Men and women face different challenges when going through a divorce. This can vary from society to society. Even within the same culture and society, different localities treat the problem differently. Men often face losing access to their children, losing their homes, and losing large amounts of money either in the form of retirement payouts, child support, alimony, and personal property. Beyond this, there are often huge changes to their social circles and support networks. This article aims to help give men a launchpad on how to recover from the emotional, financial, and physical tolls that divorce often takes on them.
Learning to Accept Help From Friends and Family
Men may find they have basically lost their entire social network and emotional support network when they need it the most and may have no idea how to rebuild it. They can suffer enormously from loneliness and frustration while not understanding what went wrong nor how to fix it, particularly if they were close to their ex-wife’s friends or family. Whether out of embarrassment, pride, or depression, it is not uncommon for men to try to soldier on alone. This is a mistake.
It is important at your lowest moment to reach out to friends and family for emotional support and advice. Everyone will have an idea of how to help, and not all those ideas will actually work for your situation, but even if the ideas aren’t helpful, it is good to know that there are people around who are there for you and care enough about you to try. Chances are you have some friends or family who have also been divorced and can relate to you from a level of understanding that other friends might not have. Listen to them and let them listen to you. Share your feelings openly, even if it makes you feel vulnerable. When dealing with divorce, it can be easy to feel like you can’t trust anyone with your feelings anymore but remember that trusting again after being hurt is an act of courage – not a sign of weakness.
It’s not uncommon for people going through divorce to have moved away from direct access to friends and family as work and other responsibilities have moved them away. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the technological tools available to connect with people remotely.
Sometimes it is also good to seek out new sources of support. These days, there are discussion groups for coping with divorce or re-learning social skills. There are even online alternatives to talk therapy, such as 7cups.com.
Eventually you might want to start dating again. Try to avoid dating to be vengeful to your other partner, or to turn someone into a punching bag for your stress. It’s important to know for sure when you are ready to start dating again and don’t be afraid to take the time you need to build yourself back up before tackling the challenges of a relationship again.
Home and Family
Men get the short end of the stick when it comes to their kids in a divorce. Women are awarded primary custody of their children in approximately 80% of divorce cases in the USA, and this holds true for many other western countries as well. For this reason, men need to consider carefully how they intend to proceed as fathers after the divorce. It’s not guaranteed that mom will retain custody, but if you want equal access to your kids, you are likely going to have to fight for it if the divorce is not amicable.
Be prepared for that struggle. You can prepare by taking an active role in your kids’ lives and activities. Things like attending extra-curricular activities are a great place to start, but the daily care of your children is also something that you need an active hand in. Making sure your children are fed, rested, clothed, and cared for when they are sick. Reading time and quality time spent on hobbies and all the quiet moments are the ammunition you will need to show that you are important in their lives. Sit down and write a list of ways you support your kids inside and outside the home. You’ll always find ways you wished you could have been or done more, but you should always know what you have been and what you have done for them. Nobody can take that away from you.
In any custody dispute, the kids should be the priority. Regardless of your differences with the other parent, you have a responsibility to do right by your kids and to be there for them. Your presence in their lives will make a huge difference. Having an involved father decreases juvenile incarceration probability, chances for teen pregnancy, and improves school performance and social development. You have an incredible power to do good in their lives.
In nasty custody battles, it is not uncommon for men to be falsely accused of domestic violence against their spouses and their children as a way of getting leverage in the case. This is also common when the man has been the victim of emotional or physical abuse from the female spouse. This adds an extra dose of pain on an already frustrating situation. This can be a terrible battle to fight and having a support group behind you can make a huge difference in your ability to cope. If you are falsely accused, never be around your former spouse or your kids without some kind of backup – preferably a person who can act as a witness on your behalf. Document everything. Record videos of pick-ups and drop-offs and any interactions in person and over the phone. Do the things that are in your power to protect yourself from false allegations.
Unfortunately, because some divorces come from unfaithful partners, you may have to deal with extremely challenging possibilities. If your spouse has been unfaithful and you have children, get a paternity test done. Close the door on uncertainty and decide from there how to act.
In any event, be prepared to spend thousands of dollars fighting this battle if it comes up. This battle can be devastating, and sometimes it might take everything you have to fight it. Sometimes you can fight, be right, and still lose. You have to be prepared for that possibility.
Good Ways to Cope
All of the anger and frustration over a divorce will give you a lot of negative energy. The best way to channel this energy is to put it toward something useful or creative. Every man has hobbies, projects, and ideas. Do you assemble models? Spend time creating. Do you like to do projects? Fix something up around your living space. Allow yourself to enjoy the things you love.
Sometimes with all the feelings going through your head, it’ll be hard to sort them out. Try keeping a private journal. Talking to oneself in written form can be a surprisingly effective means to sort out one’s thoughts and feelings without having to speak to a soul. In fact, finding a way of articulating your feelings gives you something real you can approach and deal with.
Although it is important for men to learn to take care of themselves during this transition, it won’t last forever. People do get through it and you can find happiness in your new life. You may never be the same, but that doesn’t mean you and your life must be worse. It’s going to be ok. You can do this.