Women Left Unprepared To Care For Themselves

February 12, 2007

Recent client themes reflect women who are in their late forties and older, were married when they were in their early twenties, stayed home and raised a family, and now their children are grown or off to college. They did not build a career or educate themselves as they thought the men in their lives, no matter how dysfunctional, would always be there to share, especially with expenses. Now they discover, the man wants out of the relationship, usually a marriage, often leaving the woman to fend for herself or with a small settlement. In a tailspin, by divorce or the early death of the husband, she must now downsize her lifestyle, seek another caretaker relationship, which doesn't happen easily in this day and age, as people are learning to value personal freedom and become self sufficient.

Where does she go? The work place is filled with skilled labor, usually much younger and more attractive women with education, who will get hired immediately. Without education and a good résumé, it is hard to find work.

The woman who has not learned how to take care of herself may now be forced to live with an adult child. This sets up more issues as these children come to me and complain that they want to live on their own, but their mother cannot support herself so they are stuck. They tell me that later when they are married and settled in their home, if that happens, they would be okay living with a parent, but as a young adult looking to find themselves, they want to live with a friend or on their own.

The morale of the story is, and the main lesson our reality, is independence. One must plan for their future just in case ... they are left alone, the settlement or inheritance they are waiting for takes years to happen, their spouse/partner moves on, they can no longer live with the partner and they bail!

One woman I read found a way to keep her home, by renting a room to another woman. That's not uncommon if the roommate is compatible. Seniors couples who need extra money sometimes rent out a room to someone referred to them.

I know there are many cultures where children take care of elderly parents and everyone allegedly lives together happily in one house, but I live in NY and that can be a major burden for the children wanting to find themselves and have personal space for relationships.