You got married 25 years ago, and your marriage was wonderful for the first few years. Then you started having children, and you fully embraced that stage in your life. You loved being a parent and all that it entailed.
Now, though, your last child is about to head off to college. What is marriage going to look like after that happens? Will this new stage actually push you that much closer to getting a divorce?
You may be different than you remember
One issue that people experience at this time is that parenting changed them. You’re not the same person at 50, as your child leaves for college, that you were when you got married at 25. And it’s more than just age. You have learned and experienced a lot.
What you may find is that you and your spouse adapted well to becoming parents, and you worked together as a team to raise the children. The romantic spark went out long ago, but you didn’t notice because you were too busy parenting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — it’s fine to focus on being a parent — but it can be jarring to become an empty-nester and realize that you’re actually not happy in your marriage.
In many cases, older couples have spent years drifting apart. They were just busy raising the children, taking them to various activities, working on their careers and much else. They didn’t realize how far apart they were until they tried to go back to being a couple again, without the demands of being parents. That change can demonstrate how different they are, and then couples begin thinking about divorce — much to the surprise of the children, who also did not notice the change over those family-oriented years.
What steps will you take?
Have you found yourself in this position, considering a gray divorce so that you can get something else out of this part of your life? Things can become fairly complicated, so make sure that you are well aware of the steps you need to take.