Fifty Shades of Freedom & Divorce

Silhouette bird escaping from the cage.

Life expectancy is higher in 2019 than ever before. Americans are living longer, celebrating longevity, and questioning how they want to live their lives. The depth of this personal inquiry often results in questioning their intimate or not-so-intimate relationships.

In this time of change, there is a movement of unhappily married baby boomers who are choosing divorce over staying in marriages that are emotionally annihilating. Faced with maintaining a partnership fraught with unmet desire, boomers are freedom seekers.

What they discover in their choice to take on life without a partner is that there are pros and cons to that decision. With the adage of 60 is the new 40, is 70 the new 50?

The Pro's & Cons of Divorce

The folks of the 1970’s “Me Decade” generation were powerful change agents. Losing sight of their power, many have gotten waylaid in partnerships that are no longer fulfilling, ultimately causing many to opt out of marriage. Hungering for a life that reflects the limitless promise of their earlier years,  many are now faced with  the prospect of tackling the unknown as they enter the winter of their lives—an exciting and terrifying sense of mystery.

The Pros of Divorce

They acquire greater autonomy that enables exploration of new dreams and desires. New friendships are developed and perhaps old friendships even reinvented. Self-esteem is enhanced with this new adventure. They get to learn how to create a sense of calm within the self through the shift in relationship status. And part of the self-soothing might show up as they discover a new sexual self, an exploration not possible before.

The Cons of Divorce

Leaving a relationship can foster a sense of regret. The fantasy of what life would be like without their partner may have been more embellished than the reality. People who find themselves in this dilemma may have thought their discomfort was about their partner. Yet, when alone, they realize they’re part of the issue. It’s often hard to recognize and to reconcile. A kind of identity crisis may ensue because there’s no one to blame for their unhappiness.

For women who leave, financial strain can be more of an issue than for their male counterparts. So, if you’re planning to leave, think about the new financial picture and be prepared for the sticker shock. It may be a costly decision with significant financial repercussions!

Also be aware that family and friends may not understand your choice to leave. They might side with the partner who was left behind. Grief and fear can accompany making the big change to leave a longtime relationship or marriage.

The Bottom Line When Considering Divorce

Leaving does not necessarily make everything better, as you had dreamed it would. If you were an angry or anxious person in the partnership, there is a good chance those emotions will follow you unless you’ve worked them out in therapy or a support group. As Buckaroo Bonzai famously said, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Big decisions create transformation. If you are a baby boomer on the move and you’ve been thinking about leaving for a long time, it’s important to reflect upon the following: Plan for the disengagement from your partner. Make sure you have resources to support the decision to leave. Set an intention to take the time necessary to decide where you will live, who your support team will be, and if this is really the correct choice for you. Prior to leaving, couples counseling can help you make the break with integrity.

When you properly prepare for leave-taking, successful reconstruction of the life you want to live is possible!


Edy Nathan

Edy Nathan, MA, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and certified sex therapist with over 20 years of experience in the field of grief and trauma. She is a certified EMDR practitioner, regression therapist, and certified hypnotherapist. Her formal training as a psychotherapist integrates with her views on trauma, abuse, and death.