There is no single answer to how long it takes to get over the breakdown of a 30-year (or longer) marriage, but researchers suggest that it may take anywhere from 0 years (immediately) to 20% of the married years for recovery, i.e., up to 6 years for a 30-year marriage.
The recovery time depends on factors like:
- Time spent on planning for the divorce
- Quality of married life
- Level of commitment
- Infidelity by one, or both spouses
- Psychological makeup
- The shock generated by the disclosure of divorce
Time Spent on Planning for a Divorce
People who are married for 30 years or longer do not usually walk out of the relationship based on a frivolous impulse or gut feeling. They have been in the marriage for decades and probably love their children and value the good times they experienced together.
People decide to divorce because towards the later years of marriage they may be constantly feeling unhappy and discontented for various reasons, despite trying their best to make things work. Psychologists opine that most folks who have been married for a long time decide to divorce after realizing that continuing any further with the marriage will only cause more unhappiness and bitterness, wrecking the quality of the rest of their life.
So, if there is unhappiness ahead, and a spouse has been planning for a divorce for a long time, she/he is likely to recover almost immediately after physical separation. If, on the other hand, she/he is suddenly told about the divorce by the other spouse, recovery can take a long time.
Quality of Married Life
Length of recovery also depends on how bad or unhappy married life was. Obviously, a spouse is not likely to jump away from a happy or even semi-happy marriage. If it was horrible for both spouses, especially in the later years, then a swift recovery is possible for both. If it was okay for one spouse and horrible for the other spouse, then the length of recovery varies depending on how easily the other spouse accepts the separation.
Level of Commitment
Some spouses are fully committed to a marriage, some aren’t. Typically, the level of commitment is likely to rise over time, but there can be exceptions. Spouses are likely to know each other like the back of their hand in a long marriage, and therefore, the length of recovery depends on the level of commitment at the time of the physical separation, and it cannot be quantified because it is a very subjective issue.
Children tend to make divorce a difficult decision. However, after 30 years of marriage, the children are likely leading their own lives away from home, and therefore, some parents may not feel the pinch of divorce after a long marriage, especially an unhappy marriage. Those with a high level of commitment can be traumatized by the divorce and take a long time to recover.
Infidelity can lead to divorce in a long marriage. The cheating spouse is likely to recover easily or may not suffer at all (but can be hit by remorse at a later stage). The other spouse is likely to be hit hard because she/he may experience three shocks – cheating, abandonment, and separation, and therefore is likely to take a long time to recover.
People are different and psychologists have identified personalities based on:
- Extroversion: Proactive, talkative, energetic, leader-like, outgoing, and a person who can be easily distracted
- Agreeableness: Careful, tactful, friendly, warm, and optimistic
- Openness: Curious, adventurous, open-minded, and creative
- Conscientiousness: Careful, diligent, organized, always in-control, disciplined, team player, but can be impulsive
- Neuroticism: Negative, angry, anxious, conscious, irritable, unstable, and prone to depression
These traits depend on an individual’s genes and environment. Therefore, recovery from a divorce after a 30-year marriage also depends on each spouse’s psychological makeup.
Shock Generated by the Disclosure of Divorce
The spouse that breaks the news about the divorce has likely planned ahead, and therefore, she/he is likely to recover quickly. The spouse who gets the news suddenly will be traumatized by the shock. The recovery will therefore take much longer, depending on other factors such as the level of commitment, psychological makeup, and to what extent that spouse valued the marriage.