With the news this week that Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger have called it quits after 25 years of marriage, there are all kinds of introspective conversations happening all over the place. The conversations surround a) how bad we may feel about it that she is facing being alone after so long, b) how we shouldn’t feel bad about it because she is wealthy and connected to a powerful family, and c) a detached, “oh well, that would stink if it was me” type of reaction.
It’s an interesting situation…after all, one thinks of the Kennedy family as having it all – looks, wealth, power, you name it. So, in one sense, how bad can one really feel? For many 50+ women facing divorce or separation the biggest problems initially are those looking them right in the face: money and security. Not to mention fear and impending loneliness.
Particularly for women who have been stay-at-home mothers or caregivers, the future can be frightening indeed. Ms. Shriver certainly won’t have those considerations facing her – money, security and opportunity are all givens. And she is a beautiful, educated woman, so we can be pretty sure she that dating after 50 won’t be a big problem for her! Maria Shriver single again after 50 isn’t as big a deal as if it were someone like, well, me. So, why do we feel so strongly for her? The fact that is that old idea of looking in the mirror comes front and center. We may start thinking “what if it were me?” Or, maybe you have actually experienced being single after fifty – cheating or not – and the aftermath is still with you.
Maria Shriver – for all her wealth and privilege – is a lot like most of us. She HAS experienced some tragedy in her life. She has coped with having kids, and balancing a career and family in extraordinary circumstances. She has done her best to give back as a parent, a community member, and an active volunteer for numerous organizations. She has supported her husband and his career, and dealt with caring for an aging parent with a debilitating disease.
So…now what? I’m guessing she’s feeling sort of like it’s midlife crisis time. Her marriage has ended, kids are grown, parents have passed on and she’s on the short side of sixty. It seems that no matter what, she’s still in a place that many of us think about, a lot some days, not so much on others. The result may be positive for some of us…looking more carefully at our financial planning, evaluating our relationships, taking stock of what is really important to us during this time of life. Maybe we think of being single after 50 as an opportunity, that change is good. Maybe.