Alison, 65, used Divorce Club to cope when she separated after 43 years of marriage
“My husband and I were childhood sweethearts. We met at school, married at 20 and had children who have grown up now. Family and friends called us the ‘perfect couple’ and, having just retired, I was looking forward to spending our golden years together.
I thought we would be together ‘until the end’ but, after 43 years of marriage, he started to become distant. I thought it was just a phase that would pass. I tried to make changes and we even went to marriage counselling but things didn’t improve and he finally told me that he was leaving me, without any explanation. It was only later that I discovered he had been having an affair.
“There were tears, incredible pain and I was in complete shock. To have your whole life feel like it is being torn from you is incredibly crushing and destabilising. However, I’m an optimist and just saw myself as a happy person that something very sad happened to. I couldn’t sit around and let it destroy me. I contacted friends that I hadn’t spoken to in a while and arranged to meet them, I started going to the gym more often and I joined a walking club. Within six months, I had joined Divorce Club. There were tears interspersed with laughter as I recounted what had happened and felt relief at others being able to relate to my experience. I made lots of new friends and I felt really appreciated again. Age was irrelevant. I was enjoying myself and other people were enjoying my company too.
“I’m 65 now and being divorced has taught me things about myself that I never knew. I’ve also got my freedom back. I’ve just returned from six weeks in Australia and was overwhelmed by messages when I returned to the UK from friends I have made since my separation. I’ve met people of all ages, from all walks of life, with different stories to tell and I feel confident again. I’ve made friends for life.”
Isabelle Hung, a psychologist that specialises in divorce and founder of Divorce Club, believes Alison is an inspiration to others facing divorce after 50:
“Going through a divorce over 50 can be particularly hard because the chances are you are emerging from a much longer term relationship. Hopes and dreams for retirement are shaken up, as is the vision of what the rest of your life was going to look like. You might have grown up children, who have their own lives now, increasing the sense of isolation. The best way to move forward is to do what Alison did and reach out to as many people as possible and reconnect with old friends who you may have lost touch with over the years. Try online groups, such as Divorce Club, to meet others in the same boat with similar interests. Take a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Join a group tour to share the experience.
“If the sense of loss has left you totally at sea, consider counselling and life coaching. This will help you come to terms with your feelings and build an idea of what you want from your future. It may be different to how you thought it would be but it has the potential to go in exciting new directions.”