by Marina Edelman, MFT, and Lisa R. Zonder of ZFLG
Divorce can be difficult and cause mental health issues, but the same can be said for staying in a bad long-term marriage. Gray Divorce can lead to positive change, second chances and hope for a fulfilling new chapter.
It can also have a downside which can be especially challenging for older populations such as isolation, depression, health challenges, and new relationship issues with adult children.
Mental Health Issue #1: Loss of a Long-Term Dream
While both partners grieve the end of a marriage, the spouse who initiates the divorce may deal with the loss better than the other, as they may have had more time to process and accept their choice.
This can be particularly challenging for the spouse for whom the divorce was not their decision but is now their reality. Although change is a constant part of life, many people find it to be difficult to manage and accept it, which can lead to isolation and depression.
Mental Health Issue #2: Teenage and Adult Children
Many unhappy spouses with children struggle with the decision to either end the marriage while the kids are still young or wait to separate once the kids launch into their own adult lives. Children, at any age, struggle to adjust to their parents’ divorce and it can be more impactful and unexpected for teenage and adult children who assume that since their parents made it that far, their marriage would endure.
Parents’ relationships with their older children can become challenging due to delayed divorce. It can be a struggle for all members of the once-intact family to come to terms with the changes and loss caused by the break-up and they may do so in different ways and on different timelines.
Mental Health Issue #3: Difficult Emotions
Even though there are likely many positive changes on the horizon due to the split, there is still grief and loss. Attending to emotional needs is crucial at this time. It is vital to rely on an either an existing support system during divorce or create a new one if needed.
Family and friends can be great help, but sometimes different perspectives are necessary to get your emotional needs met. There are divorce groups and other support groups which promote healing and prevent what may be the worst result of a divorce – isolation.
Studies show that former spouses enduring divorce have higher rates of depression than those whose spouses have died. The risk of isolation in Gray Divorce can be higher and, with the likelihood of an increase in physical and mental health problems, connection is vital.
Reaching out for help from an individual or family therapist can be very beneficial during the divorce and can lead to healing and to redefining your life and goals.
Divorce, especially in the second half of life can range from difficult to devastating. It can also be a time of reinvention and new beginnings as you make room for yourself and for new possibilities. You can start over and make changes which are important to your well-being.
Divorce, at any age, is not what couples have in mind when making wedding vows. Nonetheless, by putting yourself first for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, you may find that trading “happily” ever after,” for “happier” ever after, is not such a bad thing after all.
Marina Edelman, MFT, and ZFLG take a holistic approach to divorce and are committed to ensuring you have the right team of professionals navigating you through this time.
For more information, please reach out to Marina Edelman at 818-851-1293 or at email@example.com and Zonder Family Law Group at 805-777-7740 or firstname.lastname@example.org.