Mid-life is an exciting time filled with new beginnings and wonderful opportunities.
As the kids grow up and move out of the house, priorities shift. During this phase, couples often have more freedom to travel, enjoy leisure-time activities and focus on each other.
However, for many people who were looking forward to, envisioning and anticipating this scenario, these dreams never materialize. Instead, they face an uncertain future resulting from having their lives turned upside down following either a divorce or the loss of a spouse. Accompanying this shift in lifestyle are some alarming, uncomfortable and upsetting challenges.
For those who previously relied on a spouse to handle the funds, this abrupt turn of events can leave them in a state of shock, disbelief and panic. Figuring out the bills and making sure they are paid on time as well as ensuring there is sufficient money to cover the expenses can initially be overwhelming. Due to their changed economic status, many women who had put their careers on hold to take care of their families are forced to reenter the job market. In addition, they must compete against those with current skills and up-to-date experience for available positions. In general, financial consequences for women can be overwhelmingly negative. Savings for retirement at this point might significantly decrease while worries about whether there will be enough money to last throughout their lives substantially increase.
Social and Emotional Changes
Transitioning from being part of a couple to living alone is a heavily emotion-laden time. A wide range of feelings including loneliness, depression, desertion, betrayal, failure, guilt and inadequacy are often experienced. When downsizing from two to one, everything from who to dine with to who to spend weekends with become ongoing questions and concerns. Many wonder how they will continue to fit in with their coupled friends and/or will they ever date again and find another lasting, loving relationship.
The tension of having divorced parents can put considerable strain on the children, regardless of their ages. Holidays and other gatherings often become trying events for the offspring as these occasions are no longer celebrated as one family unit. Often, children bounce between their parents at holiday time, which adds to everyone’s stress level.
How does one navigate this uncharted territory of singlehood in middle age? Slowly, carefully and very lovingly! When the shock dissipates and life begins to take on a new cadence, wondrous things can occur. Living on one’s own can be exhilarating, emancipating and empowering. There is a lot to be said for being independent, self-sufficient and not compromising, giving in or settling for less than is deserved. This stage of life is ideal for starting a business, pursuing a passion, and experiencing everything that a significant other had put down, minimized or simply wasn’t interested in. Creating a new life at mid life might not have been what was originally planned or hoped for, but it can be infinitely better than what was ever dreamt possible!
What happens next? Don’t miss Dealing With Divorce: How to Move On