When your Partner Wants a Divorce after Decades of Being Married

‘I want a divorce’ are words that rarely fail to send a chill up the spine of a married person. Whether he/she may have realized that things were going downhill in their marriage or it came as a bolt from the blue, the effect is almost always stunning and exceedingly painful. This is especially true in a long term marriage where two people have made a life, raised a family and even struck roots together. Pulling out and tearing apart such a relationship is never easy and here is what you can do when your partner says he/she wants a divorce after decades of being married.

Take it calmly

Whether or not you may have seen it coming, once your spouse announces that he/she wants a divorce, it indicates a major change in your relationship. It has not yet ended but so much is clear that it cannot continue in its present form. Accept the fact that your partner wants out, no matter how impossible it may seem. Do not scheme and strategize to make him/her stay back for the sake of children, social reputation or marital assets. Avoid creating a scene by throwing tantrums or screaming accusations. Above all make sure your children are not around during this conversation, even if they are adults and no longer young. Divorce is a matter of private conversation that needs to be handled between the two people who had decided to get married in the first place. There will be a separate time and process for breaking the news of the divorce to the kids, if at all you both decide to go ahead with it.

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You are entitled to ask questions

If the decision of a divorce is being thrust on you, consider yourself entitled to ask why. However as your spouse replies, listen to the answer quietly. A lot of conflict builds up because both spouses are busy pointing fingers instead of allowing each other to speak. If the spouse who wants a divorce is given a chance to fully express how he/she feels, the other spouse has the opportunity to learn just what went wrong and maybe redress the situation.

Divorce and midlife crisis

It is quite common for a man in the grip of a midlife crisis to file for a divorce after having been satisfactorily married for several decades. Midlife crisis can be triggered by the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or a significant change in lifestyle. In all these cases, a normal life transition can hit a person with tremendous emotional force and can cause him/her to react to life and relationships in a way that is not in their best interests. Such people experience acute unhappiness with life and the lifestyle that may have provided them with happiness for many years coupled with a desire for adventure and change. In the context of their marriage, they may be angry at their spouses, feel tied down, resent the marriage and instead hanker for a new and passionate relationship. If you believe that your spouse has asked for a divorce as a consequence of midlife crisis, it is essential for you to know that nothing you do or say will help your spouse snap out of it or become the loving spouse you once knew. Instead seek to make changes in your own life and self that will make you a better person. If you have issues that need to be worked on, like imbalance between work and family life or an unhealthy diet, try to work on those. Do not get stuck on your spouse’s problems but find things that you want to do with your life. Take up a hobby, join a gym, take that vacation you’ve wanted to take for years. The good news is, even if your marriage doesn't survive your spouse's midlife crisis you will have made changes in yourself that will help you in your daily life and any future relationship. At the same time don’t hurry your spouse into going through with the divorce. Be patient since you are both going through changes; and as hard as what you are experiencing, he/she is experiencing a high level of emotional pain too. In the end, you will both end up where you need to be so there is no point getting impatient and trying to rush the process.

Offer counseling

If you and your spouse have not yet tried marital counseling, suggest this alternative before he/she takes a final call. As a third party, a marriage counselor will have no preset notions or prejudices about either of you and thus will be able to look at the issues causing the divorce in an objective light. However don’t have false hopes that a counselor will be able to talk your partner out of his/her decision to go for a divorce. Instead a counselor will only help you both to communicate better which in turn may enable you both to work out the issues of conflict in your relationship and save your marriage. In the end despite more effective communication, if you find that your priorities are completely at odds with each other or your spouse remains obstinate, then you need to prepare yourself for the divorce process.

Learn to protect yourself

Now that you know for sure that you are heading towards divorce, take steps to protect yourself financially and materially. Since there is virtually nothing you can do to stop your spouse of many decades from going ahead with the divorce, perhaps the best option is to try and work out together what you're going to do with regard to division of assets, the division of liabilities and so forth. Some experts consider women to be the worst victims of late age divorce since they have devoted the most productive years of their lives to the marriage only to find later themselves bereft of all resources – emotional and financial. However others believe that women come out relatively less scathed since they are younger to their male partners and have a better support network in terms of families. Whatever the case, consult a good lawyer and ask how your interests can be best protected. In most states, a divorce after ten years of marriage entails the less productive spouse to claim substantial alimony or spousal support. In any case splitting up pension plans and health benefits can be quite complicated and it is best you fire a team of professionals to protect your interests.