Your marriage is ending, and you're overwhelmed. Your life wasn't easy before, and now it's close to unbearable. You're arguing with your wife, you're talking to attorneys, you're worried about your kids, you're concerned about your finances. You are wrung out, completely drained.
And another major issue is looming: you're going to be moving out. You're going to have to find a place, set it up and run it -- something you may not have done for years, or decades, or ever.
I went through it in my fifties, moving out of the house I shared with my (now ex-) wife and kids for 24 years. Fortunately there was help from my sister and mother. But I still made some mistakes. And in the four-plus years I've lived on my own, I've also stumbled onto a few insights. So as a guide for others who will be going through it, here are ten tips:
1. Take your time when looking for a place. Don't just jump at the first thing that seems decent. Moving is difficult, and you may be in this spot for a few years or more. If you're going from a house to an apartment, and aren't on the top floor, welcome to the world of upstairs neighbors. Find out who's up there -- an elderly retired couple might be fine, but a young family with toddlers may be problematic. Check what's right outside your bedroom -- if it's the gate where guests are buzzed into the building, continue your search. Create a list of what's important to you and track which units check the most boxes. Make multiple visits at different times of the day, bringing friends or family whose extra eyes could spot features or flaws you miss.
2. If you're moving out of an older home with limited closet space into a modern place with abundant closets, keep that information to yourself. My apartment has enough closet space for a lesser Kardashian, but they are all currently stuffed. I'm storing furniture and boxes for my sister; house wares for my parents; and bikes, old art projects, clothes and a four-dozen-pair collection of Nike sneakers for my kids. You know that saying about "Work expands to fill the time"? I say "Junk expands to fill the closets."
3. Rethink your shopping at Costco. With your family, you loved those bulk discounts, but now it's just you. Early on, I made the mistake of buying a one-and-a-quarter gallon jug of canola oil. You're welcome to some of mine, because more than four years later I've still got one-and-three-sixteenths gallon left.
4. Do not be fooled by name brands. Shopping for a set of knives, I chose the offering from Cuisinart. And then discovered that though Cuisinart may make a fantastic food processor, they make (or license their name to people who make) a really crappy set of knives. In other words, just because they're the name for one item, it doesn't mean they excel in another. Stick to the proven brands within each category. (I would have finished this article sooner, but my Maytag computer was acting up).
5. Do not buy a white coffeemaker. Brewing coffee is a dirty business. And the coffeemaker gets stained. If it's black, you'll never know it. But if you think a white coffeemaker will look great in your kitchen, you may be right, but your pleasure will be overshadowed every time you open it and see all the crud inside.
6. Make sure you have at least two weeks' worth of socks and underwear. Unless you have a washer/dryer in your unit, or plan to use fluff-n-fold, laundry is going to be one of your bigger challenges. Using your building's machines, or going to a Laundromat, is a hassle, requiring you to plan ahead and set aside time. The more socks and underwear you own, the less often you'll have to deal. You'll also find your definition of "clean" will become more liberal. The T-shirt you wore a couple hours when you changed after work? Eh, back in the drawer instead of the hamper.
7. Lay in a supply of kitchen storage pieces. Every time you cook, or bring in, you're going to want to get multiple meals from your efforts. Whether it's Tupperware or empty mayonnaise jars, you'll be storing a lot of leftovers. Also, make sure you've got tuna, peanut butter, eggs and bread. You can always get a meal out of those items.
8. Get a rice cooker. These devices make it idiot-proof to cook up a hot pot of white or brown rice, which is always a great supplement to a meal. Or maybe a meal in itself. Some also steam meat to go with the rice. I'm personally very fond of my Blendtec blender, often making smoothies to serve as the "vegetable" part of a my meal.
9. Buy your own set of beauty implements. You know how you always used your wife's tweezers, clippers, trimmers, brushes and combs? Just buy yourself a complete set right from the get go, and you'll never have to do without or improvise. And you'll want to be putting those devices to work, as you need to look sharp now that you're back to being a single man again.
10. Get yourself the biggest flat-screen TV you can afford. It's your chance to take care of yourself, and get what you want. And nothing says that more forcefully than a 60 inch, LED, 1080p, smart HDTV. You're gonna be spending some time on your own, and you'll find the glow from those 2,073,600 pixels soothing. Plus, when you're looking for company, what better way to entice friends over than your massive screen, whether to watch the NFL or Downton Abbey?
Good luck to you, and here's hoping there's a new woman in your life soon enough to tell you everything you did wrong in setting up your new apartment.
For more content of interest to Over 50s who are divorced, or whose relationships are at a point where divorce is possible, please visit DivorcedOver50.com.
PHOTOS BY BARRY GOLD