D-I-V-O-R-C-E A bitter pill for too many seniors

There are pains that affect the elderly. We talk freely over the back fence, or a cup of coffee, about the pain in our joints and it is nothing to mention the pain in our back or a headache, but there is one “ache” we hesitate to talk about. And that is the “ache” in the heart.

Seniors who are alone probably lived a good life with their spouses. They raised a family, had ups and downs, but stayed together, thirty, forty, and even fifty years or more. Now, one partner has passed and the one left is lonely.

Today seniors are young, active, and a vital part of the community. They don’t relish the idea of living the rest of their life alone. They remember how it ‘used to be’ and they want someone to share an embrace, a cup of coffee, and the newspaper.

Late-in-life courtships are often short. Older sweethearts say, “Hey, why wait?” Soon, wedding bells are ringing and newlyweds sail away on a “Honeymoon Cruise.”

How hard it is to admit, after all the fanfare, that maybe, just maybe, they made a mistake. Hearts that were bubbling over just a year or only weeks before, have begun to crack.

What to do? The retirement and social security benefits from the first spouse are gone. The home and car have been sold. Finances are in a tangle. They are looking the “Bitter Pill” in the eye, and it is hard to swallow.

They ponder the changes and commitments they’ve made and are reluctant to admit out loud that things aren’t going right. Divorce is a “bitter pill” for anyone, but especially for the older person. In addition to the hurt and an embarrassment that goes beyond feeling ashamed, often there is deep depression.

Anyone can be vulnerable, especially those alone and lonely. If you are about to embark upon a new life with that special someone, by all means, know it can be wonderful! He or she may meet all of your needs, but be careful. Don’t let your heart rule your head. Go in with your eyes open.

Perhaps you have met this attentive person in a retirement community. What do you really know about each other? When you are lonely and there is that ‘someone’ who is filling a void, it is hard to see beyond the comfort zone. It may not seem so, in your, romantic involvement, but the world is full of people who are smooth talkers. Their motives are dark. You are flattered that such a charming, sophisticated or even much younger person is interested in you.

Such a romantic event isn’t impossible, but back up and think again.

There are people who look for the vulnerable. They even go so far as to search the obituaries. In your grief, you could get a phone call from a complete stranger who remembered your ‘John or Mary’ from the past. They can recall names and places, after all, much information is in the obituary – think about it.

Society has put a name on these characters. They are called ‘con artists.’ Don’t be fooled, these ‘con artists’ can be sweet, believable, and may even be female!

We don’t want to knock the icing off of the wedding cake and doom you to a life alone (although, there are worse things than being alone.) We want you to make an investment in a relationship that will make the ‘golden years’ shine.

How to avoid disaster.

It may not sound romantic, but what about a background check? A few calls to their home state may put a whole new light on the situation.

Are they financially secure? Do you know it for a fact? Have you discussed your finances with each other? Be careful here; it may not be a wise move, too early in the relationship.

If this special someone has been around for along time and if you knew the other spouse, and they knew yours, you are pretty safe. But even so, it may be a good idea to consider a prenuptial agreement. You wouldn’t think of buying a home or car without insurance. The prenuptial agreement is your insurance that all the financial and material possessions you have will remain yours and your loved ones. Your partner would have this assurance also.

After you have given serious thought to the precautions you must take, consider other problems that could arise without an agreement.

* Children, either partner’s, may not think this union is made in Heaven and may object to the marriage and financial arrangements..

* What about the inheritance? Who gets what?

* Money can be a big problem. Two bank accounts? Who manages the money?

* What about the car – do you keep two?

* Which house will be sold – yours or his?

Other considerations:

*Friends – will you keep the old, or make new?

*Do you expect him or her to be just like the spouse you lost? The same taste in food, dress, movies, books, and on and on.. Chances are slim.

What if it doesn’t work?

If you find yourself, alone after a divorce, there is help to get you through. Seek out groups made up of people just like you. Talk about it! Talk to your family and friends. Life can still be great!

You can help a friend going through a divorce by looking beyond the, “I’m fine.” Understand he is going through the Worst time of his life. Something he may have been able to handle a few years back now seems insurmountable. Be a good listener. When he tells you about his aching back, be aware the heart is aching too.

Spend time with him, show him you care. Encourage him to participate in therapy and self-help groups. You, by being there for him, can help that “bitter pill” go down just a little easier.

If you really want to be there for your friend, share this article, BEFORE, the big decision is made. The ‘pill’ might not be needed after all.. A movie, a stroll in the park, a glass of wine with a ‘good companion’ may be all the doctor ordered. Think about it. . .

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