doesn’t mean that your spouse will be on board with your decision. They may have a different idea of what they want after they find out you’ve cheated.
Getting clear about your decision is just the starting point for the conversation you will need to eventually have with your mate.
It’s time to do something about the other person.
Once you know what you would like to have happen with your marriage, it’s time to do something about the other person if you haven’t already.
If you’ve decided you want to keep your marriage, then you must break things off immediately. Doing so will make it much easier for your spouse to believe you about wanting to work on things.
If you’ve decided you want to pursue an open marriage, you have options about how you proceed. Keeping your relationship with the other person will signal to your mate that you’re serious about having an open relationship. But it will also get your open relationship off on the wrong foot because you weren’t upfront with your spouse about things before you acted.
If you’ve decided you want to end your marriage, you have options here too. If the other person is someone you want to continue your relationship with, be discrete or put things on pause until your divorce is final. Flaunting your relationship will only make your divorce more contentious. However, if your relationship with the other person was simply how you realized you want a divorce and nothing more, there’s no reason to maintain it.
Having an honest discussion like this takes preparation.
Preparation is critical because it won’t be easy and your spouse will be hurt and/or pissed when you let them know your marriage isn’t working for you. And if you choose to divulge your affair, things will be even more charged.
Choosing whether to tell your spouse you cheated is an important part of your preparation. In most cases, it’s the best option, because being honest is much better than having your infidelity discovered regardless of how you want your marriage to move forward. However, not everyone makes this choice.
You’ll also want to plan when and where to talk with your spouse. A discussion like this will easily take a couple of hours and you won’t want to be disturbed during that time.
You’ll want to choose a location that’s private and comfortable for both of you. And you may even want to enlist the support of a marriage counselor to keep the conversation on track.
You’ll also want to choose a time that will allow both of you to focus.
The conversation you have with your spouse will mark the end of your marriage as it was.
Calmly and compassionately telling the truth about what you want from your marriage and why you want it is only one part of the discussion. You’ll also need to listen carefully to what your mate says.
They’ll have questions – lots of questions. You’ll need to respond to them calmly and honestly so long as the questions are important and about things that matter to how you move forward.
Focus on taking full responsibility for your decision to cheat because nothing justifies your actions. There’s no explaining it away. The only way to make it through this discussion is directly through it.
Don’t let the conversation drag on and on because it will be exhausting. When you and your spouse are tired, it’s more likely that one of you will say something you don’t really mean which will make eventually coming to a resolution that much more difficult.
Prepare for the long haul.
This first conversation just lets your spouse in on what you’re thinking and potentially what you’ve done. They’re going to need time to process what you want and to think about what they want.
You’ll have many discussions about how to move forward with your marriage – how to put things back together, how to redefine it, or how to dissolve it. No matter which option you and your mate choose, you’ll need to communicate a great deal to make your (hopefully mutual) decision a reality.
This isn’t an easy process to go through, yet because you cheated, it’s the only path forward for you to reclaim your self-respect and to fully put the past behind you.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain of affairs and miserable marriages. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Looking for more information about infidelity? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.
Even when everybody else thinks it should be obvious to you, it rarely is.
As confusing as it is for most people to decide if they need to get a divorce or not, there are three situations that require you get a divorce if you (and your kids) are to live a healthy life.
- Your spouse has an addiction that they refuse to get treatment for despite your repeated requests.
- Your spouse is abusing you or your children.
- Your marriage is a horrible example for your children AND you’re willing to let your spouse parent the kids on their own.
If you’re not in one of these situations, it can seem pretty clear cut that these marriages need to end.
The trouble is that if you’re in one of them, it’s not nearly so easy. These situations usually develop over time. It’s like the story of the frog in the pot, things change gradually over time and you don’t really notice how bad things really are. You need someone looking in from the outside to give you a different perspective.
Unfortunately, you probably don’t have anyone who can look at your marriage with an unbiased eye because they’ve watched the gradual change in your marriage too.
So here are some situations I’ve helped clients deal with over the years that may help you to see your marriage in a different light. (These stories aren’t about any one person, but a compilation of several people who faced similar circumstances.)
This couple was married for more than 20 years when I met him. He was unhappy in his marriage, but not sure if he was unhappy enough to call it quits because he still loved her.
When he decided to call me, his wife had just been arrested for her third DWI.
As his story unfolded, he shared that after her first DWI, he was frightened and begged her to get help. She joined AA and he joined Al-Anon. But she quit – not relapsed, but quit the program within 2 months of joining.
Six months later she was arrested again for DWI. He was devastated, but he loved her and wanted to honor the commitment he made to her when they married. So, he got her to agree to a treatment program.
She was sober for several months after that, but then she started drinking again – secretly.
Eventually, he found out. And when he confronted her, she promised that she had everything under control.
He desperately wanted to believe that she could control her drinking, but when she was arrested for her third DUI and had her license revoked he wasn’t so certain. He still loved her, but wasn’t sure he could continue living with her untreated addiction.
Emotional And Verbal Abuse
A pregnant woman reached out to me with uncertainty about whether she should stay in her marriage or not. He was her second husband and she had one child from a previous marriage.
She had been noticing that her husband was treating her child brusquely. She chalked it up to the fact that his stepfather had treated him the same when he was a child. She believed that by talking with him about what he was doing that he would change because he was a good man.
She also told me that her husband is prone to fits of rage. When he’s like this he says despicable things about her. Again, she felt that she could handle things because she knew he didn’t really mean them. He was just feeling stressed.
However, she started wondering if maybe she was wrong about her husband when during one of his fits he physically threatened her child right in front of her.
A Marriage You Wouldn’t Want Your Child To Have
She requested a consultation with me because her 12-year-old daughter asked her, “Do you love Daddy?” When she asked her child why she would ask such a question, her daughter said it was because they were always yelling at each other and because Daddy slept in a different room.
Her daughter’s observations broke her heart because her daughter was more aware of what was going on than she had thought. She’d known for years that they were setting a terrible example for their daughter. So they tried all kinds of things including couples counseling. Unfortunately, nothing helped. In fact, things seemed worse.
She just wasn’t sure what to do. She wanted her daughter to grow up in an intact family. But she didn’t want to put her little girl through the stress of the constant arguments.
Maybe you recognize yourself in one of these stories and feel your own confusion of conflicting desires.
Making the decision to divorce is NEVER easy – not even in those situations when someone looking in would wonder why you’re still in the marriage.
It all comes down to getting real about whether you (and your kids) can have a healthy and happy life given who you’re married to and how you respond to your spouse.
We all tend to choose the pain we know (the marriage) instead of risking the pain we don’t (divorce). And that’s why so many people stay in marriages that really should end.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are confused about whether their marriage can be saved or not. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
Looking for more support and ideas about dealing with your bad marriage? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.
This article originally appeared at DivorceForce.