Starting over in the second half of life often takes a leap of faith and a shift in perspective…
The kids are grown. The nest is empty. Careers are winding down. And, for a growing number of couples at this major crossroads in life, marriage also comes into question. A 2016 report by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research revealed that between 1990 and 2014 the divorce rate doubled among adults over the age of 50. For those over the age of 65, divorces tripled. Making major changes in mid-life may be intimidating, but it can also become an opportunity for starting anew.
Birmingham writer, Brigid Galloway was 48 when she filed for divorce from her husband of 14 years. The year before, her elderly parents passed away; and her well-paying job was eliminated in Time Inc. downsizing efforts. “I was at the point in my life where I should have been coasting towards retirement,” she says. “Instead I found myself completely starting over, and it was overwhelming to say the least.”
Of course, mid-life isn’t the only time when major life changes occur. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, geriatric psychiatrist, Marc Agronin, notes the uptick in what he dubs “late-life crisis,” which occurs in individuals in their 70s through 90s. No matter when it happens; however, the results are similar.
“A late-life crisis is often both a cause of instability and a call for help,” write Agronin. “It stems from losses and other stresses that should be recognized and addressed, especially when they give rise to significant depression, despair or risky behaviors that may bring harm or even potential ruin to the suffering soul. The key is to find support and guidance toward more meaningful ways of coping and re-engaging with life.”
Don’t Go It Alone
For Galloway, support came in the form of a good therapist, a 12-Step codependency group and Buddhist meditation. She admits that her divorce forced her to examine her goals and motivations in a way she would not have if she had remained in an unhealthy marriage.
Starting over also meant taking a practical look at her finances. She relied upon a team of experts, including her divorce attorney, financial advisor and an accountant to help her make the transition from married to divorced.
Today, she’s in a loving relationship and works as a freelance writer. “My life was sort of like Eat Pray Love, but without all the exotic travel, pizza and Javier Bardem,” she says, laughing. “Honestly, at first, I felt like my world was ending, but now I see it all as a new beginning.”