Starting Over After Divorce At 40 And Rebuilding Your Life

starting over after divorce at 40

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

From a reader: How do I rebuild my life after divorce? I’ve sunken into a deep depression and feel scared about starting over after divorce at 40.

I’ve been with my husband for over 13 years and I found out that this is the third time he has cheated on me. Prior it was Internet/phone sex, second time he gave me an STD, and the third time I caught him on the phone with a girl “friend.” So now I have to put on my big girl pants and seek divorce.


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We’ve always been the power couple that flourished and now we are getting a divorce and not only am I “ashamed” but I don’t know if anyone will ever be able to “put up or deal with me” the way he has for so long. I’m scared of being a single mom,I’m nervous about living alone, I’m afraid I won’t be able to live a normal life without him.

Advice for starting over after divorce at 40:

My gut reaction to this is to tell you to take a breath. A really long, deep one. In fact, if you haven’t started doing it yet, you should consider yoga or meditation, which are practices that condition you for dealing with stress in every day life.

But let’s be honest, yoga and meditation aren’t going to heal your broken heart. That said, they can act as a couple of the many building blocks in starting over after divorce at 40. But let’s back up for a minute.

I understand that you are depressed. I’ve been there myself. You are probably devastated, deeply hurt, sad, scared, angry, and in shock that the divorce is actually happening. Been there.


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Finding out you’ve been cheated on is awful.

First of all, it makes a person feel really, really stupid because you can’t understand how you didn’t see it. Also, it can make someone feel very bad about themselves and have low self-esteem, as if maybe the cheating was YOUR fault. (which is not true!!)

What the cheatee fails to understand initially (when they find out about the cheating) is that he or she isn’t stupid, but rather trusting and good, because he or she had faith in the spouse, they only saw the good and didn’t want to believe that someone who made a commitment to them to be faithful was ever capable of deceiving and hurting them like that. That doesn’t seem stupid to me.


The stupid one is the cheater. Cheaters usually have deep-seeded issues that run the gamut of sex addiction to low self-esteem/insecurity to selfishness to simply bad judgment that they later regret. And honestly, not all cheaters are alike. There are some good guys (and women) who cheat. Not that cheating is acceptable if you are a good person. It definitely is not.


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A couple things. First of all, “The power couple?” You’ll get over that quickly. The most important thing is not being a “power couple” but rather a “happy couple.”


What I think you will find is that as you start telling people you are getting divorced, they will be supportive, and they will have respect for you. You will be surprised at how much they have picked up on. They will probably tell you they aren’t that surprised. If you get a negative reaction from a friend, do yourself a favor and realize that it is that person’s issue, not yours. It might have nothing to do with you. I would try not to think about the reaction again, and maybe distance yourself from the person for a little while.


Secondly, why are you “ashamed?!” What on earth would make you ashamed of getting out of a bad situation and setting an example for your children that it is unacceptable for dad to have girlfriends?


Next, (and this is big) you say, “I don’t know if anyone can put up with me or deal with me.” It makes me sad because that statement makes it seem like you don’t like yourself very much. Ask yourself why that is. Are you angry with yourself for not leaving sooner? (which you shouldn’t be.) Is it that you are unhappy with other aspects of your life, your job, social life, friends?

You need to figure out what you don’t like and then take steps to make changes that foster self-love and self-esteem. Almost always, that starts with therapy, going back to work (or changing careers), surrounding yourself with people who are good for you–who make you feel happy and who you like yourself when around them, and finding activities that make you happy and that make you feel good.

You deserve to be loved and you deserve to be adored and cherished and you deserve to be in a monogamous relationship where you are the only partner in your spouse’s life.


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That is how you deal with starting over after divorce at 40, and how you rebuild your life.


You start with yourself. You might want to engage in faith. It is very important and very effective while trying to start over after divorce. Also, physical activity is very very helpful during those times you feel like you just can’t cope.

Next, don’t be ashamed to go on medication if you feel like your stress level or depression is at a level that is impacting your day-to-day life. I have been on Lexapro twice in my life, once for two years, the other for a year and a half. I’m not ashamed to be public about that. That medication made it possible for me to function in my life and be productive and happier until the circumstances that were causing the stress went away.

Then there are your beloved children. Be the best parent you can possibly be. That’s all you can do. Try to understand that they might do strange things and shut down at times because they are in pain also. The most important thing to do with children is to keep the lines of communication very very open. Make sure they understand that they can talk to you about anything and that you will listen and not judge.

Lastly,  take time to really be honest with yourself about who you are, what mistakes you have made, what you want for your future, and what is going to make you happy.



Starting over after divorce at 40 takes time, and there is no getting around the roller coaster of a journey you have to go on before you gain real clarity.

But, the beauty is, looking within, you could end up living a life that makes you truly happy and fulfilled, and without a man who cheats.


Lastly, don’t be afraid of being a single mom. Don’t be afraid of living alone. These are the situations that are going to make you stronger, healthier and wiser. They are empowering opportunities for you to find out just how amazing you are. And, parenting is parenting, whether you are married or single. They are both wonderful and incredibly difficult and challenging at times.


You might just realize, you don’t want a “normal” life. What’s so great about “normal?” Maybe you deserve better than normal. How about exceptional? It’s there for the taking, but that’s up to you.


Check out my advice in this video:

Like this article? Check out, “20 Things I wish I could have told my newly separated self”


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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

    5 Responses to “Starting Over After Divorce At 40 And Rebuilding Your Life”

    1. Joan

      I agree! You start with yourself first. Take the time for a self-journey! Take time to really be honest with yourself about who you are, what mistakes you have made and what you want for your future. Have a date with yourself and get to know yourself as others know you.

    2. Sue

      Today I sold my engagement ring. I was thrilled but became sad because I feel why did I marry him in the first place and was bummed I didn’t get much for it.

    3. suzan allen

      I know its hard to think about moving on alone, but I’ve been there in the past two years, after my ex-husband of 27 years admitted to cheating, and I decided that he needed to leave my home and that I’d rather be alone than with someone who would do that to me. It was hard at first, getting accustomed to not being a part of a couple, but now I am happy with my choice. I know that his cheating is a reflection of his own shortcomings has little do do with me, and the woman he is married to now was his mistress during our marriage — to that I say “good luck and bye bye.” I am fine and have no regrets. Looking forward, I am open to to all of the good that has entered my life. My advice is that if you are ready to move on, get a trustworthy attorney to make sure you and your ex’s custody agreement will work for you and you will be financially okay. Oh, and get a good therapist who will help you process the pain, so you can work through it and become stronger than ever.I wish you the best!

    4. Dor

      Great advice
      This woman has low self esteem to have stayed w her husband and gone through him cheating 3 times
      If she stayed with him because of her children, now is the time to leave The husband’s behavior has not gotten better
      She definitely needs a therapist, someone specializing in divorce and a woman therapist.
      Divorce support group may help when she is ready

    5. Bob

      This is really a slippery sloop to say the man is at fault because they didn’t honor the commitment to the relationship, when in actuality the woman simply got comfortable and stopped being the wife the husband made that commitment too. There 2 sides to every story and simple assumption is not fair to the reader when providing advice.


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