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 mortgage. 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.