While we all know that divorce can be one of life's most stressful experiences for both partners, many factors seem to indicate that separation and divorce may be even more stressful for men.
Here are a few reasons why:
Men Are More Likely To Be Caught Off Guard
In recent decades women more and more often are initiating divorces, especially in the over 50-demographic. Often this is because women will spend years struggling through an emotionally empty marriage or a relationship in which they feel powerless to express their needs and frustrations. After seeking help from a coach, therapist, support group or close friends they finally decide to make a break. Their husbands, having been unaware or unconcerned about their partner's emotional turmoil, are totally surprised when their wife announces the divorce news. She's been long preparing for this life-altering experience - both physically and mentally. He didn't have a clue!
Men Question Their Sense Of Identity & Value
Having conquered the challenges of finding the right partner and settling down into married life, many men have tremendous difficulty moving on and letting go following divorce. If they believe they should still "own" or have control over their partner it's not easy to admit that they've lost the battle. Many men feel like a failure, that the divorce labels them as losers, which is tough on their self-esteem. It's often helpful to find support groups of other divorced men with whom you can talk, vent and share experiences. From that group you can also develop a social circle of friends to go out with as single guys. If your self-esteem has taken a beating, find a professional therapist or divorce coach who can help you reframe your experience in a more positive direction.
Men Feel Their Paternal Role Is Challenged
For some men, feelings of shame, guilt or failure can be debilitating and affect their performance at work and in social circles. It's especially important, if you are a parent, to stay connected to your family and be there for your children. Divorce doesn't mean you are no longer a father. Your kids need you and, in turn, you also need them. It reinforces your value, purpose and sense of belonging - even if you are no longer living together full time as a family. Building on your relationship with your children can be healing for you as well as for them. You'll never regret the time, love and energy you expend on your paternal responsibilities.
Men Resist the Grieving Process and Prolong the Pain
Men are more likely to be do-it-yourselfers than women. However, coping with the stress of separation or divorce is not best handled alone. Seek out the guidance of a relationship therapist or coach to nail down challenging issues and work on forgiving yourself as well as your Ex before moving on. In addition, failing to allow yourself time to grieve the loss of your marriage can keep you stuck - unable to step into the future. It's wise to give serious thought to the role you played in the breakup - even if you primarily blame your Ex for all your problems. There are two sides to every relationship issue. If you find some lessons to learn you can move forward with new insights about relationships that will serve you as a single man and lead you to a better love partner connection down the road.
Remember, when you're divorced, you're not alone. So don't isolate yourself. There area so many valuable online resources, such as the Child-Centered Divorce Network, to help with co-parenting issues. You'll also discover healthy ways to handle stress, shame, guilt, anxiety, anger and other emotions that are part of the accepting, healing and transitioning ahead process. Don't get lost in negative feelings. Reach out and find the support systems that best serve your needs. They're there for you!
Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children - with Love! To learn more about the ebook, visit http://www.howdoitellthekids.com. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, coaching services and other valuable resources for parents, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.