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Thread: My (70+) parents are undergoing an amicable separation and I'm confounded

  1. #1
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    My (70+) parents are undergoing an amicable separation and I'm confounded

    My parents have just announced that they have decided to separate. Amicably. They are in their early 70s. They said they are not getting divorced or planning to change anything legally, because they don't want to complicate certain financial matters, but that they will not be living together any longer, and will not be living together as a married couple. I don't know what to make of this. My instinct is that this is just ridiculous and I'm really angry at both of them, and hurt, and ashamed that I didn't see it coming. They never fought much, just bickering about little things. I thought they got along well. They have always been very independent individuals, and interested in doing their own things. I guess now since they are both retired, maybe they don't want to spend so much time together any longer? I'm just at a loss to comprehend this, mentally and emotionally. It also scares me that their thinking this way nearing the endings of their lives - realistically speaking. I mean they are both quite robust for their ages but still, we're talking another decade. I'm worried about how this will affect their care situations later on but we haven't talked about that. My brother is being obnoxiously (in my opinion) overly supportive of this decision, saying that we should all be happy for them. They said that they will still be together around the holidays when family visits, but my father is moving out of their house to live in a condo alone. I have no idea if either of them are pursuing or thinking of pursuing other relationships. Just....what?!

  2. #2
    Gold Member Gary Snyder's Avatar
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    It's always a blow to children when parents divorce or separate. Apparently it's the same regardless of age. I felt the same way when my parents divorced - and I was only 11.

    The number one cause of divorce is one or both people falling out of love (it's not money, lol) - look there first for your answer.

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    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    You're free to express your emotions and I think it's healthy for you to express them whether you are angry, confused or sad. I'd suggest you do this in private and take a few days to process your emotions before engaging in any meaningful discussion with your family. Collect yourself first so that you're a bit more organized in your thoughts and how you want to proceed or what role you want to play in this. You do not have to react right away. You might also want to revisit your initial reactions to your brother and understand what kind of energy you want to project overall.

    Events happen to all of us over time. You do get to choose how you want to process it and what kind of person you want to be through it. I'm not agreeing with your brother or you. He may not have processed it entirely either and he may be filling in a gap that you have failed to fill and vice versa for you (both of you instinctively filling in for each other where the other falls short either by habit or because either of you feel an obligation to your parents). Stop and process and ask yourself those questions above.

    In the end your parents will be gone and you will be left with yourself. Try and figure out what kind of person you want to be.

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    They may have at least another 20 years and I understand it must be really strange to you to comprehend but this is a time to be very adult and remove yourself from it since they no longer need to parent you as a team and they may simply want to enjoy life without living together. Yes it might burden you more as far as caring for them should they need caretaking. I agree with saying nothing that is about you and your feelings right now and trying to simply be as supportive or neutral as possible. Iím sorry itís so shocking to you !

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    Originally Posted by Rihannon
    I don't know what to make of this. My instinct is that this is just ridiculous and I'm really angry at both of them, and hurt, and ashamed that I didn't see it coming. They never fought much, just bickering about little things. I thought they got along well. They have always been very independent individuals, and interested in doing their own things. I guess now since they are both retired, maybe they don't want to spend so much time together any longer? I'm just at a loss to comprehend this, mentally and emotionally. It also scares me that their thinking this way nearing the endings of their lives - realistically speaking. !

    It sounds to me like they've really thought about it and decided what to do amicably- that's GREAT! Also, be happy that there is no bitterness going on. As far as separation goes, if your parents are friendly with each other and not angry or bitter- you've hit the jackpot. No one ever knows what has really gone on in a marriage except the two people involved. Appearances are just that- APPEARANCES, not truth. Since this decision is a mutual one, I'm guessing that it is something they have both been thinking about for a long time. Remember, it's not your parents job to remain in an unhappy situation so that someone else (their kids or otherwise) can feel more comfortable, especially at their ages. If I were you, I'd re-read this last sentence of yours, whether or not your intention, it kinda comes across as " My parents aren't going to live much longer, so they shouldn't bother changing or making themselves happier because it's less convenient for ME!" Not to sound harsh, but that's kinda how it reads. You should think about this. I can tell you as someone who recently lost my Dad - I'd give anything for another day with him- married, divorced, or separated.

    I get it- Change can be uncomfortable- but you need to deal privately with whatever hangups you are feelings about this. Around them, you need to quiet your own feelings and really listen to them and their reasons for wanting to do this. No matter your opinion or feelings on the subject, you have to remember that before they are your parents- they are both individuals. They are allowed to make decisions that you disagree with, as I'm sure you have made some decisions that they have disagreed with or thought "ridiculous". All the Best to you. I truly hope you can find some peace about this.

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    Silver Member SarahLancaster's Avatar
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    I agree with your brother. I think you should be happy and supportive of them. They've stayed together long enough to raise their family. They didn't force you to come from a broken home when you were a child. Everyone deserves to pursue happiness, whether they're 17 or 70.

    Try not to let your selfish feelings get in the way. Support them. Be there for them. I'm sure it will work out fine. They haven't decided this without much thought.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member maew's Avatar
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    Well what the heck I can understand what a shocker this must be! All you can do is support their decision really though... you are powerless to change it. These aren't children, they are grown adults with lives of their own and they deserve to be happy in the final years of their life.

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    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear this. It sounds like they came to a well thought out mutual decision. Try to be supportive like your brother. It's their lives, their choice. Their aging and retirement will be more affected by their financial planning and wills. estates and what type of elder care they have in place. Relax, don't take sides and visit with each of them when you feel like it.
    Originally Posted by Rihannon
    They said they are not getting divorced or planning to change anything legally, because they don't want to complicate certain financial matters, but that they will not be living together any longer, and will not be living together as a married couple. My brother is being obnoxiously (in my opinion) overly supportive of this decision, saying that we should all be happy for them.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    If they are super independent sort of people, then perhaps they are grabbing a chance to do what they never could before - enjoy living solo. So it's not that their marriage or relationship was bad, etc, it's perhaps that they've paid their dues and now feel comfortable bucking societal expectations and simply indulging their independent souls in their old age. Realistically, they won't be able to do so for too long either, so I'd say be supportive. It might not be the case of your parent's marriage being in shambles and more just two people who really do deeply get each other agreeing to indulge themselves. Just a different perspective to consider.

  11. #10
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    It isn't that I was suggesting their separation would be inconvenient for me as they get older, I was just worried about them living alone. It's not about a burden of care, more just worrying about them.


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