How Men handle a Divorce
Drowning his sorrows
Realising that the divorce is actually taking place unleashes a different set of emotions that have been disguised as anger during the breaking up process. Now, with no one to be angry with except himself, he begins to feel the depth of his loss, he has to cope with sadness and with missing his ex wife. However bad the marriage may have been there must have been some good moments, and now is the time he will remember them and feel the loss. He may drink a lot, socialize extensively, jump into a relationship (on the rebound) or indulge in casual sex. He may work too hard or develop physical ailments. He may lock himself up and brood. It would be best if he could go for therapy at this time, it would soothe, bring up the issues that caused a rift and prepare him well for another relationship.
Being hurtful, negative, cynical
It’s not the role of his dreams for sure! Divorced man! If he married, he invested in the relationship emotionally. He believed in love, in the softer things in life – families, babies, home-making. He put aside his need for independence, his desire to run from commitment, and decided to love, for life. The risk didn’t pay off. Older, but not yet wiser, he doubts himself, his decisions, his ex wife, all women and the very institution of marriage. Wait, he doesn’t believe any longer in the idea of romantic love, let alone marriage. His cynicism about life makes him hurtful to all and negative about everything.
What he won’t do
He’s unlikely to discuss with his friends – something women find therapeutic and supportive and which takes away the need for therapy. If a woman feels lonely or rejected she usually has one friend, or a sister or another woman going through divorce, whom she can talk with. A man doesn’t. He wants to be tough. His mistrust extends to his family and particularly to any friend who has been divorced and knows what it feels like. So he won’t seek help – either professional or friendly. Leave him alone. Support him when he asks for it. Drink with him if necessary. Be a silent observer of how he takes out the broken pieces of his heart and looks at them, wondering whether to mend them. Sometimes though – tell him the things he doesn’t want to hear. That it will get better. That there is a silver lining behind every dark cloud.
Not just emotional difficulties
It isn’t as though a man will have plenty of time to sit and brood. Though he may be hurting inside, he still has to take care of the daily process of living that, while married, he took care of as one half of a couple. Now he has to tend to himself and a home, living in smaller living quarters with fewer comforts. When he gets to see his children he has to play the roles of both father and mother – it’s much harder work. He has to stretch himself financially so he has less money than before and the practical difficulties are enormous.
While I know there are more ways people have to impede or improve their recovery process, this list gives you a general overview of the do’s and don’ts as well as the reminder that you can get through it but you’ll need a good set of emotional and mental “tools.”
Top Ten Do’s for Divorce Recovery From Susan Pease Gadoua’s blog
1. Ask for help & let help in
2. Talk about your grief with others
3. Get as much information as you can about the divorce process
4. Face each obstacle as it arises
5. Let others know when you’re not feeling well
6. Allow your feelings to come to the surface
7. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel
8. Accept your new reality and move on when it’s appropriate to move on (this doesn’t mean you have to like it!)
9. Have trust/faith that things will work out
10. Be willing to make mistakes (mistakes are going to happen no matter how well prepared you are – it’s just part of the process
I will add a note here also to those may be beyond the time it “should have” taken. If you are three or four years post-divorce and you find that you are not letting go, my best guess (without assessing you personally) is that you are practicing one of the top 10 “don’ts and that you don’t have adequate emotional support.
I highly recommend that you seek out a local therapist who specializes in divorce.