What Life After Divorce For Men Over 40 Is Like

By: Corrina Horne

Updated December 21, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC

Life after divorce for men often falls into one of a few camps: there are those who feel liberated, those who feel abandoned, those who feel hope, and those who feel a vague sense of loss and confusion. Although some of these differences can be attributed to age, gender, and situation, there is no one right way to go about coping with divorce, or one right way to live after a divorce. For men over 40, though, life after a divorce might look a little bit different from their younger and older counterparts.

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Men Over 40: Stations in Life

Although there is no single defining characteristic of a man over 40, there are a few likelihoods that may be at play in the life of a 40-year-old man. Most men of this age are established in some type of career. Most men of this age have children, if they wanted children, and are functioning as family breadwinners, perhaps in conjunction with their wives or girlfriends, or perhaps on their own.

In most cases, regardless of the particulars, men in their forties are established, to some degree. They usually have a set place to live, a set job, a set vehicle, and a set routine each day. Losing their partner can disrupt all of these aspects of their lives, and bouncing back and creating a new life is not quite as easy for someone who has lived one way for 15 years as it might be for someone who has only lived that way for a handful of months. How long does it take for a man to get over a divorce? The answer varies from person to person, and there is no right or wrong response.

Although life after divorce might often be portrayed as a series of one-night-stands, or an unending supply of young women looking for a distinguished older man with whom to engage in flirtatious banter and experienced sexual exploits, the reality of life after divorce is more often filled with relearning how to live alone, figuring out how to parent as a single father (if children are involved), and determining what might have gone wrong in your marriage in order to work on yourself and improve any future relationship prospects.

Learning New Patterns

In any divorce, learning new patterns is going to take precedence. Where you once slept beside your partner, you have to learn to sleep alone. This might be an easy task, or might be a long, painful, drawn-out process-only time and your unique makeup will tell. Where you once made decisions as a member of a partnership, you have to begin making decisions on your own, potentially without anyone else's input.

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Learning new patterns is just as much about the big picture as it is about the small. Big picture patterns include decision-making, working, dating, and engaging in lifestyle habits, while small picture patterns focus more on the nitty gritty, day-to-day details most people take for granted. Perhaps your partner cooked your breakfast for you each day, and you are forced to cook it yourself from now on. Perhaps your partner paid all of the bills, and you are left to figure out where the utilities are, and how to get hooked up for the Internet. Perhaps your partner planned your vacations, arranged your social life, and just generally managed your life, and you are left to figure out what you like and what you want to do with your time.

This is an important part and process of getting a divorce, but it can often be overwhelming for men in their forties, particularly if they were a part of a marriage involving traditional gender roles. Cleaning, cooking, and maintaining a home can prove extremely difficult, and can take months to get accustomed to, so giving yourself time to navigate all of these changes is important in processing your new life, and moving on from your old life.

Sorting Priorities

Understanding your priorities is another important part of moving on after a divorce, and learning how to exist in the world as a freshly divorced, 40-year-old man. While your priorities in marriage were likely at least in part predicated on your partner's priorities, your time is your own (save parenting and/or child support, if children are involved), and your priorities are wholly yours to figure out and implement. In this respect, some men might feel some amount of freedom; men who were previously encouraged to constantly complete house projects or otherwise fill their time might find that being able to create their own priorities is a freeing, wonderful experience.

Sorting priorities can involve making some significant life changes. Men might have chosen their career paths, homes, and even religious preferences based on what their wives wanted, or what their immediate peers were doing, rather than closely evaluating what they wanted or needed. In some cases, divorce can afford middle-aged men the opportunity to explore themselves a little more deeply and effectively, in order to create a life they feel excited about and fulfilled by.

Getting Back Out There

For many men, getting back out into the dating world is the cause of some amount of fear and apprehension, and can seem like an impossible task. Dating after a divorceshouldn't be rushed; both partners in a marriage, regardless of who initiated the divorce, need time to process, heal, and move on from their marriage. Although men over 40 should not cave into pressure to begin dating again before they are ready, it can be cause for concern- healthily getting back into dating can take a long time, and should not be defaulted as a short term process. 

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That being said, getting back out there is largely a matter of being in tune with yourself, your wants, and your needs. If you are still mourning your marriage, pining after your wife, or wishing for the life you had, you are not ready for divorced dating, and bringing another person into your tumult will likely only hurt you both. Getting back out there does not have a definitive time stamp on it, and does not have to be an immediate, springboard-like part of your divorce. Instead, it can be seen as a distant goal, ready whenever you are.

Learning to Move On

Moving on is arguably the most difficult part of getting divorced after 40, be you male or female. Most men in their forties have been married for at least a decade, which means that at least one quarter of your life has been spent with your partner. Moving on cannot happen at a moment's notice, and rarely comes easily. Instead, moving on is a regular, consistent series of behaviors that you actively hope for and work toward, in order to create a healthy, whole version of yourself, apart from your marriage and subsequent "failure" of your relationship.

Moving on from a decades-long marriage can be even more difficult, as most of your adult life was spent with someone, and you must then figure out how to navigate the world as an adult, without the partnership you likely came to rely on. Some people feel as if they lose their identity after divorce. In the case of a divorce after a 5-year marriage, or a 20-year marriage, the solution looks similar: learn yourself. Learn your likes and dislikes, learn where you went sour in your relationship, where you stumbled in your marriage, and learn what you need to do in order to live the life you hope for. You can never truly move on from your marriage until you are able to separate yourself from who you were as a partner, and who you are as a person. 

Moving on is rarely a linear journey, and if you thought that you had found yourself a nice life, it may seem daunting to try to find a new one, perhaps rightfully so. There usually isn't any one step or one space you reach, where you suddenly no longer feel the pain of your divorce, or the struggle created by it. Instead, moving on usually feels like taking a few steps forward, and a few steps back, until you feel as though you are ready to pursue another relationship, and live your life without the marriage you once held dear. 

Divorce After 40: What It Is Really Like for Men

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Life after divorce is rarely a party, even for men over 40. Although there are plenty of stereotypes surrounding divorced men and their behavior, very few men over the age of 40 actually lead playboy lives, marked by an unending stream of beautiful young women, and tons of cash. Instead, most divorced men over 40 are busy straddling the responsibilities of children, child support, alimony, and living their own distinct, separate lives, and learning how to successfully balance all of these cogs in order to create a functional, joyful life.

Many men who get divorced at 40 or older can benefit from some amount of therapy or counseling, as navigating the intense emotions following a divorce can be quite trying, and might prove far more than most people can handle. If you find yourself in the midst of a divorce, consider opting for visiting with a therapist, whether that means sitting in a psychiatrist's office to be treated for depression, or consulting an online therapist, such as those on ReGain.Us, to work through the tangle of emotions inevitably following separating from and divorcing your spouse.

Divorces are messy and painful, no matter who is involved, and getting through a divorce at any age is trying. Divorcing in middle age, though, does present with its own unique set of challenges; most people divorcing at this age have children and, consequently, parental responsibilities, such as child custody and child support, that must be taken into account when deciding how to move forward, and how to navigate the life changes that have been handed to you. With consistency, dedication, and the will to heal and move forward, though, men over 40 can enjoy a life filled with health, vitality, and enjoyment, even after going through the pain of a divorce.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for a man to get over a divorce?

The answer to this question is extremely variable. Some men find getting over a divorce, particularly of a toxicromantic partner, to be a fairly quick and painless process. Some men suffer for quite some time before they are able to get over a divorce. However, some men don’t ever properly get over it, and spend a decent portion of their life regretting it. 

The bottom line is that divorce recovery happens at a different rate for everyone, and is dependent on the nature of the marriage, the presence of financial issues, the existence of emotional support networks in the divorcees life, and the willingness of the divorcee to go about coping with divorce in a healthy way. Regardless of which category the divorced man finds himself in, it is important that he gives himself the necessary time to grieve.

What happens to a man after divorce?

The post divorce landscape is variable among all divorcees, male or female. Oftentimes, the first detail that needs to be sorted out when coping with divorce is figuring out how to spend time by yourself or with people other than your (former) spouse. Married men don't often have the same level of social interaction as bachelors do, so this step may take some time. 

Many men don't know how to live alone, and will quickly revert to promiscuity and online dating in an effort to find potential new relationships. This should probably be avoided, and instead, divorced men should focus on finding grounding and comfort elsewhere, be it in friends, family members, or support groups.

Another prevalent issue among recent divorcees, particularly ones who have been married for a long time, is their finances will become very disrupted. The post-divorce financial world is very complicated, as it likely involves dealing with a reduction in assets, along with a new set of expenses related to living alone, and new bills such as child support and alimony payments. 

Don’t be afraid to live below your means, even if that means a lifestyle change. You can still learn to enjoy the simple things in life while giving up more extravagant material things that you once indulged in. It’s very important to stay out of debt.

Believe it or not, some of the happiest moments of your life could come after a divorce. Maybe it’s time to move out of that big, empty house and into an apartment in the city, where you can get to know your neighbors. Maybe you can travel and go on a journey of self-discovery. Or maybe you can just enjoy the process of getting to know yourself again. 

What is the most common age to get divorced?

The most common age to get divorced (at least for the first time) is around 30 years of age. 60% of all divorces occur in one’s mid to late 20’s. 

That being said- divorce doesn't have age restrictions, and can and will happen to many couples of every age bracket! Women and men don’t become immune to or incapable of divorce at a certain age!

Do men regret divorce?

While divorce is occasionally regretted by both men and women, men tend to suffer from it slightly more severely than women do. Much of this comes from the fact that many men don’t feel inclined to seek help when they are struggling with big emotions, and will often hold things in and allow for them to build. 

But remember that your time after a divorce does not need o be depressing and difficult. This might be a great time for you to experience all the things you once loved and still miss. Enjoy the simple pleasures by living below your means and meeting new people. Do not go into debt, and do not rely on vices like drugs, alcohol, and casual sex. But beyond that, this might be your chance to rebuild your best version of yourself.

What are the five stages of divorce?

While this is by no means an absolute, many divorces will go through what resembles the five stages of grief. These include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

  1. Denial: The denial stage of divorce is when the individual is not prepared to face the reality of divorce. Oftentimes, men find themselves in this stage for longer than women will, as they tend to be more emotionally repressed. 
  2. Anger: The anger stage of the divorce is when the reality of it sets in and the divorcee finds themselves feeling hurt, offended, betrayed, or let down in a way that leads them to respond with anger. Men find themselves wallowing in anger a lot, and should be particularly wary of this stage!
  3. Bargaining: The bargaining stage is when the individual attempts to distract themselves from the reality of the divorce by exploring various what-ifs and 
  4. Depression: Depression is in many ways the most understandable, and is often the longest period of a divorce. Child custody is made more complicated, financial issues may bubble up depending on your states divorce laws, and your whole life may feel as if it was thrown away. Because men don’t emphasize expressing themselves as much as women do, they may not be able to process their emotions, making it harder than women to get out of the depression. Unfortunately, many men excessively spend time in this phase. 
  5. Acceptance: The acceptance phase is the point in which the divorcee accepts the fact that they are divorced, and makes the decision to move on with their life. It should be the objective of the divorcee, as it will make the process of making new friends, enjoying child custody, and even moving on much easier!

Why is divorce so painful?

Divorce is painful because it involves a massive turnover of one’s lifestyle. Marital separation and divorce have the potential to bring about uncomfortable changes in child custody, a potential loss of emotional support, severance of certain friends and family members, and a slew of financial issues. 

It is important during a divorce to give yourself time to grieve, and so seek emotional support if needed. Counseling is a great way to do this, but making sure to spend time with friends and family is often very helpful as well.

Try to frame it in a positive light. This divorce might feel painful because you are in a period of intense growth. Believe that you will come out on the other side a better person, and remember that you deserve to love and be loved by someone.

Are second marriages happier?

While this is by no means an absolute, second marriages are, on average, happier than first marriages are. There are multiple possible reasons for this, including, but not limited to-

  • The process of divorce recovery can make a new relationship stronger.
  • Coping with divorce can make people more aware of what they want. 
  • Having time to grieve after a divorce can give people clarity on how they can improve as a person, allowing them to be better partners in new relationships. 

Are people happier after divorce?

This varies greatly from person to person- one person may struggle greatly in their efforts to cope with divorce, while others may feel better than ever. The post divorce temperament of a person is dependent upon a variety of factors. 

In general, men and women tend to deal with breakups and divorce quite differently. On average, men don’t tend to allow themselves to feel their emotions properly, and will sort of procrastinate dealing with their feelings, and will disingenuously cope with divorce instead. Due to this, the initial couple of months after divorce tend to be easier for men than for women. However, in the long run, this flips. 

Some things that make divorce recovery easier is surrounding yourself with friends and family members, and understanding that there is no pressure to enter a new relationship. Your support network is key!

How do you start again after a divorce?

Again, as was said numerous times in this article already- there is NO reason to rush back into new relationships after a divorce. The first thing to do after divorcing is to learn to spend time by yourself, as it will make things easier for you, and will make your new relationships stronger. 

There are a few major no-no’s after divorce. For example, don’t get yourself into serious debt, and don’t seek comfort in vices like alcohol, drugs, gambling, and casual sex. But aside from that, the sky is the limit! There are plenty of thrilling things that you can try now that you are an individual. Try some of the following tips:

  • Look for a new workout routine
  • Decorate your space- make your house or apartment look fantastic
  • Invest in your health by buying healthy, organic foods and learning how to cook them in delicious ways
  • Look for a new wardrobe and express your style
  • Spend time with a new or old hobby, like learning to play an instrument, or making friends in a local IM sport
  • Travel cheaply, and try living below your means in different parts of the world. You’d be shocked by how little material goods you need to be happy.
  • Put yourself out there just a little bit more. This doesn’t mean that you need to go out to the club, it might just mean going to the same places, but dancing more! Find joy in the little things: you are a full person and you deserve to be happy.

There are multiple divorce blogs that help people answer this question, along with many of the other questions presented in this article, and will help give you an understanding of divorce laws, the finer points of child custody, and many other things. Many men don’t seek advice because they are embarrassed, but it is important to remember that like everything else, it is perfectly acceptable to seek divorce advice. 

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