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Life and the Road to Recovery after Marriage in the "Gray" years

Regular Contributor

Life and the Road to Recovery after Marriage in the "Gray" years

I need to make clear I only make reference to the failed marriages that claim to have went through

 " we grew apart", or "it got boring", or "we didn't talk enough", or "my spouse changed", or "I want a new feeling", "I'm getting old" or the best one yet "I am scared of what it might be like together in ten years".    Really folks!  Do you know if you will be alive in ten years?  Do you have a crystal ball that really works? Statistically we are living longer as a whole but some of us are not living longer! So don't take for granted you will be here on earth in ten years.


I have read thousands of articles concerning many couples letting there marriages go out the door after so many years together like the Monday night trash. Don't worry though I am a part of it, I helped push my own garbage can to the street with my wife over a year ago after 23 years together.  I now look back and wish maybe I would have skipped that night taking the trash down to the curb!


We all have a story about our divorce, we have similarities in our failed marriages, and some of us have very unique circumstances to our final days, but we all ended up at the same place, with the same result of DIVORCE.  And how we learn to hate that word DIVORCE. We learn to live with it and rise above it, but that word is now part of us no matter what we do or who we are with in the future. It may fade away, it may take a vacation from you for a spell, but it is apart of you now forever. You can't run from it, you can't hide from it, you can't make believe you were never married. Just accept that you are divorced and it will be easier on you in the long run.


I think the one thing all of us need to remember is that most of us did not go to the alter, before the judge, or by whatever governing body and said under our breath after our vow to each other of 'I DO" to "I just can't wait until we get divorced". All of us went into our marriage with the intention of happiness till death do us part, and I am sure you will remember back to those long ago days and agree that was what you had intended. And somewhere down our marriage bliss road life got in the way and none of us were given a manual on how to keep our marriage healthy and strong. Some marriages did make it and continue to be happy, but many of us did not make it no matter how hard we tried.


There are many good articles and information concerning divorce for us that are 50+ years old on this AARP site.  Most articles help us continue on after a divorce and help us identify our weaknesses and continue on with our strengths. I encourage you to read as much as you can to see that misery and loss of love and marriages is everywhere.


There are many people willing to help you get through another day, help you catch a breath and get through it. Believe it or not there are still people out here that care. The word "DIVORCE" is not tattooed across your forehead even though it may feel like it. And also, don't accept the fact that this divorce thing is common and acceptable, no its not, its a failure, it didn't work out, you lost, your spouse lost! Step up and be responsible for your part in the failure of the marriage so you can make sure you have a stronger and healthier relationship with someone else. And don't take the blame for the things you could not fix in the marriage and second guess each time you tried to fix it, at least you tried and that's the point.


Much advise is abound from those that have experienced a divorce, from those that have been married for 1 year all the way up to 50+ years of marriage.  Most of our stories are sad, so don't expect to find a happy ending divorce story, even if a divorced person makes it sound like one. Both people still lose something in a divorce, maybe one person loses more then the other, but each person in the marriage still loses.


Loss of time cannot be recovered or bought back, time invested by both people in the marriage is gone and now lost. Even if someone comes along and is 100 times better then your former spouse and sweeps all your troubles away, you will still find yourself one night or somewhere alone, perhaps with a drink in your hand, remembering what you have lost. And yes you will remember, even with all the new gains that may come into your life. There might not have been any good things going on in your marriage towards the end, but there is always one thing about that person you will smile about and never forget. There will always be one special thing that went right in your marriage and you wont admit it out loud or talk about it, but its there inside of you all the same.  And believe it or not, your former spouse will go through the same thing at one time or another, you just won't know about it.


If your marriage has flown out the door and floating across the rooftops you need to remember you still have yourself. If you did not want your marriage to end, but had no choice, then try and take with you what you liked and what you have learned. You necessarily don't have to take with you what the person did, but rather something you did like in the marriage, in the first year, the cook outs you had, maybe you enjoyed shopping together, something that you two did together you liked. Try and find something you gained so you don't end up feeling that your time invested in the marriage was a complete waste of life. The human race is good at pointing out what is wrong in everything we do and yes we always point out the bad in our marriages also after it is over.  We often rarely point out how great something was or mention a wonderful moment in the days of our married lives.  If you did enjoy something in the marriage take it with you, it was earned, it was an accomplishment no matter how small it was, its your secret, nobody else gets it, not even your former spouse.


Generally, when we ask each other how the day is going, we answer, "Its the same old" or "I'm having a good day", as we are saying the same thing over and over each day.  We are creature of habits and have become repetitive tape recordings and have become so complacent that if we were truthful each day with each other half of us would probably not be divorced. We are good about complaining about everything after the event has occurred and assigning blame, that's when we really say what we really feel, and of course by then its too late. We do not communicate upfront what are personal expectations and wants are, regardless of what gender we are. Most of us carry this lack of communicating from our early years, into our schooling, into our jobs, our friendships, parenting and eventually into our relationships and marriages. Each one of us are part of our own demise in the end because of our lack to communicate our wants, desires, needs, and expectations upfront.  So any of those great talk shows hosts out there telling you not to tell someone upfront what you expect or what you want before you tie the knot and waste 20 years of your life are wrong. You don't have to tell someone all your expectations, but the heavy hitters need to be talked about upfront again and again until you are sure they understand.  If you say nothing upfront to your partner and don't keep reminding them of your wants and needs, well you can the results of where we are today, DIVORCED.   So if you plan on being in a successful future relationship, speak up loud and clear in the beginning, keep reminding them of your expectations and rock that boat now so it does not sink later! 


Don't believe everything you hear. Miracles do happen, some people do change, sometimes people do wake up, some marriages do get back together. I will not quote the statistics, but reconciliation is making a come back. Be careful here, not ALL people change, and you might not be willing to change, so you could end up right back into the same sinking ship. Sometimes short term divorces have driven long term success with some marriages getting back together.  There is no rhyme or reason and there is no one size fits all miracle solution for those of us that wish were we still married to the one we loved.  I take each day as it comes, and carry in my heart a ghost of chance I may one day reunite with my former friend and spouse. I am also careful that I am not blinded with false hope and trust in my faith and that miracles can happen to anyone at anytime. Keep an open mind and protect your heart carefully with both hands until someone else is willing to hold your heart as carefully as you would.


Divorce really hurts, for both sides. It also effects our next relationship and a predicting silence caused by that holding back from the new person a part of you that must now be protected at all times. Some people say they don't put up barriers but we all do, it's a human safeguard to keep us from being hurt again. I know too many people who are divorced now, both men and women and I watch them with their new partners and I see them watching there new partners very close.  I am not saying we turn off all trust in another person, just saying like it or not, we have our switch on, its just instinct. Time is the only thing that will make such safeguards turn off.


There is hopefully a tomorrow for each and everyone one of us. We have to take what we have been given, try to learn from it and continue to grow. Perhaps one day we may reunite with the one we loved or maybe we will be fortunate enough to have love find us once again. Some say there are plenty of fish in the sea, then if that statement is true, each one of us would all be remarried tomorrow. Everyone acts like love is a commodity that's abundant wherever we go. We know that love between two people is a special gift and should be treated as such. Anything else less we accept will only be filler for our emptiness which will only lead to further emptiness down the road.


All of us deal with the initial impact of our divorce in different ways, some people rush to someone else for support, some of us prefer to be alone and let our wounds heal.  Running into the arms of another will be new and possibly exciting and take your mind off the divorce, until the newness of those arms holding you begin to wear off also. Remember this!, we got married, we got old, the kids got older, the marriage got old, I don't want to get old. Guess what, too bad!  Everything including something new today gets old tomorrow.  You can lie to yourself and cheat time or age as much as you like but everything gets old no matter what you do. Look carefully in that mirror and be proud of what you have had, what you are, and all of what you can be tomorrow.


The one thing you need to do to recover from a divorce is too look in the mirror and not at your former spouse. Take a long hard look at you, focus on you. Admit what you could have done better, what you did do wrong and why you did it.  Don't get me wrong, you probably did some great things for your spouse during your marriage and take those things with you too, but none of us are perfect. Find the things that you did wrong and fix them for the next time around in your next relationship. No one will know what you admit to yourself and it stays between you and your reflection. You are on your own now and you can only control you and what you will do in your next relationship. Work on yourself for now so you can heal and can get the marriage failure off your back!


I have chosen to take a long, long vacation with myself. I want to really know who I am, I want to heal my wound on my own with only my friends and family of whom I love very much. The loss of my marriage, my wife, my best friend of 23 years was devastating to me. We "grew apart" but I am half to blame as to letting us get so far apart.  I feel that a part of my soul is gone now and yet I stand and walk on. I chose to stand alone without a companion as I cannot yet fully commit to someone willing to hold and love me and I refuse to use someone else for selfish purposes.  


I have made many new friends on the net and have met some of them in person, both men and women who have had similar divorces such as mine. Believe it or not, many of them are AARP members. I must confess that without bringing new people into my life from around the globe I might not have been as strong as I am now. We have shared our stories, a part of our lives, our laughter, our pain and our tears. We will help each other heal overtime and perhaps turn out to be good long life friends.


I don't have all the answers, there is no easy cure or way out from the impact of losing your marriage and being divorced, but you can recover. I share with you what so many others have shared with me, understanding, care and compassion. Anytime you need an ear to listen, I will. If you live anywhere, it doesn't matter; we can communicate with each other like never before.  


Know that you are not alone and there are many of us who do care!





Thank you. It was a pleasure to read and you thoughts helped me to go through the day

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Social Butterfly

Thanks and big hug {{{hugs}}} to Patty D for your reply to me. I truly appreciate your words & thoughts. You inspire me I also like not having be concerned about what choose to watch on TV and make to eat and when and where I go and living in my pjs when no plans go out. I truly have no desire to marry again I would enjoy a companion to do things with at times but i've learned I enjoy my alone time think be tough to give that up for someone in my life 24/7 I'm a work in progress....Thanks a bunch May you be blessed each & every day!  🙂 

Honored Social Butterfly

Hi Ginger.  I just read your post and feel the need to reply, which is something I don't do often, not because I don't relate to the "late-life divorce" but because it's been a long time since I went through it.  I'm 76 now and my last divorce was when I was about 60.


What caught my attention was when you said that you were hearing others tell you to "get over it and get back to living".  I want to point out that you are living.  I resent it when people make me feel that to be "normal" I have to be in a relationship, part of a couple, etc.  I've heard that all my life and I'm so glad that I finally decided to ignore all those messages.  I have to wonder what life would have been like if I had not listened to those messages earlier.


I have lived alone, in my own house, for the past 16 years and I've never been happier.  This is not to say there aren't problems but I find I can solve problems that are my own much better than when I was having to worry about those problems of another person.  I love being able to make my own schedule and having complete control over the remote.  I think you are very wise to learn to live alone before you get into another relationship.  In that way you will be able to see if the relationship adds to your happiness or if it's just filling a need that you hadn't even identified.  Sending all positive energy in your direction.

Social Butterfly

Heart Thanks AARP for keeping this conversation available I realize it was written over year ago but it was so awesome for me to find this truly a blessing Thanks Noblefool and Carol for sharing this allowing it to touch others I copied and printed so as to have a copy to reread at times & still work on suggestions told here. 

Also Noble thanks for sharing your thoughts of how you are taking time to heal ...its a comfort to me cause I've struggled with "Is something wrong with me?" why can't I move on and let go of things & was I wrong for trying do different than had before or such?

Our divorce wasn't my choice although we both play a part of its end in many ways My ex remarried shortly after divorce was final moved on quickly.. dating not long after he left... it was his 2nd divorce ....but my 3rd very sad to say which was also my longest marriage 19 years and truly felt he was blessing to me when met & still in lots way feel it still... anyway I choose to not react as did in past by getting right back into another relationship...its been 4+years with a few dates but I know I have and most likely always will have trust issues... anyway desire to be as healthy as possible and try to heal and do best to learn to be alone & be ok since was 1st time lived alone in my life at age of 56 So thanks I'm grateful to read/ hear another felt way I've felt cause others tell me move on get on with living ...I used to hold hope for reconciliation don't think that's truly possible anymore but anyway your writings have helped me feel little more normal if really there is a normal...I feel better and like the things you told Carol to do and focus on so thanks for your sharing I hope in this last year since you wrote this life has been blessing you and maybe even you had chance to get love back in your life... maybe one day I will...a girl can hope and i'm glad folks care I was in family recovery program many years in marriage.... comforting thing we always shared was "Your not alone" its helpful to know not alone.THANKS, Ginger : )

Regular Contributor

Hello Carol from Maine!  I have never been to Maine, what's it like there? I hear parts of it are beautiful. Tell me about your State if you ever get a chance. Indiana, well it's Indiana, pretty much just cornSmiley Happy


So you have been married 40 years, WOW!


You are in a very low statistical marriage survival category. You have accomplished some amazing things in your life, you have raised children which are by no means an easy life task and therefore that makes you a successful parent (Mother)…………   And you worked 3 jobs, WOWJust a very big WOW!


You mentioned your life is just about over...............Come on now, REALLY!...................


Let me ask you, do you know when your last day on earth is? I mean heck you may live to 100! 105! 110!................................. So don't worry about the end of days that have not come yet.  Now granted, you might not be 16 years old anymore and I get that part, age creeps up on all of us and none of us can control time.  But, what we can do is to not take time for granted and try to live each day like it is our last........................................................


Which brings me too.................................back to you………………………………………


You mentioned about not knowing what "true love or what it was all about".  Sure ya do Carol, you got married, you had some children, you had a family, and you struggled like most typical American families. Then you woke up one morning and thought to yourself, what in the heck happened to my life and where did it go? Many of us had that “true love” feeling in the beginning when we met someone and then we got married. Some of us had that special love feeling for weeks, some of us did better and it lasted for years, and a few managed to hold on to that “true love” feeling and are still together, but many couples did not hold on to that feeling or forgot what it felt like in the beginning. SO KNOW you are NOT alone on what you are going through, thinking, and feeling.


Trust me, we all fall into the “Should of, could of, would have done” games within ourselves. Even couples with very successful marriages still play these games within themselves and it seems that someone in the marriage always pays the cost for the game. Know that you are not alone and NO marriage is immune from the “lack of vision towards True Love”, doubts creep up in everyone from time to time. Most of us tend to forget that Life itself is work, and Love requires some level of work also.


One night I asked 6 women at a bar to define what “Love” was. They each got a piece of paper and wrote down what it meant to them. Go figure, each definition was different, so that's part of the problem. Each person has a different “vision or definition” of what something means to them. Another factor is that as we get older, our values, our visions, our ethics and morals change, it's just a common fact that all things change, including all of us.


So Carol, you married a guy that confessed to you something after you were married, go figure.


Some couples live certain lifestyles and have a strong marriage, and some do not survive because of such lifestyles. I know of a couple that has been swinging for over 20 years and they will tell you they love each other to the gates of hell, I don't get it myself, but it works for them, so there ya go, they have “their” definition of “true love”. I laugh to myself because they are still married and I am divorced, go figure.


I am hoping that after your marriage of 40 years there have been some good things that have happened over the years. It seems you have stayed loyal to the marriage, worked very hard, and raised 2 children…………………………….. What I don't


...................................................what has Carol done for Carol?..................................


...................……………What does Carol like to do?...................What does Carol still want out of her life?..................What defines Carol?...................


Married or single, what does Carol want?????????????????? Put the marriage “wife title” aside for a moment and define “YOU”. Let the wife title drift in the clouds for a spell and define what makes Carol = Carol. You like to write? You like running? You like to paint? You like biking? You want to go back to school/college? Anything you want to do is now all up to you.


Define yourself and what things you would like to do now or in the near future, make a list, make a plan……………….


....................................................................“FOR Carol”.


I know Carol, the idea of “true love” and what it all really means is important and some people treat it like it's a life goal, but it's not a goal or destination. I don't care what anyone else tells you, all of us have “hungry hearts”, ALL of us want that perfect fairytale love romance with that burning desire to be next to that person of our dreams………………….there is nothing wrong with wanting the “true love” relationship and sharing life with a person, but a person needs to find themselves first before they look for someone else to share with.


To put it simple, you have to happy and love yourself 1st………………..and everything else will follow.


                          Heart So focus on YOU for now Carol Heart


                          Heart Define what's important for you Heart


You can always come back later and decide if you want to continue onto your 50 year marriage anniversary................................or NOT……………….and walk down another road.




PS I love music, all kinds of music. I find many pearls of wisdom in some of the messages that bands have put together. If you have never heard the song below or know of it, I suggest you listen to it even if you don't like this style of music.


                     "Everybody needs a place to rest,

Everybody wants to have a home,

                    Don't make no difference what nobody says,

Ain't nobody like to be alone"


  "Everybody's got a hungry heart Everybody's got a hungry heart"


"Lay down your money and you play your part Everybody's got a hungry heart"





The bands name:  Bruce Springsteen (1980)

Song title: "Hungry Heart".................. this song can be found on youtube


well been going on 40 yrs of marriage and should of divorced 20 yrs ago. foolish of me i know i promosed to be faithful he did to. but i guess he forgot that after our second year of marrage. He told me i married a swinger, i was to foolish to know what that was. so i sit here with my life just about over not nowing true love or what it was all about. i worked three jobs raised two children to adults and had a allowence of 30 dollars a week . life just pasted me by.  

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