Almost 50% of all married Baby Boomers will divorce. Almost half of all married Boomers (46%) have already undergone a marital split. This means Boomers are virtually certain to become the first generation for which a majority experienced a divorce.
Picture this, Sam Jones (fictitious name) was a successful marketing manager in a high-profile company. By age fifty, Sam has accomplished most of his career goals and is “at the top of his game.” Then, along comes the train wreck, he gets sued for divorce.
The reasons for the divorce are immaterial at this point. The issue is that the life, wealth, assets and loved ones he worked for for nearly 30 years is gone. Sam is now looking at a life that he absolutely did not plan for and may not be prepared to cope with.
Retirement is much more than just “Do I have enough money to live on?” As with many other aspects of life, retirement is as multi-dimentional as people are. While money is an important and possibly primary consideration, it is by no means the only one.
“Whom will I retire with?” is an equally important question that needs to be answered. When divorce occurs, you are stripped of your support system and the social skills that you developed within that support system may no longer be useful. You can literally find yourself completely and involuntarily isolated at a time in your life when you may not afford it. Worse still, you may have no idea how to get out of the situation; quite literally, you may not have the skills needed to be able to get out of it.
“What will I do during retirement?” This question is very much dependent on “Whom will I retire with?” because the plans you had been making, whether consciously or unconsciously, were based on a family unit that no longer exists. One of the topics that always gets harped on in “retirement seminars” is what are you going to do while you are retired. After divorce, all bets are off and all plans need to be scrapped and completely re-done based on the new reality.
While that new reality arrives fairly quickly and decisively, acquiring a new mindset will take much, much longer. For Sam, who had been married over 20 years, it means that he has to change mindsets from a “family man” to a “single middle-aged male.” Only after the change is made, will Sam be able to successfully deal with these other questions.
The problem for Sam is that time is against him. He is 50 years old and retirement age is usually 65. At most, he may only have 5 years in which to perform all of these changes and still have time to rebuild his life. All this is assuming he does not lose his job as a result of the divorce.
What do you think?
What would you do if you find yourself in a similar position? How would you re-create a support system? What steps would you take to re-build your nestegg? How important would faith and spirituality be to you in a time like this?