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Life after a long marriage: tips for making a new start

| Apr 14, 2021 | Divorce |

Divorce is not just for younger couples who have been married for fewer than five years. In the U.S., couples who have been married 20, 30, even 40 years are getting divorced. Butler County is no exception.

In some ways, getting divorced is the same no matter how long you and your ex were married. But adjusting to life after ending a marriage that lasted decades is quite unique. Besides the undeniable emotional impact, there are the practical concerns. Where will you live? Do you have enough money to retire, or will you have to keep working? If you did not work while you were married, will you now have to get a job?

Keep the house, or downsize?

Even for older couples with substantial assets, the family home is often one of the most important pieces of marital property in a divorce. Besides its monetary value, each spouse can feel a deep emotional attachment to the house where they raised their children and celebrated holidays, birthdays and other special occasions.

If it is vitally important to you, you and your divorce attorney may be able to arrange for you to keep the house. But ask yourself if it is really necessary. For one thing, the children are out of the house, or will be in a year or two. Do you really need this much space to live in? Often, you would have to trade off a great deal of marital assets in exchange for the home. Finally, bear in mind that you may have to pay the mortgage on your income alone from now on.

Go back to work?

While having both spouses work outside the home has become the norm over the last 50 years or so, in many marriages, one spouse earns the income while the other focuses on maintaining the home and caring for the children while they are young. As a homemaker, if you gave up your career 20 or more years ago, your job skills could be out of date, and such a large gap on your resume can make it hard to get hired.

Depending on your age and health, you may be able to make yourself financially independent. Education or job training can help, and in the meantime, spousal support can make up for your lost income. In some cases, the homemaker spouse can show that they will never be able to support themselves financially and obtain permanent alimony. But this is rare.

If you worked throughout all or part of your marriage, you might have to plan on retiring later than you previously planned. Then again, with a fair portion of the retirement savings, you would still be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Dealing with your feelings

Don’t discount the emotional effect getting divorced can have. This is a time to turn to friends and loved ones for emotional support. If you find yourself struggling to move on, a therapist can help you. With the right people around you, you will emerge ready for life without your ex.

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