The number of couples divorcing after their children have flown the nest has never been higher.
There are many factors prompting people to start a new life at 50 or 60 plus, not least of which is a desire to enjoy life rather than endure it, a philosophy the baby boomer generation has been brought up with.
But what if your divorce has been prompted by your partner’s decision to start again and the desire to re-invent yourself isn’t there?
How to cope with an empty nest and a divorce
- Overcome your fear – After a long marriage and decades spent caring for the family, facing life on your own can be a scary prospect. It’s OK to feel afraid but don’t let your fear stop you exploring new activities and friendships.
- Allow time to grieve – many of the feelings you are experiencing are similar to grief as you mourn the loss of your relationship and your future hopes and plans as a couple. Give yourself time to work through these feelings.
- Tackle the pension issue early – financial security in retirement is a major concern for couples who divorce later in life. How you divide your pensions will have a big impact on the lifestyle you can enjoy. Talk to a family solicitor as soon as possible, even if you haven’t yet discussed a formal separation or divorce.
- Ditch the guilt – when people feel forced into separation by their spouse there can be a huge amount of anger and blame, not to mention guilt. If you had listened more or tried harder maybe it wouldn’t have happened. The reality is that people change and relationships evolve. Nobody is to blame and it’s unlikely that behaving differently would have changed the outcome.
- Talk to your children about the divorce– whilst your adult children probably won’t want to get involved in the emotional side of your divorce, they will be keen to support both their parents. Talk openly to them about how the situation has affected you but try to avoid being critical of your spouse. Most importantly, use this as an opportunity to develop your relationship with your children and spend time with them as an individual rather than as a couple.
- Look forward – your spouse has decided to start a new life and this is an opportunity for you to do the same. Even if you can’t imagine it at the moment, you now have a chance to focus purely on yourself. If you have spent a long time as a spouse and parent, you may have forgotten what you enjoy or how to be selfish. Now is the time to rediscover old interests and explore new ones.
Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2017 and the Legal 500 2016. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.
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