Overcoming a Breakup in the Later Years - Finding Strength in Adversity

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Breakups can be both painful and depressing, especially if you and your partner have been together for many decades.

Sure we have gone through this kind of setback sometime during our 20s and 30s, but despite that, we still learn to accept, move on, and look forward to a more worthy relationship. However, overcoming a breakup or divorce can weigh deeper on seniors considering their life expectancy and health. What’s sad is that more and more senior couples are going through divorce nowadays.

If you’re one of the senior population who just had a breakup, this article will help you overcome your later life breakup as we share effective and useful tips that you should practice as well as other important information you should know about the matter.

Common Causes of Later Life Break Up

Surveys have been conducted regarding the most common causes of later life breakups. In 2004, AARP surveyed 1,147 divorcees aged 40 to 79 years old. The survey concluded that the most common reason why middle and later-aged couples split up is due to:

  • Domestic violence or physical abuse.
  • Realization of differences
  • Unfaithfulness/infidelity

Hawkins, Willoughby, and Doherty conducted a more recent survey on the same topic. It revealed that the following are also common causes of divorce among parents and old couples:

  • Lack of intimacy due to distance
  • Lack of healthy communication

The same results were yielded from the survey conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Can It Still Be Fixed?

For old couples who feel like they are on the verge of splitting up, both parties must think first before making any rash decisions, especially if the problem in the relationship can be fixed. Examples of problems that can be fixed with proper communication and understanding include:

  • Financial arguments/problems
  • Trust issues
  • Communication
  • Misunderstanding
  • Family problems

However, if fixing the problem didn’t work and you think that the relationship is getting toxic,  then it might be height time to put an end to it. Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are not doing any good to you even how hard it hurts because over time, surely you’ll be able to revive your vibe and happiness.

Tips To Overcome Later Life Break Up

For older adults who just had a breakup or divorce with their long-term life partner, here are some tips that might help you move forward and ease the negative feelings lurking deep inside.

Stay connected with family and friends

Most people who just had a breakup usually lock themselves out from their social life. Though being alone to reflect and think about how to move forward is normal for most of us, it’s important to keep in mind that too much isolation may worsen depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness.

To avoid that, staying connected with your family and friends is crucial. Attend family events or night outs with friends. You can even visit old friends who you haven’t seen in a while. In this way, you’ll be able not only to divert yourself from the breakup, but you’ll also be able to revive your social life.

Do the things that make you happy

What were the things you are passionate about? What hobbies do you miss doing? Do you like to volunteer? Write a novel? Start a business? These are just a few questions to ask yourself. In this way, you’ll be able to feel a sense of purpose and gain more confidence. Over time, you won’t even notice how far you’ve gone and how contented you are even without your ex-partner.

Cry if you need to

One of the ways to reduce the extra baggage in our chests is to just cry it out. Crying is better than repressing your emotions as it avoids worsening feelings of depression and loneliness. Repressing your emotions over time might result in an emotional breakdown.

Call a trusted friend or family instead and vent out all the feelings you have in your chest. Cry if you need to and let yourself feel all the pain that you have been carrying in your chest.

Stop blaming yourself

In a breakup, we often question ourselves, “What did I do wrong”, “What do I lack”, or “If only I…” These are perfect things that make us overthink and blame ourselves for why the relationship ended. Though it’s good to reflect on the mistakes you’ve done, it’s crucial not to make these thoughts eat you up. Because if you do, it’ll be harder for you to move forward, let alone forgive yourself.

Learn to accept mistakes and make these a way to be better in your next relationship. It will also help if you remind yourself that the relationship is not meant to last and that there is a good reason why it ended.

Share feelings with a trusted friend or family

Tell all your feelings to a trusted friend who can give you advice and opinion about the relationship. In this way, you’ll be able to get a better perspective.

While it may hurt to hear your friend’s view about the relationship, it’s way better than sugarcoating it and avoiding all the bad stuff. Facing the negative stuff will help you accept what happened and be able to overcome the breakup faster.

Cut all communications with your ex

While this may sound kind of bitter, it’s an effective way to overcome a breakup faster. Most of us don’t cut all communication with our ex either because it’s too painful to let go or because we’re afraid to be lonely. However, the longer you communicate with your ex, the harder and more painful it is to move on.

If you want to completely overcome a breakup, it’s crucial to cut all ties with your ex including in social media. In this way, you don’t have to see posts or messages that will remind you of the relationship.

Erase or neutralize memories

One of the things that make it hard for you to overcome a breakup is seeing all the stuff that reminds you of our past relationship, especially if you have been living in the same home for years. Even small stuff such as a photo, towel, shirt, or perfume has the power to make drastic changes in your emotions.

To solve this issue, it’s important to eliminate all the material things that remind you of him/her. Abstract things like your ex-partner’s favorite songs or movies cannot be eliminated completely, but you can neutralize them by listening to and watching different music or movie genres.

Write a letter or a daily journal

Do you have the urge to call or visit your ex and tell him/her how a horrible person s/he is? Say you did that but after saying those harsh words, you might end up regretting what you said. This is a common feeling that most people go through. However, you sure don’t want to look like a desperate ex who can’t move on.

So, instead of pouring all your anger and pain into your ex, try writing it down. For example, if you’re a victim of infidelity, write a letter intended for your ex expressing all your hatred, anger, and pain. Then afterward, burn it down or throw it away. Jotting down what you feel throughout the phase of moving on can help you balance your emotions as well.

Final Thoughts

Going through a heartbreak later in life is as painful as heartbreak during our 20s and 30s. What’s even more depressing is that seniors, with shorter life expectancy and weaker health, may have a harder time moving on and finding a new partner. Also, since old couples already spent half of their lives living together, a sudden breakup may give them a hard time adjusting to living in separate ways.

If you are one of those who have just gone through a later-in-life heartbreak, follow the tips listed above to help you overcome this phase faster and finally find happiness once again, maybe not in a new partner, but in fulfilling your other passions and goals in life. 

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