“Some women tend to freeze and hide after divorce,” Manfred says. “Luckily times have changed. We crones don’t have to live in huts in the forest anymore and suffer from toothlessness, hideous noses, or a wardrobe of rags.”
Divorce is different for women under and over forty. Even amicable splits, like the Gore’s seems to be, are stressful for older women because there losses are greater. They have been married the longest and take the hardest hit both financially and emotionally
“Once you’re over 40 or 45 some of the possibilities younger women take for granted dry up,” she says. “Yes there are available men, but they’re a lot fewer and further between. Older women have to deal with age discrimination when it comes to jobs, especially if they’ve been home taking care of the kids and don’t have a career.”
Fortunately for Tipper Gore, she has established herself as an author and photographer, recently releasing the Tipper Gore Photography website. For many other boomer divorcees, however, finding the right career path can be difficult.
Manfred says that for women who have never had a career, going back to school is probably the best way for a woman to get on her feet and establish a life for herself.
“There are lots of careers that aren’t dependent on age, and don’t require four-year degrees, especially in the medical area,” she says. “Community colleges offer many one and two year courses that lead to careers.”
Manfred also notes that taking civil service tests is another good avenue because it doesn’t matter if the experience was 20 years ago, as long as the applicant has some. She even points out that age can actually be a plus in some fields, because older employees tend to be more mature and reliable. Emphasizing skills over experience is also another way to combat age discrimination in the workplace.
For boomer divorcees like Gore, the benefits of working are more than financial. A job will get women out of the house, and into a social environment where forgetting about the trauma of divorce is possible. A job is the best antidepressant, according to Manfred, because hopefully it brings the opportunity to make new friends and connections. Being proactive, reaching out to others, and cultivating the gift of friendship after a divorce is key to recovery.
Yet the most important thing that an older woman needs to know, according to Manfred, is that she can take care of herself, and doesn’t need a man to depend on; they’ve depended on their husbands much too much. Older women are perfectly capable of calling the plumber or the electrician if something breaks, figure out how to balance a checkbook, and even take the car to the mechanic.