Navigating Divorce After 50: 5 Tips to Help You Cope

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How do you feel when you’ve crossed the mid-line of life and find yourself facing something you never dreamed you would face at this age: divorce? If you have been unhappy in your marriage for years, and can’t imagine facing your spouse 24/7 when you retire, you may feel strangely excited at the prospect of starting a new life. But, if you assumed that you were about to settle comfortably into old age with your spouse, only to be blindsided when your spouse announced that s/he wanted a divorce, you probably felt like you just got sucker-punched!  Either way, surviving divorce after 50 presents a host of challenges that divorce at a younger age does not.

Why is Getting a Divorce After 50 So Different?

While some might argue that divorce is divorce, divorcing later in life (i.e. getting what's known as a "gray divorce") presents unique challenges. You and your spouse don’t just have years of history together – you have decades! Your family, friends, and neighbors, all know you and your spouse as “a couple.” Facing those people as someone who is “newly single” can be terrifying!

You have no idea what you are supposed to do, or how you are supposed to act. You're not even sure who you are. For the last 20 - 30+ years, you have thought of yourself as a married person: a husband, a wife. Your family was whole. Now, all of that is gone. Your entire identity has just been destroyed.

You also have to deal with your kids.

Infographic with pictures depicting the different concerns of those who get a grey divorce (a divorce after 50) and those who divorce at a younger age.

Adult Children of Divorce

While many people assume that by divorcing later in life they will at least be saving their children from suffering, sadly, that is not always true.  Just because your children happen to be adults when you get divorced does not mean that they won’t be affected by your divorce.  On the contrary, your adult children may be affected by your divorce even more than younger children would be.

The bottom line is that you are going to have to put in the time and effort to make sure that your kids are okay, no matter how old you (or they!) are when you get divorced.

As difficult as dealing with all of these emotional issues will be, by far the most significant impact that divorce over 50 will have on your life is the financial strain that divorce inevitably brings with it.

The Financial Impact of Divorce After 50

Worried senior woman shaking pennies out of a yellow piggy bank onto the paperwork on her desk.

Getting divorced is expensive at any age.  But, the older you are, the more complicated your finances have likely become.

If you are like most middle-aged couples, you probably have a house, several vehicles, and (hopefully) some retirement accounts.  You also probably still have a mortgage, car loans, and credit card bills. On top of that, you might have a small (or maybe not so small) mountain of student loans that you either took out or co-signed, for your children. All of that makes your divorce more financially complicated.

If you or your spouse are involved in a family business - especially a multi-generational family business - that makes your situation more financially complicated still! That's because your divorce will not only affect your finances, but it will affect your business' finances, too. If your kids are involved in your business, your divorce will directly affect their pocketbooks.

The bottom line is that the more complicated your finances are, the more expensive your divorce will be.

Another reason that divorce after 50 causes a significantly bigger financial strain than divorce at a younger age is that you have less time to recover financially after you are divorced.  You don’t have 50 years to amass a nice nest egg for your retirement. If you don't have enough money to retire on after your divorce, you may have to go back to work. Chances are, that's NOT the way you ever intended to spend your "golden years."

What's more, if you are left without a retirement account or a financial cushion after your divorce, and you get sick or become unable to work, who is going to take care of you? You may have a new spouse, but the older you get the less likely that becomes. So, the reality is that you'll likely lean on your kids to take up the slack - which is not what THEY ever thought they'd have to do.

So, if you are facing divorce after 50, what do you do? How can you lessen the impact of your divorce so that it doesn’t ruin what’s left of your life?

5 Tips for Dealing With a Later-in-Life Divorce

1.         Get professional help.

Do not try to go through your divorce alone!

At this point in your life, you have way more to lose than your average 20-year-old. Trying to navigate your divorce on your own can make an already difficult situation way worse.

Not only will you need a lawyer to help you, but you are also going to need a financial adviser, preferably one who is also a certified divorce financial planner. S/he can help you understand your finances, and figure out when and if you will be able to retire.

Senior couple arguing with their adult child of divorce mediating between them.

You're also going to need support. If you've been married for decades, becoming suddenly single can be a lot to wrap your head around. Working with a therapist or divorce coach can make your transition easier. Or you can join a divorce support group. The bottom line is that when you're going through a divorce after 50, you need all the help you can get.

2.          Consider alternatives to litigation.

The last thing you need to do when you have a limited amount of time and money is to spend it all fighting in court. The average cost of divorce according to U.S. News and World Report is about $15,000.00. If you have a lot of money, complicated finances, or you live in a big city, the cost can be way more than that. (Your costs will also skyrocket if you spend years in litigation.)

For all of those reasons, staying OUT of court when you're divorcing after 50 is essential.  It makes sense, therefore, to investigate divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, and other out-of-court divorce alternatives.  While each divorce process has its pros and cons, it's worth it for you to take the time to explore all of your options so that you can get divorced as cost-effectively as possible.

3.           Take the time to understand your current AND projected post-divorce finances.

Before you agree to any divorce settlement. you must understand your total financial picture. That includes understanding the financial picture that exists right now and the one that will exist for you after you get divorced.

Rushing into a divorce settlement before you're sure that you'll have enough money to live on after your divorce can be the biggest financial mistake of your life. What's more, it's not enough to "think" that the settlement is fair on paper. You have to understand how that settlement will work in the real world.

(HINT: In order to know how much money you're really going to end up with after your divorce, you MUST understand how taxes will affect your divorce settlement.  A good divorce financial planner can help you make sure you understand what the settlement that's being offered to you on paper will actually amount to once it's in your pocket.)

For example, the way you divide your property  in your divorce and what you pay or receive in spousal support may have tax implications that will affect how much money you actually have available after your divorce.   Understanding how taxes will affect your post-divorce finances is critical to making sure that you will actually have enough money to live on after your divorce is over.

You also need to consider whether you can afford to keep your house after you are divorced. If you have to spend so much of your income on your house that you don't have enough left over to pay the other necessities of life, you're going to soon wish you had let go of the house so that you had enough financial room to breathe.

Remember, giving up your house in your divorce may be emotional. But losing your house in foreclosure will be even worse.

Upset/arguing senior couple on a mountain with a desert background.

4.           Accept that after your divorce, your lifestyle may have to change.

While everyone's lifestyle takes a hit in divorce, if you are older, the hit may be more severe.

It also may be permanent.

After your divorce, you will probably have to downsize your lifestyle. You may need to delay your retirement or forget about retiring entirely. (Sorry!) You may need to learn to budget better.  Or, you may need to tighten your buddget considerably.

Yes, all of this sucks.  It's a pity that your golden years may not be quite as golden as you pictured. But denying your new financial reality won't help.

Unless you deal with the changed financial circumstances that your divorce causes right away, you may find that in a few years, you will have outlived all your income and assets.

That will suck worse.

5.          If you are unemployed, underemployed, or retired, consider getting a job asap.

No one wants to start looking for a job at a time in life when they thought they would be retiring. But if getting a job (even a part time job!) allows you to live within your means for longer, then it may be something you need to seriously consider.

If you've been out of the work force for a long time and you  need to go back to school or get training in order to get a decent job, be practical!  Look for training programs that will give you the potential to make the highest income in the shortest amount of time. (Obviously, you don't want to do something you hate. But, try to find career options that will let you do something you enjoy AND will make you a liveable income.)

Even if you will be receiving support after your divorce from your spouse, you should still try to earn as much money as you can while you can.  Remember, there are no guarantees in life! If something happens to you or your spouse and you are no longer receiving alimony, your entire financial future can change in a heartbeat.

For all of these reasons, it makes more sense to live off money that you earn rather than living off a retirement fund that isn't big enough to support you until you die. Remember, the longer you can wait before spending down your assets, the further they will go.

Attractive, angry senior couple sitting back-to-back.

Divorcing Later in Life Isn't Easy

No matter what you do, or who you are, getting a divorce after 50 is going to impact you emotionally, financially, socially, and legally at a level that's very different than how you would have been impacted if you got a divorce when you were 20.  If you want to get through this phase of your life with dignity, grace, and some level of financial security, it pays to take the time to understand what you are facing.

Invest in professional help. Get the support you need. All of that will affect the quality of the decisions you make in your divorce. The quality of your decisions will, in turn, directly affect the quality of your life well into the future.


This article was originally written in April 2016 and updated June, 2023.

Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


divorce after 50, divorce blog, divorce financial planning, divorce tips

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  • My husband has no idea how unhappy I am or I think if this “union ” meant anything to him, he’d care enough to care enough, take action. I’m not looking for attention, I mean it. I tell him how he makes me happy and that im goinf through rough stuff and could use a hug or a kiss, not just prior to sexual whatever. He seems to think I’m too codependent or guilt ridden to stay trapped in an unromantic, un- everything life. Simple, I’m not.

    • Women are unhappy in general. My wife tried to purchase material items to fill the void. Post bankruptcy she packed up and left for a man that made empty promises…for the third time. We finally divorced after 23 years. It was all about the money to her and she lied to attain as much as she could. For a period of 7 years she will receive 1/2 my take home pay for alimony. The home was a forced sale and she received 2/3rds my 401k account. She works as a nurse so she out earns me. That being said I no longer have an anchor tied to me pulling me under financially. I purchased a foreclosed home and am watching the equity grew quickly. My investments have doubled in only 2 years. While I am building for my retirement, she is financially sinking.

      I have dated women in my age group 50+. They all share the same common theme; in their eyes the ex-husband wasn’t earning enough for them. Even when the husband & wife did the same job, it simply wasn’t good enough. So the had an affair and that led to the wife living her husband. For the past three years I have dated 7 women and all divorces fit that pattern. I have spoken to a few of the ex-husbands and each one was a stand up guy with solid family priorities. Women want what they don’t have and will act without reason to obtain it. Once obtained they want what they don’t have and the cycle starts all over. Women are unhappy. They buy into the Hollywood materialistic instant gratitude fictional lifestyle. It is like a heroin addict chasing the cherry high that never seems to come after that first initial rush that the first carnal night of an affair provides.

      • Thank you for sharing your opinion. With all due respect, however, while you may know 7 divorces that fit that pattern, I can tell you that there are easily a hundred times (probably a hundred thousand times) that many that don’t. I also know thousands of women who are perfectly happy, including me. I also think that Mimi was saying something very different.

        It’s not all about money. It never was. But, that’s just my opinion.


        PS If you really believe that all women are unhappy, what chance do you have of finding happiness in a relationship yourself?

        • Radman. I respect your opinion but that is not always the case. I am turning 60 soon and am now divorced. I was married over 20 years and thought I had a great marriage but he was living a whole other life. I am and always have been a work horse, I work, keep a clean home and cook great meals, I have never asked him for a single material thing. I only wanted honesty and true love. I was at work hen I received a text message that simply said “I moved out” I came home to an empty home, everything was gone, bank accounts emptied and complete devastation. That was 18 months ago, I go through just existing but I am not really living life. I can not believe all I learned after he left.

          • Vicki,
            My husband did something similar. He did major financial damage to our finances with an 18 month affair. His mistress left her husband thinking my husband was rich. Our divorce has been going on for 18 months. It’s expensive. He continues to make the finances worse. He is trying to support her, pay attorneys and pay a small amount to me. It’s a mess. I am 50 years old. My daughter wants to go to college in six months. So I didn’t leave him for a man with more money. But this woman did what another person is posting .. the mistress left her husband to “trade up” in income.

      • Hello Radman,
        I feel you man. It is a trend for the 21st Century Female. Many guys I worked with had this happen to them. I find it more of a Power Play myself as allot of females now want full control. Gone are the days of old. Women want to be in charge of it all. If not getting enough then they will find a way to get it. I lost my ass in divorce and yes the ex-wife cleaned up on cash, took control of the child, and lied about the boy friend. Also you will never get another female counselor to see it your way. Never ever! They will tell you that you are wrong then pointing out how perfect they do everything. Find a male counselor and a male lawyer. Women are not the perfect “Mother Teressa’s” like they say. And they band together in groups on social media. Too bad they don’t tell their friends to restore not destroy your marriage.
        Peace 🙂

        • I would write more but your stories are identical to mine (30 years wasted). Had a work supervisor ten years ago who warned me. His daughter was married to a soldier. Right after Christmas, 2009, he went back to Afghanistan and was killed the next day. My supervisor drove back and forth a lot to Alaska to help his daughter where they had been stationed. All the stress caused some weird jealousy thing in his wife and without him knowing she started holing money away to where she would empty their account right after every pay day. 6 months after the son in law had died Steve couldn’t go home because the wife told the cops she was scared of him. While living on a friends couch, stress caught up with him triggering cluster headaches. He had a bad reaction to medicine and died. His warning to me besides his own story; THE EXACT same thing happened to the guy he was staying with and another guy we used to work with who had had a great marriage until they got up in the late forties or early fifties. Folks beware, I had 3 daughters, from 16 to 29 and I tell you true, they couldn’t give a flip about me now as though I never existed. Even had the oldest one trying to tell me how neat mom’s new boyfriend was after they couldn’t hide the new “relationship” from me. Sorry, I written something on here three times today, but I will testify in court it is all true.

      • Amen brother ,,, after 32 years of busting my azz earning a good living so my wife and kids could have a nice life,,, I’m blind sided by my wife who suddenly needs time away… out of the blue,,shes like you remember that text I wrote you months ago that you didnt respond to… well I knew then that you didn’t care… WTF woman I’ve spent the best years of my life dedicated to her and the kids… and of course like all relationships, it’s a bumpy ride. But to hop off the roller coaster when it finally begins to smooth out ,, just doesn’t make sense…

        • John,
          I empathize with you. 34 years of being a good provider, loving Father and Husband, no womanizing, no boozing or gambling, no physical harm to anyone and now I find myself in the middle stages of the divorce process. Spouse refuses and has refused to discuss anything, she cut all communication when I tried to reason with her about her actions for the divorce and what she’s done to me in the process. No reason whatsoever. The only true times she talked to me is when she tried desperately to get me to move out of the house before she eventually left and moved into an apartment. The divorce proceedings have sent me into a mental tailspin. Ended up in the hospital with a breakdown. It’s been a long, slow climb out of that dark hole of depression. She’s refused any and all marriage counseling, just filed for divorce and that was it. There are always two sides to the story, she has hers and I have mine, and yes, it took two for us to get here, but 34 years of marriage could’ve been saved. She had some issues, I had some issues, but why just throw away a lifetime of marriage and life together without even clearing the air or going to marriage counseling. It’s been a nightmare and I know what you’re going through, John. Just find a therapist to talk to, remain as active as you can, put it all in God’s Hands and pray daily for the strength to face another day. As my attorney and divorce counselor told me, “you take care of you, we’ll take care of the divorce.” Having a great attorney and a great divorce counselor eases the mind, too. John, stay strong, have faith, get professional help if you feel you need it. Don’t break apart like I did. I was destroyed over this, now I’m picking up the pieces. I’m learning my lessons all after the fact now. Peace to you spiritually and mentally, John.

          • That is my story too, Blindsided. Going on 35 years of marriage, and my husband moved out 1.5 years ago. Said we just don’t get along. Immediately started dating, and 8 months ago found a steady gal. She makes more money than he does so he definitely traded up in his mind. We had 3 kids together, and I stayed home (working part time) to raise them. I always sacrificed and put myself last. I am a low maintenance woman who does not really buy much for herself nor do I care to. I always made sure he, and the kids had what they needed. I supported him in advancing his career putting mine on the back burner to raise our kids and make a home. Now, I am having a really hard time getting back to the work force while he enjoys a great job with very good pay. You are absolutely right. It takes 2 to tango, and I have not always been easy to get along with, but neither has he, especially when he would drink, A LOT. He likes to have fun, spend money, and live life because, “this is the only one we get.” I, like you, know there is more to life than that. It is obvious that prayer and faith in God is key. It is what keeps me sane. Glad you are picking up the pieces. Hope you are much better now, and better off. God Bless!

        • Your situation is exactly what I’m going through right now,wife just dropped a bomb on me, 34 years ,no warning,no interest in working things out ,she’s done n out , I’m 58 and “out to sea”

      • Im not that kind of woman. My needs and wants have seldom been materialistic. Only when I just couldn’t make do with something long overdue to replace. Yes, I’m so unhappy, but it’s because I’m human. If you looked inside my marriage, I believe you may understand why.

  • Karen,

    Long story short…

    I am a disabled veteran, cannot work, I only receive what I receive from the VA. She has many skill sets from Dental Assistant, Radiology I, II, III, Office skills, Interpreter, Sedation etc…She is able to make on her own approximately $78K per year. She currently works at our Medical Clinic as an interpreter making about $32k per year. She also just recently turned down a job making $50K per year.

    I have been going through a divorce now for nearly four years. I filed, she countered against me and kept it in place all the way through the trial. My first trial I was denied a divorce because three quarters of the way through it she said she did not want a divorce I was told then I had no grounds for divorce.

    I re-filed again for divorce and going through the whole process again. I did not appeal first time because my attorney’s advice was not to because of the cost. So I just re-filed 3 months later.

    I hired a new lawyer because the first was a joke and totally was unprepared for my first trial. Now with my new attorney we are pushing through the process again. We have already went to Mediation and Deposition. During our Mediation she was caught lying and she settled on nothing saying she did not want the divorce and she would go into debt if she had to.

    We went to deposition and again nothing was hashed out or settled. Her side had nothing on me for them to fight with and I have all kinds of stuff on her.

    My question is, if she stated that she would just go into debt to avoid divorce isn’t that considered extortion and exploitation?


    • I don’t mean to be evasive, but I can’t answer your question because I can’t give legal advice online. I also don’t know where you live and every state’s laws are different. Your best bet would be to ask these questions of your lawyer, then listen to what your lawyer says. Your lawyer can give you the legal answer to your legal questions.

      What I can tell you from a practical standpoint is that divorcing people trash talk to their spouses all the time. That doesn’t mean that what they say is true. Maybe your wife will go into debt. Maybe she won’t. Maybe she’s just playing with you. Who knows? What I do know is that, as long as you let it bother you, she wins.

      If, as you said, your wife doesn’t want a divorce, you can’t expect her to make it easy for you to get one. If you want a divorce, she can’t stop you. She can just make it take longer and cost more. It sounds like that is exactly what she is doing. While that might not be right, I can’t say whether it will amount to “extortion” or “exploitation” in the eyes of the law. You have to ask your attorney that.

      I wish I had better news for you. Sadly, I don’t. I’m sorry.



  • This is some great information, and I appreciate your suggestion to get professional help when dealing with a divorce later in your life. I’m over fifty now, and I’ve been seriously thinking about a divorce, but it seems like it would be incredibly complicated to do at this point in my life. If I decide to go through with it, I’ll be sure to get good professional to help me navigate the situation. Thanks for the great post!

  • I am going through divorce, working 2 jobs , taking care of my motherand living with her. She is a hard to handle and stubborn person …gives me a hard time . Now it seems I’m having troubles at my job I’ve had for 25 yrs . How much can a person induce ? Without going insane ? I’m 55 and I want to smooth out this mess .

    • I am so sorry to hear that you are going through such a hard time. Going through a divorce is bad enough on its own, but adding in problems with your mother and your job must be making your whole life seem unbearable.

      Given what you are going through, I strongly suggest that you get help. You are trying to deal with too many things at once, and you are going to go crazy. You might want to find a good therapist or coach to help you through this time in your life. You might also want to look into finding a support group. Having other people to talk to who understand what you are going through can be so helpful! Hopefully, you are also getting some good legal advice, too.

      I know that right now, everything probably seems dark and overwhelming. I don’t know why it is that, when something in your life starts to fall apart, EVERYTHING suddenly starts to fall apart, but it happens.

      Know that you are not alone, and you will get through this. Make sure to get the help and support you need. And, take care of yourself! You need it right now, and you deserve it.



    • Just went through the exact same thing. Married in total 30 years when all was finalized. I have no identity, don’t know how to act and am sinking fast mentally. She spent everything we had in the bank, run up that much more ($80,000) in credit cards and on and on. None of my 3 daughters think of me more than a chunk of debris on the side of the road.

      • I am so sorry. I know everything seems black right now. I strongly recommend you get help. You need someone to talk to. A good therapist can help a lot. I know that right now you need much more than that. But a therapist is a good place to start.

        Hang in there. Things will get better, but it will take time.

        I wish you the best.


    • Hang in there, I wish I could tell you something that would make things better but I’m learning that most likely it doesn’t exist. My divorce after 30 years took a rocky road to the bottom with my discovery of an affair 12 years before the end to her filing for divorce but dropping it because she was so crazy she didn’t make one payment on the house the judge gave her temporarily almost losing it. Like a moron I went back to stabilize things and the whole thing devolved into insanity with her running away with someone she worked with at a mental institution. The only think I’ve been offered is medicine that makes me dysfunctional at work. The only way and can face each evening alone is to open a beer; say what you will but I would probably run headlong into a wall without it.

  • Karen,
    I thought we were a happily married couple of 30 years with 4 kids. One day she dropped news on the entire family that she no longer was in love with me and did not want to live there anymore. She will not go to counseling or talk about it anymore but lives in the house and acts like noting is wrong. She was the love of my life but at this point I am really ready to let her move on even if I have to give her the push too. Since that day she has ran up all her credit cards and who knows what else. I am not moving out of MY house but am not happy anymore. Where do I begin???

    • You begin by talking to her. You need to know clearly whether she wants a divorce or not. If she does, your next steps are to make an appointment with a therapist and a lawyer. You need to start wrapping your head (and your heart)around what is going on. 30 years is a long time to be married. I know you are a guy, but men need emotional support when they are going through tough times too. So find a good therapist and start dealing with your emotions.

      You will also need to talk to a lawyer and find out what you are facing legally. I don’t know anything about your financial situation, but getting divorced later in life has different consequences than getting divorced earlier. If you haven’t already done so, check out this article: 50 Shades of Grey Divorce. You can pick up some more ideas in that article.

      If your wife doesn’t know whether she wants a divorce, that’s actually not a bad sign. There may still be hope. Ask your wife what she needs right now. If she needs space, let her have space … but spend your time improving yourself and working on you while she is thinking about what she wants. You are also going to want to think about what you need and what you want from a relationship. There are two people in this marriage, and you need to consider both of your needs and concerns.

      If your wife does not want a divorce, and she won’t go to counseling or talk about it, you’re in a bit of a pickle. If she doesn’t want to get a divorce, but she doesn’t want to be married either, then, no matter what you do, you can’t win. If that happens, again, you need to start thinking about whether that is fair to you, and what you are willing to accept (or not) in your relationship.

      No matter what is going on with her, if you can take the time to look at what is happening on YOUR side of the relationship, you may be able to make things better. (On the other hand, if she has already decided she wants a divorce, it might be too late.)

      Take some time to do a little soul-searching. How have YOU been in the marriage? (I’m not being critical here. Maybe you’ve been great. But no one is perfect. Everyone can improve. So, try to be objective here.) If you put yourself in her shoes, what would she say is the problem in your marriage? How can you improve? If you changed, would it make a difference? Are you willing to let your wife go rather than change?

      While what I’m saying here might sound counter-intuitive, the truth is, you can’t control her. You can’t change her. You can only control you. So, work on yourself, and your side of the relationship. When you start showing up differently in your marriage, your relationship will change, even if she does nothing. Will that make everything perfect? Of course not. But, it will be a start. Plus, no matter what happens in your marriage, working on yourself will always be a good thing.

      Hope that helps.


      • Thank you for the advice: it has now been one year since this started and we are in the same place. I have been going to counseling and it has helped me greatly. She still refuses to go, pretends there is nothing wrong until I try to talk with her about it, and refuses sex. I am now to the point where I still love her but feel me and the kids would be better off asking her to leave and filing for divorce. Love is not a reason to stay in this if it is one sided. I know she loves me but refuses to treat me as a husband, and I don’t know anyone who would let a friend take advantage of them financially like that. I am hoping that we can work on the collaborative divorce and save some pain since she is still friendly. Again thank you for all the great info on your site.

  • Hi Karen, I enjoyed your article and your thoughtful replies to your readers. I’m 52 and we have been married for 27 years. We never fought except for ‘ should mow the lawn more frequently’ type stuff. There was never any yelling or genuine disagreements in our home. There was over the years a substantial lack of intimacy for periods, but somehow we tended to simply glaze over that and be. We have a little guy who’s 7 and the center of both our universes. No doubt that focus on being mom n dad nearly exclusively, dampened us as a couple as well.

    Last August, she texted me one evening to look for a note under her pillow. It was a typed note that praised me as a partner and dad but informed me that she was unhappy and wanted out. In all the years we were together, the hint of this was never raised. I was blown away. I took an apartment as nearby as as I could (8mins) and our son spends nights with both of us. Oddly we are still best friends or have the appearance of being. I see no advantage to acting on my sadness anger or grief. But I hate this version of life. Yet, you can’t argue with the tide. So I’ve been dating a woman for some time. My eventual ex is dating a guy from out of state who is apparently nice, albeit 20 years her junior. Lol. We have even joked about it. We have maintained that sort of friendship.

    My question is I’m having a hard time not feeling guilty seeing a woman and enjoying it. I almost hate that I have to. I even broke up with. Her during the summer cause the conflicted feelings were causing me so much stress. My heart is with my family but that doesn’t appear to be on the table. I’m scared to move to mediation and she doesn’t broach it at all but I think if I don’t sever the past if it isn’t an option, I will be stuck with a foot in each world and never begin to build life 2.0. Talk therapy was pleasant, but seems like a nice chat with a caring person. Any thoughts on how not to feel so bloody broken?

    • You are in a really tough spot. My guess is that the reason that you are feeling guilty is because you are acting in a way that runs contrary to your values. Deep down, even though your wife seems to be fine with your new living arrangement and lifestyle, you are not.

      It’s time for you to do some soul-searching. What kind of a life do you want? Are you happy with your life now? Is this the way you want to continue to live? What would happen if you divorced? Answer these questions honestly.

      You may not want to divorce, but if your wife is not willing to live with you as a married woman, then your choices are to live like you are (which sounds like it is NOT what you want) or get a divorce. You might not want that either, but at this point, how much difference would it make? You are already living apart and probably have a parenting schedule worked out for your son.

      The bottom line is this: you have got to be true to yourself. If you are not, you will be unhappy. You will feel guilty. You will be upset and dissatisfied with your life.

      Getting divorced is difficult. But in a way it’s like pulling off a bandaid. You do it once, it hurts like hell, then it’s over. Staying in a situation that makes you uncomfortable and unhappy without changing it, may not be as acutely painful as divorce, but your misery that way can last a long, long time.

      I wish you the best.


  • I was with my husband 27 years, 24 of them married. I was in complete shock how retaliative he has been. After I gave him my 401k to start a business, he and his brother incorporated the business behind my back WITHOUT my name. All of my life savings are tied up in the business, and he now states that I am “not” a partner.

    I should have left him years ago. Mentally abusive, he kept me on a very short financial leash, ruined every holiday I enjoyed – and I developed depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I feel that I truly wasted my life with a man I wouldn’t pick for a friend, much less a husband.

    • I can feel your pain. It’s so hard when the person you divorce turns out to be so different from the person you thought you married. Try not to beat yourself up for staying though. You had reasons for staying, even though, in hindsight, those reasons may not seem so great now. The good news (if there is good news) is that at least you are moving on and have another chance at happiness.

      Don’t look at the time you lost. Look at the opportunity you gained.



  • Its been a year since my divorce. I am no happier. I want my wife back.
    She wanted the divorce, I did not.
    Divorce ruins lives permanently. It is no answer to anything.
    What can I do.
    I am stuck. At 55.

    • I’m so sorry. You sound miserable. Here’s the hard truth, though.

      You’re only 55! You have a lot of life left in front of you. I understand that you didn’t want to divorce. But it happened. It is a fact of your life. You can’t change it. You can, however, start to deal with it — which is the only hope you have for ever making your life better.

      We all have to get over pain and trauma in our lives. Very few people have made it to 55 without suffering some kind of a significant loss — the death of a parent, child, or friend. Some people suffer the loss of an important job or damage to your reputation. Others get divorced.

      When loss happen, you can either deal with it and move on, or you can let it consume you and ruin the rest of your life. It is your choice.

      I know that is easy to say: “It’s time to move on.” It is much harder to do. I can hear your pain coming through your words. Yet, holding onto your pain by focusing on what you lost will only keep you locked in that pain forever. It’s time to let go.

      Get a therapist. Get out of the house. Start meeting new people. Start creating a new life.

      Will it be easy? Absolutely not! It will feel stupid and unnatural for a while. Do it anyway. Don’t let your life slip away from you. Don’t wait until your 85 and bitter to look back and realize that you could have still done wonderful things with your life, even if your wife was no longer in it.

      You can do it.



  • I will be 60 in a few months, have been retired with my wife for a year and will start collecting pension at 60. This is my second marriage and we have been married for 22 years. Our marriage has been totally sexless with no physical intimacy for as long as I can remember, over ten years at least. Over the years I have tried to talk with her about it but she defuses me by sending herself into a debilitating depression of guilt and self-loathing that ultimately makes me feel guilty for wanting and needing sex. Lately she has sunk further into depression and self-hatred. She has had a few sessions with a therapist and has started antidepressants and is trying to work her way out of the abyss. I have been as positive and supportive as I can. She tells me she loves me and does not know what she would do without me. I believe her when she says her self-hatred and depression have to do with her deceased parents and bad relationships with her siblings and have nothing to do with me. But I am miserable and unhappy in this sexless marriage and am fantasizing more and more about how much better and happier my life would be if I divorced to have my freedom and live on my own. But if doing that means I have to unretire to survive, I don’t feel willing or able to return to a working life. I can’t talk with her about how I feel because I know for certain that if I tell her, it will cause her to have a fuul-blown nervous breakdown. I feel trapped and don’t know what to do, so I just keep going and maintain the statis-quo. Some days I just want to walk out the door and never come back, but I truly believe one or both of us would die if I did that, so I don’t. I am numb. I don’t know what to do.

    • I am so sorry to hear your story. If it helps, you’re not alone. I have heard from countless people who are in truly unsatisfying marriages but, for one reason or another, feel unable to leave them.

      It sounds like the only reason you are not getting a divorce is because of money. When you’re already retired and getting a divorce means that you have to go back to work, then that makes the thought of getting divorced even worse than it already is. On the other hand, by the time you’re retired, you realize that you are not going to live forever. So you are caught between wanting to be comfortable and not have to un-retire, and wanting to be alive, which means you may have to go back to work.

      Here are a few ideas to get you unstuck.

      #1. Talk to a good divorce lawyer. Pay for the consultation if you need to do so. But, see if you can get a realistic evaluation of what your financial picture would look like if you divorced. It may not be as grim as you think. Or, maybe it will be that bad! But until you talk to a lawyer, you don’t KNOW that. You are just guessing. It’s time to get the facts. (You might also want to use a divorce financial planner to go over your numbers with you too.)

      #2. Once you have the facts, then you can start brainstorming options. Your only choices are NOT to either get a divorce, or to continue living as you are. You can stay married, but live separately. You can get a legal separation (That may or may not help. Talk to a lawyer before you do anything.) You can continue to be married, but develop your own activities and your own life so that you are not home very much. You can talk to your wife, and maybe decide to have an open marriage. (I’m not saying she will like this idea, or that it’s a perfect answer. But it is a potential option.)

      The bottom line is that you are feeling stuck because you see yourself as being caught in an “either/or” situation. Either you get a divorce or you live life the same way that you are living it now. If you can broaden your focus, you may be able to see possible solutions that you never saw before.

      I can’t promise that taking a broader view will instantly solve all of your problems. You are in a tough spot for sure. But the question you need to ask yourself is: what is the rest of your life worth?

      The flip side, of course, is that, if you divorce, and your wife spirals into a deeper depression, you will probably feel incredibly guilty. Can you deal with that? On the other hand, what if getting a divorce forces your wife to step out of her own misery and start living her life in a way that makes her happy, and not depressed? What if getting a divorce turns out to be a good thing for her?

      Obviously, it’s naive to think, “Oh getting a divorce will be good for my wife, so I’ll just do it.” But, the point I’m trying to make is that the box you think you are in might not be as small as you are making it. You can create a better life.



  • I’ve only been married 15 years compared to the rest in here but not only has my husband left me, it turns out he’s been having an affair for 6 years with a 25 year old, when they met, we are 51. She’s having their baby boy this April and now we are divorcing. We moved to Europe and I’ve lived in two countries I hate to further his career and now I am with our 12 year old daughter in a foreign country dealing with my mother who has alzheimer’s since 3 years who is now dying.I feel so unbelievably betrayed and as if I have wasted 15 years of my life for nothing. It doesn’t matter what sacrifices were made but to find I get nothing. And to think he asked for half of my inheritance when and if I get it? Slap, slap, slap in my face for all this unconditional love and trust: truly what a waste of 15 years of my life. What have I learned? A lot but worst of all is our daughter has learned just what kind of man NOT to marry. Sadly her father is the perfect example of what not to fall for which is beyond sad. And I have learned that even the most in love and most doting man who lives for honour isn’t always the most honourable at all. Everyone can lie to your face and even worse can lie more easily over the phone.

    • I’m so sorry you have had such a horrible experience. Don’t shortchange yourself by saying “Oh. I’ve ONLY been married 15 years.” That’s a lot! What’s more, pain has no time requirement! Betrayal hurts no matter how long or “short” your relationship was!

      I’m not going to spout sunshine at you right now, because it probably won’t change anything for you. All I can say is, if you can, leave open the possibility in your heart that good things may be coming your way.

      Were the last 15 years a waste? I don’t know. It sounds like you got your daughter because of your marriage. She’s not a waste.

      Are you where you want to be right now? Of course not! But you’ve been through a lot already, and you have made it. As horrible as this is, you will make it through this too. The question you might want to ask yourself is: what do you want to do with the hand that you have been dealt? Where do you go from here? How can you take your experiences and weave them into the fabric of your life in a way that doesn’t leave you bitter, it leaves you better?

      Give yourself time. You’ll get there.



  • Karen,

    Thank you for the encouraging and compassionate advice you share. Yours has been the most helpful website I have come across by far.

    I am 52 years old, I’ve known my husband for 25 years, married for 22. We have had 6 children together, ages 21, 19, 15, 13, 6, and one deceased who would’ve been 11 this year. l’ve been a stay at home mom for most of our married life. My husband has been struggling in his career since 2001, we’ve been through many hard and miserable years, each of us worried and scared but not really willing to admit it. My husband will be 57 this year and back in 2012, he started travelling to China to find an answer to his professional woes. He found more than that, I suspected it all along. He is now in the verge of a breakthrough in his business, I discovered that he was involved with his assistant / business partner and they had a child last July. My husband is very cunning and has the ability to hide funds overseas and work the books so it appears he is barely breaking even. I have put every penny I’ve earned into supporting our family.

    I’ve been seeking counseling and trying to heal our marriage since 2012. Now I am seeing the writing on the wall. I am currently unemployed with little resources. I am devastated and ready to accept that our marriage is over. But I don’t know where to turn for the help I need to get a divorce and reinvent myself and support my family. My husband is content with the status quo as it leaves me to take care of things while he enjoys his world, travels, New lover, and new child. I am left feeling cheated, used, and abandoned. I know I need to move on. Where do I go from here?

    • I am so sorry to hear what you’re going through. But, as hard is it may be to hear this, the fact that you’ve seen the writing on the wall before it was tattooed onto your forehead is a good thing.

      You asked where you go from here. Step 1 will be to get into counseling for yourself. You are going to need help and support to get through your divorce and to have the strength you need to help your kids through your divorce. You must take care of yourself.

      Step 2 is going to be to educate yourself. You have to learn all you can about divorce and how it works. You have to learn about your own financial situation and start collecting information. And you need to get some legal advice from a qualified divorce attorney in your area so that you understand what your options are and what you need to do to move forward in an intelligent way.

      Step 3 will be to make a plan. Without knowing a whole lot more about you and your situation (which you probably should NOT put on a website!) I can’t tell you what your plan should look like right now. Your plan will depend upon the law in your area and the facts of your case. Getting legal information right now is going to be key. Just be careful not to let a divorce lawyer suck you in to immediately “lawyering up” and filing for divorce. Maybe filing right away makes sense for some legal reason. Sometimes, filing for divorce as soon as you can is the best thing you can do. But, most times, its not.

      If you can buy yourself some time to think, learn, and plan, that will probably serve you well. The more you can plan and get your ducks in a row before you move towards divorce, the less likely you are to do something rash that ends up biting you in the behind later.

      I don’t want to try to sell you anything, but I will tell you that I recently launched a program that is specifically designed to help people like you, who are facing divorce and don’t know what to do. It is designed to help you learn what you need to know to minimize the pain and problems that divorce brings, while maximizing the chances that you and your kids will be in the best possible position to rebuild your life once the divorce is over. It’s called the Divorce Road Map Program. You can find it by clicking here.

      Whether you decide to enroll in my program or not, though, know that what you need is information and a plan. You also need to get a grip on your emotions so that you can think clearly. If you do get divorced (and it certainly sounds like that is what is going to happen) you will be making some of the biggest financial and life decisions you’ve ever had to make. You need to make those decisions from a place of knowledge and confidence. You can’t afford to react emotionally, or be in such a fog that you make mistakes that will affect you for the rest of your life.

      On the positive side, you’ve got 5 beautiful kids, and a whole life ahead of you. I can tell from what you wrote that you are totally capable of reinventing yourself. Age is just a number. (I can say that because I’m right up there with you!)

      Hang in there. You can do this.



    • I am so sorry to hear what you’re going through. But, as hard is it may be to hear this, the fact that you’ve seen the writing on the wall before it was tattooed onto your forehead is a good thing.

      You asked where you go from here. Step 1 will be to get into counseling for yourself. You are going to need help and support to get through your divorce and to have the strength you need to help your kids through your divorce. You must take care of yourself.

      Step 2 is going to be to educate yourself. You have to learn all you can about divorce and how it works. You have to learn about your own financial situation and start collecting information. And you need to get some legal advice from a qualified divorce attorney in your area so that you understand what your options are and what you need to do to move forward in an intelligent way.

      Step 3 will be to make a plan. Without knowing a whole lot more about you and your situation (which you probably should NOT put on a website!) I can’t tell you what your plan should look like right now. Your plan will depend upon the law in your area and the facts of your case. Getting legal information right now is going to be key. Just be careful not to let a divorce lawyer suck you in to immediately “lawyering up” and filing for divorce. Maybe filing right away makes sense for some legal reason. Sometimes, filing for divorce as soon as you can is the best thing you can do. But, most times, its not.

      If you can buy yourself some time to think, learn, and plan, that will probably serve you well. The more you can plan and get your ducks in a row before you move towards divorce, the less likely you are to do something rash that ends up biting you in the behind later.

      I don’t want to try to sell you anything, but I will tell you that I recently launched a program that is specifically designed to help people like you, who are facing divorce and don’t know what to do. It is designed to help you learn what you need to know to minimize the pain and problems that divorce brings, while maximizing the chances that you and your kids will be in the best possible position to rebuild your life once the divorce is over. It’s called the Divorce Road Map Program. You can find it by clicking here.

      Whether you decide to enroll in my program or not, though, know that what you need is information and a plan. You also need to get a grip on your emotions so that you can think clearly. If you do get divorced (and it certainly sounds like that is what is going to happen) you will be making some of the biggest financial and life decisions you’ve ever had to make. You need to make those decisions from a place of knowledge and confidence. You can’t afford to react emotionally, or be in such a fog that you make mistakes that will affect you for the rest of your life.

      On the positive side, you’ve got 5 beautiful kids, and a whole life ahead of you. I can tell from what you wrote that you are totally capable of reinventing yourself. Age is just a number. (I can say that because I’m right up there with you!)

      Hang in there. You can do this.



  • Dear Karen,
    I have been married for 20 years. For the past 9 yrs, the marriage has been very challenging- loveless, no intimacy of any kind & my husband verbally putting me down and being negative at any opportunity. I have slept in the spare bedroom for 2 years now. We have one child who just left for college. The day she left, I let him know his disrespectful, demeaning behavior stops, that I am contemplating a divorce. He is of course, shocked, pledges that family means everything to him and that he “cares about me”. Nothing changes for 7 1/2 months Now, at the 11th hour, he wants marriage counseling. He tells the therapist that his ego won’t allow him to say: I’m sorry I hurt you or I am responsible for my behavior. He is hoping that if things can’t go back to the way they were that I will at least settle down and we can remain married. He doesn’t want a divorce. I wouldn’t either, If I were him. Good help is so hard to find.
    My real decision: I am 56, work p/t because of a health condition and am frightened of not having good health coverage if I leave or enough funds to just get by. Should I stay at least until our child is out of college? I hate coming back from work. This is not a home, but a house. I will probably be happier in a one bedroom apt, because i will have peace of mind and self respect, but I may never be able to afford more than an apt. Am I crazy to even consider leaving?
    I am seeing a therapist and have begun to work w/a financial planner who specializes in divorces.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story! I can tell you right now that you are not the only one who is in a loveless marriage, questioning whether they would be crazy to consider leaving. (Btw, No. You’re not crazy!)

      It sounds like you have already decided you WANT to divorce. Your question now is whether you can afford to get a divorce. It is very wise of you to ask. It’s great to say, “I’m fed up! I’m done! I’m outta here!” But if getting a divorce means that you have to eat cat food for the rest of your life, then storming off in a fit of righteous anger becomes much less appealing. On the other hand, staying in a marriage where you are desperately unhappy also has a price.

      Right now, what you need is education. You need to understand what your options are, legally, financially and emotionally. You are absolutely taking the right steps! Working with a therapist and a financial planner is exactly what you need to be doing right now! I would add “educating yourself about divorce” to your list. This would be a good time to talk to a divorce lawyer in your area. You may not be ready to get divorced right now. But you can’t decide what to do until you know what your options are.

      Perhaps your spouse would have to pay you support for a period of time. That would certainly help. A lawyer could advise you about that.

      Also, explore job opportunities with better health care coverage. Maybe you have options you haven’t considered.

      As for staying until your child is out of college: Why? What does that do? Does the fact that your child is in college affect your marriage? From what you’ve written, the two things seem unrelated.

      Of course, you will want to be sensitive to your child’s feelings. I would also explore with your financial planner the effect that a divorce might have on your child’s ability to get financial aid at college, or your ability to contribute to your child’s college expenses. There may be real financial reasons why staying married until your child graduates makes sense … or not. The point is, you can’t know what to do until you understand the legal and financial implications of what you are facing.

      Hope this helps.


  • Hi Karen,

    It is generous of you to take the time to try to help people who are is a bad situation. I am also in need of some sound advice. From 1984 till 2000, I worked. I met my husband in 1997 and he already had two young children. before we were to be married, the mother of his children came by our house and told me that she had left her husband and could not care for the kids because she did not have a place to live. At the time, my “future” husband worked out of town, and I was working near home but my shift was 3pm-11pm. I tried to change shifts but they would not let me and I had no choice but to quit so that I could take care of the kids. We lived in a house that was mine, I had very good credit, a car, etc. We married a few months later. The following year, in 2001 we had our first child together, A month later my husband almost died from a contracting Histoplasmosis while working. That was the beginning of our problems because he could not work for a long time. We decided to lease to own our home while we lived and worked at a motel. That was my last job I had. We had another child in 2002. So now we had four. To try to shorten this up, because I could write a book about everything that happened, I lost everything. He walked out on our two children and myself in 2011 without any warning except to tell the kids he had a new place to live. I had no job, no money, and he didn’t even bother to pay the rent before he left us.
    I began by going straight to child support services because I knew how he was and I was very doubtful that he would help me support the kids if not forced to do so. I had to quit college and get a job. (Sadly, I had just started because the kids were in school now). No degree, out of the workforce for about 10 years, I had to take what I could get and it wasn’t much. Still isn’t.
    I work in a factory making now $10/hour(Just got a raise). I am 51, no medical benefits are available through my job that I can afford, and I worry every day about our financials. I finally was able to get a divorce last year (he wouldn’t pay for it) and he agreed to pay more than what they what my original child support case was. I did not go to the Child support office because he already complained so much about the $400 a month he had to pay (or sometimes didn’t pay). Now he has stopped working entirely and filed for disability. He stopped paying child support in Jan and they suspended his drivers license. He paid %600 to get it back. In court, he was ordered to pay the original amount plus $86 to go towards arrears. This month he only paid about half of what he was supposed to pay.
    Upon checking my case activity on the CS website I learned that he is to return to court on Sept 2 and bring with him medical papers from his doctor.
    I fear that our kids are going to loose whatever support they are supposed to and financially we are going to be in a very bad place. I did receive a notice from CS dated Aug 4, 2017 that states I can make a request for modification as long as the case is 36 months old, but it also states that the earliest date it is available for review is 8/7/2020. Why? I never made a modification, CS services did, and I did not even get a chance to say anything.
    What do I do? I was planning on going back to college, but if they take the CS I will probably have to get a second job instead.
    I really don’t know what to do, and the stress is building. Our children, who are now 14 and 16 yrs old do not deserve this.

    • You are definitely in a tough financial situation. I wish I could give you some great advice about how to get your ex to live up to his responsibilities, but the truth is, I can’t. If your ex doesn’t pay what he is supposed to pay in child support, all you can do is take him to court to try to enforce his obligation. It sounds like you are already doing that.

      As you’ve found, the child support system is inefficient and often ineffective. I don’t know why you can’t get a review date until 2020. You have to ask that question of your local child support service.

      If your ex has a court date coming up, you might want to show up on that date and see what happens. (Make sure to let the child support attorney in court and the judge know that you’re there.) I don’t know whether you can change anything by being there. But, at least you will know what is happening, and maybe you will get a chance to tell the judge how desperately you and the kids need money. That might make a difference in what happens. (No promises, though.)

      The other option you may want to explore is legal aid. If you could talk to a lawyer, s/he would probably be able to give you ideas about what your options are and whether there is anything else you could do to get your ex to pay you other than what you are already doing. You could also hire a private lawyer for a consultation and ask him/her your questions. The problem is that a private lawyer will charge you between $200 – 400 per hour to give you legal advice. It doesn’t sound like you have that kind of money. That’s why I suggested that you go to legal aid. You may have to wait awhile for an appointment, but at least you won’t have to pay for a lawyer.

      Unfortunately, you don’t have a lot of great options. If your ex continues to not pay his child support, he may end up getting his drivers license suspended again. That might make him pay up. You may also be able to get any tax refund he has coming to him, redirected to you. (You need to talk to a lawyer or child support person to see if this is a possible option for you.) If the judge gets really angry, s/he may throw your ex in jail for awhile. But, other than that, I don’t know what else you can do.

      I’m sorry.

  • Hi Karen
    Thank you for your site. Lots of great info and insight here that has been very helpful to me.

    I have been unhappy in my marriage for at least 15 years. Hard to believe when I stop and calculate.

    I married a man 24 years my senior. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer 7 months before we married. A year or so later it came back. Radiation therapy left him mostly impotent.

    I’ll spare you the exhausting details of trying to regain a semi-normal sex life. Most of the solutions I sourced. All he found a reason why they were uncomfortable for him.

    About 10 years ago when I was unreceptive to his advances, which would likely mean an hour or more of work, he told me i would need to give him permission to see a prostitute. I shut down.

    We went to marriage counseling. I don’t think it did much. I’ve realized I’ve been a caretaker, a people pleaser for a long time.

    He’s sarcastic, emotionally abusive. I finally went back to counseling, by myself with a different, better person, after he forgot my birthday this year.

    I have finally gotten the nerve to get my own place. I’m not going to tell him yet. Divorce is expensive and emotional. I’m 52 and ready to move on but have waffled for so long and I’ve lost myself due to him and his issues always taking or precedence.

    Can people just live like this without divorcing? .

    I cannot seem to get the words out to tell him exactly how I feel. When I get close, he always seems to be able to avoid the conversation or twist things to make me feel it’s my fault.

    Things aren’t super terrible but they aren’t great. I have a great job and I want to take every opportunity I that comes up with it. He stays home all day, retired, isolated. No friends.

    My life is comfortable but I miss physical contact, kind words. So tired of his just-below-the surface irritation and anger.

    Do people just live this way until someone dies?

    I realize this may be more than just a divorce question but curious about any insight you have.

    Thank you

    • Oh JC! I feel for you! I can hear how much you long for intimacy, but, at the same time, are too afraid to take steps that might let you actually enter into a relationship where you would get it some day. (Btw, make no mistake, it’s not just the sex you are missing. My guess is that if your husband loved you like crazy, and was kind to you, and talked to you, and was close to you, then you might feel differently about his impotency. Yes, you’d still miss sex. But you can have a lot of satisfying physical contact, even sexual contact, that does not involve intercourse.)

      Your situation is a tough one. You said you’ve been unhappy for at least 15 years. You wonder whether people live in relationships with no physical contact, no intimacy, and no kindness. The short answer is: Yes. Lots of people do it, especially if the rest of their life and lifestyle is reasonably comfortable. But, the better question is: Do YOU want to live in this kind of situation? Are you okay with a reasonably comfortable, unfulfilling life? Or do you want more? Neither answer is right or wrong. But, you do have to decide what’s right for you.

      Will divorce change your life? Absolutely! Will it be hard and emotional? Yes. Will it hurt your finances? Probably. Will it get you out of a marriage where you’ve been unhappy for at least a decade and a half? Definitely. Will you meet someone new and have a satisfying relationship afterwards? Maybe.

      That’s the problem. No matter what you do, you have no guarantees of happiness.

      One thing you do know: if you stay in the same situation for another 15 years without doing something different, nothing is likely to change. Is this the life you want?

      Where will you be 10 years from now? At that point your husband will be 86 years old. Is he more likely to change then? Are you? You will be 62 at that point. Will you feel more like starting over again when you’re even closer to retirement — perhaps a retirement that you will then never be able to have because of the financial hit a divorce would put on you?

      There are no easy answers. Divorce may not be your only choice. Perhaps you can work on your relationship. You can always work on yourself. But if you do nothing, nothing will change.

      I wish you the best.


  • Hello Karen,
    Let me tell you about my 22 years married life with a man that was kind, great father and the best husband. He was honest and never lied to me when we met, he told me that he was bipolar and he was taken medication. At that moment I didn’t know all about it so I didn’t put much attention because he was ok. I am from South America and never saw or heard about people with this mental disorder,I can say I was ignorant. After about 2 years married and had my 1 year old son I realized that something was wrong with him, so I had to call the police to get him out of the house, he was out of control. He was hospitalized for about 3 weeks, at that moment I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have family to move out and his family gave me the support that needed it. I start getting educated about that mental illness thinking with medication, a constant doctor evaluations and my support he will be able to control it, and by a doctor’s recommendation we went to therapy. I loved my husband and when we got married we took our vows for the “bad and sickness”, so I had to help him and support him.
    Four years passed he was ok and suddenly after I have my daughter things changed again, so his episodes came back since then almost every 2 years. We all (my children and I) had to witness all these years what his mental disorder cost us, financially and emotionally. It came on my mind several times to divorce him, but I didn’t want abandoned him, and leave him out of his will on the streets as a homeless, he is a good man that unfortunately have to carry his mental illness for the rest of his life. So, for many years I was prepared in the event that someday our separation will take place. But I didn’t want to do it yet for them, my kids, they love him dearly as I said before, he is a great father, I just didn’t want that he missed those precious moments with his children and my children to share their childhood with their father of course all of it when he was ok. Now my boy is 21 year old, a college student, he moved out of my house and my girl 18 year old senior high school and soon college student.
    My husband is sick again, he lost his job and is making my life miserable, feeling like an abused wife. Last week we had a family reunion, we were trying to make him go voluntarily to the hospital, but he refused. He took his car and run away, already passed almost a week, the police said they cannot force him. I got my children support they understand me and thank me for no give up all this years, so they say “mom is time to let go”. Time for me to be relief of this pain and guilt. I am 57 year old, now I am alone at home looking for this websites and accidentally I got yours. I really feel that I made the right decision, seen other people experiences, mine didn’t look as bad. Thanks for give me the space to share mine.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I know that had to be hard for you. It doesn’t sound like you’ve had an easy life.

      I wish I had a magic wand that I could waive to make everything in your life better, but I don’t. Living with someone who is mentally ill is rough. You love them. You know they’re suffering, too. But, you’re also suffering. Your kids are suffering. Staying with them is hard — it’s really hard! At the same time, leaving them isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.

      I have no idea of what your financial situation is, or what it might look like if you get divorced. What I can say is that, more than most people, you really need support. Before you start on the road of divorce, talk with a good divorce financial planner. You need to know what your financial situation is now, and how you might be able to construct a financial situation in the future that can support both you and your spouse. (You’ll also find out whether doing that is even possible. That may be hard news to take. But, it’s better to know that in advance so you can plan as well as possible.)

      Talk to a good divorce lawyer. Go to someone who also does mediation or collaborative divorce. You do NOT need a shark attorney! Going to court in your situation is likely to cost you a fortune and make things way worse.

      Get yourself a therapist, someone who understands bipolar disorder and can give you help and insight no matter what you do.

      Finally, consider collaborative divorce. It is the most supported way of going through divorce. It keeps you out of the court system, and helps you and your spouse divorce respectfully.

      Thank you again for sharing your experiences. I wish you the best.


  • Just turned 57, neither of us had much; just cars. I struggled SO hard to make it work. Unfortunatley, he was quite abusive. Have a Master’s degree; but owe a lot of money for loans from 12 years ago. No retirement; nothing- Master’s degree hasn’t gotten me far and I’m so afraid for the future. Living with my son now who is in his 20’s. Can you give me one hopeful suggestion? Thanks.

    • Okay. I have 2 suggestions for you: one that is amazing but seems like total “fluff,” and one that is a bit more practical.

      First the “fluff.” Actually, it’s not fluff at all. It can completely change your life. But it takes time. And you can’t fake it.

      What is it?

      Gratitude. (Yes, I know it seems impossible. Hang with me here!) Focusing on what you have instead of what you don’t have can help you triumph over your fears. There is a simple saying that what you focus on expands. If you focus on your struggle, you’ll get more struggle. If you focus on how thankful you are that you are smart, educated, and away from your abusive spouse, you will start to feel much more positive about your life. As you appreciate how lucky you are to be WHO you are, and to have your talents and abilities, they will start to grow. Eventually, so will your money.

      So, tip #1: Be grateful for everything you have now.

      Tip #2: Live Within Your Means.

      Yes, life is hard now. But a few small hacks may help you start to save more money than you thought you could. Every little bit that you save will help you feel (and be!) more financially secure.

      I know that right now your future looks scary. But you’re not at your future yet. You’re in the present. You’ve got a place to live and a car. However humble, that’s a start.

      You can do this.


      PS If you want to read a little more about the power of gratitude, you can check out: How to Be Grateful Even When Your Life’s a Hot Mess, and 8 Reasons to Be Thankful for Your Divorce.

      For money-saving tips, read: 50 Ways to Save Money After Your Divorce.

  • Karen,
    I am facing the “D” word again with my husband after 15 years of marriage and being together for 18 years. I am 54 and he is 56 and I am wondering if he is going through a mid life crisis. He said “I love and care for you, but I just don’t want to be married to you. I am done. I am not happy and I need to find happiness for me.” I love him dearly and want to get healing for him, myself and our family. He is just DONE. However he wants to process the divorce on our own and live together (if I can handle it) until the divorce is done as he said that the house we built together is my home too. This is our second time of going through this and he said that he should have left 7 years ago. He wants to make sure that my medical needs are taken care of while I am on his insurance, but wants to work out the decision for completing the divorce. Everyone that we have in our circle of life are shocked, but there some who are actually happy about it.
    We have gone through so much together and I have moved multiple times with him due to job changes and done it with love and support. I have been the one who has stated behind to complete the sales of our homes and found him the apartments to stay in during the transition of jobs. We stayed in contact with each other during these moves via phone, text and even Skype. We are a blended family with him having his daughter and I with 5 of my own. My children have loved their Papa and supported us, however sometimes it was difficult for them, but they would be willing to work it through. His daughter never accepted the marriage and has been a challenge at times, but I did my best to love her with what she choose to allow. As I mentioned we have been through a lot together, 3 child getting married, multiple surgeries and the most recent was the unsuspected findings of 2 non rupture aneurysms in which I have had one cranial surgery preformed and my be facing another. My husband is a very passive man and has a hard time sharing his feelings. I, on the other hand, want to talk and work through things but how can that be done IF YOU DON’T TALK!!! After he told me that he wants a divorce he acts like nothing is wrong. He is still communicating with me as long as it isn’t trying to talk about why he is unhappy. I am struggling terribly with this and wonder what your thoughts would be.

    • I’m not sure of exactly what you have been through together, but it is possible that you have issues between you and your husband that have never been dealt with. For whatever reason, it seems that he doesn’t want to deal with them now. He just wants to move on. Because of that, marriage counseling would probably be a waste of time. If he is determined to divorce you, marriage counseling won’t work. But, you could probably get a lot of benefit from individual counseling. A good therapist can help you deal with your emotions, and deal with the situation you are now facing, even if it’s one you don’t want.

      If there is any chance of saving your marriage, of course, going to marriage counseling would be a great idea. Clearly, something is bothering your husband. A good therapist can help you both get to the bottom of what that is. S/he can also help you start to heal whatever that wound may be. But, at the same time, you have to be realistic, too.

      If your husband is DONE, and he can’t be persuaded to work on your marriage, then the sooner you come to terms with that reality, the better off you will be.

      You can’t force someone to love you, or to stay married to you. There is also a “point of no return” in a marriage. Once you cross that line, going back is next to impossible.

      Obviously, I have no idea whether you’ve crossed that line or not. Only you and your husband can know that. But, if you have crossed the line, the only thing you can do is pick up the pieces as best you can and move on yourself.

      I also recommend that you get legal advice. Given your age and medical condition, having good legal advice as you go through the divorce process will be super important. That doesn’t mean that you have to hire a shark, or make your divorce contentious or ugly. But you do need to know what you are facing, and what your options are, both going through the divorce and afterwards.

      I wish you the best.


  • Karen,
    I am a man, now divorced after 31 years of marriage. We have two sons, one with autism who is now 28 and living in a group home. I am constantly crying after being alone for 8 months now. There were quite a few issues with the marriage, mostly communication. She filed and I tried to compromise but she wanted to move on. Now she has cut off all communication, as I was attempting to try and reconcile; she wanted no part of that, and already has a new boyfriend. I feel like I am just going through the motions of life, and for what? My children are just fine, I have 3 sisters that are fine, and no real friends now because they are all married and we had relationships as couples. I don’t feel like meeting anyone new, I am 61 and also have health issues from being a past police officer retired from numerous injuries. Any suggestions?

    • First of all, let me say that the loneliness you feel must be horrible. While I can hear how much you wish you could re-establish contact with your wife, it also seems that your wife is not interested in doing that.

      Since you asked for my suggestions, I will give them to you. All I ask in return is that you keep an open mind and maybe even try them. (After all, what have you got to lose, right?)

      First, I STRONGLY suggest that you get yourself a therapist. Yes, I know. Police officers (and retired police officers) aren’t usually big on therapy. That’s okay. Go anyway.

      While I’m not a therapist myself, from what you have written I wouldn’t be surprised if you were suffering from depression. A good therapist can help you turn that around. (Plus the cost may be covered by your health insurance.)

      Second, you need PURPOSE in your life. That will change your life. It will get you up and out of the house. It will take your focus away from everything you’ve lost and redirect it onto everything you still have to gain.

      Lets be honest here. 61 is NOT old! I know you may feel old and useless at the moment, but it’s totally not true. If you had something to look forward to, your life could totally turn around – and it doesn’t even have to take that long!

      So how do you find your purpose? Start by looking.

      I’m going to give you a little “tough love” here. (I figured, as a former police officer, you can take it!) 😉

      Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start doing something about your situation! Your wife is gone. As horrible as that may be, she is clearly not coming back. So stop expecting her to do that. Instead, start branching out on your own.

      There are a million really worthy causes that could use volunteers. Find one and volunteer. You can start with a small commitment if that’s easier. Do something once a week. If you like it, you can do more.

      If you don’t want to volunteer, think about getting a part time job. Join a gym. Join an organization you’re interested in. Get a hobby. Find a few online dating websites and look through them. (I know, you think you’re too miserable, or too old, or too something to date, right?! Rubbish! Just go look. There’s a website called Silver Singles for dating over 50. I have no idea how good it is, but why not check it out anyway?)

      The bottom line is that you’ve got to take your life in your hands. You’ve got to change. You CAN change. But until you DO change, you’re going to stay as unhappy as you are.

      Is changing easy? Absolutely not! It’s scary! It takes you out of your comfort zone. But, as a former police officer, I suspect you’ve been in situations where you weren’t comfortable before. You can do it again, now. You may have to force yourself in the beginning. That’s okay. Do it anyway.

      You’ll be glad you did.


      PS Sorry for being a little tough on you. But I think you need to remember how strong and capable you are. It’s time to put your past behind you. Just remember, nothing will change unless YOU change.

    • I was married for 42 years and my husband passed away from cancer. I met a man 4 months later and 4 months after that we were married. I thought I’d found my Prince Charming. Now after 2 years he wants a divorce. I’m devastated. I’m 62 he is 68. He thinks life is passing him by and wants to live. He is already dating. I’m finding it hard to move on.

      • Oh my! I wish I could say I’ve never heard of this kind of thing before, but, unfortunately, it’s all too common.

        So, what to do?

        First of all, I encourage you to get a good therapist. Trying to deal with this kind of loss alone will make it doubly difficult.

        Second, take the time to grieve. It sounds like you barely had time to grieve the death of your husband before this new man came into your life. Everything happened fast — too fast. You need time to catch up.

        Third, if you can find a support group in your area, that can help too. Just knowing that others are going through their own tough times can be comforting when you’re in the middle of your own dark night.

        Finally, I wonder if looking at your situation from a different perspective might help.

        On the one hand, you could look at this situation as being horrible. Your Prince Charming turned out to be a toad and now you’ve lost 2 husbands instead of just one. What’s more, you’re 62 years old! What’s left for you? (Mind you, I’m not saying you SHOULD think like this! It’s just one way of viewing your situation – and not a particularly happy or productive way at that!)

        Or, you could look at your situation from a different perspective. You could focus on the fact that you’re only 62 and that, thank heavens, it only took 2 years for your toad to show his true colors! You could have wasted years in this relationship, and then where would you have been? You’re still young enough to be able to move on and have a good life. Statistically speaking, you probably have at least another 20 good years ahead of you!

        I know that it’s hard to look at things in a positive way when you’re in so much pain. That’s why working with a therapist and/or a support group can be so important for you. But, in time, you just might find that, as difficult as this all is for you right now, you will be glad to have this man out of your life later. (Just a thought.)

        I’m sorry for your pain.


  • Karen,
    So glad to find your article! I have been married for 35 years, but being trapped in this unhappy marriage for the past 15 years. I have tried for years to get my husband to be more involved and worked on our relationship unsuccessfully. He does not work since he was a stay home dad for our kids when they were younger. He decides he doesn’t want to get a job when our kids finally went away for college. He likes to bury himself on his computer or spend time at the gym. He is also in a depression mode most of the time, especially after his cancer treatment a couple years ago. I tried to encourage him to see a therapist, but he does believe he has a depression issue. I have thought of leaving him right before we discover he has cancer, so I stay to make sure someone can care for him while he going through treatment. I still stay with him today, mainly because I want to make sure he has health insurance coverage through my employer as he is still needed to be closely monitored and followed up with his doctor every three months. I was hopping our relationship will improve after we been through so many challenges recently, but I don’t feel the love and care from him. I want to leave and move on, but a divorce would be so devastating at this age since I am in my mid fifty. Sadly, I am not sure how to move forward at this point.

    • You’re definitely in a difficult spot. I can completely understand your hesitation to leave, but your unhappiness at staying.

      I wish I could give you a quick and easy way to improve your situation, or make your decision easier. Unfortunately, that’s a super power I don’t have!

      First of all, as someone who is also in her mid fifties, let me assure you that you are not that old! You potentially have a lot of life left ahead of you. So does your husband. (Obviously, his cancer could change that, but it seems like he is past the worst of his crisis.) At the same time, it would be naive to suggest that you’ve got all the time in the world to make your life what you want it to be. The truth is, we’re both in the back half, even if we live to be 100!

      So, the question is: how do you want to live the rest of your life? How important is your own happiness? What are your options?

      Part of the problem that people have when trying to decide whether to divorce is that they see their decision as an “either/or,” “all-or-nothing” decision. But, the truth is that, your only choice is NOT: get divorced or stay married.

      There are MANY decisions you could make right now. For example:

      1. You can stay married with your relationship as it is.
      2. You could stay married but work on yourself, which will change your relationship.
      3. You could stay married but live separately.
      4. You could stay married but try a trial separation.
      5. You could stay married, continue to live together, but live separate lives.
      6. You could stay married and have an open marriage.
      7. You could look into whether your spouse would still be eligible for health insurance coverage through your employer if you were legally separated. (Some health insurers allow this, others don’t. Of course, there is always an extra cost involved too, so you have to weigh that into the mix.)
      8. You can get divorced.

      Now, you might not like all of these suggestions. Some of them may be wildly inappropriate for you. But, the point is, you have options — probably more of them than you think! Just knowing that is likely to leave you feeling less “trapped.”

      Finally, you will note that none of these options requires your husband to change, or to go to marriage counseling (which he refuses to do). That’s because the ONLY person you can control or change is yourself.

      What most people don’t understand, though, is that when THEY change, their relationship also changes.

      Does that mean that if you start living your own life, separately from your husband, that he will automatically change and become the loving, caring man you once knew? I wish human behavior was that easy! Obviously, it’s not.

      The truth is, if you start to distance yourself from him, your husband could well do the same thing to you. Or, he could wake up and decide to change himself. IF you have a serious conversation with him and tell him that you’re thinking of leaving because your marriage is so unfulfilling, perhaps that will make him realize that he’s losing you. Then, he might decide he wants to work on your marriage, and on himself. On the other hand, he might not.

      In the end, obviously, you have to hash this out for yourself. But if you do, if you keep searching, you will find the answers you’re looking for inside of yourself.

      I hope this helps.


  • My husband is willing to give me the 401k. I want spousal support also. Can I get spousal support? He makes about 120,000 plus bonuses. I’m 52 years old.

    • I’m sorry but, without knowing a whole lot more about your divorce, I can’t answer that. (I also can’t answer legal questions online.)

      Those are all great questions to ask your lawyer.


  • You may have stayed in an unsatisfactory relationship for a long time because you were afraid of dealing with the changes that splitting up forces upon you. Just Get out there, create that life you dream of.

  • Karen, I am in the beginning of this process. Yesterday my husband told me he was trying to decide what to do, he says he loves me but also loves another woman. We have been married 20 years, he was my best friend and we hardly ever argued. We have a 14 year old son. I recently stopped working, I had been looking forward to “retiring” at 60 for a long time. I am also retired from the military, we were married for the last 3 years of my 20 year career. I handle all the finances, and came into the marriage with investment and IRA accounts and life insurance. He came with nothing but ability to work hard and keep a job. I have since started life insurance and IRA for him, plus for our son when he was born. I don’t know where to start, what I should be doing while he decides if he’s going or staying. He became a citizen during our marriage, and the woman is in his home country. He said she needed his name and birth certificate for a “visa”. He is on his phone messaging all night and most of every day, and has been for months, so of course there isn’t much communication, but otherwise he is acting normal. I am not even sure what I’m asking about, I’m just stunned and confused. I don’t want to lose everything. Our house and cars are paid off, my parents paid off the house as a gift to me.

    • Oh my! Where to start?

      First of all, if you don’t have a therapist, you’re definitely going to want to get one! Now. You need help. A lot has been thrown at you and you’re dealing with a lot of loss. Having someone you can talk to about your feelings, someone who can help you grieve and help you move on, will be crucial if you want to get through this tough time in the best, most effective way possible.

      Second, you asked what you should be doing while he decides if he’s going or staying. I don’t mean to be harsh, but maybe you should be deciding if YOU are going to be going or staying, too!

      Remember, there are two people in this relationship and YOU COUNT! He’s lied to you and cheated on you. What’s worse is that he apparently has no intention of changing, or working on the marriage. So, at this point, instead of worrying about what HE is going to do, you might want to focus on what YOU want to do. That will help get you clear and focused.

      Now, of course, even if you start thinking about what you want, you’re still facing a rough decision. It sounds like you have a lot invested in your marriage and you have a 14 year old son to think about. I’m not saying you should throw everything away without thinking about the ramifications of your decision. But just remember that staying with your husband has ramifications too.

      I also encourage you to start preparing yourself for the future. Like it or not, that means learning about your options, including divorce. Even if the heavens open and you and your husband end up working everything out, it still won’t hurt you to know what your options are.

      I know that right now you are stunned and confused. You may not be able to think clearly. That’s why a getting a therapist is so important. S/he will help you clear the fog so you can think. As soon as you can do that, you would be well advised to start thinking about what you want for the future for you and your son.

      Finally, know that, even though your life may not look like what you envisaged it would look like, you still have a chance to make it amazing. Yes, it will be different. (You probably won’t be able to retire at 60!) But it can still be wonderful. I know it doesn’t seem that way now. But, once you get through this, it will.

      Hang in there!


  • Wow you people are depressing me. You were all foolish enough to sign a contract to which the counter party has zero fiduciary responsibility to you, and can bail out the minute they are bored; then the corrupt system rewards them with cash and prizes.
    I have a live in partner in a non-common law state. I own my own house, a duplex that generates cash for me, titled only to me. I have a new car paid off, titled only to me. I have a large bank account, titled only to me. I might adopt a child soon since I have so much surplus wealth that I have been having nurturing feelings of giving back out of my abundance. I am 32 years old When people try to shame me into marriage I laugh in their face. You were all born into a free(ish) country. You chose to make yourself a slave to another’s will. How is that working out for you all?

  • Hello Karen, Please help me. I have been divorced for 3 years. I was married for 38 years. He was cheating on me. When he told me that he didn’t love me, well, it absolutely broke my heart. I took it really hard. I have been on antidepressants. I have no college education and had always worked part time. We are now friends. But I’m so scared that I won’t be able to financially make it. I’m scared and don’t know what to do.

    • Oh my! I can understand that you are scared. But if you’ve been divorced for 3 years it’s time for a little tough love.

      Like it or not, you’ve got to find a way to support yourself. I don’t know what your financial situation is, so I can’t advise you about that. But no matter what your finances look like, step one is getting yourself together again. That means getting into therapy, taking care of yourself physically, and starting to take stock of where you are and where you want to be.

      The fact that you have no college education isn’t helpful, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world, either. You might want to seek out a career counselor, or check out certification programs at your local community college. You need to find something you can do to start bringing in full time money as soon as you can. There are literally dozens of different jobs you could probably do, but when you’re depressed and feeling bad it’s hard to think of them.

      That’s why you’ve got to start working on YOU! … and you’ve got to start now.

      I know it probably seems overwhelming. But if every single day you do 1 thing to move yourself forward (no matter how small that thing is) you will start to see progress sooner than you think.

      You can do this!


  • Hi after 23 years I got a divorce. I didn’t have a lawyer just wanted out. Is it too late to file for half of his pension and disability he has a wife same age as our daughter. 20years I can’t pay my bills .Is alimony out of question? Thanks Doris. In Ky!

  • I agree therapy is needed in many divorce situations, but for many, living paycheck to paycheck before splitting the household, it isn’t possible. Not even close! Therapists are expensive even with our expensive high deductible insurance. I am disabled but cannot collect disability since I stayed home to raise our two kids, one is still at home, age 14. He wants to sell our home for the measly equity which would barely pay our current debts. I am 50, he is 46. He wants a divorce since I am disabled and I know longer can handle his anger and emotional abuse. We only have $13,000 in 401k. So, guess I will be uninsured, homeless, and probably lose custody of my 14 yr old. Just getting a lawyer for myself is a struggle, much less a therapist.

    • I’m so sorry to hear your story. But, don’t assume that all therapists are expensive. Many work on a sliding scale. Still others work at greatly reduced rates. It takes some tenacity and perseverance to find therapists who can work with your budget. And, yes, sometimes it isn’t possible. But you never know unless you try. It might be worth checking out.

  • I’m 54 and my 56-year old wife of 17 years says she is lost and has to “find herself”. Blended family, five kids, raised her two boys like they were my own and have a teenaged daughter together. Four kids have moved out, and once her last son left she says she is done. She says I’ve been a great father, husband, provider but is tired of her voice not being heard in the marriage. I saved 90% of the money in the 401K, handled all finances so our house has 350K in equity, came home everyday from work and never demanded a meal. She says it’s always been my way, that I’m always right, and she needs to move on. Kids and her therapist tell her not to do it, but she has a friend doing the same thing so she suddenly became her “family”. We have had plenty of fights and challenges over the years, and I took responsibility for trying to win arguments with logic and facts instead of listening and validated her feelings. I’m not perfect and there are no perfect marriages. I think people forget that they took vows that included “in good times and bad, rich and poor, good and poor health”. Marriage is a compromise and a rollercoaster but we’ve raised five pretty good kids. She sees herself getting 300K out of the divorce, and being able to do whatever she wants. There’s no thought given to future grandchildren, marriages, milestones that will all be separate. She thinks the four kids in their 20’s won’t be affected. She has no family since her parents are deceased, and she doesn’t talk to a couple siblings. My family has always accepted and loved her. Now she is turning her back on them also. Doesn’t want to go to joint therapy to discuss because she thinks it’ll just expose her to what she has been and what she is doing. Her heart is hardened, her mind made up. Her “feelings” trump everything else. I don’t think she sees then collateral damage this will cause. We had an opportunity to get to the retirement finish line in a few years with a paid off house and empty nest. The past 17 years of hard work all for nothing. She is a spender, I’m the saver. And now, after spending the majority of the money she says she doesn’t want to leave any money “on the table” in the divorce. I bought the house before we married but added her to the title. I look back at the decisions I made for us, and know I’m losing because of it. She admits she wasn’t the best wife, been saying it for years. Cut off sex, and any intimacy. Never happy in her job. I encouraged her to find something else, or to take a class to find something she is interested in. I stuck with it because I believed in the vows, and that a marriage has a series of ups and downs. I would counsel anyone to never get married and if you do get a prenup, marry in a state that’s not community property and keep everything separate. These days people don’t care about the “sanctity”of marriage or “what God has united let no man divide”. Now I’m left to pick up the pieces with my teenage daughter, and the joy in knowing I’ll get to work another 20 years to make up for what she is taking.

    • I can hear your pain. I can tell that you don’t want to get divorced. But the unfortunate truth is that, if your wife does (and it certainly seems like she does) then you’re going to get a divorce. (Sorry!)

      At this point, all you can do is to pick up the pieces and do the best you can for your teenage daughter. Yes, it will now take you longer before you can retire. Yes, that probably doesn’t seem fair since you were the saver and she was the spender. For better or worse, the law is what it is.

      Just know this much: you’re still young! Sure, at 54 you’re not a “spring chicken” as they say. But, you’re not old either! You still have a lot of life left in front of you. You have a great family. Nurture your relationships with all of your kids. Take care of your teenage daughter. Take the time to get through this divorce and let yourself heal.

      You may be surprised at what your future holds.



  • I am 52 and my wife which was 40 left me 4 months ago without any rise or reason, she left to Mexico to her parents house and said she was done . after 12 years I am very depressed and feel extremely lonely. what should I do?

    • I’m so sorry. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you where to start, and that would be with a good therapist.

      S/he can help you deal with what happened and figure out your next steps.

  • I’ve been divorced for 7 years now my wife did the same thing that most of these wives have done without telling me she was unhappy she left I asked her what she was unhappy about and she said oh I don’t know I just want to use men for sex I told her I’ve been wanting sex from her for 15 years she said she feels a little bad about that too. She ruined both of us financially of course I’m doing much better now but financially I’m still screwed. I have a sneaking suspicion that it stems from feminism and the female of the human species needing to evolve. Women damn sure don’t have any respect for the male counterparts not as fathers not as husbands. And Karen if you step back as an outsider and look at your answers you’re one of them. The few men who are leaving must be very in touch with their feminine side that’s all I can think. Because most all men that’s been in long-term marriage mine was 24 years don’t want to divorce want to stay together keep the family together because they work their ass off their whole life to do that. I think there’s a walk away wife syndrome. Most of them won’t talk to their husbands about their 25-year long marriage for more than 10 minutes they feel they owe them nothing. The vast majority of divorces these days are started by the wives why do you think that is? And they typically never tell the husband they’re unhappy, why do you think that is? now I know you might think that I sound angry I’m not my life is better now she was also a spender just like most of them and I was a saver and so consequently I have money now in a nice car and a place to live she has nothing. Not even a relationship with her own kids. and that Karen is so very typical of women these days how is that right? Women are going through something these days all I got to say is get through it people and act like adults not bored little kids who want somebody to entertain them.

  • I have been married 18 years and this month would be our 19th Anniversary. I am German and everyone in my family drinks. I fell in love with my husband and best friend and shortly after found out he had a serious problem with alcohol and substance abuse. It took many years, always praying for him, for him to become sober. I saw him through two hospitals for substance abuse, which he was gone for quit a while both times, physical and verbal abuse, my children and I lived in a family crisis center for several months. All this to say I stayed with him through hell and then he sobered up and got help. I was so busy raising our kids on my own, trying to keep our family together that I didn’t get the help I needed apparently. I was not always nice to him and carried resentments. I have apologized for not even seeing his recovery. Recently he fell off the wagon and started drinking lots of cough medicine. I still stayed, not knowing what else to do but love him through it. Then one day, he comes home to announce he’s leaving. No explanation, just Im leaving. He told our 16 yr daughter, but not me. Apparently they discussed it several times. I only wish he would have talked to me. His mom helped him and he is living in her rental home that she’s furnished. He has been gone for 6 mo and our teenagers don’t want him to come home. I don’t think its their choice but I care deeply how they feel. Since he wouldn’t come home, I filed for a divorce. I don’t want a divorce but I want my children to have a better life and I don’t want to continue to be abused. I feel so lonely and scared of what the future holds.

    • I’m so sorry. I can hear how scared and lonely you feel. That’s understandable.

      Getting a good therapist or joining a divorce support group might help. A therapist can help you work through all the anger, betrayal and other emotions you must be feeling at this point. A good support group can help you feel less alone.

      I wish there was more I could say. Unfortunately, you’ve just got to live through this ugliness to get to the sunshine on the other side.

      Hang in there!


  • I wasn’t unhappy in my marriage, went through a tough time with the passing of my Mom and fell into depression, he just couldn’t deal with my sadness, I reached out for help and was left alone. He left after 20+ years and remarried very quick, I struggle financially with very little family left, Im having a real hard time surviving in this very expensive world. Any tips on seeing the light?

  • i was married over 20yrs, the day i became disabled i was told she needed a real man not a cripple. Later i found out the only reason i was crippled was because of her. She convinced my 12yr old at the time daughter to hide that she caught mom with another man. After that time, which i found out yrs later, kids made comments like, why is mom so mean to you dad? I thought i had enough love for all of us. While divorce was coming up she moved new boyfriend in. This was a man she lied to her friend to sneak around with behind her back as well. He had money so he bought the kids cars, etc. Which seemed to make the kids less wanting to come by and visit. She went so far to tell the police i would sexually assault my daughter because she didnt want to trade visitation weekends. Though police investigation showed i was in the clear, the kids cant understand what that did to me in the community where she call my landlord and friends saying i was a predator. Now its been 10yrs since divorce, though i get lonely sometimes and miss the touch of a woman, i cant bear allowing anyone that close yet. I do enjoy being by myself, but i do get lonely. I go out, shoot pool in league and visit with friends. But still get sick to my stomach when women get to pushy or close. Especially since i dont find anyone attractive around me. I just cant seem to enjoy the peace i have, always thinking im missing something. I have no one in family that calls regularly, kids still stay away, i think they know i know the truth. I dont hate them, but i dont trust them with my personal life either. Seems i cant win no matter what. Then i punish myself for not living, yet i kinda am. Hence my confusion in all this. Maybe ive got PTSD and cant ever get motivated, yet once out im fine and have a good time.

    • I’m not sure what you’ve got (or if you’ve “got” anything!), but I think that a good therapist could help you a lot. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot in your life, and it has gotten to you. You’re also alone and lonely. That’s understandable. You’re divorced, disabled, and your kids don’t come around much.

      But that’s why I think a therapist could help you a lot. S/he will be someone you can talk to. S/he can help you work through your feelings, and deal with them. That will help you feel much better.

      Hope this helps.

  • Never wanted divorce she came from divorced family I always wondered if it would impact us.She was devious from day 1 got pots pans for wedding yet wasn’t good enough. Wife mother in law contrived plan to have pots salesman show up got 1000$ set of pans pots leaving us nearly penniless.Was never honest selfish just all about her. I pushed myself career as correctional officer 10 active years pastoring Lord really blessed but nagged about snoring things beyond my control recovering alcoholic wife only seen me drink once never knew that part.Yet when after all her years of cruelty to me failed to result in any physical violence left filed a totally bogus order of protection went all the way back to 1984 a yr before we met .Was not perfect but treated my wife as good as I knew to do .Regret because I know she sandbagged me all our marriage. After 10 yrs of disability her conscience got to her abandoned marriage filed false evidence nearly got 2/3 of complete assets but her and lawyer lied who did I marry

  • Im 54 been married 10 years together 13. Blindsided me 2 weeks qgo. Left me for a trashy girl. Im not just saying that. Shes something. It hurts so bad. More than anything, I lost my best friend. I guess the marriae got bad wih Covid. I really miss my friend. Unforgiviable how it was done. I getting on with life. I only cry once a night now. I hope he is happy. I know I will be again. But I miss my friend. Now we shall become strangers. So sad.

  • Sad stories here. I do believe there are more females taking the lead with regards to walking out.
    Guys, had a 28 year marriage end out of nowhere-it was ending I just wasn’t made aware. Yes, almost killed me, drank heavily for about a year, dated a slew of women (just to prove to myself I could) I was not looking for sex-although it seems women are more promiscuous than I remember it…oddly enough, that was depressing, discouraging.
    But be of good cheer, it’s hell but it will get easier. Loneliness will takes its toll on you until you find companionship. Don’t be surprised if you become somewhat terrified of women. This is my current dilemma, I’ll never bring myself to trust again-I know I will live life alone but I will be safe from the pain I had to endure…guard your heart-like your life depends on it-it does!

  • Great post! Thank you. Married 38 years. He retired at 54 and I became the bread winner. He tried for spousal support, lost. Hes still retired, I’m still working. It’s not ALL women fighting for the spouses money, sometimes the tables are turned. We are almost 4 years in and settlement hearing is on Tuesday. I couldnt have done it without my CDFA, financial planner, life coach. NO contact with him helped a lot. And Karen Covy! Your inpirationals, blogs and posts have been keeping me on track and (somewhat) sane. My hope is to be able to retire before I’m 70! 65 would be ok, 62 would be great but that’s only a year away so just a dream. We will see….

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