When you are looking for someone to help you get through your divorce, the first person most people think of getting is a divorce lawyer. Or a therapist. Or both. At some point you may consider "circling the wagons" and enlisting your friends and family for support. But joining a divorce support group is rarely something that comes to mind right away ... especially if you are a man.
Men aren't supposed to need to express their feelings the way that women do. They are not supposed to worry about relationships. They are not supposed to be sensitive to emotions - theirs or anyone else's.
In the stereotypical way we think of divorce, men are supposed to worry about the money. Women are supposed to worry about the kids.
The problem is: none of that is true.
Men are just as torn apart by divorce as women. Men care just as much about their kids as women. And women are just as worried about money as men.
So what's the difference between how men and women handle divorce? One of the big differentiators is the amount of support they get.
Helping Men Through Divorce and More
In our society, as in most others, men are supposed to be strong. They are supposed to be the supporters. Needing support is viewed as a sign of weakness.
Not surprisingly, joining a men's group is not something that most men think about doing. But, according to author and men's group developer, Owen Marcus, all of that is changing.
"Guys today have been brought up by women, and they don't learn how to be emotional as a man. Men's groups serve as a place to see and practice relationship skills that men may never have been taught before."
Joseph Culp, actor, director, co-author and co-producer of the movie, "Welcome to the Men's Group" agrees.
"Men's groups are a powerful resource for men in relationship. They help men satisfy their drive to connect with what it means to be male today."
Can Participating in a Men's Group Change Your Divorce?
While most men's groups focus on more than just helping men through divorce, the truth is that these groups often attract men who are in crisis. But, while men may join a men's group because of a divorce, they often stay for the camaraderie and acceptance they find once they are there.
Wonder whether joining a men's group can help you through your divorce?
Here are 10 things that a men's group will provide:
1. A "No B.S." Reality Check. As humans, it's not too hard for us to fool ourselves when we are engaging in behavior we would rather not discuss. We have a tendency to excuse what we do, while at the same time, blaming others for all of the shortcomings we can't see in ourselves.
A men's group won't let you get away with that kind of emotional self-deception. The guys in the group will challenge you to take an honest look at whatever is going on in your life so that you can learn and grow as a man.
2. A Sounding Board for Your Decisions. Divorce changes virtually every aspect of your life. Having a brotherhood of other guys who can listen to you and help you think through all of the major decisions that divorce brings can be a Godsend.
Sure, you may have friends and family that you "could" talk to about your problems. But, you're a guy. So, you don't.
3. Real Change. When you works on yourself in a men's group, you change. Once you change, you start showing up differently in all of your relationships, including your marriage. As a result, your marriage changes.
While that doesn't necessarily mean that you can singlehandedly turn your marriage around, sometimes, that is exactly what happens. Other times, even though you might not be able to save your marriage, you find that you are now able to have a much more civilized divorce.
4. A Support System When Your Old One is Probably Crumbling. There is a tendency for men today to form stronger, more intimate marriages, at the expense of nearly all other social connections. If your primary emotional supporter has always been your wife, when you lose her (or, even worse, go to war with her) you lose your main means of emotional support.
Men's groups fill that void. They provide you with a brotherhood of others who are there to support you, and help you through, not only your divorce, but your life long after your divorce is behind you.
5. Wisdom from Collective Experience. No matter how much you may feel like you no one else could possibly know how you feel when you are going through a life-shattering divorce, the truth is: you are not the only man who ever got divorced.
No matter how "different" your divorce may be from what you think other guys went through, you can still learn from their experience, their wisdom, and their mistakes. Being part of a "tribe" of guys gives you access to advice from others who have been down the road you are walking.
6. Deeper Emotional Awareness. I don't want to overgeneralize here, but, for the most part, most men live in their heads a LOT (unless, of course, they are in the bedroom, in which case a different part of their anatomy takes over!) Either way, your average Joe doesn't spend a lot of time connecting with his heart.
Men's groups provide you with the tools you need to learn to feel your emotional state, as a man, and to communicate what you are feeling to your partner. This, in turn, often improves every relationship in your life.
7. A Safe Place to Feel. Men's groups not only allow men to express their feelings in a safe environment, they encourage men to actively process their emotions, rather than stuffing them away.
Actively processing the pain of divorce can help you resolve your emotions so that your untamed emotions don't rear their ugly head in inappropriate ways later on, either with your ex-wife, your kids, or with your next new partner.
8. A Group That Can Help Make Your Divorce Less Ugly. Divorce often happens because the woman is carrying more than her share of the emotional weight of the marriage. Divorce support groups teach men to understand what that means, and to turn it around.
When you, as a man, own your own part of your marriage, and you learn to speak authentically, and without judgment, to your wife, a huge weight is lifted off of her. Once that pressure is gone, you and your wife have the breathing room you need to really work on your relationship.
9. Changes in Your Relationship with Your Kids. Every parent wants their kids to have a better life than what they had. But few men ever think about their kids' emotional development.
Through the work you do in a men's group, you can start to become more aware of your own emotional state.(Don't worry. It's not as scary as it sounds!) That, in turn, will make you more aware of how your kids are feeling. That will make you a better father.
10. The Wisdom and Growth That Will Make You a Better Man. Contrary to what society teaches, relationships do not have to be only of concern to women. Male or female, every human longs for connection.
By teaching you how to connect with your own emotional intelligence, men's groups can help you succeed in all of your relationships. Not only will this bring you more joy and fulfillment, but it will also bring more joy and fulfillment to everyone who is in a relationship with you.