Navigating and Moving on After Divorce: Tips for The Woman Over 40

Submitted by: Erica Manfred

I’m submitting this list to a local paper so I thought I’d give my blog readers the benefit of some great advice.  Hope some of this helps you.

1. Don’t be afraid to fight for alimony for life if you’ve been married for more than fifteen years and you’re over 55. Alimony these days is supposed to be just for a few years until you get “rehabilitated, ” i.e. find a job. But if you’re over 55, and have always stayed home with the kids this isn’t a reasonable expectation..

2. If you get the house, use it for income. Rent part of the house, get a roommate, if you’re over 62 get a reverse Mature Blond Beauty - Confidentmortgage. Too many divorcees get the house in the divorce and then find they can’t pay the mortgage, the taxes and the  maintenance. Then they lose the house and wind up with nothing.

3. Be sensitive to the feelings of your adult children. Adult children can be just as traumatized by their parents divorce as young children.  You need to break it to them gently, make sure you don’t pressure them to take sides, and don’t expect them to take care of you.

4. Acknowledge your losses. We older divorcees have lost more than younger women. It’s harder to find a man, a job and to learn to live alone after being married your entire adult life. It’s OK to grieve for as long as it takes. Just ignore those people who tell you should be over it already.

5. Go back to school. There are many careers open to older women, especially in the health care field. Check out your local community college. Some careers involve only a year of training and pay very well.

6. Take a trip. Preferably alone.  Traveling alone is one of the best ways to re-discover yourself. Finding out you have the courage and independence to travel alone will teach you that you can survive as a single woman.

7. Do what you loved to do before you got married. So many women, especially older women, have put themselves aside for their husbands and kids for so many years they’ve forgotten who they used to be.  If  you once loved to dance, or paint or ride a motorcyle, go out there and do  again. It will remind you of who you once were and who you could be again.

8. Realize you don’t have to forgive to move on. If you’ve been betrayed it can be impossible to forgive, for many years if not forever.  This does not mean you can’t move on. Just don’t focus on your anger, focus on yourself.

9. Don’t give up on dating. It’s hard to put yourself out there after being married almost forever. But that’s why God invented the internet.  Get a manicure, a pedicure and some snazzy new clothes and give it a try. There are men out there for older women, but you have to find them, they won’t come knocking on your door..

10. Repeat after me:  “I don’t need a man to survive, I don’t need a man to survive, I don’t need a man to survive.” The worst problem older women have is feeling helpless without a man.  You can figure out on your own how to pay the bills, get the car fixed and call the plumber at 3am..  The more things you find out you can do on your own the better you will feel about yourself.

Erica Manfred is the author of He’s History, You’re Not; Surviving Divorce After 40.  She has written for Cosmopolitan, New York Times Magazine, Ms., Parenting, Women’s Day, and Bottom Line/Personal.  She currently runs a women’s divorce support group in her hometown of Woodstock, New York.


  1. 1

    A Man says


    10. Repeat to yourself: “I don’t need a man to survive, I don’t need a man to survive, I don’t need a man to survive.” The worst problem older women have is feeling helpless without a man. You can figure out on your own how to pay the bills, get the car fixed and call the plumber at 3am.


    You women keep telling yourselves that.
    But you DO need a man to survive.


    If women got this through their skulls,
    they wouldn’t even BE divorced, single or have rusty pipes.

    Your NUMBER ONE was my favorite….

    1. Don’t be afraid to fight for alimony for life.

    So how can a woman who fights for “VAGINAMONY” FOR LIFE brainwash herself into thinking she doesn’t need a man to survive??


    While a woman is fighting a MAN for vaginamony, getting a MAN to fix her car, or calling a MAN to fix her plumbing. … you are openly admitting that you DO need a man to survive.

  2. 2


    Hi Mr. Man,

    Well, I said CALL the plumber. Not DO the plumbing yourself.

    As for alimony, I’m talking about women over 55 or 60 who have been married for 25 or 30 years, stayed home–taking care of the kids and their husband–often at their husband’s insistence, who have no careers and no career prospects. Too many older women are dumped with no way to support themselves.

    As far as the car, hey, I know where the auto shop is and I can leave it there. I can even talk to the mechanic.

    Delaine, I’m so glad you’re liking my book. And that you got a good idea from this blog.

  3. 3

    fiddlelady says

    I just have to say that I LOVE your book – it has become my bible through my divorce – thanks so much for writing it and all your wise and sometimes humorous advice!

  4. 4

    Joan says

    “While a woman is fighting a MAN for vaginamony, getting a MAN to fix her car, or calling a MAN to fix her plumbing. … you are openly admitting that you DO need a man to survive.”

    I for one don’t need a man to survive. I might need alimony after years of raising children and not working because he thought the “children need you more.” I might need a man to fix my plumbing or car but that doesn’t mean I can’t survive without a man.

    You know, men complain about being nothing but a wallet or handyman. They moan and groan because that is the only thing their wives need from them. It cracks me up that a man tries to use the alimony, fixing the plumbing and car as justification that a woman can’t survive without a man.

    Seriously, men have more to offer than money and a handy ability to fix things. Too bad Man doesn’t know that.

  5. 5

    Betty says

    Look outside the box for a solution. Shut the water off at the main water shut off and go back to bed. Call a plumber in the morning. Car needs repair, take the bus or carpool for a few days until you can get it fixed. See no man needed!

  6. 6

    rebelrose10 says

    @Betty, that about does it! @A Man, actually I have been divorced for almost 3 years and I have learned a thing or 2 about plumbing and cars. I already know how to pay the bills because when I was married I took care of the bills and everything else for that matter. You see, I was married to a MAN who took full responsibility for nothing! But you know, I think you may be on to something! Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….if women did fix cars….do the plumbing….get my drift?!! We would not only be able to say that we don’t need a man but in reality, we don’t need a man to survive!!!

    Rebel Rose

  7. 7

    yolanda says

    Ladies I am a 38 year old woman and I am going to tell you right now when you get a divorce you need to get your big girl panties on and quit relying on a man to take care of you. If your car is broke fix it yourself or go take it to a mechanic. Quit relying on the system to take care of you for the rest of your life. You are not being independent nor are you being responsible in obtaining independance. You are simply taking the cake and eating it all yourself, playing a “I got you game” and using the kids like they are pawns in a game. We are better than that and this is not saying alamony for a short term ,like five years, is bad but there comes a point that you got to get off that couch, go get a job and show your daughters that we dont need someone else to take care of us like invalids in order to survive. And if you are one of those women then shame on you for being lazy because I raise my son, go to work and take care of the tramas and crisis in my life on my own. You can get angry all you want but how are you really an independant single woman if you have to have what is equivalent to a sugar daddy!

  8. 8


    Hi there,
    I have just turned 50 and my life partner (and I use the term very loosely) left me 3 years ago after a lengthy affair with a serial marriage breakuperer. He returned after 2 months and left again for good, I divorced the disgusting scum bag, however, in doing that I lost EVERYTHING.I No husband, no family, no job, no business, NO HOME, NOTHING, had 3 massive breakdowns and lost 10 kilograms to boot.
    I have only just bought myself my OWN home, drive my sons old car and kick started my old business, have also had to live on my own, no family no nothing, Dickhead still lives with a mate in a beautiful home, has 3 cars he doesn’t own and gets fatter and uglier by the minute. ( the relationship with the whore ended as well) gee, what a surprise!!!!
    I HAD no choice but to live on my own, I had to keep going, going for me and no one else.
    I did it and I am continuing to do it. I will never forgive that sex addict coward, and I am not interested in finding anyone else. I believe that woman are by far the strongest when shit happens, I have had to survive on my own and start my whole entire life again, why is it Men can’t be by themselves and Woman seem to thrive when this happens???

  9. 9

    Maria says

    I left without a husband, no home, no business, nothing, I did not get pension, he let me just debts, was traumatic for me, did not know where to start or where to go for help, everything is money, thank God my children are grown.
    I went to live with my sister, I started working with a friend, but I could not keep in that work my depression was so bad, I was almost a year in recovery, and I started again, I had to eat.
    But Samara you know God saved me.
    Just a grief the surrender and he will do the rest.

    God bless you and so many women like us.
    I send you a hug …


  10. 10

    elen says

    I love: “8. Realize you don’t have to forgive…”

    I really hated when people tell me I have to forgive, it makes me soooo angry! Actually, more than just angry, I feel rage, I often fantasize about attacking him with a sledge hammer until his head turns to mash. No, I DO NOT have to forgive, F@ck forgiveness!

    If I been mistreated, abused and lied to for more than 20 years by a pig who all he did was sit on the couch wearing out the remote control, while I cooked, cleaned AND worked as well why shouldn’t I be angry? Even if I did believe in forgiveness I would not be capable of doing so.

    As far as my ex was concerned I was just there to cook, clean, keep my mouth shut and legs open for the mandatory sex. Unfortunately, he is not the only one that feels that way, a lot of men are like that.

    I vowed never to remarry.


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