One of the big changes after divorce, is organizing your daily meals. This can be a challenge for a number of reasons.
First of all, many divorced men have left relationships where their ex partner had done the vast majority of the cooking. Therefore, they may lack the confidence and perhaps even knowledge, on how to cook for themselves.
Secondly, for those who are confident in the kitchen, many find that cooking for one is quite a challenge compared to cooking for a couple or a family.
I myself found this harder than I expected for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons were unique to me , whilst others were universal.
I know my way around a kitchen, having worked as a qualified Chef for 10 years, admittedly though, it was over 20 years ago. During my time married, I also did most of the cooking and grocery shopping .
So it wasn't as though I lacked the know how. Another complication for me was the fact that I work shift work, consisting of 12 hour shifts both days and nights. The last thing anyone wants to do after a 12 hour shift at work is to cook dinner.
Many divorcees find that it is way simpler to buy take away, ready prepared meals or Uber Eats. Sure, I eat takeaway but it consists of only a small part of my diet.
So why is it harder to cook for only yourself than it is to cook for 2 or more? The answer is a complex one, psychological, physical and knowledge based.
Psycologically, no one wants to come home after work and have to cook a meal from scratch, regardless how how many you are cooking for. However, when cooking for only yourself, there is no one but your own self to talk you out of ordering Uber Eats and as such, takeaway food usually wins.
Without someone else with you it is all too easy to just say "I really cannot be bothered cooking, I will just buy something". My answer to this is to eliminate the need to cook from scratch. Plan ahead and have something ready that is quick and easy.
When referring to physical reasons not to cook, I don't mean being physically tired, as that is more a psychological reason. Instead I am referring to not having enough in your pantry or fridge to be able to make a meal. Again, plan ahead.
Knowledge based excuses basically mean a lack of cooking knowledge or no idea on what to do with what you have on hand. All excuses can be rectified with a bit of prior thought.
Obviously my years as a trained Chef come in handy at home, but not everyone has my knowledge or love of cooking. Non the less, this is still easily rectified.
A quick Google search will reveal a number of cooking schools, mostly aimed at those with little culinary know how. So I would suggest you enroll in such a course and gain some kitchen skills and know how.
I myself went to a cooking class last year that was specifically about making pasta. I had a great night, met some wonderful people (including singles) and honed my pasta making skills.
The class I attended, finished with us all sitting down to a communal table and enjoying a variety of shared platters of pasta, gnocchi and focaccia all made by us earlier and accompanied by a glass or two of wine.
If your not wanting to get out and about and attend a class or two, I would recommend the purchasing of some cook books for beginners. Whilst most of the cookbooks available today are targeted at so called "Foodies", there are still a great many books aimed at beginners.
Even some of the cookbooks aimed at children can be a great way to expand your cooking know how. You will just need to shop around and find one that suits you.
There are two great books for beginners that are available here in Western Australia. Both books have been around for a very long time, but offer simple and basic recipes.
The CWA Cookbook (Country Woman's Association) has been around for over 70 years and 17 editions. Whereas the Golden Wattle Cookbook, has had 27 editions since 1924. The Golden Wattle Cookbook was used in Western Australian schools to teach cooking and my own very dog eared copy I bought when I first moved out of home is still referred to today.
Last of all is the internet. The net is a wonderful source of recipes, for beginners and chefs alike. Search for a particular dish or search for recipes containing the ingredients you have on hand at that moment.
To alleviate physical excuses it just requires some forward planning. I do my grocery shopping once a week and upon leaving the supermarket, I will have a general plan in place for my meals for the upcoming week.
Whilst I come up with my menu plan while I shop, you may find it easier to devise your own menu plan before going shopping. I do not always fully adhere to this plan but it does mean that I am at least prepared.
If for instance, I decide to make a lasagne, I would make sure that I purchase everything that I need to make it. There is nothing quite as frustrating as making a recipe and discovering you forgot an ingredient. Try making a lasagne without cheese or pasta sheets.
Another piece of advice is to keep your pantry/fridge stocked with basic items as well as ingredients for a quick simple meal.
I know that in my pantry I have a few options to be able to make a basic quick meal. I for instance have a can of beans and some eggs in the fridge or I can quickly cook some pasta and heat up a jar of pasta sauce.
Meals such as these are not ideal as an everyday thing but can be a quick and hearty option to take away when needed. I will turn to my "emergency" meals in times when time has got away from me.
For example, I may have been out visiting friends all day and arrived home much later than I expected. I may have planned on cooking a meal that night and had the ingredients ready, however arriving home late and hungry, something quick and easy is the best option.
I know myself, after a long and physical day at work, the last thing I want to be doing is cooking my dinner, even though I enjoy cooking. It is for this reason that so many turn to the likes of Uber Eats.
Yet again my answer involves being prepared. On my weekends I precook meals that can easily be reheated in the microwave. Dishes such as curries are not only delicious but are easy to reheat.
Whilst I am quite happy to eat the same thing for a few days in a row, I understand those who prefer something different each day. The answer to this is to freeze your portioned meals. Then each night select a frozen meal and put it in your fridge to defrost ready for the next evening.
Not every meal needs to be something like a curry or a stew, pasta dishes also can be easily reheated, as can soups and even some Asian dishes.
Another approach involves components that are easy and quick to cook. Crumbed fish for instance involves simply placing on a tray in a heated oven to cook. Add your fish to your pre-bought soft tacos (or Bao) with some pre-purchased coleslaw and your done.
It really is a matter of planning your meals ahead and choosing things that are simple to get ready to eat.
Everyone should have a pantry containing basic staples. What goes into your basic staples is up to you and will depend on what you like to eat
Below is an idea of the sort of things I will always have in the pantry, fridge or freezer.
Like pantry staples there are items of equipment that I recommend you have .
Although it isn't really basic equipment, I use my electric pressure cooker a lot, both as a slow cooker and a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker allows you to cook an 8 hour curry in about 30 minutes.
A pressure cooker is not inexpensive, but cheaper ones like my Ronson are available.
When buying meat, how you intend to cook it determines what grade of meat to get. Meat comes as either Primary or Secondary cuts. Never be afraid to ask for help and suggestions on what cut to buy.
A Primary cut is something like a nice steak. It comes from a muscle that does not overwork and is cooked quickly. Ideal for BBQ or cooking in a frying pan.
Whereas a Secondary cut like Gravy Beef or Lamb Shanks comes from a part of the animal that does a lot of moving, and as such requires a long slow cook. Such cuts should be cooked in a slow cooker, pressure cooker or perhaps slow roasted.
This is important to know as a Primary cut like a steak will become dry, pasty, cardboard like and unpleasant when slow cooked. Whereas the sinew and connective tissue in a secondary cut will become like a piece of rubber if barbequed as it requires time to break down.
Most of my cooking uses secondary cuts like gravy beef and beef cheeks as they are not only cheaper but when cooked slowly produce deliciously tender meals that can be reheated with ease.
The truth is that it is not that hard to cook for one, it just requires a little bit of planning and forethought. It will not take long to develop some culinary confidence if the kitchen is unfamiliar territory for you.
As an added bonus, if your wanting to start dating again. Many women find the ability to cook, an attractive feature in a man.
Like many men, I found myself divorced, 50 and uncertain as to where my life was heading. It is such a growing trend that there is now a specific term for middle aged divorce, Grey Divorce.
Again, like so many others, I was blind sighted and ill prepared for divorce. I was left struggling on so many levels and felt very little hope for a future of happiness and contentment.
Yet as I sit here a few years on from my divorce, I could not be happier with my post divorce life. In fact, I have had several people comment on how they have never seen me happier.
My point, is not to brag, but to reassure that regardless of how bleak things may seem, digging yourself out of the hole you are in, is actually easier to do than one would think.
Truth is that there are many places online and off set up specifically to help you through and after divorce. These experts will offer you a step by step guide to surviving divorce.
What I hope to offer is some advise based on my own experience. Not so much a one step at a time approach, but actions that can result in massive positive steps towards the next phase of your life.
Whilst everyone is different, the following actions will help you to push the reset button on life and have you looking forward with a smile.
If you are like most men of our generation, then it is likely you rarely see a doctor. Well unless that is, you are dying of man flu. Whilst it is better to get a yearly checkup, yearly and not once a decade, doing so during or right after your divorce has a number of benefits.
First of all, a health checkup whilst your are going through the added stress of a divorce should make sense to all, especially if your checkups are only once a decade.
Secondly, aside from all the blood tests and the poking and prodding, your GP is also the ideal person to gauge your mental health. Divorce and Post Divorce is stressful and can have a serious effect on your mental health.
Depression is all too common and whilst it is usually temporary, it is also very treatable. Just remember that Depression is no sign of weakness but a sign you have been strong for so long.
The chances are that your GP will not feel there is any issue with either your mental or physical health. However, it pays to be careful.
Men's mental health is a serious issue and one of the highest causes of death, especially post divorce and yet there is so much you can do to prevent it. For further information take a look at my post on Mental Health and Divorce, both part 1 and part 2.
Some men will think this a waste of time and money, but I can assure you that is a very effective way to move on from divorce. Whilst I discovered an interest in fashion after my divorce. This step has nothing to do with developing a new found interest in men's style and everything to do with leaving the past behind and moving forward.
There are a few reasons why this is such a great post divorce move. Firstly, it is inevitable that your wardrobe could do with an update. When I was going through my divorce, my clothes were all about 10 years old as I would rarely spend any money on myself.
Secondly, by going through your wardrobe and updating, it gives you the chance to get rid of items that may bring back memories of your marriage. I would suggest not doing this in one fell swoop, but in stages or else it can be a very costly exercise.
Start with your everyday attire and work from there. Remember, this is your chance to build a wardrobe you like and not one influenced by what your ex wanted you to wear.
Thirdly, the effect that new attire will have on your self esteem can not be underestimated. Be it a new shirt, a new pair of boots or some new jeans, you will feel like a new man. This will see you feeling happier as well as looking better and perhaps more importantly, your ability to deal with the stresses of divorce will be much improved.
If you haven't done so already, I would strongly advise that you start a bucket list. This is your chance to add things to your list that your ex thought were silly, as well as doing or experiencing things you have always wanted to.
It does not matter if it is big or small, this is your list. Always wanted to skydive or go to a Formula One or Moto GP event? Put it on your list. Always wanted to drive a convertible or maybe learn to fly fish? Put it on your list.
The point is to get you thinking about the future and how good it can be and not leave you dwelling in the past.
Find the you that you are now
Whilst this may seem a stupid statement, to suggest that you do not know who you are. The reality is that having just come out of a marriage, you have for many years been part of a couple and now find yourself as a single.
A relationship helps define who we are as individuals and this is usually a healthy part of a relationship. You have for many years been compromising, yet now all decisions are yours to make.
Another factor is that it is normal for many of us to freeze time whilst married. If you were married at say 30, much of who you are will still be stuck in your 30's, think of your clothes or your entertainment choices.
So you need to discover what the 50 year old you is into. The aforementioned bucket list can help with this.
My own journey has seen me discover things about myself that were never on my radar whilst married. Things like the way I dress, the foods I eat and how I socialize are very different to my married days.
This process will take some time, but learning who you are will fast track your happiness. In a previous blog post of mine, I discuss this concept with greater detail.
You may find that the 50 year old single you, is not much different to the married you. However, you do need to work out who you are now.
Reconnect with old friends.
Over the course of our lives we tend to lose touch with friends along the way. Life just seems to get in the way and the next thing you know is that you haven't spoken to someone for 15 years or more.
Couple this with divorce and our friend circle is almost non existent. One of the unspoken tragedies of divorce is that not only are our assets split up, but so to our friends.
Most men over 30 have few close friends and those we have are mostly the husbands of our wife's friends she made through your child's school etc. So after divorce she keeps the friends.
We all need mates yet find it difficult making new ones. So go and reconnect with old ones. Look through your phone numbers and give old mates a call.
Facebook and social media is an amazing way of reconnecting, even if you are not a fan of social media. Through Facebook, I myself have reconnected with many people from my past that I had lost touch with.
I have got back in touch with old workmates and even people I went to school with and have made a number of new friends this way.
Seek out life and adventure
Whilst much of this will be included on your bucket list, I feel it is worth mentioning on it's own. Don't wallow in self pity, instead, go out and face life full on.
I know it can be easier to say that than to do it, however it really is a great way to move on faster. Forcing yourself to have fun, may be hard, but the end result is still fun.
Start small by catching up with friends, going to see a movie or go and see some live music. The goal is for you to feel happy and alive again.
Ultimately you will be wanting to lead up to bigger and better things, things that make you feel alive. Go bungy jumping, swim with sharks or hire some hot laps at a track day. Getting your adrenaline pumping, is a sure fire way of getting your smile back.
Naturally, what I have suggested here is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to moving forward. I know myself that once I started actively doing these things that my outlook became far brighter.
Divorce sucks! I know that as well as anybody. The trick is to not allow the divorce to swallow you up. What is done is done, move forward and reinvent yourself ready for the next journey in life.
Things may be hard, but forcing yourself to move on and enjoy life will shorten the duration of the tough times. Being in your 50's is not a sign that it's too late, rather it is the ideal time to live the life you always wanted.
Now is the time
What better time to kick start the new you than the new year. Like most people, I am several (well more like 30) years behind on achieving any New Years Resolutions. I still carry too much weight, I could eat healthier and be fitter, these are after all, the standard and cliched resolutions for the new year and ones that for most of us rarely get achieved.
So perhaps we need to rethink our strategy for resolution making. First of all, in order for us to achieve any resolution we have to genuinely want to, as opposed to feeling the weight of societal expectation on us to do so. Secondly, we need to feel it is obtainable and thirdly, we need to stop rehashing the very same resolutions year after year.
Regardless of how long you have been single or divorced, the New Year is an ideal time to begin the evolution of the new you. Sure, the process can easily begin at any time, but the new year can act as a starting point, new calendar year, Christmas Season has been and gone ( Plus in my case so has my post Christmas, Birthday.) and for many it can signal a return to work after annual leave or time off. The "New You" is however not an instant thing, but part of a process of evolution, something that you may have already began without actually knowing. However, lets make an effort to make the new year, the time in which you make the conscious decision to begin your journey to make the changes in yourself you wish to make.
In other words, it is not so much about making a a New Years resolution, but rather a conscious decision to work towards making changes. Start with little things, perhaps you may decide to wear less short sleeved shirts and instead roll up your long sleeves in hotter weather ( a far more stylish and mature look), you may decide that you wish to begin delving into the scary world of online or speed dating. The bottom line is, it is simply a great time to signal your intent to yourself.
Beginning the process.
Well you have decided that the New Year is a great time to kick start the new you. So what now?, Where to from here? Well the first step is to figure out just who the new you really is. This is not necessarily a quick and easy step, it is however one that on a sub-conscious level you have probably been formulating a concept of. I have written an earlier post titled; Who am I? Rediscovering your single self dealing with that very issue. This will enable you to work out for yourself what things about you, you would like to make changes to. Bear in mind that this is not a quick fix, but the start of an ongoing process of evolution.
So what then are some areas that you may want to address? To answer this I must look to my own journey of reinvention and mention some of the areas that I myself felt I had to begin to change, some of which I have and some are still ongoing. The obvious one for me was my dress sense, I felt that my attire was no longer reflecting who I was as a person, I can say now that even though I do make my own fashion mistakes at times, my clothes better reflect the new me. I also wanted to make changes that would see me improve myself socially and as a person. To that end, I began speed dating and dating in general as well as making a conscious effort to get out in the world and not to hide away in my own little shy world, something that I was all too prone to doing. The result has been going to more social events, comedy shows, gigs and seeing someone beyond a first or second date for the first time in years.
So call it what you will, A New Years Resolution, a Promise of Intent to Yourself or whatever. But the start of a new year really is the best time to push that reset button and start the process of change. By having a date of commencement, it makes it easier and more real in your own mind. Without my making a very conscious decision I certainly would not be in the early stages of what could be my first relationship after my divorce. We all know just how hard it is to initiate change, we as men have a tendency to resist change at all costs, often to our own detriment. So use the new year as impetus to make change, use it as the beginning of your journey. Yes, we all want to lose weight and get fit, but surely beginning a process that will see you become happier about both life and yourself is a priceless step to make.
For many, Christmas is about family, but what happens when your family has been separated by divorce? Often, what has been your Christmas tradition for many years is now off the table. Divorce will all too often see a dramatic reduction in numbers of those you call family and friends. Many married men count the husbands of their wife's friends among their closest mates and divorce will often see them alienated as they break ties with their ex. Not to mention the loss of your ex's family from within your inner circle. Of course, the hardest part is having to split your children's time between you and your ex. It matters not if your children are young or grown up with families of their own, not being able to spend Christmas with them, hurts.
The Festive Season can be a time where many people will feel alone, with feelings of worthlessness and depression creeping in. It is also a time for socialising and work/office parties, a time when you may well be talking with people that you only see once a year. People like, colleagues from other offices/sites, the partners of workmates and friends of friends, people that may not know of the changes that have taken place in your life over the past year ( or so). These once a year acquaintances, in an attempt to be sociable, may well ask after your ex without knowing of your divorce/separation. Such situations can bring emotions to the surface, emotions that you had thought were under control, but now find yourself battling with. Many men having gone through divorce will try to abstain from socialising in an attempt to avoid questions of their relationship, however, during the festive season there is often a sense of obligation for you to attend. Combine all this with the presence and consumption of alcohol and it can become a dangerous time for anyone dealing with emotional issues. Alcohol and depression do not work well together, so if you are finding things tough this Christmas, watch how much you drink.
Dealing with a smaller social circle over Christmas
With divorce comes a reduction in the size of your social circle. A breakdown of a marriage or relationship will see a division and separation of assets and while most think of this only from a financial point of view, it is important to understand that in most cases there is also a separation and division of your social circle. Your ex's family will for the most part, tend to break of social ties with you, ( This doesn't necessarily mean they don't like you) and while it is quite understandable, it can still be hard. However it is the loss of the friends you shared as a couple, that can hurt the most. Unfortunately for all concerned, these common friends will often feel obligated to choose sides between you and your ex. It is an unfortunate fact that for the most part, your married friends will tend to side with your ex. The reason for this is actually quite simple. Think back to when you were happily married and imagine if you, as a couple, had to make that decision about some friends. Say what you will, but your wife would opt to stay friends with her "bestie" and whilst you could argue the case that you could remain friends with the husband, your wife would see it as betraying the trust of her friend. So, given the choice between your wife and her "bestie's" ex, the wise man chooses his wife.
The festive season is a time when we will feel the loss of these friends. Especially when it comes to those who you regularly saw at specific times. For instance, you may have, for the past 15 years spent Christmas Eve at a social gathering with a particular couple. Your ex remains very close friends with them and most likely will spend Christmas Eve with them again. So now, your left with not only a loss of some friends, but with the realization that you shall not be going to their houseparty again on Christmas Eve.
My advice is to accept that your Christmas Eve tradition is a thing of the past, move on and start a new tradition. This however does not mean you have to break all ties and civility with your friends. By all means send them a Christmas card, keep in touch via social media and even give them a quick call or text to wish them all the best for Christmas and New Year. Sure, they may no longer be part of your inner circle, but there is usually no need to cut ties as friends completely. They no doubt miss your friendship as much as you miss theirs.
The situation can be more complicated when you were very good friends with members of your ex's family. Again, for the most part there should be no harm in at least sending a Christmas card.
Sharing your children at Christmas after divorce
This is when it gets really hard. Like during the rest of the year, it is crucial that you never use your children as pawns in your battles with your ex. For most men in their 50's, their children will likely be adults and living a life of their own out of home. In this case then things are a little less complicated, much of the decisions on when you are to spend time with your children will be dictated by them. Many though, will have a partner of their own and so will be wanting to spend time with their partners family as well.
If however, like me, your children are younger and still at home then you will need to discuss seeing your children, with your ex. My teenage child lives with their Mum and so I am thankful that even though she has remarried we remain on good terms. For many of us without custody of our children, the festive season and particularly Christmas morning can be very difficult. I myself am a shift worker which makes scheduling visits even harder. The way you go about arranging to see your children over the Christmas period will very much depend on the relationship you have with your ex. My advice though, would be to speak with your children about what they would like to do and to not expect to have your children every year for Christmas day. One compromise that has worked for us, was for me to have my child until Christmas morning. This way both parents got to spend some of Christmas Day with them.
Something else that can get forgotten, is your family. Don't forget that your family will no doubt want to see your children over Christmas as well, most especially your parents. So please remember to allow your parents to see their Grandchildren over Christmas. I mentioned earlier that I had my teenager on Christmas Eve, what I didn't mention was that we spent that night at my parents. This gave my entire family the chance to see them and share gifts with them on Christmas morning.
Reboot your Festive Season
So what do I mean by "Reboot your Festive Season"? Your Christmas period is now going to be different to that of recent years, your divorce has made certain of that. So now is the ideal time to make the changes you want to make. Sure, you may not get to spend the season exactly how you would like, but then again, who actually does? So push that reset button and make the most of the opportunity to change. I myself love Christmas time and it is a wonderful family time. Now, ( if I am not working) I get to spend Christmas with my family and not having to share my time with my ex's family too. For those of you with Grinch like sentiments of disliking the whole Christmas thing, your single, make your own choices, book yourself on a cruise, go on a holiday, the choices are endless and yours alone to make.
Allow yourself to enjoy the season, don't hide yourself away at home. Go to those work parties, put up Christmas decorations and don't wallow in self pity. ( Plenty of time for that during the rest of the year)
Just remember though, not to go overboard with the Christmas spirits. Now that you no longer have a partner to watch how much you drink, remember to drink wisely. If you are still having a hard time dealing with the breakdown of your marriage, keep in mind that alcohol can make depressive thoughts much worse. So keep your self respect and dignity intact whilst enjoying this Festive season.
Divorce is a time that will see us at our most vulnerable, this is amplified somewhat by the complexities of going through it at around 50 or older. There is a rule of thumb which applies to the time taken in getting over divorce. The person who initiates the divorce will get over the divorce quite quickly as usually they have spent a few years building up to initiating it and it is in these preceding years that they are at most risk of depression and mental health issues. Whereas the partner who was not wanting the divorce (and likely blindsided by it ) is forced to come to terms with so many things in an instant and as such will often find that during the already traumatic divorce and separation proceedings that they may well struggle with their mental health.
Such was my own situation. I was in my mid to late forties when I was informed that my marriage was over and that there was no hope in its resuscitation. Thankfully for our teenage child, we have remained on very good terms. So does the fact that our divorce was without the animosity so often seen, mean that my state of mind was saved from mental health concerns? Yeah Right!!!! I still struggle on occasions, however thanks in part to my own previous experiences, I am able to not allow "the Black Dog" to take hold and am also aware of my early signs.
So lets have a look at what are some of the issues that can affect our mental health when going through divorce as we approach our Fifties and beyond. To begin, there is the obvious, the very fact that your relationship has come to an end. Unfortunately, many of us still feel they are in love with their partner and so the very real grief over the loss of them in your life is often enough to send your mental health spiraling down. Thoughts of " how am I going to live my life without them" are to be expected. Compound that with thoughts of why did they leave me, what did I do wrong, can I be happy ever again? ( Of course you can), whats wrong with me? etc and you are beginning to concoct a dangerous cocktail. Of course these things apply to any relationship break down at any age whether married or not.
Going through a divorce in and around your 50's, brings with it more questions and complexities. You would have been expecting to be growing old with your partner and so now your future has changed. A divorce closer to 30 will afford you a glimmer of hope for your future in your own mind.( Of course you won't think that way straight away, but knowing you have many years left will eventually fill you with hope). First of all, unless you are 120 years old or more, you still have the opportunity to find a new future and live a wonderful happy and contented life. The age of 50 need not be a stumbling block, if people such as Colonel Sanders, Ray Kroc and Morgan Freeman can become household names after 50 then surely, finding happiness again, is just a matter of living life again.
Homelessness is something, like suicide is a very hushed up dirt secret of divorce. Some figures suggest that 10% of divorces result in homelessness. So often people are left without they ability to pay rental deposits, even if they are working full time. Of course for most, this is only temporary. In most cases, unlike mine, those in and around their 50's are more financially secure so the rate of homelessness decreases.
The financial strain of divorce and the separation of assets, is very real and something that is far easier to deal with when mentally prepared for its onslaught. In my own situation, once I had to deal with the fact that I was to be divorced and would see less of my teen child, I had the separation of assets to deal with. This resulted in what was for me, one of my lowest times in my life. I faced financial ruin, due to factors beyond the control of myself or my ex. Whilst I will not offer up my financial figures, I shall give an overview of the unfortunate events that took place.Whilst I know there are many far worse than I, it is important to know that divorcees at 50 can and do bounce back, just like myself. My ex and I had originally agreed on a 50/50 split of assets, however due to laws unique to my State we were unable to utilize a private agreement. This meant that standard legal forms, the court system and lawyers were required and a 34/66 split was the best option. The intent was always for me to keep the house which was heavily mortgaged. However, luck was not on my side, a woefully high initial housing valuation, the courts taking way too long to process our application and a massive plummet of housing prices in the mean time saw me paying out 93%. ( The dollar amount remained the same but my net worth had plummeted resulting in the higher percentage) To compound my anxiety, I was legally required to pay a specified amount, an amount that was proving hard to obtain as the new house valuation meant that no lending institution would offer me a loan. My house was worth less than I now owed my ex. However, thanks to some miracles performed by my mortgage broker ( If your in Western Australia and want a great broker, let me know) and help from family I was able to narrowly avoid bankruptcy. Again, this is not meant as a "woe is me" story, but an example of the pressures divorce and separation can bring and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Another factor that comes in to play for divorcees in their 50's and beyond, is the fear of growing old alone. Whilst you have many years left, a common fear is to be frail , old and alone. Let me assure you that you will have many years and opportunities to rectify being alone if you want to. For every Man that gets a divorce there is a Woman doing the same thing. Sure the dating scene has changed and is intimidating, but opportunities abound. Take a look at my blog post on Ready To Date Again and you will see that the future is indeed yours.
How to deal with all this stress?
Well, I can only talk from my own experience, but as a survivor I have learnt a few things. Firstly, I would say, accept that it may be a rough ride for a little while, allow yourself time to grieve. Try to avoid spending too much time on your own to dwell on the worst case scenarios. Spend time with the right friends and family. It is vitally important that you chose carefully who you spend time with whilst in a vulnerable state. Avoid those people who whilst they maybe great friends and good people, may have a tendency to be negative. Instead, spend time with those who are great listeners, those who can listen without the need to express many of their own opinions. Resist the urge to turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to combat the way you feel and of course avoid those people who will want to become drinking buddies, the temporary relief is NOT worth the longer term effects. I am not suggesting you go all teetotal, but be aware not to see your drinking increase. Seek out friends and family who are active and sociable, having a beer or two at a mates BBQ for instance will allow you to think of things aside from your current woes. Don't become a hermit and hide away, go to the footy, visit friends, watch a movie or see a live band. What you need to be doing is avoiding the temptation to overthink things, "stew in your own thoughts" and become more depressed.
Listen to your sensible friends if they suggest you see a doctor. Do not ever feel it is a sign of weakness to seek out professional help. For most people, depression brought on by a single event ( like divorce) is both treatable and temporary after seeking help. The best place to start is your local GP who can in many cases treat you themselves, if not they can refer you to those who can.
Of course professional help need not just be medical. Don't be afraid to seek out help or advice from those in the know. Basic divorce advice can be obtained online from both government agencies and other organizations. Places like the Citizens Advice Bureau or Relationships Australia are a great place to start. But it is more than simple divorce advice that may be needed, so don't be afraid to seek advice from Divorce Lawyers ( You will need one) or Financial Advisors. It is quite likely that you may feel trapped, overwhelmed and confused so getting advice from varying experts as well as research online is a great way to clear the fog and lift the weights weighing heavy upon you.
Divorce is a new beginning, not the end.
My own post divorce journey is far from over. Yes I am still single and my financial debt could be far smaller, but I have well and truly moved on. I am, for the most part very happy. I have had the opportunity to rediscover myself and to blog about it.
I am not saying that your post divorce life will be easy, but rest assured it is far better than it seems when your in the middle of it. There are some major hurdles to face whilst going through divorce and separation, all of which you will get past, it is simply a matter of if you choose the bumpy ride or the trek through mountainous rainforest inhabited by dangerous wildlife.
I'm sure that most people are well aware of R U OK Day. For those that are not, R U OK is an organization in Australia that promotes discussion on Mental health and suicide. At its core, is encouraging people to ask friends, family and workmates if they are O.K and in doing so, help to prevent suicide and to offer a friendly ear to those in need of help. There are a number of wonderful organizations that are available to offer help to those dealing with fragile mental health and R U OK is but one. I will post links to some other organizations throughout this post.
The reason I brought up R U OK first is I too am hoping to encourage discussion. Like so many men post divorce, I have had my share of dealings with the what Sir Winston Churchill referred to as the Black Dog. In fact, for much of my life, like so many people, I have had my fair share of battles with depression. However, for now I shall discuss how mental health affects both divorced men and men in their fifties.
Of course, for many men of my age, admitting that you are struggling with some mental health issues would be a sign of weakness and non manliness. The first thing we need to understand though, is that this is far from the truth, after all we find it quite acceptable to claim that we are in fact dying when struck down with "Man"Flu, yet when struck down with an illness that claims an alarmingly high number of lives, we expect ourselves to toughen up and push on through it. It is important to note, that I am not a Mental Health professional, but someone who has lived through bouts of depression and seen loved ones struggle with their own battle.
Divorce and the breakdown of any long term relationship, can be expected to leave anybody in a fragile mental state. Going through divorce, even one as amicable as mine was, is a harrowing experience at best. Your sense of self worth is likely to be at an all time low, your life has been turned upside down and all too often your financial security is under threat. From my own experience I recommend that anybody going through divorce, a relationship break up or any other traumatic experience, seek some advice from your regular doctor or at least get in touch with one of the many mental health services available online or by phone. Chances are that you will be fine, but why risk seeking advice too late. Most individuals who get diagnosed with depression, regret not seeking help sooner. The fact is that "feeling sad" is only one of the symptoms.
It is also important to understand that it is quite normal to have days when you feel down occasionally and that having the odd down day is not necessarily an indicator that you are depressed, it just means your are normal.
I have over the past 2 years, started to get back into the dating scene again and whilst I am still at the time of writing, single, I have met some wonderful people. The dating scene has changed a great deal over the past 10 years and it is only natural that a 50 year old, enters this scary new world with trepidation.
Online dating is something that I have tried, along with speed dating and more traditional ways of meeting people. One thing my experience has taught me is that not everyone is ready to date again, regardless of having an online dating profile or their presence at a speed dating event.
Looking back, I for one, was not really ready when I first put my self out there. It would seem that for many, myself included, dabbling in online dating can at first be a way to "test the waters", a right of passage without having to dive head first into dating and risk being hurt.
We all know that it takes time to move on from previous relationships, especially when the decision for it to end was not our own, and nobody wants to be hurt again. It simply doesn't matter if we are 20 or 50 , our instinct is to be cautious and wary about opening ourselves up too soon.
However, just as our natural instinct is to remain guarded, most of us also fear being alone and crave the companionship of a special someone. The end result of these conflicting instincts, is for many of us to re-enter the dating scene before we are totally ready.
The first thing I wish to say is that, understanding that this in itself is both normal and a part of your journey, is the first crucial step in your search for love again. Over the past two years, I have met many lovely women who unbeknownst to themselves, had a protective wall built around them.
It is of course almost impossible to gain much of a rapport or connection with someone who is not willing to open themselves up, the end result being that we would both not feel the desire for a second date. I should add that, 3 months, 6 months even a year later, things may well have been different.
Knowing and accepting whether or not you are fully ready to date again is crucial , for if you are still in that initial stage of dating where you are building a protective wall, then your dating attempts are likely to be unfruitful. This of course then leads to a negative headspace, "Whats wrong with me", "Am I unlovable" etc.
So instead of filling your head with self doubt, ask yourself, " Am I genuinely ready to start dating and open myself up to possibly being hurt again, or am I still being overly cautious and guarded?" If you feel that you are indeed not allowing yourself to be fully open, understand that this is OK, the very fact that you are trying the dating scene again says that you are half way there.
Do not take it a a sign to drop out of the dating scene all together, rather, keep going, get out there met new people, practice your dating skills and know that your very next date may find you both ready to date and in the company of "the one". Accept that all this is part of the journey and your road to finding your special someone.
Since my 20's, I would rarely spend money on clothes, for the most part, I simply did not have the money, then when I did, I had a mortgage and a family of 3 to support. However, now single, I am certainly not rolling in the money, but my priorities have altered. I now have a desire to dress well, believing in the adage that "It is better to dress up than down".
Of course the blogosphere is full of male bloggers saying that all men should own at the very least a well tailored navy blue suit and then they continue to talk about work wear in the form of business attire. I do NOT wear a suit at work, my work wear is blue overalls, work boots and a hard hart. So I cannot really relate to those demanding I purchase a Navy suit.
So how did my journey into an interest in style begin? Well, with my red suede shoes. Now bright red shoes are not the usual choice of most middle aged men and they certainly draw a lot of comments.
Truth be told it took be 3 weeks of not being able to forget them, before I relented and purchased, what was then the most expensive pair of shoes I had ever bought. Every time I wear them, I feel a smile form on my face and I feel good about myself, so I guess you could say that they were indeed a fantastic investment.
To begin with I had figured that this was where my spending on clothes was to end. After all, my new shoes could be worn equally well in a casual or semi formal setting. What more could a guy need? It soon became apparent to me that my usual attire of blue denim jeans ,t-shirt and hoodie, not only looked tired and lazy but were not really all that age appropriate for someone closing in on 50.
So after time spent looking online at blogs and social media and I soon realized that I wanted a Sports Coat/Blazer that could also work in a variety of settings, something that paired well with dark denim jeans and smart dress pants.
After much research online, I headed off to the city totally confused about what I wanted to buy with my limited budget. I certainly found and tried on, a large number of fantastic jackets but the numbers on the price tags were causing heart palpitations.
Then, on walking past the Hugo Boss, Ted Baker and Country Road attire, I spied a rack of heavily discounted menswear. Of course, I am not a man of slender proportions, I have broad shoulders and midriff which is disproportionately large for my height, this in turn meant that much of the discounted jackets wouldn't fit.
There was however one that did, Navy blue in colour and made from velvet, not something that I was looking for. I let that jacket stay on that rack on and off all day, before eventually returning and laying claim to the 70% discount. I will admit that as I rode home on the train, I was experiencing some buyers remorse and doubted my choice of material. I mean its VELVET, what was I thinking?
Of course, like my beloved red suede shoes, I now love my jacket. I don't wear it that often now as my wardrobe options have expanded somewhat, but it stills does pair well with jeans and my red shoes or with dress pants and polished brogues.
These two items of clothing, altered the way I saw myself. Not only did I feel better, but I felt the desire to dress better on a daily basis. With the obvious exception of my overalls and work boots at work. I began to do more research and get a feel of what I liked, what I felt I needed to replace and most importantly for me, how I could do so without breaking the bank.
Sure, I've made some less than ideal purchases and am much wiser for it, the end result however is I now possess a great wardrobe of clothing, suited for all occasions and have an understanding of my own personal style and taste in accessories. By the way, I still haven't bought a Navy Suit. I also have an abundance of advice gleaned from my own experience on do and don'ts and ways to save money on purchases.
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.