Tag Archives: Divorce in later life

Will you still need me… Will you still feed me…

… when I’m sixty-four?

I loved my birthday. As a summer baby, it happened during the holidays, so there was an added magic to it. I felt so sorry for those classmates who had to go to school on their special day.

As a wife and mother I loved it too. My husband and I would either go out for a meal – usually accompanied by a bottle of Dom Perignon – or we’d have all the kids round at the weekend for a family meal.

And then… suddenly I found myself facing my 60th birthday alone. Continue reading

Check your Will. Now!!

If you had a will written in the year after your husband left you, I suggest you go and look at it now.  And I mean NOW!

I had one professionally drawn up within that time period, brought it home, tucked it away safely in my firesafe and have never looked at it since.

Until yesterday, when,  due to certain new circumstances in my life, I had a reason to look at it again.

And I was horrified.

I was in the middle of a nervous breakdown when I drew up the will.  I clearly wasn’t thinking straight.  And although the responsibility for its contents ultimately lies on my shoulders, how on earth did my lawyer allow me to draw up a document like that?!

In short, when it came to bequests, I had put in dollar amounts rather than percentages.  It means that if I died today – two years after the final divorce settlement and monies came through – then two of my friends would get more than three times the money left to my kids.

And that is NOT what I want to happen.

So here’s my advice for this weekend.

Haul out your will and read through it.  Does it still match your wishes and circumstances?

If it does, that’s great. 

If not, get yourself to a lawyer asap and get it changed.

Be very – very – careful of the wording if you are leaving amounts of money in dollar amounts rather than percentages. 

Review your will once a year to ensure it matches your current circumstances.

What’s in a name?

Deciding to change your name is a very personal decision. Although I loved being a wife and (love being) a mother, my feeling was that if my ex didn’t want me, I no longer wanted to carry his name. Embarking on my own Shirley Valentine quest to try and rediscover the me I used to be, I would do it with my ‘own’ name.

One reaction I got from someone who had only ever known me by my married name was very inspiring.  They claimed my own name sounded like a character from a Robert Louis Stevenson novel and told me to, “Go out and be the heroine of your own story.”

So what does changing your name actually involve?  When I married in the late 70s it was easy.  I had one bank account, a driver’s licence and a passport.  Done and dusted.

Now, 40 years later, it’s more complicated.  Some of it is costly, some of it’s not.  So how do you go about it?

No matter where you live, the most important thing to start with is to collect ALL of your ORIGINAL documents; birth certificate, marriage certificate and divorce certificate.  (Some people are tempted to dispose of the latter.  Don’t!)

After that, it will depend where you live.  I live in Canada, so this is how I proceeded.

  1. Driver’s Licence.  I took along all 3 certificates and got my new driver’s licence at my local AMA office. (Free)
  2. Once I had my driver’s licence for ID, I was able to change my provincial Health Care Card.  I also did that at the AMA office.  (Free)
  3. I then visited the bank with my new ID and all three original certificates and changed all my account info including credit cards etc.  (Free.)  I also have a bank account in the UK, so I needed to visit the bank with all three ORIGINAL certificates to have that changed.  (Free – except for the cost of getting there!)  This applied to my bank, it may not be the same with others, so check out what you need with your branch.
  4. Social Insurance Number.  This is where original documents are so important, especially if you were born or married overseas.  This was done at my local government office. (Free) They assured me the change would automatically be transferred over to the Taxation Agency, but it’s a good idea to…
  5. … contact your Taxation Agency and confirm that has been done.  Especially before you file your annual taxes. (Free)
  6. Passport.  Ironically I needed less ID for my passport than my Social Insurance Number – they didn’t need my marriage certificate.  Fortunately my passport was up for renewal anyway, so it only cost me the normal amount.
  7. House title.  I’ve still to do that, so I’m not sure what the cost will be.
  8. Then come other important considerations:  car ownership, car insurance, house insurance etc.  These were all free and done at my local AMA office.
  9. Then the minor things – library cards, loyalty reward cards, membership cards. Most of these will be free.
  10. Time share property.  I co-own an overseas timeshare property with my daughter – who is also my executor.  They need original documents AND it will cost approximately $300 to change my name on our joint title.  I will do that on our next visit to the property.

There are probably other things which I haven’t factored in, but I believe these are the most common.  In general, it’s not an expensive undertaking, but it is time-consuming, and here I am, two years after beginning the process, still catching things every so often.

Was it worth it?  I have friends who kept their married names and are perfectly happy about their decisions.  But for me, changing my name has helped me move forward.

One of the last scenes in Shirley Valentine is when her husband passes her on the beach.  She calls out his name and he stops, surprised.
“I didn’t recognise you,” he says.
“I know,” she replies. “I used to be The Mother.  I used to be The Wife.  Now I’m Shirley Valentine again.”

 

My Year of ‘Yes’.

 

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

 

Mum

May 2016 be your year of yes.  May it be filled with love, family, adventure, travel, new experiences and empowerment.

All my love,

xx

That was the inscription my daughter wrote on the book she gave me for Christmas 2015    Year of Yes (How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and be Your Own Person) by Shonda Rhimes,- the incredible creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Private Practice (amongst others).

2015 was the year my husband left me, and that Christmas, despite my daughter giving birth to her first child a few days earlier, I was truly lost and in despair.

There was one particular paragraph in the book that really resonated with me.  Losing yourself doesn’t happen all at once.  Losing yourself happens one ‘no’ at a time.  ‘No’ to going out tonight. ‘No’ to catching up with that old college roommate.  ‘No’ to attending that party.  ‘No’ to making a new friend.  Losing yourself happens one pound at a time. Continue reading

Travelling Alone As A Single Woman

I’ve always wanted to go to Israel, ever since I read Leon Uris’ book Exodus back in the late 60s. I even dreamed of going to work on a kibbutz when I was in my late-teens, but wars and life got in the way.

And then, this year, I finally got my chance.

But I was scared. Although I’ve travelled with friends and family since my husband left me, this would be the first time travelling completely on my own – albeit as part of a tour group.

So I sat down and went through my fears. Continue reading

Seeking Revenge

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.  Confucius.

In 1995, a woman in the city where I live – let’s call her Lucy – who’d been married for 38 years, was dumped by her husband for a younger woman. As with all women of that generation, Lucy had devoted her life to her marriage, family and his career.  Distraught by his betrayal and her pain, she shot him six times.

Lucy’s husband recovered and went on to marry his mistress. Lucy was found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of temporary insanity and served time in a mental institution.  On her release, scorned by society and abandoned by many of her former friends, she struggled to rebuild her relationships with her adult children and find a purpose to her life. I’m not sure she ever did, and, sadly, she died within a few years, aged 66. Continue reading

This too shall pass…

There are times when all the inspirational quotes in the world, all the positive self-talk, all the telling yourself that you should be over this, that you’re moving on, that you’re stronger and better than you were, all the kind supportive comments of friends, family and counsellors just don’t cut it.  Something triggers you and the tears and pain and grief cuts right into your soul leaving you as raw and in such emotional agony as those early days.

There’s nothing – nothing – anyone else can do to help or console you. You know you’re just going to have to go down that dark path by yourself and know you’ll come out the other end into the light.

And when you do emerge into the light, it’ll be bitter-sweet, because you know that somewhere down the line – maybe not for weeks, months or even years – that darkness is waiting for you up ahead, hiding out of sight, waiting to pounce again when you’re feeling vulnerable.

For me, it was a combination of things. I had packed away all the pictures that include my ex-husband – or at least I thought I had.  But last night I came upon a family photo taken of us all a couple of years before he left me. We look happy.  Solid.  I’m looking at the camera with total innocence, his arm around me, no idea that my marriage and family are about to implode.   Continue reading