Not many people get married with a thought at the back of their minds that they will be dividing debts and assets years to come. Unfortunately, even with good intentions, there’s no guarantee that a marriage will last forever. Today, America’s divorce rate is around 45%, meaning a significant number of broken hearts are out there.
The truth is, getting through a divorce and dating and remarrying after 40 can be challenging than other years. Probably you are established in some sort of career, and if you have children, they may be teenagers, preteens, or even adults. You may be functioning as the breadwinner in this family alongside your partner or on your own.
More stresses and complications will characterize a divorce after your 40s, even in your after-divorce relationships. You’ll probably need time to shift from being a family person to now being a single parent because you just can’t do away with the lifestyle you’d used to for years or perhaps decades.
Is Divorce After 40 a Good or Bad Idea?
In your 40s, you may feel exhausted, especially if you have kids. Things may seem to be in free fall. This is the time you may be trying to focus on your career, but the kids, on the other hand, are on non-stop activity. Then if you throw in divorce, it becomes a life of chaos, stress, and anxiety for everyone.
When the thought of divorce comes up, the idea of starting afresh after 40 becomes stressful. I was 44 when I got divorced with four children at the ages of 13, 12, 9, and 6. I couldn’t think it was possible for me to survive it.
Those were my good days. I loved being the busy, complicated, buzzing family man. But even with the fun that one experiences in their 40s, it also has its unique challenges, especially if you are facing divorce and are alone in it.
What Should I Know Before Going into a Late in Life Divorce?
Divorce at any stage in life is never easy. But for people in their late 40s, they face unique challenges. Here are things people who’ve gone through a late-in-life divorce would tell their younger selves and hope others can learn some lessons:
Divorce Impacts the Older Children More Than the Younger Ones
For younger kids living at home, they somehow adjust quickly and see the separated parents as people living in their lives. But for older kids, especially those who’ve moved out, it can be a difficult time for them. They fail to cope with the changes. If you are considering divorce and have kids, don’t assume it will be better for them once they’re out of the home.
Exploring The Job Market Before Separation
Women who’ve been out of the workforce for a while face challenges when trying to reenter. Before going into the divorce, find qualified financial advisors and career counselors who will help you analyze your options and determine your short and long term plans post-divorce.
A divorce attorney will tell you that the input of such professionals would be beneficial when negotiating for alimony and division of marital property. It is during such discussions that someone can get the idea of going back to school to increase his/her earning capacity. If that’s the case, the cost of going back to school would be included in the settlement package and have the breadwinner pay for the education as part of alimony.
The Pain of Divorce
Even if you are leaving a toxic spouse, there’s a loneliness that creeps in and makes you yearn for the comfort of having someone in your home. The pain of divorce is often a traumatic life experience that may force you to pursue new hobbies, volunteer somewhere, or even seek a therapist’s services to help you adjust and for emotional support.
You may think none of your friends may actually bail on you, but you are wrong. People who serve in divorce support groups will tell you that this is commonplace, especially among older people. A lot of time, friends will stop associating with you, even your best friend. One or two of your close friends may stick around but not the entire crowd.
Most friends will be with you through the process but won’t be there once your divorce is finalized. Therefore, it’s necessary to plan ahead about your social shift and start expanding your network by joining groups and volunteering.
An Expensive Process
Even the most conflict-free, uncontested divorces can still cost you tens of thousands of dollars. The moment you realize you are headed for divorce, get a divorce lawyer near you for advice, and understand how much you’ll pay and need post-divorce.
If you want to save on divorce attorney fees, reduce your interactions with them because it comes at a cost. You shouldn’t be calling them for short sessions every now and then. Besides, when shopping around for a divorce attorney, ask about their billing practices. If there are some things you can do, like gathering financial information, save money by doing it yourself.
Scary Freedom After Divorce
Getting to decide all by yourself on what you want or for your children feels great. It makes you feel some liberty and makes you do things quickly because it’s just you making the decisions. However, it can also be overwhelming later on. You’ll be doing a lot of stuff because of this newfound freedom until it becomes exhausting.
Are People Happier After Divorce?
This is subjective and depends on the individual. Some may struggle for a while, while others feel better instantly. Additionally, it depends on individual personalities.
Scientifically, men and women will react differently to divorce. Men will procrastinate feeling their emotions by dishonestly coping with divorce. Consequently, the initial months will be good for the man, but things change later.
If you enter a second marriage, there’s a possibility of being happier than in your first marriage (although not an absolute). The reasons behind this could include:
- Coping with divorce can make people aware of what they really need and want
- The period of recovery from divorce strengthens new relationships
- Grieving allows clarity and closure, making them see how they can make themselves better people even in new relationships
How Can I Cope with Divorce Post 40?
When you’re up for divorce in your 40s, it may be the first time to realize that you’re getting older. At this age, even without changing your diet, you start gaining weight and struggle to keep in shape. For a woman, menopause sends you a bit of anxiety. After divorcing past 40, all these insecurities seem to be magnified.
Worst of all, the over 40 dating sites and every other online dating site leave you with fear that you will not find love due to your imperfections – which isn’t TRUE!
The first thing you want to do is not getting into a new relationship, but spending some time by yourself. Of course, you shouldn’t do things like getting into serious debt and seeking comfort in drugs, alcohol, casual sex, and gambling. During this time, you can:
- Spend time with an old or new hobby
- Investing in your health like cooking organic foods, attending gym classes, etc.
- Decorating your house
- Getting out there more
- Get a new workout routine
Harsh life events can make any person sad. But divorce, especially in our 40s, can stir up feelings of sadness and even depression. The lack of sleep and hormonal imbalance doesn’t make it any better for you. You can speak to your doctor about this and get a counselor for emotional support, as well as spending time with friends and family.
Learning New Patterns
Divorce forces you to learn new patterns through a series of behaviors. If you were used to sleeping with your partner, you’d now have to learn to sleep alone. These new patterns can be big picture patterns like lifestyle habits and small picture patterns we often take for granted.
For a man in his late 40s, he may find it difficult living alone if he was in a marriage involving traditional gender roles. Cooking and cleaning may seem extremely difficult for such a man. As this is part of the process, give yourself time to get accustomed to the change, and process your new life.
Feelings of Loneliness
Feeling alone is among the side effects of divorce. We may be busy or around people, but one feels like no one understands the difficulty of keeping things together and not breaking down. As a person in the late 40s, you may feel lonely when you need support. You may feel even more emotionally and physically lonely if you think that your ex is now in the arms of another.
Feeling Unattractive and Inadequate
Past 40, we don’t feel our best because we don’t look our best, and we don’t look our best because we don’t feel our best—a vicious cycle of self-pity, desperation, and frustration.
What Should I Do About My Kids?
Most kids may understand what’s happening. However, conflict is more debilitating to kids than divorce.
Young kids may adjust rather quickly. Preteens and teens, on the other hand, may face some hardships adjusting. As a parent, it’s important to teach your kids resilience, relationships, and dealing with the tough stuff of life.
Child custody issues are among the most distressing things to handle in a late in life divorce. Most family courts in the states will try to divide parental time evenly unless one parent has shown serious misconduct. However, this process gives your kids a chance to practice personal responsibility.
When you divorce in your late 40s, it’s best to allow your kids to continue learning at their old school. Taking them to new schools might complicate issues even further.
How Can I Survive Financially After 40?
Finances play a significant role in your life after divorce. A woman in her 40s is more likely to get back into active work than a woman in her 50s or 60s. Nonetheless, finding a job while you’ve been a stay at home parent can be challenging for you.
Some people may need to return from retirement and go into the workforce – especially women over 65 who are prone to financial problems.
If you’re searching for a job after divorce, update your resume with relevant skills and try to maintain your physical shape. Besides, get a financial advisor as soon as possible or books that speak about financial management.
How Do I Navigate the Dating World at 40?
At some point, you will try dating someone. But you shouldn’t hurry this process as it makes things difficult for everyone. Let you and your kids adjust to this new family reality before getting involved in a new romantic relationship (regardless of who initiated the divorce).
In your late 40s, you may feel a sudden need to rebound into another relationship and have that security and emotional support back. Some even enter the dating world to make their ex jealous or find someone to have casual sex with. Especially for divorced men, they may face pressure to start dating again, but they shouldn’t cave into it.
If you are facing this kind of pressure, pause for a second, and allow grieving and healing to take their course before even thinking about letting someone into your life again. Getting back into the dating scene healthily should be considered as a long term process.
Divorce in your late 40s may feel like a bomb dropped in the middle of your life. You’re trying to repair what you can while also trying to find joy and purpose in your life.
This can be scary. I’ve been there. But one thing, don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek divorce advice. At the end of it all, you will see it as effort well invested. Access one of our divorce coaches for support and understanding just what a later in life divorce will be like.