Your Midlife Marriage | 3 Shades of Gray Divorce

 Your Midlife Marriage: 3 Shades of “Gray” DivorceYour Midlife Marriage | 3 Shades of Gray Divorce

It is easy for us to get lulled by the mundane aspects of everyday that we don’t even notice subtle shifts in our world. Then abruptly everything can change and all we believed to be true, suddenly isn’t anymore.

It feels like we suddenly woke up in an alternate universe; the twilight zone that comes after the hurtful words, “I want a divorce.” The term “Gray Divorce” is used for the demographic trend of an increasing divorce rate for older (“gray-haired”) couples a topic I discussed in a previous blog.

The marriage we depended on, and the spouse we counted on has pulled the rug out from under our feet. It is the same feeling when you discover an infidelity.

When you entered this marriage it was for “until death do us part” but now, suddenly, the rules have changed. You are left bewildered and confused.

There is a strong urge to understand “what went wrong” and to comprehend if it is just that SOB’s  fault , or are you to blame too? It becomes a complicated interplay of balancing your emotions – guilt, sadness, betrayal, anger – while coping with the physical process of changing your relationship forever.

Dealing With Your Emotions


The first emotion, once the denial and confusion clears, is likely to be anger. When anger is dissected it becomes evident that it is the tip of the iceberg.   In our previous blogs, we looked at your relationship with anger . Under the iceberg of anger are emotions  that are even harder to experience and, in this case, it can be hurt, rejection, powerlessness and grief.

A sense of disbelief and betrayal that the person you have loved could suddenly not love you anymore often comes next. This can lead to a profound sense of rejection, right on the heels of more anger.

One life preserver is to recognize that relationships sometimes end, and that it does not mean you are inadequate, unlovable, a failure or that there is something wrong with you -or for that matter him. Ending an unhappy, stagnate relationship could, in fact, be the best gift you never knew you wanted.

As the anger wanes (and it does) it morphs or coexists with fear:


Let me preface this section with a few affirmations, as this advice can be hard to read: You will get through this. You are strong. You are capable. It will be ok.

You see, the fear of facing life alone and growing old alone can be overwhelming. The loss of friends that you’ve known for years, as people naturally take sides, may feel unbearable during a gray divorce.

There are also fears about financial realities and “will I make it on my own.” The prospect of the divorce negotiations can seem overwhelming, tiresome and powerless – feeling at the mercy of the respective lawyers.

Don’t get entangled in the maze of anger and fear.

New Identity

This change in your circumstances may be an unforeseen derailment in your life. It could be compared to an aching tooth that has been hurting for years and now has to be extracted.

Either way life as you knew it will be different. The pledge to yourself at this juncture in your life has to be to focus on self-care and self-nurturing

It’s important that you take the time to do things for yourself, reconnect with who you are, and what you feel is important to you. As part of creating a new identity, try:

  • Take an ecourse geared to helping you reinvent yourself from the inside out
  • Look to the community for a sense of purpose, like volunteering
  • Find a class at the local community college or art center
  • Reconnect with old friend; true friends will embrace you once again

One useful activity is to construct a life story chart that looks at patterns and life history events as well as potential things you want to accomplish (a bucket list). The planning helps you to see that there is a future and much you can still accomplish and maybe now the freedom to do it.

Find your balance with our FREE 7-day guided meditations:

Dr. Ines K. Roe has been helping women in transition rediscover themselves for over 20 years. If you’ve been feeling unfulfilled, are frustrated with your sense of accomplishment in midlife, or simply need guidance on your path to holistic well being, join her ecourse.

By |2017-10-16T16:24:39+00:00December 1st, 2014|Family, Marriage / Divorce, Personal Life, Relationships|17 Comments


  1. Doreen McGettigan December 1, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    This is such good advice for someone going through a midlife divorce.
    I have a few friends who are…sad.
    I remarried in midlife after being a single mom for 20 years. So far so good.

  2. Carol Cassara December 1, 2014 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Good advice. But you know, I don’t think it’s always necessary to reinvent yourself from the inside out–sometimes there’s nothing wrong with you. My heart goes out to anyone who is going through this unwillingly.

  3. Carolann December 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    I’ve been married now for 39 years and couldn’t even imagine this possibility. I know some friends who have suffered through this one who was sick from cancer and her spouse bailed. Can you imagine? Great advice. I will pass this along for sure.

  4. Jackie December 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    None of us thinks it could happen to us, do we? Around here we always joke that we can’t afford a divorce, but, I suppose, if one of us wanted it badly enough we would find a way. I can’t imagine that scenario, but I’m sure many women have said the same. It’s scary, to tell you the truth.

    I tweeted this because I think that lots of folks will find this informative and, possibly, life changing.

  5. Janie Emaus December 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    I’ve been married for 35 years and couldn’t imagine ever divorcing. This is great advice for those you are.

  6. Tam Warner Minton December 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    I’ve heard of this trend, and it makes sense, really. Our life spans are so much longer now, and if you are not happy, it is best to move on.

  7. Karen D. Austin December 1, 2014 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I know a couple of women staying in very unhappy marriages because they are afraid to be single as a woman in late midlife. It’s good to know that it’s possible to leave at any age if the situation is unbearable.

  8. Helene Cohen Bludman December 1, 2014 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    If it’s a mutual decision it could be for the best, but if one spouse leaves another, that’s devastating.

  9. Lois Alter Mark December 1, 2014 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    I guess, as people live so much longer, it shouldn’t be surprising there are so many midlife divorces – and if it’s what both spouses want, then so be it. Having been married for 33 years, though, I can’t imagine how heartbreaking that would be.

  10. Cathy Chester December 1, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    I’m happily married but my one brother divorced once, the other twice. I lived in the same town as my one brother, so his divorce was particularly tricky for me because my SIL and I had the same friends and we were/are friends. People asked me questions (isn’t that terrible?) and I had to say “no comment.”

    This post gives great advice, Ines.

  11. Ruth Curran December 1, 2014 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    Sometimes people just grow in fundamentally different directions and their goals change in the process. I can’t imagine this happening to my marriage but certainly know those who it has happened to! So devastating for them….

  12. Roslyn Tanner Evans December 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Excellent articult and I speak from my own experience. I was the one to choose divorce after 28 years, and fortunately it was amicable. I was always a working mom, remarried 15 years. During my in between single years I met many divorced women who couldn’t make an independent life. I wish they could have read this.

  13. Tina December 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    This is true no matter what age. Divorce is the most negative feeling in the world. It’s a lose-lose situation. Going through all of these emotions helps, I know, I’ve done it. For me, I didn’t finally “get divorced” until almost 25 years later when Richard died. Honest. That’s because I truly got married forever, no matter what the government said on a piece of paper. That was 3 years ago and I’m finally over my marriage and divorce.

  14. Alexandra McAllister December 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    I feel divorce is such a negative thing to go through but many times, it is for the best. I’m happy that I got divorced in the 20’s and never remarried. It was the right thing to do and my ex-husband and I are still good friends. Your post is so helpful for any one going through one.

  15. Lorii Abela December 3, 2014 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Your topic is very interesting. It is very helpful for those who are on the same situation.

  16. Nate L. December 4, 2014 at 5:26 am - Reply

    Granted, I’ve never been divorced but this is very helpful for those who have. Thanks for the sound post!

  17. Sharon G. Cobb December 8, 2014 at 3:12 am - Reply

    I sometimes think that midlife issues aren’t really issues but that we have learned what we don’t want and do want for the rest of our lives. That really isn’t an issue at all … I love the point that sometimes it isn’t anyone’s fault at all. I think accepting that goes a long way in healing.

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