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My husband and I divorced in 1996 after he left me for one of my work colleagues.

I couldn't bear to stay in Hertfordshire, where we lived, so I left my friends and family and moved to Hastings to start afresh.

'Initially, it was devastating to be single in my 40s.

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It was only in my 50s that I started dating properly and another four years before I met Mark on a dating website, uk.' Miriam is certainly not alone in facing these challenges.

There has been a seismic shift in the institution of marriage.

In just six years, between 20, the Office for National Statistics estimates that the number of divorced women over 45 has jumped by a third.

Miriam Gray endured 13 years of upheaval and heartache before concluding that it had all been worth it.

During that time, she had moved 100 miles from the home she loved and spent a decade eschewing all men for fear of having her heart broken again.

And yet, ask her today and she will insist that divorce was the best thing that's ever happened to her.

For she has since met Mark, who she describes as her one true soulmate.

'It's hard to define why we clicked,' says Miriam, 54, 'but perhaps after one marriage and four years of dating, I was better equipped to judge a good man.

Mark is kind, patient, loving and completely selfless.

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