On the emotional trauma scale, divorce is up there around death of a loved one, or having your best bra eaten by a Chihuahua. Erica Manfred, author of “He’s History, You’re Not: Surviving Divorce After 40,” says that getting a divorce in your 40s or later has a uniquely different impact than on someone younger, who might be able to start over more easily.
A lot of women in their 40s have passed the window where they want to have more – or any – children. Those who stayed home during their marriages may have a lot of catch-up to do for their careers. “You lose your dream of having a family and marching into the sunset with the father of your children,” she says.
In her book, Manfred offers practical advice a in a girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone that helps sort out the mental chaos that accompanies a divorce. There are three basic steps women can take to help them move forward, she says, especially when the divorce isn’t a friendly or gracious one.
1. Grieve. People may push you to start dating, and to move on. Sometimes it takes a long time, and you’ll know when you’re ready. “Let yourself heal in your own time,” she says.
2. Get moving. “Yoga, dance, bicycling, anything that gets your endorphins going,” she says. Exercise will keep you from falling apart physically, and mentally, she says, “it’s better than alcohol. “
3. Go to therapy. While surrounding yourself with good friends is essential, you’ll still need a professional on your side. You’ll have a lot of rage and sadness, and if you vent to your kids and enlist them in your own personal army against your ex – the term for it is “parental alienation” – you’ll wind up hurting everyone and may wind up back in court. “If you’re a mature , thinking person you’ll put your kids first,” Manfred says.
Finally, when you’re ready to move on, go for it and get back into the dating world. “When you’re in your 40s, you’re still young,” she says.
How did you get through your divorce?
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I think it depends on the circumstances. My mom was married four times and never wanted to speak to her exes ever again. Mine was completely civil and gentle, though heartbreaking.
I got through it by being there for my husband, listening to his sorrow, taking it on the chin for hurting him, and praying we would come out the other side as friends…and we did. I’m very blessed to still have him in my life.
And overarching that, of course, were my girlfriends who just listened and sympathized.
I’m all for civility and I’m so glad you could handle it that way, but I’m sorry for your loss. Girlfriends are the BEST. I don’t know what I’d do without mine. Crawl under a rock most of the time, I expect.