Divorce after 40: What next?

Posted on: 25 October 2012 by Kimberly Rothman

Kimberly Rothman on divorce in later life and how to offer support when a relationship ends.

Over 40s DivorceI was sat sharing a very nice bottle of wine with my best friend Emma when the topic of divorce came up – a mutual friend of ours was currently in the middle of one. Divorce used to be a touchy subject not all that long ago, Emma going through her own break-up from her husband Dan three years ago at the age of 48. 

We were empathising with our friend, offering support from long-distance, when Emma said something that I never thought she would say. She told me that she was glad – yes, ‘glad’ was the exact word she used – that she had got divorced because it had allowed her to ‘find herself’ again.

Three years ago, I was the first person Emma called when Dan told her he had met someone else and wanted a divorce. They say the wife always knows but I have to tell you in that case, Emma certainly didn’t. None of us did, nor even suspected. 

Dan, a science teacher at the local comprehensive, wasn’t exactly the lothario type and if their marriage perhaps lacked the passion of youth, it had surely deepened into comfortable intimacy over the years. As it turned out, however, Dan no longer wanted comfortable; the female English teacher at his school offered excitement and something new. 

Dan didn’t move out straight away, for some unknown reason (bloody mindedness?), he chose to stay in the house with Emma until it was sold three months later. Emma had to watch him getting dressed up to go out and see his new girlfriend every night; I can’t tell you how cruel that was.

So it should finally have been a relief when the house was sold, Emma moved into a little flat of her own and his infidelity wasn’t being thrown in her face on a daily basis. Yet that’s when Emma truly fell apart as she found herself alone for the first time in 27 years.

She spent the first few weeks staring at blank walls, crying at the drop of a hat, lethargic and spending far more time in bed than was healthy. She was in mourning, grieving for the loss of her marriage, her dreams and her future. I was the best friend desperately trying to help her snap out of it but, frankly, with very little experience of divorce myself.

Eventually the hum drum of everyday life reasserted itself; she had to go back to work (she took on more shifts to help support herself, another big worry addressed), she came out for drinks, she slowly went through the motions of putting her life back together

Yet I could see there was something missing… and it wasn’t a husband.

*** Find out what was missing in Emma’s life with the next in the series: Divorce After 40: What Next? -- Tackling the Identity Crisis **

Kimberley is a serial entrepreneur and ex gold medalist who recently founded www.idlovetodothat.com, an online marketplace that connects passionate teachers with women who want more from life. Kimberly is an active blogger, CEO and mother of three children.

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