During this time of the year, some may make the assumption that those who are single—and especially those who are divorced—are depressed, lonely, or jealous of those in relationships. Though that may be true for some singles . . . but others may feel entirely the opposite.
In her new book, Gray Divorce: What We Lose and Gain from Mid-Life Splits, author Jocelyn Elise Crowley shares the reasons for why some people over the age of 50 years old divorce after multiple decades of marriage, becoming single late in life. Though men and women experience different penalties after their divorce, they’re new non-married status bring about new life benefits.
During her interviews with over 40 men and 40 women, Crowley asked them, “What good do they find in their lives now, after the divorce?”
One man shared that one of the benefits include a chance to start over and reinvent themselves:
Many factors entered into the decision made to divorce—a decision made primarily by Kenneth’s wife. They had raised three children together, one girl and two boys, while working in the same construction business. When the Great Recession of 2008 hit, they lost everything that they had built financially as a couple. As the stress between them mounted, his wife had an affair and told Kenneth that she wanted out of the marriage.
At first, Kenneth remained in a state of shock, saying, “It was worse than a death. I mean I can’t describe [it] . . . It was devastating.” But as he gradually recovered from his own personal wreckage, he began to notice that with the divorce, he received a certain amount of freedom to control his destiny going forward. He optimistically declared “[the best part of being divorced right now is that] I can do what I want to when I want to do it. If I want to go skydiving tomorrow, I could. Anything that is financially feasible, I can literally do now. I’m training for a triathlon right now.”
Kenneth remarked that when he was married, he was often tied to social obligations with his wife, like going out to dinners or other family functions. For Kenneth, then, the most important aspect of being divorced was “freedom of time.”
One woman shared her love of her newfound freedom and simply feeling happier:
When the economy worsened, he lost his job. He expressed some interest in starting his own e-commerce business at home, but never seemed to get around to doing much about it. Instead, he spent more and more time at his best friend’s house, where he was able to interact with the true subject of his desire: his best friend’s wife. Eventually, they had an affair, and Patricia’s marriage was over.
But all was not lost in Patricia’s case. She had the support of her two adult daughters, and although she was tremendously sad about her situation, she recognized that she had a long life ahead of her. She expressed an interest in paying off her debts and remaining out of the dating scene for a while until she could process the entirety of what had happened to her throughout both the marriage and the divorce. When she did become ready to date again at some point in the future, she said, she would look for someone to help her “take care of business,” meaning that she was no longer looking for the love of her life, but a more practical partner to help her with the eventual physical and financial demands of the aging process.
Although the demise of her marriage was disheartening, Patricia noted that there were still many benefits to being divorced at this stage in her life, most notably independence and freedom. Describing these advantages she declared, “There’s an actual lot of good stuff there … I don’t have to up with the mess. I get up in the morning, my house is my house, my stuff is my stuff, and my money is my money.”