I recently wrote an article about single seniors that drew a lot of attention. In my article I talked about the growing number of seniors who are single and dating. Even though most of my article focused on widows and widowers who were finding love again, I forgot that some are finding themselves back in the dating scene because they may have divorced. My assumption was that they had divorced earlier in life, but did you know that there is a growing number of couples who have decided to go divorce court who are over the age of 50? It’s called a gray divorce.
What is a gray divorce? According to Pew Research Center is a divorce that occurs among individuals who are 50 and over. According to their report, gray divorce is on the rise. Why are individuals waiting until they have turned gray to end their marriage?
For some baby boomers, these are the ones who experienced their first divorce in young adulthood. Many remarried and their marriage was less stable. In remarriages for adults ages 50 and older, the rate of divorce is double the rate of those who have only been married once. In 2015 among all the adults 50 and up, 48% had been in their second or higher marriage.
One would ask, “why wait until you are 65 to get a divorce?” With the life expectancy being extended, a 65 year old can expect to be around 20+ years with a good quality of life. Most of these divorces are initiated by women who may have delayed the divorce until their children were grown and want their independency. Some have reached their “Popeye moment”, meaning “that’s all I can stands and can’t stands no more.” Some have endured difficulties in the marriage and cannot imagine living the last years of their life in misery. They have decided to take their chances even if it means being alone.
According to Renee Stepler the gray divorce has some downsides. Renee is research analyst focusing on social and demographic trends at Pew Research. In her article entitled Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America’s 50+ population “Gray divorcees tend to be less financially secure than married and widowed adults, particularly among women. And living alone at older ages can be detrimental to one’s financial comfort and, for men, their satisfaction with their social lives.”
Consider the couple that has been saving for retirement and the other spouse has access to retirement funds. Financial experts now have a new line of business helping individuals who have built assets together find a way to avoid a financial fiasco at a time when they would have been focusing on retiring and growing old together.
What should you do if you find yourself experiencing a gray divorce? Here are 4 recommendations and scriptures to help you to survive and even thrive.
1. Keep your faith - Psalms 143:5-6 – “I remember to think about the many things you did in years gone by. Then I lift my hands in prayer, because my soul is a desert, thirsty for water from you.”
2. Live a just life - Psalms 92:12-14 (CEV06) “Good people will prosper like palm trees, and they will grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. They will take root in your house, Lord God, and they will do well. They will be like trees that stay healthy and fruitful, even when they are old.”
3. Trust God to keep you - Isaiah 46:4 (CEV06) “I will be the same when you are old and gray, and I will take care of you. I created you. I will carry you and always keep you safe”.
4. Trust God for your future – Jeremiah 29:11-12 (CEV06) “I will bless you with a future filled with hope – a future of success, not of suffering. You will turn back to me and ask for help, and I will answer your prayers.”
Moving day was finally here. My daughter had organized everything she needed to do to have a successful move. She purchased the furniture, scheduled the deliveries, transferred the utilities and packed everything up. All she had to do on moving day was load everything, pick up her keys, get an internet modem and move in.
In preparation for her big day I scheduled the day off and loaded all the accessories we had purchased in the back seat and trunk of my car. On the day of the move I got up early and attended a 7:30 a.m. board meeting and dedicated the rest of the day to helping her move. Since most of the stuff was going to be delivered this was going to be a piece of cake.
After my board meeting, I stopped by the house to pick up a couple of chairs so we would have something to sit in while waiting for the furniture. I remembered she had no food or water so I made a last minute stop at Walgreens to pick up a case of water. When I arrived at the apartment complex, Addy was there excited and ready to move into her new place. I was beaming with pride because she her goal was now accomplished and she had the keys and the paperwork to prove it. Let the fun begin!
Our first task was to unload both of our cars. Since she is much smaller than I am I decided to grab the heavier things so she wouldn’t try to lift things that we too heavy for her. Out of concern for me she asked, “You want me to get that for you Mom? That looks too heavy for you.” Being the superwoman that I am, I assured her I was good. More than once she said, “Mom, that’s too heavy, put it down!” “You sure you got that Mom? Midday we got some assistance from her Dad and Stepdad to help with the things that required tools.
We were doing fine until we discovered the television had to be returned to the store for an exchange. When we arrived at the store I told her I would get it. She ran ahead to get a cart because it was obvious I was struggling. We handled the negotiation and loaded the new television back into the cart and back to the car. By this time we were hungry and tired but still had a few more stops to make to pick up groceries etcetera before we returned to her apartment.
While we were at the grocery store, we both realized that we were starting to run out of steam. It was after 10:00 p.m., the basket was getting full and our concern was how to get all of this stuff up to her second floor apartment including the television. Thank God my husband called me on his way back from a banquet and agreed to meet us at the apartment to carry the stuff in. I was relieved and grateful as was my daughter. An hour and a half later, everything was done, and at midnight we headed home.
Saturday morning I was moving a little bit slower and couldn’t even think about round two to finish up the small details like curtains and wall hangings. However I pressed on because I had to deliver more things. My husband loaded up the heavy item in my car for me. Before I left I remembered I needed his toolbox to hang the curtains. His toolbox is actually a tool bag that I thought weighed about ten pounds. When I picked up the bag and realized it weighed more like 50 pounds, I grunted and he quickly said, “Put that down.” Being the tough girl I am I assured him I had it. Once again I was offered help that I refused to acknowledge that I even needed when it was obvious that I was struggling.
As the day went on I couldn’t help but think about my first apartment after I graduated from college. I remembered that Mom drove 90 miles to assist me with my move. She loaded the Cadillac down with stuff including a desk my pastor had made for me. I remember being extremely grateful for my mother’s help. As my mother did for me, I was determined to do the same for my daughter. The Bible says we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” It was my job to help carry her burdens.
As I lay in the bed barely able to move Sunday morning, I had to consider what had caused me to be in the situation I was in. Obviously I was trying to carry things that were too heavy for me. When I sat down to read over my devotion for the day, I was not surprised to receive a message from God about trying to carry our burdens alone. Psalm 55:22 (ESV) put everything in perspective. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Matthew 11:28-30 invites us to allow Jesus to carry our heavy burdens. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Funny thing as I remember my Mom and the desk, she had sense enough not to try to carry it up to my apartment but relied on my brother in-law and sister doing the heavy lifting. Lesson learned Lord! Whether it is my responsibility as a parent, a pastor’s wife, a coworker, a coach or an author, I need to quit trying to carry other’s burdens alone. Not only do I need to make sure I am not trying to do the heavy lifting on other’s burdens, I need to trust God to carry mine. If you find yourself in the same situation, either trying to carry your own burdens or someone else’s, listen to the voice that says, “Put it down!”
When was the last time you made a promise to yourself or someone else? Was it to a friend, your spouse, your children, your coworker or your boss? Truth is we make promises and commitments to ourselves and others all the time. Consider the marriage vows which we promise to love in sickness and in health until death do us part. What about the promise to be somewhere or to help someone with something or simply to call them back? How good are you at keeping your promises?
Dictionary.com defines promise as a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one. Think about what happens in the political arena when campaign promises are made that never come to fruition once the person is elected. Do you remember the promise ring which often preceded the engagement ring? I knew a lot of young ladies who received promise rings and never got the engagement ring or the wedding ring. In today’s time the promise ring can be a commitment to be celibate, loyal, monogamous, and even a promise to oneself to stay sober. For some wearing a promise ring says “I promise I won’t drink again.”
I make promises to my family all the time. My daughter really knows how to hold me to something I have promised her. If she has convinced me to cook her favorite meal of broiled chicken and rice, she will ask me for a time and date to clarify when I will be following through on the commitment. If the day comes around and I actually cook something else, her expectations are for the chicken and rice and nothing else will do. Not fulfilling my promise to her to cook what I have promised says to her that I don’t value her or that someone or something else is more important than the agreement I made to her. If I continue to make promises I don’t keep she will lose her confidence in me and the relationship could be damaged.
How good are you at keeping your promises? Sure, there are emergencies that happen and it is impossible to fulfill every promise we make, however we can do our best to improve our ability to be true to our word. Here are five rules to consider regarding promises.
1. Evaluate – Honestly think about what you can and can’t do before opening your mouth. Check to see if you have the resources, margin and capability to follow through.
2. Effort – Make an effort to keep your promises by defining who, what, where, how or when you are going to fulfill your promise.
3. Expectations - Don’t make promises to others because you expect to get something out of the deal. Check yourself and see why you are making the promise in the first place.
4. Immediate action – You are better off making short term promises than long ones. The more time that goes by the more opportunity there is for something else to get in the way. Norman Vincent Peale was quoted as saying “Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once.”
5. Always apologize sincerely when you fail to keep a promise. However, do not make up excuses for why you failed. When someone is expecting you to keep a promise excuses are unacceptable.
We not only make promises to one another, we also make promises to God. We promise to read the bible, pray, attend church and to give of our time, talent and resources. God is omniscient and knows before we do whether we can live up to what we have said we will do. Yet we still don’t manage to comply. The good news is that God is not like us and He has kept all of his promises. The Bible is full of good promises that pertain to God meeting our needs, securing our future, safety, companionship, guidance, forgiveness and rest.
Here are some of my favorite promise scriptures.
· Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
· 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
· Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
· Matthew 11:28 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
· Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I could go on and on because I have many more promises hi-lighted in my Bible that keep me hopeful and encouraged. When I need God to keep a promise I am quick to remind Him in my prayers. Funny thing, when someone has to remind me of a promise I made, I get irritated especially if I have failed to keep my promise. Unlike us, God loves to be reminded of the promises He has made to us. He also appreciates thanksgiving when He has met the commitments He has made to us. He loves to hear us say, “You promised.”
Last weekend I made a special trip to Oklahoma to take care of my Dad while my sister and her husband took a much needed break. I had my day planned out perfectly. I slept in to make sure I got a full eight hours of sleep, spent some time talking to my husband, packed a small bag, stopped by the bank and off I went down the highway to Oklahoma.
As I was driving along, the shoe I was wearing was irritating my right foot. I kicked the shoe off and continued down the highway feeling much relief. As always, I stopped at my favorite mid-way stop to pick up a bag of popcorn. Once I stopped the car, I reached down and grabbed my shoe and went into the store. I checked the popcorn popper first to make sure they had enough then I went to the bathroom. As I walked along I spoke to all who walked passed by me. I took care of my business, washed my hands and headed back to get my popcorn.
I reminded the sales clerk that they had the best popcorn between Kansas and Oklahoma and convinced a truck driver to buy some also. I paid the bill and went back to the car. When I opened the car door I noticed a shoe in the floor and wondered why my blue shoe was sitting in the floor. I knew I had put it on before going in the store. That’s when I glanced down at my feet and realized I had on a blue suede flat shoe and a black tennis shoe!
The first thoughts that flashed through my mind were who had seen me. Did the man that held the door for me on the way in notice? Did the girl making the pizza’s look at my feet? What about the lady in the bathroom stall next to me, did she look under the stall? What about the sale’s clerk or the truck driver? I was trying to figure out if they had seen my error. I was ashamed. They must have thought I was crazy and had a good laugh at my expense. There I was prancing around with the mix-matched shoes on. Not me the fashion diva!
I started my car and hurriedly got back on the highway. All of a sudden I burst out laughing. What else could I do? I couldn’t wait to call my husband so he could get a big laugh. When I called him, he assured me it couldn’t have been too bad. However, once I sent him the picture he was embarrassed for me and laughed along with me.
This was not the first time I had made such an error and it wouldn’t be the last time. But the truth is there have been other times in my life where I have done things that have brought on true shame and embarrassment that was much more difficult to recover from. I have made mistake after mistake and cause myself much humiliation and distress. I remember going off to school and my mother saying “don’t do anything to shame us out.” In other words, “act like you got some sense girl.”
Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Other words used to describe this feeling include humiliation, embarrassment, discomfort, disgrace, and guilt. You have done something you regret doing or something that was pure foolishness. When I think back over my life, I have many moments of shame.
So what do you do when you have done something that has brought you pain and embarrassment?
How do we recover from the burden of guilt and shame? Here are five ways to deal with shame.
1. Quit trying to cover up or hide – The very first humans Adam and Eve were faced with the shame of committing the first sin. (Genesis 3) After they had sinned they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves and they hid themselves.
2. Don’t let shame control you – Shame can cause us to go into our shell. Shame can cause us to change our routine to avoid being around others. The woman at the well being ashamed of her failed marriages did her best to avoid being around others.
3. Don’t allow others to condemn you – The woman caught in adultery in the 8th chapter of John was brought to the temple by the Pharisees and teachers of the law to be stoned. They wanted to condemn her, but Jesus never accused her. He simply told her to “go and sin no more.”
4. Don’t allow your shame to cause you to lash out at others – When Peter was in the process of denying Jesus three times, he became angry at those who approached him about being a follower of Jesus. “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.”
5. Seek forgiveness and forgive yourself – God knows that we will sin and He loves us and is willing to forgive us. 1 John 1:8-9 says that “If we say we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn’t in our hearts. But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” Once our sins our forgiven we can let it go and quit trying to hold on to it.
If you are currently dealing with shame, take the necessary steps to redeem yourself and move on with your life. Lastly, meditate on Isaiah 54:4a (CEV) – Don’t be afraid or ashamed and don’t be discouraged. You won’t be disappointed. Forget how sinful you were when you were young.”
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach