Empty Nesters

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

Ester says “I just think we wanted different things once the children left home” John Rivers says “once the children grow up and once they leave, there are other things to think about. There are other opportunities that you can consider.Katie says “I just knew this wasn't a relationship that I felt I could grow old in”

They're in their fifties - footloose and fancy free. Like a growing number of baby boomers Katie and Ester have decided an empty nest is no place for them - they've raised their kids - dumped the husband, now their spreading their wings. Ester says “for me, it was like I just don't want to do this for another 30 years; I just thought there had to be more”

Ester Sibasek was happily married for thirty years. She's been even happier, separated for three, when Ester's two children finally left home so did she. “My children were really upset when I told them, they were absolutely devastated” It was tough, but Ester felt she had no choice. Alone with her husband for the first time since they were teens, she found they had little in common. “I was unhappy I wanted to do some of the things I never did when I was 19. I wanted a career, I guess I wanted to I don't know, prove something” She's not alone, since Ester's been single, she's found a whole new circle of friends other baby boomers, whose lives also began at fifty.

Katie says “just in the space of 8 10 years, I have seen more done more than the entire married life together” After raising four children, by the time Katie Perich reached her silver anniversary, she knew there'd be no golden celebrations. “I thought do I want to grow in a relationship like this, I didn't feel particularly fulfilled in, and I thought, I don't think so“

Bernard Salt says “there is no surprise that today's baby boomer generation is looking to reinvent themselves after fifty. And part of that involves divorce” Call it a mid life crisis, or a change of heart, statistician, Bernard Salt says more baby boomers are taking flight in their fifties. “In a previous era, previous generations stuck it out if you like, but not today's baby boomers. There is an option, and that option is to end an unhappy relationship and move forward”

The Australian institute of family studies estimates the number of couples divorcing, after twenty five years of marriage, has doubled. Barnard Salt says “you suddenly realise you've got another 30 years to go. You get it right now, or suffer the consequences. So I think people actually bite the bullet and make the break”

“Ideally we would have both preferred that we both just loved together forever, but we did grow apart, the gap did widen” Soon after his children left home, John River's realised his twenty six year marriage to his childhood sweetheart wasn't to be, happy ever after. “By the time you get to your fifties, you feel like you've got to wherever you want to go, and now you have to assess the quality of life” When John left, it wasn't just a shock to his wife, but to the whole family, “over time everyone has adjusted and I think now my children would say both their parents are happier in their current situations” Finding himself back in the dating scene at fifty was frightening, but John soon found love at Fast Impressions Speed Dating. John says “I'm hoping like we all do when we go into a relationship that it's forever, and that's what you really want”

Ester says “for me I really don't want to grow old on my own, for me companionship is really important” do you worry about your futures as single women in their fifties? Katie says “oh yeah, laughing you do, there's that really scary thing about can I make it out here” They're still hopeful of finding true love, but Katie and Ester aren't wasting a minute waiting for Mr Right, they're too busy smelling the roses. Ester says “that part of my life is over and now this is almost like a second life. instead of starting with the children, it's starting off with a career” It's not the way they dreamed their lives would be, but, both agree, there's no regrets, sometimes you've just got to take a leap of faith.

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