Are You Facing Divorce After A Long Marriage – Here Are 7 Tips & Strategies
When a marriage of many years turns out to be less resilient than we’d hoped the results can be devastating. You feel alone, your social skills are rusty, and everything has changed. What can you do? If you are wondering how to cope with divorce after a long marriage we’ve got some tips and strategies that can help.
The road ahead may seem hard with many hurdles both seen and unseen. The fact you have started to do your research is a huge step. Planning and facing life head-on will help you worry less during the day and sleep better at night. You are going to need to take control, by learning again how to socialize, how to take control of your finances properly, and how to keep yourself busy until the world stops moving so darned fast. Let’s talk about 7 things that you can do to take back control of your life!
Disclaimer. I am not qualified to give legal or financial or medical advice and the information in the blog is written based on experience, research and reference from other professional agencies.
NB Written in American English, aplogies in advance to our UK readers
1/Dress for success
A long marriage gets us into very different dressing habits. We tend to adopt a ‘jeans and t-shirt’ type of lifestyle that is comfortable but is not always the best thing when you are dealing with something as heavy as a divorce. Divorce often cuts your self-esteem to the quick and one easy remedy is very similar to a common sales trick.
This trick is taught to those who will be performing customer service or selling goods over the phone and while it’s simple, there’s some psychology that backs it up. Customer Service and Sales Reps are told to smile when they talk to people. Exercising these muscle normally reserved for joy has an odd effect. You can almost hear the smile over the phone.
This is good but throwing on a smile is not going to be enough in this case. Get some of your nicest clothing ready or even better, go out and buy some new things that you like, and try “dressing up” for one week. See how it makes you feel.
Dressing up is like putting on a full-body smile and while we know you are sceptical, give it a week and see how you feel then. The psychology behind this is solid and we think that you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
2/Consider Seeing A Counselor
The stigma behind seeing a counsellor or a psychologist is very real but it is also a bit antiquated. These days many people take advantage of their services and we have to say that this is a very good idea. One reason is that right now you may be feeling quite alone. With a long marriage, most of our friends tend to be married couples, and this can get uncomfortable when a divorce comes into play.
Now that you are going through or have finalized your divorce, becoming social again is a lot easier said than done? A counsellor is a great first step. For one thing, they are paid to listen to you. This can get you in the habit of talking to new people in the first place. Secondly, a lot of conversations that you will have following your divorce are going to be about your marriage.
This is inescapable. This (marriage) was a big part of your life and your personal identity. Many people will remain silent because they don’t want to feel that they are burdening their friends and this is NOT what you want to do. Not only can a counsellor help you get out some of your thoughts on the divorce, but they can give you good, impartial advice.
Whilst we know you may not be receptive to the idea of counselling we hope that you may consider this as an option. The facts are simple; you’ve invested maybe 10, 20, or even 30 years or more of your life into this marriage. Divorce has just changed your life completely and if you aren’t going to talk to your friends, you really need to talk to someone.
3/Don’t do this alone. You don’t have to.
You need to be practical with finances
You are going to want to obtain the services of someone who specializes in finance. The weight of a divorce is immense and you aren’t always going to be thinking straight. Getting a professional involved is a very good idea. A big part of this is the simple truth that you accumulate a lot of assets during a long marriage that you don’t really think about.
Most commonly what happens in a marriage is that one person tends to do all the ‘bookkeeping’. If this was you, then you probably have a very good idea of the marital assets, but if you weren’t the one keeping track then you’ve got a potentially expensive blind spot. Mix that in with the
emotional turmoil and you might well find that you’ve accidentally signed off family keepsakes or more.
We know that bringing in a 3rd party is often very hard even though you may know it’s the sensible choice, but it is also sensible for other reasons. For instance, while you probably have a home that you bought together there is also the consideration of income from pensions. A common settlement with many divorces is that one spouse gets the house while the other gets to keep the pension income.
These things are complicated even when you aren’t feeling at your worst, so please consider a financial consultant. A 3rd party will make it fair for both of you and provided its without bias you will have a better nights sleep as a result. The final and one of the reasons is that it is better for both of you.
The 3rd party can help to suggest a fair division of the marital assets BEFORE it gets to a point where funds start to dwindle because its been left to the lawyer. Your lawyer may well have your best interests at heart but it will come at a cost.
A financial consultant just makes good sense.
* Keep working
* Start a home business
* Or simply start looking for work
After a long marriage, it is not unusual for one spouse (often the woman) to have spent the most time at home, raising the children and taking care of the home and that person has been out of the job market for some time.
Idle time is one of the biggest causes of depression in divorce. The old expression “Devil makes work for idle hands” is never more apparent at this time in our lives, with all the usual order and routine changing (empty nest) and with an unknown future ahead, can seem like a good time to do nothing, getting out of bed may be a huge effort and old resentments and bitterness may also feature in your life.
You can get to feeling useless and you want (need) to stop this in its tracks as fast as you can.
If you are currently working, you need to stay working. Dive into it, if you can and think about taking on an extra project. Keeping busy right now will help you to put all of that distressed energy into a place where it can be useful. If you haven’t worked in a while, consider some part-time volunteering. Volunteering can help to refresh old skills and to discover new ones, and many people have found regular jobs this way when others have noticed their work ethic.
You could also consider setting up a home business that takes advantage of your current skills. If you are crafty, you could open an Etsy shop to sell crafts, for instance.
I have some good information about starting your own home business and living your Best Life on another post and if you click here – on this highlighted link it will take you directly to the post.
I have also written a post about getting a new job in your 50s and even starting a new career in your 60s. (I was one of those people and speak from experience) Click on the highlighted areas for links to each post on my web site
My own mother (Now 88) has started writing short stories, semi based around her life as a child during the 2nd world war, she is having them printed in a Weekly Women’s Magazine, she really enjoys the process and likes recalling the memories. No matter your age you have a chance to influence your new direction
Finally, if none of these appeals to you, then start immediately looking for work. Filling your time is important and your life is changing right Now. Taking control of the things that are in your power to shape is the best way that you can move forward to the better times ahead.
5/A New Home & a New Life
While you might want to retain the family home this is something that you should really discuss with your financial adviser. With divorce comes a significant change in income and you want to get on top of that as fast as possible so that you can get on with living your new life.
In many cases, during a divorce, a decision is made by both parties to sell the home so that this may be divided per the divorce agreement which is settled upon. Getting a new place can lower your living costs and it is also a good idea for improving your outlook.
Think about it.
If the kids are all grown up then getting a new home is a great idea. You can pick something completely to your personal style and start making new, happier memories in your new home. While change is frightening, it doesn’t always have to be, and living in a new place can take away the constant, painful reminders that have unfortunately become part of the family home. Get a fresh start somewhere new, somewhere more YOU.
6/You are going to need to be social
Seeing a counsellor doesn’t cut it when it comes to socializing and just helps you to get started. One of the most frightening parts of divorce after a long marriage is making new friends and sometimes even just catching up with longtime friends.
When you were married you were doing many things as a couple and socializing can very often be a rarity. You need to get used to seeing people on your own, making new friends, and dusting off your social skills. Take it slowly, so that you don’t get overwhelmed, but try to be consistent. Make a social date at least once a week to begin with and see where it goes from there. You might just find that it’s like riding a bike – the skills have been there for a long time, you just have to get used to using them again.
Besides, you might find that it’s rather nice not to have to apologize for anyone else’s behaviour. Give it a try and see what you think but be patient with the process. You’ll get there in your own good time.
I have written another post about this very subject together with tips about embarking on the scary world of online dating. Click here for further information
7/Getting to know the New You
The image of “thine self” becomes a bit blurred over the space of a long marriage. It’s understandable, after all, you’ve invested a lot of years in learning to function and even to just get along with another person. One problematic side effect of this is that you’re no longer used to making a number of decisions, were either made for you or that you made with others in mind.
Another issue is that the years change us and you are a different person from who you were when you first got married. This is not a bad thing, but rather something for you to explore and this can be a very important part of the healing process. You’ve got a chance to be YOU for once instead of a blurry two-person compromise.
If there are things that you’ve always wanted to do, such as travel, arts and crafts, or learning something new at college Now is the time to get things started. Dress up, try new foods, and get to know just who exactly you have been becoming all of these years.
Divorce tends to hit us like a ton of bricks and the depression from this will try to convince you that nothing has changed but age.
This is not the case. You are in a time in your life where for once you know some of the things that you want and most definitely what you don’t want. Take this time for a self-assessment and learn a little more about who you are. Neither your marriage nor divorce define who you are, despite how it feels. Get yourself out there and live a little because you have earned it.
Some final words
Now that you’ve got a battle-plan the rest is going to be up to you. If the gravity of your divorce feels like it is pinning you down then don’t give up, just work your plan slowly. Try to keep busy and to work with 1 or 2 tips a week if that is all that you feel you have the energy for.
Remember, it’s not a race, so do things at your own pace but don’t completely neglect them. Life has changed but it doesn’t have to be for the worse. Give these tips a try and you’ll see the improvements for yourself as your perspective slowly shifts.
We wish you the very best in your new life. Don’t worry, you’ve got this!
If you have read this far then may I say thank you and hope you have found something useful out of the article.
If you can write a comment below, I will try and respond quickly. It is also really interesting for our other readers who may be at a different part of the journey and seek comfort from those who have walked the path.
Founder of Hey Spring Chicken
Shout out to the image makers
Broken Links – Jackson Shamer on Unsplash
Feature Image – Wedding Rings – By Zorina Stakhniv on Unsplash
Smile Stone – By Nick Fewings on Unsplash
How Are You – By Finn on Unsplash