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Divorcing at 59 and reinventing her life. Sue shares her journey to happiness

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

At the age of 59, having been married for 37 years, Sue woke up one morning and decided ‘It’s Time to be Happy’, and made the painful decision to end her marriage. That was in 2004. There was no single event to trigger her decision, just the realisation that she had been unhappy for many years, a moment when she just saw emptiness. As Sue says “The truth sets you free, but it hurts”. Even though she knew they still both loved each other, for Sue divorce was now inevitable.

Sue looked back at a journal she had started in 1982, and on page one she had listed all the things that made her unhappy in her marriage at that time. On Page two Sue had listed all the things she had loved about her husband. Neither list had changed, but neither had her feeling of unhappiness. She still felt lonely and isolated.

Divorcing the ‘right’ way

It was important to Sue that they divorced the ‘right’ way with as little acrimony and as little legal intervention as possible.  It was Sue that ensured that her husband was treated fairly, and even though she was the primary earner, she ensured that everything was split 50/50.

Seven years on and looking back, Sue says she can see now how she also contributed to the breakdown of her marriage but at the time she could only see what she believed were the faults of her husband.

The first 18 months Sue effectively lived through a grieving process “Just because I initiated the separation doesn’t make it any less painful”. And, as she saw her husband suffer as well, it was at times difficult to stand firm in her decision.

So how has Sue’s life changed since?

Well, Sue says she is happier than she has ever been.  She now lives her life’s purpose as an Executive Life Coach, work she’s passionate about, she has wonderful friends and lives in a wonderful flat in Richmond. As Sue explains, “this flat is more than a home; it is a symbol of what I can create”.  Sue describes her journey in her autobiography “Dancing with the Mask: Learning to Love and Be Loved”.

The death of her mother last year resulted in a conversation with her ‘ex’ which Sue says she can only describe as healing.

She has no regrets at turning her life upside down at 59. Now 67 she has tremendous energy and vitality and, as she explained to me, she’s rebranding herself in preparation for the next stage of her coaching practice.  Towards the end of the year Sue plans to launch her new online personal development venture. Retirement isn’t even within her radar!

And finally, Sue feels that the time may be right to meet a special person to share her life with. She sees her future full of positive friends and wonderful opportunities.

It is never too late to reinvent your life. Sue is happy proof of that!  And she invented a new word: “Life is fab-double-tastic!”

Sue can be contacted at www.sueplumtree.com


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Alison

    March 8, 2012

    this is fine you choose to do the leaving. However if you are the person left behind it is very different, I wonder what Sue’s ex husband would say his experiences of the divorce were? This is just an article to promote this woman’s business and justify her decision! Not helpful at all on midlife divorce.

    • Sue Plumtree

      March 29, 2012

      Hi Alison, you’re absolutely right that being left behind is very different. In fact, it can be devastating. My decision to leave my marriage was not taken lightly and it was very painful for both of us. You’re also right that at the time my ex was afraid of the unknown but, as we don’t have the gift of seeing into the future he didn’t know that he would create a life that fulfills him. But I also accept that he might not have done so. I only have control over my own choices and, in my particular case, the separation had a good outcome for both of us. At the end of the day we can only do the best we can.

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