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"You will be happy again," my friends said when — at 40-something — I was suddenly alone. I had my doubts. My then-husband had announced one New Year's Day he wanted a divorce, and I went into a tailspin. The future looked bleak.

Now the good news: I remarried within two years to a man with who I am much more compatible. Though I went through terrible torment at the beginning, it was well worth it.

Divorce at middle age spells opportunity. You may be older, but you're also wiser and more self-aware than you were a decade or two ago. You're a real grown up. And now is a great time to go for what you really want!

Do you know why everyone says don't dwell on the past? Because you can't change it. But you can certainly control how you approach your future.

Put these tips into action today:

1. Be good to yourself. Make time for you — finally! This is the perfect opportunity to put yourself at the very top of your to-do list. Pamper yourself with a feel-good spa treatment after work. Put up your feet for an afternoon and read a trashy novel while the laundry piles up. Give in to your whims (at least the reasonable ones!) and treat yourself well.

2. Talk about your feelings. Find a good therapist. Within the first month of your separation, look for someone whose approach suits you. I suggest identifying one close to your age; you'll relate to each other a lot better. Personally, it took me three tries and two months before I found a psychologist who was right for me. So search until you are comfortable with the professional you choose. Don't worry about how you will know — believe me, you will know. You won't be instantly cured of that pain in your gut. Still, each time you go you should leave the office feeling a little stronger, and a little better about yourself and your future.

3. Socialize. Go out with friends often. But, except for your best friend, don't cry your heart out and rehash the nitty-gritty details over and over again as if doing so might change the outcome. Do your best to enjoy yourself and live in the moment.

4. Go solo sometimes. Venture out to some places by yourself, with a special focus on those activities your former spouse resisted. Was there a museum where you always wanted to spend a few hours? Do you like gardens? Sit down with a small notebook and write some thoughts about how you are feeling today. If you're angry, shout it on to the page. If you have a few moments of clarity or tranquility, write that down.

5. Don't keep hanging on. You may occasionally get mixed messages from your former spouse. It's not that you two will reconcile. Usually, it's just that he just wants to have his cake and eat it too. If your ex starts calling regularly to see how you are doing, do not consider this to be a sign that he might come back. What he wants is to find a new woman but still have his children and doting wife to visit. Let him talk to the children if they are available. Otherwise, cut him off pleasantly and get on with your life.

 

Related Articles:

Create a Post-Divorce Recovery Plan

Is Middle Age Depression Inevitable?

Click the following for more articles and videos on maintaining a Healthy Mind And Spirit Through Your Divorce

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15 comments

  • Comment Link Kim Friday, 26 June 2015 11:50 posted by Kim

    Such a bunch of bullshit. A woman in her 50s who is divorced might as well be dead. You are a part of no one's world and when the kids become grown up and gone, it's even worse. The men that are available out there are sub par and will do anything to get you into bed to make themselves feel good, but offer no real commitment. Plus you have to take on someone else's baggage with their families and exes. Think long and hard before ever getting a divorce.

  • Comment Link Luz Munera Friday, 20 February 2015 01:23 posted by Luz Munera

    Ok I am confused my husband has been unfaithful. We have been married for 14 years and 4 years ago I found out he was having an affair we split up. We went to counseling I through him out of the house and we got back together. I found out he was meeting up with her again once in a while I tell him just leave and leave us alone. He says he doesn't want to be with her that he loves me and doesn't want to loose his family. That she is the one that won't stop calling him. She is married also with kids and grandkids. I called her husband and daughter they are aware of the situation. My husband has the opportunity to leave with her but says thats not what he wants. What do I do I forgave him once, I don't know if I can again. I do love him but I don't think I can forgive him again :( but I don't think I want a divorce. Will I ever trust him again will I be happy ever again or is it better to go our separate ways.

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 04 September 2012 03:23 posted by Guest

    Divorce at 66: My husband has just walked out on me this weekend. I am 66 and disabled, he is 61 and evidently tired of
    taking care of me. There is no money, he closed our checking account that my meager soc. sec. check went
    into, left me with no car, no food, no nothing. What am I to do? Why has he done this? I want to die,
    somebody please help.

  • Comment Link Guest Saturday, 25 August 2012 23:51 posted by Guest

    Wow, wow, wow. How are you: Wow, wow, wow. How are you doing now?

  • Comment Link Guest Saturday, 25 August 2012 23:49 posted by Guest

    Wow, how are you doing now?: Wow, how are you doing now?

  • Comment Link Guest Thursday, 05 July 2012 12:41 posted by Guest

    re: Feeling Stuck: I came upon this by searching "Can't seem to move on 5 years after my divorce, and I am remarried"

    I am remarried to a lovely man. He is probably a much better man than my ex (we were married 25 years, three grown children now) but I too can't stop wanting my family restored.

    I miss my in-laws, they were my family for so long and I love them. I miss family Christmas gatherings, everyone present at a birthday celebration for one of our children, being able to talk about our memories we created when we were just teenagers. I want to watch old home movies (we have a ton and I had them put on DVD a few years ago) with the whole family, but I would have to ask my current husband to leave I think so he wouldn't feel hurt or offended.

    We didn't have a terrible marriage. No one cheated, we both just had a bit of a midlife crisis and found ourselves growing apart. Stupidly, we divorced. He is remarried also and my kids (adults, 2 in their 20's one in her 30's) do not like her and my one son tells me she is terrible to their Dad and he isn't happy. My ex and I have even talked and both agree the divorce was a mistake.

    But now what? I cry weekly. I need to find peace. :( Thanks for letting me get this out. Not that it solves anything, but it's nice to share. I wish you the best Katie.

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 22 May 2012 12:32 posted by Guest

    Let the hurt happen...and eventually it will lessen: Or so I'm told by good friends and therapist. I DO feel my feelings - let them happen (often in the car on the drive home from work when I'm by myself) and they keep happening and happening, because this divorce is dragging on and on, some days I can barely keep it together, but I get up each morning and just try to get through the day (sometimes).

    We sacrifice for our kids and try to take the high road so they're not affected as much by this upheaval, taking all of the brunt ourselves. It's extremely stressful, and I'm trying to find ways to alleviate that feeling of cement in my chest. Deep breathing, and trying to calm myself are some of the ways I cope. I keep telling myself this will end eventually, but I'm realizing now that I have to STOP waiting for 'it' to end, for the divorce to happen, and start living my life NOW and take care of ME so I can take care of myself and my kids - like the article suggests. I, too, am very limited income-wise, and stretched thin between work and home and kids, like a lot of us - but what I HAVE started to do that helps me is to TAKE that bath or HAVE that glass of wine (or both) and WATCH a movie by myself or read a book or go for a walk. Baby steps. I'll get there... and so will you. You're not alone in this, we're all here for you (and each other). We're learning new ways, and it's going to take time. I keep telling myself I'll be okay, and that this too shall pass. Someday we may look back at this time and be grateful, because something better was ahead waiting for us. I sure hope so!

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 15 February 2012 21:09 posted by Guest

    Why does it hurt so bad: Im trying so hard to move in my life. But Im at a stand still. ive been married for 25years and I just don't know what to do with my life. I do all thewe things I was doing before my husband filed for a divorce. Working and being a mom and a wife who just basically wanted attention from my husband. I am out of practice in dating. It still hurts to hear how my ex has moved on and dating. he warely sees our daughter. he enjoying life and It hurts me to smile without crying. I just feel so lost.

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 15 February 2012 20:52 posted by Guest

    Feeling stuck: Hi Katie,
    I truely understsand what your going through. My divorce just recently became finaL. MY HUSBAND AND i RENEWED OUR 25TH WEDDING VOWS IN 2011 AND 9 MONTHS LATER he texted me while I was at work and said that he had filed for a divorce. When asked him why he never gave me a reason. Each time I tried to talk with him and ask for closure he would just say he cant see himself married to me anymore. I have spent my hold life with this man. I don't know how to date I just know I'm wanted my marriage as well of the opportunity to restore what ever the problem was. He just kept telling me he didn't want me anymore. We have five children 4 of them are grown our youngest is having a difficult time in dealing with this. My ex has started dating and we have not yet received our papers yets. I hurt so bad inside I just feel like a shell. he has moved on . I can't seem to move.

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 11 October 2011 15:47 posted by Guest

    Feeling Stuck: I can't seem to move past wanting to have my family restored. My husband and I are divorcing after 40 years of marriage. We build a thriving real estate business together and raise 4 successful happy kids. A comment I hear a lot in situations is, I thought we were best friends. After the kids all graduated from college, my husband became very disatisfied with our business, turned it over to our son and went to work for a large company. His mother passed away, and he started going on more business trips Next thing I knew his whole personally changed, he was cold and withdrawn, then I found out he was having an affair with a women younger than our daughter. He is 23 years older, he is 61 and she is 38 and she has a daughter who is nine years old. This affair has been going on for 5 years and even though she has been divorced for 3 years she still hides him from her daughter and her friends. She was in a three year affair with another man when she started with my husband, and was still married with a small child at home. Never could I have imagines that a man I had spend my life with and loved so much could treat me so badly, yet I long for the close happy family that he destroyed.

  • Comment Link Guest Thursday, 23 June 2011 14:56 posted by Guest

    I like this post. Just one: I like this post. Just one thing stands out. About kids helping. I think that from a psychological point of view, it's very important that children don't perceive their role as that of helper to their parents. Apparently, it can be devastating in the long-term on them. Children are vulnerable and helpless, truly. Healthily functioning adults are people that have developed psychologically into being their own parents. Sadly, most of us haven't - this is what therapy generally tries to encourage their patients to do. So, this is what living a successful adult life is about. This is why I am making this point. It is the parent's job to help the kids - children mustn't feel they are helping mum not to be sad by giving her a hand etc. etc. - to use the word "help" in dialogue with them to often, could place the children in a position in which - even indirectly - they feel "better" about the emotional turmoil they too are experiencing, because mum praises them for helping her - or - at a vulnerable time - feel they won't lose both parents if they please the parent that is still living with them, by being on their best behavior etc. etc. It's really something to look into - I suggest reading books on this topic.

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 17 August 2009 23:05 posted by Guest

    Bitterness and blame are the first things you should dump: The advice given is good advice. It sounds like you are angry and bitter about the way things have come about. Blame and pessimism are terrible companions.

    For yourself and your kids, you need to look for the silver lining. The best revenge is living well, happy and healthy. Try it. I promise you will feel amazing. I am in a similar situation. I don't have a tv, cable or a phone because I can't afford it. But i have my laptop and internet connection. I have found lots of fun, free or affordable things to do online. I take full advantage of my local library... especially now in the summer. The kids and I go there after work sometimes or while we do laundry at the local landromat. We hang out in the air-conditioned sanctuary, read books, go through the movie (we watch movies on my laptop) and flip through the latest magazines. It's all free, fun and relaxing. We have conversations and quality time.

    And when they are with their dad, I try to do a few nice things for myself. Long showers, good books and a self manicure are all good for the soul.

    Treat yourself well. Let go of the hurt and upset and live! Now's your chance. Your kids are going to grow up and pursue their own lives before you know it. You should be pursuing a life of your own too.

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:18 posted by Guest

    The Advice is about Balance: I understand that in some cases you may have limited time for yourself but the recommendation is dead on. It is important to have that time and it does not always require money. When the children are asleep in the evening take a long bath with candles and meditation on all your positive attributes. When the children are with their father take a long walk in the park the laundry can wait...you will always have laundry, but investing in your mental and spiritual well-being will help you release some of the tension and stress and make you a better and happier person for you and the children.

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 14 April 2009 12:44 posted by Guest

    This Advice is Dead On!: I disagree with the comment that this advice is useless. I turned 40 three months after announcing that I wanted a divorce. Had I not taken that time, during the separation and divorce proceedings, when I was still a Stay At Home Mom to do exactly all the things listed (and well before I read them here), I would have become a bitter and slave-driven (of my own choice) single parent. Instead, I went to movies by myself when the kids were in school. I read books constantly now, when I barely opened one during my 10 year marriage. I immediately got into (free) therapy (search out PhD candidates who have to get practice hours, or contact your local community health org!) I've developed new friendships with other moms who have divorced or are going through it also and reconnected with old friends who never stopped loving me. I take LONG showers to rejuvenate and think (best ideas come to me then). And I also spend more quality time with my kids... the lost time I spent doting on my husband and trying to get him to notice me and shower me with attention. Now I give that attention to myself and my kids, and LOVE it! The kids and I are all happier. And that, even though they now do more chores to help me out. They are only 6 and 9, but they now help with the table at meals (setting and cleaning up), they sort their own laundry and take it all to put away when it's done. They help with the dog, including walks, letting him out, water, etc. And my kids, as young as they are, help a lot with shopping, picking out the things we buy, pushing the cart, carrying items, even ringing up at self checkout. And when they get home, they put away everything except refrigerated items. You name it, your kids can help! And I truly believe they like helping me. We all benefit and are closer for it.

    If you believe you're a victim, then you'll treat yourself that way, and so will everyone else. If you can find a way to look at ANY adversity as opportunity, you will thrive. Reduced income means becoming more creative with cooking and decorating, swapping clothes and services with friends and neighbors (swap magazines even!) Start a neighborhood swap! Grow your own vegetables (have the kids help) and share them. Bake bread, whatever. It's not impossible, only as difficult as you perceive it. When you learn to love yourself, the rest just falls into place.

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 08 March 2009 20:26 posted by Guest

    This advice is so useless...: This advice is so useless... For many, like myself, divorce in 40s means

    -being left with young children who are victims as their family has been torn apart and being forced to care for these children alone even though they need 2 parents.

    -being forced to run a household on 1/2 the income that you had prior but with basically all of the same expenses. I cannot afford a new pair of jeans, let alone a sitter for my children or an outing for myself.

    -being forced to get back to work after being out of the workforce for many years.

    -having only friends who are married with children and who have no time for a single person.

    When my children are with their father for the short time each week they spend with him, I am doing laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, cleaning the house, and catching up on work.

    There is no time for me, and even less time for anyone new in my life.

    So, while your thoughts are nice-they are completely unrealistic for many women.