How Divorce Changes Men
Divorce is a game-changer. An emotional roller coaster. And most men have been “conditioned” to keep it all under wraps, no matter how emotional or intense the situation becomes.
But when your entire life has been upended, keeping your cool is not only impossible, it’s unhealthy.
We live in a society that teaches men to mask their feelings, to be strong, and to carry on despite heartbreak and anguish. But if you’re navigating a divorce as a man, you’re experiencing all of these overwhelming feelings. “Pushing down and pushing through” could potentially prevent you from processing these important feelings and moving on with your life.
Divorce changes you
Next to the death of a loved one, divorce is one of life’s most significant stressors. The effects of divorce touch multiple aspects of your life, from your identity in the world to your financial status to your access to your children.
In order to heal from this dramatic life event, you will need to grieve the loss of your marriage as you might grieve the death of a spouse or family member.
While men and women both suffer overwhelming sadness and anger after a divorce, they tend to deal with and be affected by the experience differently. Men may find themselves suffering from the following:
- A loss of identity: A man’s identity is typically defined by his career and family. Even if he shares custody of the kids with his ex, he may face post-divorce changes in living dynamics, such as reduced time with his kids.
- A loss of financial resources: Although women and men often share financial responsibility in marriage, men still tend to be the higher earners. Through the natural course of property division and child support obligations, a man may lose financial resources that once made him feel insecure.
- Assumption of blame: Whether it’s true or even fair, it’s often assumed by others that the man is to blame for the breakdown of a marriage.
- A limited social support network: Women tend to be better at maintaining friendships and discussing their feelings and emotional health. Men often don’t have the kinds of friendships that invite emotional disclosure or discussion. This can lead to loneliness and depression after divorce.
- Not enough time to grieve: Due to societal expectations, men sometimes give themselves little or no time to process and grieve the loss of their marriage. Instead, they force themselves to push through and get on with life. This can lead to depression and anger.
During divorce, your well-being can take a hit. You might find yourself sleeping less, eating poorly, or turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking or smoking – even substance abuse – just to get by. In turn, this can lead to health problems that escalate over time.
How to stop focusing on the negatives
A lot of post-divorce pain stems from ruminative negative thinking. You might find yourself thinking repeatedly about how you’ve been wronged, hurt, betrayed, and violated. You might think of all the ways you should have handled things differently. The signs you missed. How wrong you were to believe the things you believed.
It’s that quiet, insistent voice constantly running in the back of your mind that can keep you stuck in despair and anger.
The thing about these negative thoughts is that they’re usually black and white. Your ex is bad; you are good. Your ex ruined your life. Your ex took your children. But divorces – and relationships in general – are seldom that simple.
All-or-nothing thoughts can prevent you from seeing your situation’s complexities and realities clearly. And it can prevent you from taking ownership of your own actions. Such limiting thinking traps you in a mentality of blame, resentment, and victimhood. As a victim, it’s difficult to recognize your own power and imagine positive solutions that could actually help you move on with your life.
Suggested: How to Transfer from Victim to Victor
Focus on positive changes instead
Moving from grief to growth takes time. Give yourself grace, and embrace what divorce has to teach you in your own time.
Here are some positive changes you may see as you take time to nurture your post-divorce life and identity.
You learn from past mistakes
Divorce gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes
Think of your mistakes as your teachers. Perhaps you will learn to be more careful in the future about who you give your heart to. Perhaps you will be more discerning in other ways that benefit you in your next chapter.
You get to know yourself better
Perhaps self-reflection was not a priority before. But our relationships are often a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. What did yours say about you?
Give yourself the time and space to get to know who you really are. What you want for your future. The good things you deserve. Seek the professional help of a therapist if you’re struggling. It may be the first time you’ve ever given yourself permission to focus on yourself.
You have more time for yourself
Divorce affords you extra time for yourself. Reconnect with friends and family. Have some fun. Indulge in hobbies and activities you never had time for before, or explore new interests.
As you broaden your horizons, you might also start taking better care of yourself. Maybe you’ll join a gym. Sign up for the office softball team. Your physical health and mental health work in tandem, after all. Movement is good for both your health and your head.
Read: 4 Ways to Protect Your Physical and Mental Health during Divorce
You value yourself more
You might feel like a puppet as you move through the motions of divorce. The divorce process requires you to do things and give up things that may make you feel out of control, vulnerable, or even like a failure.
But you are not a failure.
Remind yourself (often) of this. Reflect on what you’ve been through, and identify any signs of strength and resiliency that you see. Know that, although your marriage has ended, your life has not ended. You have a bright future ahead of you. As you remind yourself of your own value, you are in a prime position to make positive choices toward a bright future.
You get to start again
One of the magical things about divorce is that you get to indulge in a little redefinition. Think about how your marriage may have been holding you back. Commit to new goals that will help you forge the “new you.”
Creating your best self is the ultimate comeback from a grueling divorce. And while you’re busy being your best you, your new adventures may just help you see that life can still be sweet – very sweet.
At Hello Divorce, we understand that divorce is one of the most difficult things you will ever go through. The legal aspect of your divorce case is only a portion of your experience: There is so much more to think about before, during, and after your divorce than the paperwork, the settlement agreement, and everything in between.
In addition to online divorce plans, we offer many other professional services and resources to support you in this journey. Schedule a free 15-minute call to speak with one of our account coordinators, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.