by Amy Lawson, MBA, CDFA®
When you walked down the aisle and vowed to “love, honor and cherish” you could not envision the day would come when you would be facing divorce. (It is noteworthy that we once vowed to “love, honor, and obey” but after centuries of smirks and downright refusal, “cherish” replaced “obey” as the transitive verb of choice.)
Sure, as you said “I Do” you knew there would be hardships and hurdles, but you truly believed there was nothing the two of you couldn’t overcome.
Then Life Happened
Career conflicts, mortgage payments, kids and their countless accouterment, college funds to fill and aging parents to care for, not to mention menopause. You’re not quite sure when you stopped being you, but you woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize yourself. Yeah, maybe there was a hint of that hopeful girl in your face, but you had no idea who the rest of it belonged to, including the man you married.
Or, maybe it was your spouse who first lost sight of his wife, as way too many tend to do. Either way, like it or not, ready or not, here it comes; you have to navigate the daunting landscape of divorce.
If you’re 50 or older and facing divorce, you are not alone. You’re in good company. You are in such good company that the company has its own name, “Gray Divorce.” It’s a reflection of the coveted hair color we now naturally wear. The color we embrace along with our imperfections. At last, we’re recognizing our “flaw-some-ness.” (Definition: flawed, but nonetheless awesome.)
While the overall divorce rate in the United States is declining, the divorce rate for people over 50 has roughly doubled since 1996, with women now initiating approximately 69% of divorces.
Countless articles spout the “challenges” of gray divorce: the division of marital assets, the pensions, the 401(k)s, the IRAs. The potential decline in the quality of life for the wife.
As a divorced baby boomer whose life purpose is to help women (and a few good men) plan for their financial futures by first helping them navigate the daunting landscape of divorce, I’m here to pose some common sense questions:
- When has divorce NOT been a challenge, especially for women?
- When, since 1971, have marital assets NOT been divided? The retirement accounts NOT been split?
- When have women’s lives NOT been more negatively impacted by divorce than men’s?
The underlying message in many of these articles is, “Oh, beware, little lady! You may not have it so good if you go through with this.” Or, worse, “Do you really have it all that bad?”
You Know What Is Best For You
Makes you want to spit a nail, doesn’t it? Fight the fury, dear friend. Instead, find a new tribe; a tribe who encourages you to dance your own dance and sing your own song. While clearly many things have changed for the better for women, there will always be those who think they know best. When you encounter these clods who still believe YOU don’t know what’s best for YOU, do what I do: The Big Eye Roll. Granted, I do it so often, that one day I’m afraid I’m going to eye roll myself into another universe, but it’s a risk I gladly take.
My takeaway in this? If, dear friend, the rate in which people over 50 are divorcing is increasing and women initiate approximately 69% of divorces, then this tells me that women are weighing their options and believe the challenges they must overcome for their fresh start are well worth it!
I’m here to help.
Wishing you peace & plenty!
Your gray girlfriend,