How to avoid grey divorce regret

Mar 18, 2023
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While grey divorce is on the rise in Australia and globally, there are some people who come to regret their decision to divorce later in life.

Carefully consider all your options

Carefully considering all your options is key before making any major decision. Plus, when you add all the emotions that go with getting a divorce at a later stage in your life, it can make the task even more difficult.

No matter what your personal circumstances are, there’ll always be multiple things to consider. There will be emotional and financial implications and repercussions that may affect your whole family. But by considering every option and pursuing every avenue, to either save your marriage or proceed with the divorce, your conscience will be clear. Knowing that you did your best, there cannot be any future feelings of regret. 

You don’t want to be thinking years down the line, “if only I had done this or that…”

Talk to your spouse

If you’re thinking about a grey divorce, the first person you should talk to is your spouse. By discussing the situation with them, you may find that you both want to work harder at your marriage. But if that’s not the case, by discussing it openly, you may be able to agree to divorce as amicably as possible and reach a settlement you can both live with.

That may not always be possible but if you don’t try, you won’t know, and it’s something that many grey divorcees may come to regret.

Be clear about what you really want in your twilight years

Know exactly what you want in your twilight years and decide whether divorcing is the only way possible to achieve that. If so, then start planning towards meeting the challenges that lie ahead – there will be quite a few to tackle and overcome. 

Try to visualise what life will be like for you in the future. Consider how the financial implications of your divorce may affect your standard of living. 

Ask yourself as many questions as possible and be honest with yourself about the answers. Questions like where and how will I live? What will I miss from married life? How will I cope on my own? What kind of support will I have from my family and friends?

Get professional advice 

Know that you may not always have the answers to all your questions when it comes to grey divorce. Do not hesitate to seek professional advice on any legal, financial or emotional matters. Talking to a professional divorce lawyer or family mediator can help you navigate this difficult, uncertain and sometimes daunting time of your life. 

A family lawyer or mediator can inform you of your legal rights, your obligations and what to expect from the divorce process, enabling you to think clearly and plan your way forward.

Review your financial position

Reviewing your financial situation can help you clearly work out what your post-divorce life will be like. 

Do a thorough financial stocktake, listing all your income, assets, liabilities and future living expenses. This will help to give you a good indication of what the future may hold for you after your divorce.

There can be extremely complex matters regarding finances, such as tax implications and the valuing and splitting of assets, at the end of a long-term marriage. If you’re finding that a difficult task, as many people may, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a professional financial advisor. 

Attend couples counselling

While it’s not for everyone, attending couples counselling may help you and your spouse to discuss your options and to work out if you really want to divorce.

Once again, by pursuing all avenues and doing your best, you avoid any feelings of regret in later years for you both.

If this is something you’re considering, you can get some great advice and support at Relationships Australia.

Journal your thoughts 

No matter how hard you try, there may be times in the future when you look back and have some thoughts of regret. 

Perhaps you’ll feel that you did not work hard enough on your marriage. Perhaps you’ll regret making that final decision to divorce. Many thoughts may go through your mind during this stressful period as well as long after your divorce has been finalised.

Journaling your thoughts, whenever they pop up, can help you accept your choices and serve as a reminder of where you’ve been and where you are now, as you track your progress.

Process your emotions 

Each stage of your grey divorce will have its own set of challenges and emotions, often leaving you feeling mentally drained. 

If left unprocessed, these emotions, no matter how small they may seem, can accumulate into one huge emotional mess, making it more difficult for you to move on with your life post-divorce.

The first step in dealing with these emotions is to acknowledge them as valid, and should you feel ready to, discuss them with close friends and family. Stay close to the people who know, love and care for you, and rely on them for support to get you through this painful period of your life. They may offer certain words of wisdom or just lend a sympathetic ear helping you to process your emotions. 

As hard as it may seem right now, processing your emotions in a healthy way can make you feel more confident and mentally stronger than you ever thought possible.

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