A Complex Inheritance

Susan Kelley
5 min readMay 10, 2022

The Ex-Wife Who Won’t Share — And Shouldn’t Have To

Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

Imagine, if you will, being married to someone for nearly twenty years, then getting a divorce. It’s not all that uncommon, actually, and there is even a term for it: “a silver divorce.” Isn’t that quaint? (no, no it’s not)

The reality is that lots of couples spend half a lifetime together and then decide to call it. But just because they’ve been in a long, long relationship doesn’t mean that there won’t be another relationship in time. These days, fifty- and sixty-somethings who are divorced are absolutely dating. And that’s great — who would want for anyone to spend their life alone unless they choose to? Having lived with one spouse, likely raising a family and all that goes with it, presents its own challenges in the “post-divorce” landscape, though.

There are myriad emotional and financial obstacles to even getting divorced, and then the terrain is dotted with landmines we’ve often never even considered.

Take, for example, the middle-aged man who, somewhat stereotypically, divorces and begins dating a much younger woman. If he had kids, now grown or nearly so, with his wife, there can be some pretty hard feelings if the new arm candy has much younger kids of her own, or even worse — wants a baby. Grown children in their college years and beyond often struggle quite harshly with the concept of welcoming a new bundle of joy. (Let’s not even talk about how the divorced women in this scenario couldn’t start family #2 even if they wanted to, since that fertility window has closed.) There are heaps of guys out there, though, who have another family after their first disintegrates.

Billy Joel, for example, ultra-famous musician and ex to Christie Brinkley, has Alexa who is 37, and then managed to also father Della and Remy with his second wife. The youngest of them is just six. That’s quite a span. Joel is not unusual. Plenty of men can, and do, wind up with a second family with some serious age gaps.

Second-family children notwithstanding, there is an even bigger landmine to navigate post-breakup no matter the age of both participants, really. It just becomes more focused, more pointed, after a prolonged period of time together.

Susan Kelley

Susan is a runner, a mom of 3 grown children, and an avid traveler. She writes about humans, and wrote a book about false accusations of sexual assault.