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Think Hard Before Divorce in Midlife

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Article by Mary-Jane Kingsland

Time is important to most of us, especially when you hit middle age. We save it, spend it, waste it; but we never seem to have enough of it. Time has a nasty habit of slipping away from us, it can leave you feeling bereft and wanting. The rude shock; the truth of your mortality, can hit you hard as the birthdays mount up.

The middle-age crises

The popular concept of ‘the middle-age crises’ is time driven. It’s the smack in the face that finally alerts you to the fact that you are not going to live forever.

Is it any surprise then that fiftysomethings often take stock of their lives and decide that they need to make some drastic changes to compensate for their rapidly disappearing life and looks??  As a former divorce lawyer I can vouch for the fact that one such potential for change, is the perceived need for a new life partner.

Statistics show that divorce for the over 50’s is increasing.  Most proceedings are instituted by women. From the conversations I have had over the years the ‘wouldbe-divorcee’ feels that she has devoted the first half of her life to the husband and family and now wants, before it is too late; to be free to make her own choices; to put herself first and foremost – at last.

Well, haven’t we all felt like that at some time?  I know I have. It’s not just us that’s ageing – it’s our partner is too – that can be a bit of a leveler.

happy dark haired womanPersonally, I think that the middle-age crises is a portal in time; it’s as if all the lights in all the rooms of your life are suddenly switched on; stopping you in your tracks and forcing you to take a long hard look at yourself and your life so far.

I don’t know if it was my age or just frustration with office life, but in my mid forties the search lights certainly snapped on in the area of my life that was my career and I saw with stark clarity that I needed to change jobs. I had worked as a family lawyer for over twenty years and was ripe for a new challenge. The journey I chose took me back to university to study for a Masters degree in Mentoring and Coaching and along the way, if I have learnt one thing; it is that……….  ‘you always have a choice”.

You may find yourself in a situation which makes you unhappy, you may feel temporarily defeated by what life has thrown at you; but no one can take away the luxury of choice you have over how you respond.

I see life as linear. I believe that there are times in your life when you need to rise above the demands of the daily grind and take a ‘helicopter view’ of how you are fairing and whether you are heading in the right direction. So much of our lives when we were younger seemed pre-destined – we reacted to circumstance, rather than designing it.

It’s a well known fact that most people spend more time planning their annual holiday than they do the rest of their lives.

If this any of this rings true with you, I would urge you to harness the energy that mid life can inspire and realise the breadth of choices open to you. It will take some courage but as the ancient Greeks discovered; ‘there is more courage needed to live our daily lives than to commit a heroic feat’ once in a while.

The coaching practice that I have developed over the past few years is designed to support change. More recently I have started to work with people who are contemplating divorce proceedings; always a drastic, irretrievable change – a lot of people think that divorce is an inevitable catalyst to the changes they want to affect.

It may well be, but, by remembering that you always have choice, I would suggest taking that helicopter ride and seeing your whole life in context. When you have a clearer view, you can decide what you want now – and in your future.

MJ KingslandIn her twenties Mary-Jane qualified as a family lawyer and for twenty two years worked with literally hundreds of clients to make sense of their situation and find the best outcome.
She has combined her long experience as a family lawyer with her new career as a coach and offers specialised coaching for people who are suffering or contemplating divorce. 
See M-J’s website at
www.green-light.uk.co, to hear more.



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  1. Monya

    November 14, 2011

    Thank-you for this article.
    I always dreamed of growing old with my spouse… but the last 4 years have wreaked havoc and currently I cannot imagine spending my remaining energy in this relationship for even one more year. But for the sake of my children; (all gone from home) and grandchildren; I am still hoping.

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