Divorce After 60

2018-08-14T15:07:56+00:00

If you’re divorcing after 60, there are specific names for our situation.  Silver divorce. Gray divorce. Late-life divorce. Boomer divorce.  We are women who have chosen divorce or have had divorce forced on us in our 50s and 60s.  Whatever the reasons, after-60 divorce is becoming more common.

There are several reasons for this growing trend of divorce after 60 years of age:  

  • We are healthier and living longer.
  • We are less willing to “settle” and stay in a bad marriage.  
  • We are more likely to be in second marriages in which divorce happens at a higher rate.
  • There is less stigma to ending a marriage.
  • Women are more independent and self-sufficient than women in earlier generations.
  • It’s more acceptable for men to leave a long marriage for something new.

See also: Divorce After 50

Should I Divorce After 60?

Even though men in long marriages may be dissatisfied with the relationship, women are more likely to actually file for divorce.  Sometimes, men are having affairs, abusing drugs or alcohol, or maybe even emotionally or physically abusing us. Sixty-plus men are often hopeful they can have a loving, faithful family and still do things that are destroying that relationship.  Viagra is giving them a new lease on life, too.

We should definitely take our time when asking ourselves, “Should I file for divorce if I’m over 60 years old?”   Seeing a marriage counselor can sometimes help, but if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already tried that, or your ex gave you no choice. Getting your own counselor is helpful in making this decision.

There are many factors that affect a serious decision to divorce after 60.  Your financial situation may be the deciding factor.  Women tend to be worse off financially five years after divorce.  And since we live longer, we need more of a nest egg to support that longer life span.

If you are thinking about divorce after 60, you have to decide if staying in the marriage is worth what you would be giving up.  If you feel like you can’t be the woman you were created to be and stay in the marriage, you should seek trusted advice or get help making the next step – talking with a divorce attorney.

Coping with Divorce After 60

There are several ways women cope with divorce after age 60.  Much of it depends on whether we made the choice to divorce, or if our husband simply left the relationship.  We are more likely to have intense feelings of loss if our husband simply says “I’m done.”

In many cases of late-life divorce, including mine, he simply would not give up his girlfriend.  I decided I couldn’t live in a threesome, so I made the hardest decision of my life and filed myself.

After months of being in my “sobbing and screaming” stage, I finally came to the realization that I was in charge of my future.  I saw an unpredictable, scary future before me, but I realized my future was up to me.  Surviving divorce after 60, or anytime, is always our choice.

The biggest step forward I made was deciding that I was not going to let this destroy me.  I was not going to let one person who didn’t “get” me define my life.  He could live his pitiful, selfish life.  I decided that I was going to use every day of my one wild, precious after-60 life in the best way possible.  

But I’ll admit, it was a day-by-day decision to decide to survive and heal after divorce.  It was a moment-by-moment choice to get better after that heartbreaking decision.  

Depression After Divorce

After a late life divorce; we are usually thrown into a wild roller-coaster of emotions.  We go from wanting him back, to wanting him dead.  We have intense levels of emotions we’ve never felt before.  Depression.  Rage.  Fear.  Loneliness.  Sadness.  

These emotions are unbelievably hard to handle, especially when we are exhausted and overwhelmed by the whole devastating ordeal. We actually wonder how we can even survive divorce after 60.

Here are some things you can do to deal with the depression during and after divorce after 60:

  1. See your physician, and tell him or her what’s going on.  
  2. Stay active.  It’s vital to warding off depression.
  3. Do the grief work you need to do.  
  4. Simplify your life for now.
  5. Revisit your own life goals and dreams.
  6. Be around safe people who help you move forward.
  7. Get help.  Find a program that supports you and gives you a plan.
  8. Realize that choices today create your life tomorrow.  

Feeling Alone

Picture a little tiny boat with you alone in it on a huge, endless ocean. That’s how most 60+ women going through divorce feel.

I had never felt the gut-wrenching loneliness I felt after divorce.  I tried staying upbeat.  I put on a good face, but deep down I wondered if I would ever get over my divorce.

It’s not just that you’re alone, but that no one realizes how hard this late life divorce journey is.  Friends and family just want us to feel better, but they don’t understand how our heart is hurting.  The dread of starting over after divorce at 60 is overwhelming.  

Divorce after 60 usually means we are experiencing lots of other losses, too.  Children have busy lives of their own.  Our parents are either gone or needing more help.  Friends are busy.  Our body is changing.  The world is flying forward, and we often feel left behind.    

Feeling Inadequate or Unattractive

Especially if our husband found a new, younger woman, we lose our confidence.  We feel like we’re not enough.  Our exhusband feels like his life has taken a big step forward.  That reality is devastating. We’ve been traded in for a newer, shinier, faster, sexier new model.  We may be 63.  The new woman may be 36.

All those things made me doubt myself.   I felt old and ugly and fat.  

To pull myself out of that pit, I made sure I got dressed every morning.   Even though you may want to stay in your sweats all day, don’t do it!  Dress up to feel up!

Our emotions follow our actions.  The simple acts of putting a smile on your face and standing up straight make a difference.  Walk with power.  Those small actions get the endorphins moving around, giving you more enthusiasm and optimism.  The phrase, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” has a scientific basis.  

Finances

When you are facing divorce after 60, as soon as you can, get help!   One of the first things I did was meet with the guy who had done our taxes for years.  

You must face your financial issues head on.  Find out exactly where you stand.  What you have (or will have) coming in and what your expenses will be.  Regardless of how  much or how little you have, knowing where you stand is empowering.  It gives you a place to start.

Retirement

If you’re facing divorce after sixty.  Get professional help to navigate the complicated world of Social Security and retirement.  Finding a part-time job can help make ends meet, and it’s good for you socially and emotionally.  You get back into the world of the living where you can contribute and be a productive part of society.

Get the word around that you’re looking for a job.  Volunteer at an organization you care about.  One of the women we helped hadn’t had a job in 25 years.  She was unprepared to get back into the working world, so she volunteered in the neonatal ward of the local hospital.  

She loved it, and someone noticed her dedication and recommended her for a part-time paying job in the hospital.  That led to some training so she could take another job up the pay scale.

Another woman’s employer sent her back to school so she could qualify for a higher-paying job.  Do something.  Even if it’s scary, start somewhere.

Your Home

Divorce after 60 often means a change in our living arrangements. Almost all women must move to a smaller, less expensive space.  

I went from a big house to a much, much smaller house after my divorce.  That helped me take strides forward in my new after-divorce life. I went to sales and thrift shops, and made the house warm and welcoming. Best of all, I could afford it!  

As Colin Powell said, “Home is where you are.”  Friends and family will enjoy being there – or not –  by how you feel about it and how they feel when they are there.   Wherever you end up, whether it’s a little apartment, a retirement village or a small house, you get to choose how to deal with that new part of your life.  You can choose to make it wonderful!

Recovery & Transformation

Starting over after divorce at 60, is a huge adjustment, regardless of how it happens.  The fact is:  You can make your future as wonderful or as miserable as you want.  

You need to make the choice every day to get better.  Sometimes you have to make that choice several times a day.  

Getting help making those good choices every day makes all the difference in the world.  Find other women on this same road.  Find resources and tools to keep you moving forward.  You have to do the work, but don’t try to go through this alone.  

What you want after the dust of your divorce settles is a beautifully transformed life – a life where you can’t wait to get up every morning!

You have the chance to make your after-60 life into a more beautiful, adventurous, fun life than you ever expected.  It’s happening to me.  It’s happened to many women I’ve helped.  It can happen for you.  

Dating After Divorce at 60

After divorce, many women feel like they have to hurry up and find someone else.  My advice is that before you even think about dating again, you need to grieve and heal and then get strong and confident again yourself.  I can’t emphasize this enough!

Many second or third marriages fail because people are lonely and want someone else to make them feel worthy again.  You are worthy already!  I know the loneliness is worse than awful!  I’ve spent those sleepless nights and agonizing days. But getting comfortable with your new single self is so, so, so important before you start dating after 60.  

Use this time to re-discover your best self and what you really want. When you are moving to your new, transformed life is when you are most likely to find someone who appreciates your confident happy self no matter what your age!  

Remember, your life after your divorce, yes, even divorce after 60, can be good again.  Not just sort-of good.  It can be a life better than you ever expected!  Make it happen!

About the Author:

Suzy developed Midlife Divorce Recovery as a safe refuge for people healing and surviving the overwhelm of divorce. Starting her first RADiCAL support group in 2003 she's been helping women navigate the journey of divorce ever since.

11 Comments

  1. jerry February 24, 2018 at 2:23 am - Reply

    Thank you for the encouragement. I am a MAN, who is struggling with late life divorce. Your words here while intentioned for women, have struct a cord with me. I think these pieces of advice fit either sex.
    Jerry

    • Suzy Brown March 7, 2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment. I do have men who use my resources, they just change the pronouns. Men struggle with the same emotions and feeling as women whose spouse has left.

  2. Sharon Aldrine March 5, 2018 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed this article a lot.
    Very motivational.

  3. Seema March 21, 2018 at 1:45 am - Reply

    I am a Pakistani living in Karachi n agonizing over a 3rd divorce.Have a 22 year old daughter,light of my life.VV tough decision to take.Even now don’t want to leave the comfort zone of Mrs.tag.I teach n live in my own flat for past 13,separately from my husband.Eccentric n abusive guy.Doesn’t give any expenditure towards our living apart for past 5 years.

  4. Betty July 26, 2018 at 6:44 am - Reply

    Welcomed this sound advice’ but I am 63 and my husband is 68, I can’t get my state pension until I am 66, my husband keeps me on his , we own the property , we’re is my first port of call! Were do I go to live any advice would be much appriaciated

  5. Lynette Ball August 19, 2018 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Trust, trust, trust God. Give it all to Him! Remember in divorce it is a LOT of baby steps. Keep moving forward! The best is yet to come!

  6. Laurie September 1, 2018 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    I’m 66, he 74, and he abruptly moved out and wanted divorce after 45 years. We weren’t that happy or unhappy — but he is looking for younger women online, I do know that. Now what? I am so sick to my stomach all the time, no stability in my life (he told me when our house went pending sale-we had been planning to move to a smaller house, or so I thought). I want this divorce process to be over, but I am so scared and just cry all the time. So glad I found this site. I feel like I am in a limbo, waiting. I have to get cataracts out of both eyes in the next month–a result of the tremendous stress I was under over this. I will be glad when that is over, and I can look for a job.

    • Karen DeHoff December 15, 2018 at 2:04 am - Reply

      I really feel for you. I would want to kill him for wasting 45 years of my life just when you can relax, travel or whatever. Take him for all he’s got! Get counseling. Go swimming. Go on aarp trips. Move forward with yourself.

  7. Sherrie September 7, 2018 at 11:55 am - Reply

    I’m 70 and out of the blue one morning my husband tells me in a very pathetic voice “you used to be so beautiful”! When I said “Don we all get old”, he was furious and stormed out of the house.
    Yes I have wrinkles but I’m not that bad looking or obese.
    I have no idea what his real reason is and I don’t care. I’ve put up with him for 46 yrs. years he was fired repeatedly and I was the only one working.
    I hate him but I’m so happy he’s gone and I’m moving to Mexico for my new life.

  8. Dee Parted October 14, 2018 at 5:19 am - Reply

    Married for 50 years. Put up with an asexual (he blamed me in a million contradictory ways) marriage for 45 years only to earn (through one of his drunken sisters) that he had been molested by a priest when he was young and was asexual. When the sister spilled the beans, he changed and began to hate me (for knowing) even though I was sympathetic. Then he had to have open heart surgery, and had a stroke as a result. He became manic and paranoid and left. I am an elder orphan and now on welfare whereas before I was a middle class working professional. It has been two years since he left. My physical health has become very frail. Meds and therapy can’t even begin to compensate. I’ve had two nervous breakdowns (major depressive episodes) within 2 years. We live in a barbaric country where there is no assisted suicide with dignity for mental illness or just because one is “done” living.

  9. The beginning of the end and I truly believe that’s why he divorced me and treated me badly and I saw him on Facebook with another woman which might’ve been his future wife all I do is pray it’s so sad my heart is so broken October 21, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    I became ill and 2004 chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia I had worked for 29 years professional career with a masters degree three children and one grandchild but I could no longer get out of bed I heard was taking medications we built a very large luxury home in 2007 he began to criticize me and emotionally hurt me every day and we begin to fight but I was fighting to defend myself but my children said it was just as much my fault but they really didn’t know the story so in October 2009 I ask him to leave her home or I would request a restraining order for emotional abuse The following October he said he would give me more money if I would leave our home sooner and I did a home that we built in design together and move from Florida to Maine and I left my grown children and grandchild and I didn’t even speak to them for a year I suffered from deep depression and anxiety I became more ill with Chris syndrome my daughter drove up sold all of my belongings which was heartbreaking And I return to Florida I’ve lived with my daughter a few months then I lived with my son for a year my husband remarried five months after our divorce I suffered from several illnesses in 2017 hospitalized for pneumonia 11×1 time I spent 2 1/2 months in the hospital I’ve been at surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida I still suffer from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia quest syndrome in muasthenia gravis my children love their stepmother and she loves them and finally I’ve just excepted that but it hurts it’s hard for them to try and share birthdays and holidays all special occasions with their dad and with me and with their spouses and their families it’s very stressful I live in a camper and my daughters backyard I can’t work I can’t drive physically I feel very bad 24 seven so I cannot go out and start a new life I am 65 I hardly ever leave my camper I tried to keep busy by learning new things on YouTube keeping my mind active but I feel that I will never recover from the happy life that we had all five of us were very happy I truly believe he went through a midlife crises and I had been a homemaker a career and children and when I became ill in 2thousand and four that was The beginning of the end and I truly believe that’s why he divorced me and treated me badly and I saw him on Facebook with another woman which might’ve been his future wife all I do is pray it’s so sad my heart is so broken Colleen K Conner Hoffmann

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