Women over 50 and in their mid-life stage who find themselves facing the daunting task of rebuilding their life after divorce have unique challenges and fears regarding their future. The three fears most often given by women at this stage of life are:
Fear about the impact the divorce will have on their adult children (and grandchildren). For women it doesn’t matter if their children are grown, they still tend to be very concerned about how divorce changes the family dynamics and life as they always knew it to be.
Fear of being financially destitute. It is difficult to accept that you may have to take what was saved as a couple for your retirement and now have to split it – and trust that there will be enough to live comfortably.
Fear of being alone. Beyond the companion perspective, it is scary to face future health issues alone.
Identifying your fears won’t automatically provide you with a calming resolution, but acknowledging the fears has power. The kind of power that helps you know where and what to pray for; to know what kind of help and support you may need (i.e. financial advisor, CPA, coach/counselor, resume or new job skills). The best “fear busters” are education and having a strategic plan. They both help you to navigate these unchartered avenues you are embarking upon.
You already know that the opposite of having fear is having peace. So, let’s look at some steps you may consider to help you find peace for these fears:
The fact is divorce will have an impact on your adult children, period! However, how you handle the divorce will have an impact as well. Will they witness their parents living in bitterness and anger or in forgiveness and healing? If they are pulled into the middle of their parent’s divorce it will be damaging. Yes, they are grown, but they still do not want to be caught between their parents. Find other people to be your support and confidants and allow your adult children to be free to work through the effects of the divorce in their lives and not have to carry your burden as well.
Late-life divorces can be as financially destructive as divorces for younger women. Especially given the financial roller-coaster we have experienced over the past few years. I have seen women who have not faced divorce rethink their financial futures due to the stock market declines, housing market collapses, down-sizing in jobs and even having to help their adult children pay bills. You are now the CEO of your financial life – so gain education from every opportunity. Many churches all over the country are offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, which is absolutely life changing (visit www.daveramsey.com and check out many of his valuable resources). You must become of aware of your spending patterns, make wise financial choices and most importantly – don’t wait for alimony to end before going back to work. Use the alimony years to obtain updated job skills, take some college courses or volunteer and use that time to build your resume.
I have heard many women that are age 50 and over discuss how much they fear facing the future alone. Being the caretakers that women often are – they do not want to be a burden on their children and others. However, this is a reality for women who are divorced since they are generally living longer than men by several years. We have to take care of our health, build a support system and help others so that they will be there for us, if or when we should need them. You may want to read Women over 50, are You Sabotaging Your Own Dreams? at www.flourishover50.com.
There is no doubt that fear is real and sometimes crippling, but to fall hostage to your fear will rob you of your future. Hold on dear sisters, have faith and borrow strength of others until you find yours again. Focus on the present, focus on finding your peace, and focus on writing the next chapter of your life story without allowing fear to control you.
Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So while life is fearful and ever changing, He remains our solid foundation and Prince of Peace.