Divorce amongst the elderly

By: Khalid Iqbal founder Rahmaa Institute

“Stick with it. Don’t tear the sheets too easily. Life without each other is like an empty space. I wish I would not listened to others who at the time said they were friends and family helping me. Where are they now when I feel so lonely and need someone to talk to?” Advice from a baby boomer Muslim sister who initiated the divorce after 28 years of marriage. She now live in an assisted living facility by herself on welfare and food stamps.

Loneliness that sometimes lead to depression often is the result of divorce especially among elders. Unlike Americans getting remarried is far from their mind in most cases. Old age is the time when they need their life partner the most, when the children have moved on and are living their own life. Many people that I have talked to regret their decision. The only one who are Ok are a small minority who have suffered years of harsh treatment from their spouse including domestic violence.

Rahmaa Institute started the program to provide counseling to the divorcee just by listening to their thoughts and provide them with guidance and attentive ear. Some call us regularly, they talk about their health, their issues, the loneliness, their X spouse, children or anything else on their mind.

According to a New York Times article, “More Americans Rejecting Marriage in 50s and beyond”, in the past 20 years, the divorce rate has increased over 50% amongst the baby boomers and the divorce numbers will continue to rise. Baby boomers that remain unmarried are five times more likely to live in poverty compared to those who are married. According to the statistics, they will also be three times as likely to receive food stamps, public assistance or disability payments.
Sociologists believe that the rise in the number of older Americans who are divorcing is a result of factors such as longevity and economics. Women, especially, are becoming more and more financially independent which allows them to feel more secure with being alone. In previous generations, being divorced or single was seen differently now. This has resulted in less pressure for baby boomers to marry or stay married.

“There was too much drama in the separation, I think mainly because of interference by the so called well-wishers which we realized after we took their damaging advice and separated after 35 years”. Said Ahmed Husband of Saeeda who had four grown up children. “Our life was so much richer and deeper and broader when we were together and we had children and shared all those loving days and nights, trials and happiness, a billion conversations. It was such a mistake for us to drift apart. I miss her so much. I also know that life always looks more golden in retrospect.”

Our request to the elderly couple thinking of calling it a quit, please think over and talk to an Imam or a marriage counselor. You need each other’s companionship in old age. Contact us at Rahmaa.Institute@gmail.com for counseling and advice

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