When you were a South Dakota newlywed, you may have been in your 20s or 30s. As you were raising children together, you and your spouse may have felt like the days were long but the years were flying by. Now, several decades later, all of your kids are grown and raising families of their own. You and your spouse have decided to go your separate ways. The fact that your children are adults doesn’t necessarily mean that your divorce will not affect them.
The term “gray divorce” refers to older couples who file for divorce, many of whom have been married for 30 or 40 years, or more. There are several factors that are relevant to those who divorce later in life that may not be pertinent to younger couples. One such issue is that the children who are involved are adults; therefore, they have a deeper understanding of the situation than young children might.
Maintain a firm boundary and protect your parent/adult child relationship
Because you know that your adult child understands marriage, divorce and related “adult” issues, it can be tempting to vent your feelings about your ex to your son or daughter. This is usually a bad idea; it’s best to respect the parent/child relationships, between you and your kids but, also, between your ex and your kids. Adult children are still sons and daughters and can experience high levels of emotional distress if a parent treats them more like a confidant, colleague or counselor, during a gray divorce.
Try not to be jealous of your adult child’s loyalty to his or her other parent
If you notice that your adult child is spending a lot of time with your ex, try not to let it bother you or cause jealousy. It might mean that he or she believes you’re more capable of living on your own and that your ex needs company or help around the house. Just as you might for a younger child, it’s best to encourage an active, close relationship between your adult children and their other parent.
Honesty really is the best policy
When you inform your adult children that you’ve decided to divorce, it can help everyone cope better, if they understand that they are free to express their feelings, without worrying that you’ll get upset or angry. In fact, one or more people in your family might feel “angry” about your divorce, but knowing they can discuss their feelings at any time will undoubtedly help them come to terms with the changes divorce has brought to their lives.
If a legal problem arises
Gray divorce can be complex and stressful, especially if you and your ex have high-net-worth assets. It’s helpful to be as prepared as possible for proceedings, including having all necessary paperwork, bank statements, tax information, etc., on hand, in an organized fashion. If a particular issue arises that you don’t feel equipped to handle on your own, it’s wise to reach out for additional support.