According to the latest research, the over age 50 crowd is now experiencing double the divorce rate of younger groups. The even more riveting subgroup is those over 50 who are remarried. The odds of divorce are 40% higher for people in remarriages, so the people most likely to divorce late in life are the ones who divorced and remarried earlier.
If you’re in that group, you are at significant risk for a rebound divorce: marrying the wrong person, usually far too quickly, later in life. When those marriages don’t work out, the consequences can be even harsher because you are older and less resilient financially and emotionally. Here’s how to protect yourself from a crushing late in life divorce.
1. Realize that those you date – like yourself – have significant baggage, and be prepared to deal with it.
Over age 50, most people have baggage in the form of financial issues, emotional issues stemming from a failed marriage, children they are still raising or putting through college, and much more. The goal is to find someone with carry-on baggage, not steamer trunks.
2. Date a LONG TIME before you plan a future.
The older you are as a single person, the longer it takes to unpack the baggage. Most older daters are reluctant to reveal all of their warts in the beginning of a new relationship.
The risk of rejection is so high that people tend to focus on just having fun and superficial conversation until they can build a high level of trust. That means you don’t know what you’re getting until far down the road, sometimes two or three years.
3. When you find someone special, be bold with your questions.
By pacing the relationship slowly, you can afford to dole out your biggest questions and get the answers you need. Ask about financial status, especially debt or unpaid taxes. Ask about past relationships, listening for dysfunctional patterns of relating that are not likely to be any different with you. Ask about issues with children, the ex, and extended family.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Dating is very personal, and the more personal your conversations early on, the more quickly you know what you’re getting into.
4. Educate yourself about dating and relationships.
This is prime time to reflect and learn so that you don’t recycle the same mistakes you made the last two decades. Use a sounding board in the form of a coach, a therapist, or a trusted (wise) friend to help you see into your blind spots. Arm yourself with the knowledge you’ll need to navigate the significant landmines of dating over 50.