Most divorces occur within the first couple years of marriage as couples realize they are not compatible or within 5-10 years of marriage, often due to the stress of young children. However, divorce after the age of 50 and divorce of long term marriages has increased. When you have been married for decades, you have a long shared history and that can be painful to lose. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Mourn the loss. Regardless of who initiated the divorce, it is a loss and you will experience grief. You are mourning the loss of your marriage, the loss of the dream of a shared future and the loss of a person with whom you spent decades.  Trying to ignore or dismiss your grief will not make it go away. Be aware of your grief and give yourself time and support to heal.
  • Engage your support system.  To deal with the loss and changes of divorce, you will benefit from two support systems:

Personal support- The first is your social support system, including your friends and family. These are the people you can turn to for support, not judgment. Ask them for what you need, whatever that may be. Utilize them for meals, companionship or for a shoulder to lean on.

Professional support – I also want to encourage you to develop a professional support team for the divorce process. The process of divorce (Collaborative, Mediated or Litigated) and the lawyer you choose can either be constructive or destructive. Consider enlisting a divorce coach to help you manage strong emotions and develop unique solutions for your divorce. A divorce after decades of marriage requires more than a cookie-cutter approach. If you want more emotional support, find a therapist or a divorce support group. All of these team members will help you get through the divorce in the healthiest way possible so that you can create the post-divorce life that you want.

  • Invest in yourself. Put time and energy into self-care. Paying attention to sleeping well, exercising enough and eating healthy will help you stay physically well during this stressful time. Connect with family and friends to avoid the isolation that can easily occur. Make time for personal interests and enjoyment. Building time for hobbies or personal interests will allow you to reconnect with yourself. This is especially important if you have defined yourself as part of a couple for decades.

Yours was a long marriage, and so the process of mourning it and creating a new life for yourself will not occur overnight. Be gentle with yourself as you go through that process.