As it happens, women initiate a majority of the midlife divorces. According to an AARP survey of older divorced people, 66 percent of women reported that they asked for the divorce, compared to 41 percent of men. However, the same survey reported that most women in their fifties or older said the top killers of their marriages were physical or emotional abuse, infidelity, and drug or alcohol abuse—and they put almost all of the blame on their ex-husbands. On the flip side, most fifty-plus men said they simply “fell out of love” or had “different values or lifestyles.” This belies the myth that at midlife women get bored with their husbands and leave them to find fulfillment elsewhere.
Even though I was dumped, He’s History; You’re Not is relevant to older divorced women no matter how their marriages ended. Even women who have finally realized how alone they are in their marriages and have left with no regrets still have to deal with devastated kids, financial woes, loneliness, dating again, figuring out past mistakes, self-reflection, and forgiveness. Women cheat too, and suffer enormous guilt because of it. Emotionally, a twenty or thirty-year marriage that occupied most of a lifetime must be mourned. A woman who posted on the AARP message board about late life divorce put it well: “After twenty-six years of marriage and years of wanting to leave, I finally found the courage to get divorced. I too waited until my daughters were on their own. The frustrating thing was that many people thought there must be someone else… well there was… myself.”
I eventually learned to both survive and thrive, overcoming daunting obstacles, including learning to live contentedly alone. I’ve educated myself in a lot of areas women have barely even thought of when the prospect of divorce looms. I’m the kind of girlfriend a girl needs when she’s facing both menopause and the trauma of divorce. I am writing the book I wish I had when I got divorced. I would have devoured it whole.