Advice for Men on Divorce and Mental Health What Stress Can Do to Guys and Their Kids

Advice for Men on Divorce and Mental Health What Stress Can Do to Guys and Their Kids

Good mental health care is crucial for a man going through a divorce. It is important he is mindful of his own health and that of his children. Going through a divorce will probably be one of most the stressful events of a man’s life. It is especially important that he take precautions to monitor his stress.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) men are much less likely than women to admit they are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other stress-related mental illnesses. They are much more likely to be affected by the stigma associated with mental illness and to avoid seeking treatment.

Mental Illness Stigma Prevents Men from Seeking Help

Men may be reluctant to consider the fact that they may be suffering from depression or another stress-related mental illness when going through a divorce. Many men fall prey to society’s unspoken attitude that a man should remain strong and silent about his mental health. Doing so can have disastrous consequences for men undergoing the stress of a divorce and can create unnecessary problems for him and his children in the aftermath of the divorce. Stress can lead to depression and anxiety for both him and his children for years after the divorce is final.

Men must be proactive in monitoring their own stress and that of their children while going through a divorce. Waiting too long can worsen any mental illness and its consequences. Often, the illnesses don’t just go away. Taking preventive measures such as therapy for themselves, their children, and (if possible) involving their former spouses, is essential for maintaining good mental health during and after a divorce.

NIMH estimates that six million men suffer from depression each year in the United States. Their research has found that men are much less likely than women to get the help they need for psychological problems, and often they will simply try to hide their stress or other health problems like depression. The institute states flatly that men “may be unlikely to admit to depressive symptoms and seek help.”

Children’s Mental Health Must Be Monitored

Mental health problems are often related to stress. Divorces are stressful. Men going through divorces must pay careful attention to their levels of stress both during and after the divorce process. Children too are subject to the same stress as their dads, and dads must step up to ensure that their children’s mental health is monitored and treated as needed during the divorce process and for years after. Ideally, both parents will be involved in ensuring the well-being of their children, but the kids can get lost in the shuffle. If both parents are not willing to be involved, it is up to dads to step up and ensure that both their own and their children’s mental health needs are taken care of as the divorce process unfolds. A good first step is to seek the advice of a primary care physician.

Stress comes in many forms, and often it is not obvious to men that their stress has reached a level where medical help is needed. However, there are warning signs, and men going through divorces are well-advised to pay close attention to those signs and make sure they and their kids receive the medical treatment they need.

Recognizing When Stress Requires Medical Help

Everyone has stress, and not all stress is bad, according to experts, but long-term stress like that brought on by going through a divorce is bad stress. It is a medical problem that needs attention like other medical problems. Such long-term stress can lead to other forms of mental illness like anxiety and depression. It can also make going through a divorce all that much harder.

Men getting divorced should learn to recognize the warning signs that their stress is getting beyond the typical stress brought on by work and family issues that they may have experienced and dealt with in the past. Just like a broken leg, stress and other mental health problems are medical problems and must be dealt with accordingly.

While it would be ideal for both parents and their children to go to therapy to help to recognize and cope with stress during a divorce, it is often not possible for both parents to be involved. Many schools have programs for kids whose parents are getting divorced. If a dad cannot get the other parent involved in therapy, he should consider talking with his children’s school counselor. Stress can have a huge effect on many aspects of kids’ lives, and free help is often available at school. It may even be a good idea for a man getting a divorce to have some sessions with a therapist specializing in children’s mental health issues to help him recognize warning signs in his children and learn ways to help them cope.

Have a Plan in Mind for Dealing with Stress

Like telling your kids you are getting divorced, to begin with, it is a good idea not to wing it when helping your kids cope with stress. It is likely you will be able to help in various ways, but first, you will need to be able to recognize the signs of long-term stress and have some definite coping strategies in mind. It is a good idea at the first signs of stress to let your kids know it’s normal for them to feel what they’re feeling. However, just letting them know it’s all going to be OK and not to worry is not enough. You will need to get some experienced medical help so you can provide your children with ways to deal with their stress. Breathing techniques and talking to a school counselor about what they’re feeling can help children immensely in dealing with the stress brought on by their parents’ divorce and the new lives they will be living.

A man must be able to recognize that there is nothing wrong with his own feelings of stress and not to succumb to the stigma associated with mental illness. Men getting divorced must be able to recognize when their stress has gotten to be too much to deal with alone. A man must be able to recognize symptoms of stress in himself and admit to himself that he may need help. A man going through a divorce should be no more averse to seeking medical help for a mental illness than he should be in seeking help for any other medical problem.

Warning Signs of Stress-Related Mental Illness

Men should be particularly mindful of the following warning signs that their stress has reached a level beyond what they can deal with themselves. These are warning signs that their stress has exceeded what they have been used to dealing with day to day. These warning signs indicate that it may be time to seek help in dealing with stress.

The following warning signs are the most common ones. They are an excellent starting point for a dad going through a divorce who needs to reflect on his and his children’s levels of stress.

The National Institute of Mental Health advises men to look for the following signs that stress could lead to a long-term condition:

  • Anger, irritability or aggressiveness
  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
  • Increased worry or feeling stressed
  • A need for alcohol or drugs
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain
  • Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
  • Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
  • Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people

Once a man has identified any of these signs, a good resource for local options for finding help is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) helpline. NAMI offers great help for a man going through a divorce who needs to find medical help for his stress, other related problems, or even just a group of other men with similar issues to talk with. Talking with others with similar challenges helps men realize they are not alone, and just sharing their stories with others can be of significant therapeutic value in dealing with mental illness.


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My Wife Walked Out : Now What? Keeping yourself out of the post-divorce doldrums

My Wife Walked Out : Now What? Keeping yourself out of the post-divorce doldrums

Yeah, so your wife walked out on you. Or told you to get out, one of the two. Hey, I know the feeling. I’ve been there. One day my wife of thirteen years up and left, leaving myself and our children hanging out to dry. It wasn’t like the signs weren’t there, but you live in hope, right?

I had been working two jobs for the majority of our time together, just so we could get by. I suddenly had to quit one of them after almost ten years for the sake of childcare. (The next week, I got let go at my other one, the “day job,” but that was more coincidence than anything)

And then there were the questions I had to dodge from the kids about where Mom was, keep making excuses because the shock and anger and confusion was so fresh I didn’t know up from down.

The Getting Past It Process

This is really the first step in the whole Getting Past It process – resetting your mental state from Married to Not Married. It’s like the old saying: the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Once you realize that things are now no longer what they were, it’s easier to move on.

And no, it’s not going to be easy. I know that. There are going to be days you don’t want to go to work, get out of bed, shower, any of that. It’s natural. You just had a total system shock that has disrupted all your routines and functions, and you aren’t going to know what to do next.

This is why it’s important to get your head back into the game of Life sooner than later. If you don’t have your old routines and associations to fall back on, it’s imperative you find new ones of some kind. Humans are generally, by nature, social creatures, even if it just happens to be over the Internet. It is also completely natural to tend to isolate yourself in a time of extreme duress. Or worse, engage in self-destructive behaviors.

Don’t Give In

It’s a little reductive and simplistic to say “Don’t do that,” but, seriously, don’t do that. The temptation to drink until your heart stops may be great, but it never helps anyone. Least of all, you.

The temptation to drink until your heart stops may be great, but it never helps anyone. Least of all, you.

It’s also imperative not to succumb to the sort of bitterness and anger that will accompany events like these. It’s OK to feel this way; in fact, it’s perfectly natural, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But let’s not let it become the driving force in your life. Yes, Guy Talk sometimes revolves around how the Woman Done You Wrong. But even the most avid sports fans don’t want to talk football 24/7. Likewise, even your best friend doesn’t want to hear about your evil bitch ex from you either. Or worse, see your rage in action against people who more than likely don’t deserve to be on the receiving end of it.

Furthermore, it’s important to not let any of these feelings show with your kids. It had nothing to do with them, so as much as you don’t want to take it out on any innocent bystanders as I said above, that goes triple for your kids. And hey, things will slip out. I’m just as guilty of it too. But moving on also means knowing when you screwed up, and learning from it. If you slag off their mother in front of them, you screwed up. And trust me, you will hear about it at some point.

Really, it’s in everybody’s best interests to move on, and more importantly, move forward, after your wife walked out on you. Yes, it sucks. Yes, there’s messy divorce hearings coming up with custody questions and child support and division of property and division of debt and all that. Which is precisely why moving on sooner, rather than later, will be beneficial to you – you can deal with these problems with a clearer head, without overriding feelings of pain and anger complicating an already complicated process.

Reclaiming Your Life After Your Wife Walked Out

Seriously, go read a book. Write a book. Pick up a hobby (but not too expensive!). Reassess your life, your career. Make new friends. Reconnect with old ones you haven’t seen in a while. Do something for your children. Do something for someone else’s children. Do anything that makes you see a world beyond the point where your wife walked out on you and your family. If nothing else, it’ll get your mind off of it for a little while, and sometimes a little while becomes a long while.

Otherwise… well. You ever watch that show King Of The Hill? Yeah, you know Bill? That’s not a good look on you, man.

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Divorce Advice for Men on Coming Out I’m Gay and I Want a Divorce

Divorce Advice for Men on Coming Out I’m Gay and I Want a Divorce

Early in October, articles about coming out of the closet, the process of accepting one’s sexuality and telling others, could be found across multiple media outlets. What was not covered as widely, if addressed at all, was how to admit to your wife that you are gay or bisexual. For homosexual men who feel they were driven into heterosexual marriage by their family’s expectations and social coercion, or through their guilt and shame-ridden denial, support can feel inaccessible. There are support groups for men struggling with their homosexuality, but men who are married to straight women may feel organized support from other men going through the same thing is lacking.

Gay Men Marrying Women is Nothing New

Gay men have been marrying women to pass as straight for ages.  14 Famous Gay Men Who Were Once Married to Women includes actors Rock Hudson and Alan Cumming, rockstars Little Richard and Elton John, pop star Ricky Martin, and writer Oscar Wilde. During periods in history when being homosexual was punishable by prison, or death (indeed in certain parts of the world it still is), it was literally a matter of survival. Marrying a woman didn’t save Oscar Wilde in the end, he died in prison for the crime of being a gay man.

A recent study that evaluated various metrics to estimate the number of American gay men in the closet suggests “ a large number of gay men are married to women.” Many men share the burden of a secret desire to love someone of the same sex while living in the pain of denial of who they are, as well as the anguish of deceiving the closest person in the world to them, their wife.

Living a lie in a straight marriage, you may find yourself trapped in a revolving door of guilt, shame, self-loathing and self-denial. Those times you are physically intimate with your wife, your mind is elsewhere. You dutifully go through the motions, but the more you awaken to your true desire for men the less comfortable you feel being sexually intimate with her. It is exhausting to have to come up with excuses for why you are, once again, not in the mood for sex.  Maybe you are hiding an affair with a man and the stress of a leading a secret life is draining you mentally and emotionally, leaving you less energy to be a decent husband and father to a family that adores you. The situation is never going to get easier, and there will never be a good time to crash the world of the person in your life that has dedicated herself to loving you. The sooner you do it, the quicker she can come to terms with this new reality and be free to find someone that loves and desires her fully as a woman.

Why  Coming Out to Her Is Important

She is probably your best friend, your partner in raising a family, and the one person you tell everything too…except this. Yes, she will likely be devastated. She may explode in anger, hurt, confusion and rejection. But she deserves to know. Once you tell her, she can begin to process it, and then to heal. And you can finally reintegrate the part of yourself you have been denying and be whole. TELL HER. Set yourself and your wife free from the chains of deception.

Results of Google searches suggest there are millions of married women who suspect their husbands are gay. Google searches in the United States that begin “Is my husband…,” most commonly follow with the word “gay.” “Gay” comes up 10 percent more often in these searches than the second-place word, “cheating.” It beats “an alcoholic” by eight times and “depressed” by ten times the frequency. Even if you believe she is completely in the dark, there is a decent chance she knows, or at least suspects, on some level.

Your wife may not be able to diagnose the exact problem plaguing your marriage, but she likely senses something is amiss. She may be blaming herself for the issue, wondering if she is not attractive or interesting enough for you to find alluring. Her self-esteem could be plummeting, never realizing that the problem is she is not a man. To leave her in this prison of self-doubt is torture.

How to Tell Her

You are courageous for facing your truth and for stepping up to come clean with your wife. Coming out to your wife is going to be agonizing for you both. Hopefully, you married a woman who loves you deeply as a friend, and while she may initially be angry and hurt, that friendship will survive (and possibly evolve into an even stronger bond).

  1. Give it to her “straight.”

Ask her to sit down. Look her in the eyes. Tell her you’re gay. Apologize for lying to her. Let her know you were also deceiving yourself, hoping that marrying a woman you deeply loved on a non-sexual level would quell your inner desires for men.  Promise to never lie to her again. Keep that vow.

  1. Answer her questions.

She will have questions. They may be difficult and exhausting to answer. Answer them all. She will likely wonder if you knew all along or if you realized during the course of the marriage, if you were ever really attracted to her, if every time you said you loved her or made love to her it was a lie, if there was anything she could have done differently, if any of it was her fault, if you are homosexual or bisexual, if you have cheated on her with men.  Be clear that you are gay and this not a phase or something you are “trying out.” 

  1. Let her know you loved her when you walked down the aisle and took her as your wife, and you still do.

Let her know none of this is her fault. Help her understand this is about setting her free to find someone who can love her the way she deserves, as much as it is about you coming out about the part of you that you’ve hidden from her. Tell her all the wonderful things you love about her and about the deep connection you both share.

  1. Give her time to Process the information.

She will need to take it all in and come to terms with the new normal. Her life will never be the same, and a significant part of her past is now called into question. Be patient while she adjusts to the fact that the vision she had of the future of your family has changed.

  1. Offer resources.

It can help her to talk to other women who have been where she is now and have gone on to live happy, fulfilled lives. There is the Straight Spouse Network and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Let her know you can tell the kids together when she is ready.

An Ending is a New Beginning

The wedding ring, the sound of saying, “my wife” and the comfort of having someone that chose you to spend her life with felt validating at a time when you were unsure, afraid, or in denial of facing your homosexuality. The hostility, rejection, and even hate or violence that coming out could bring was too overwhelming.

Now that you are ready to come out there is a life in alignment with who you are that awaits. Your wife may come to realize that there are people with whom you can share a deep, lifelong love with, even when it is not sexual or romantic. There are some women who would choose to marry a best friend who they could raise children with and spend their lives happily together, even if they knew sex would be minimal or off the table. Whatever you and your wife choose to do once she knows the truth, whatever works for the both of you, your relationship will be stronger coming from a place of mutual understanding and honesty..

(c) Can Stock Photo / fizkes

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Divorce Advice for Dads on Overcoming Anger at Your Ex 3 Key Reasons You Can't Abandon Your Kids

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Are you consumed by anger at your ex, and outraged by her demands and behavior? Are you pretty sure you are right, and she’s wrong about, well, almost everything? Does she try to control what you do with the kids on your time and show little flexibility when it comes to your time? Well, you aren’t alone.

In fact, many dads feel there is an imbalance of authority and control over the kids post-divorce. If you have not traditionally been the primary caregiver to your kids, you may find yourself with new responsibilities along with all the old demands. You may not know how to do it all at once. And, if you haven’t made most decisions historically about the kids, your former wife may think she gets to continue to do it even when it should be up to you.

In fact, the constant stream of communication, advice giving and straight up ranting can seem endless. It may seem overwhelming, and you want to do anything to make it stop. You are not alone as many other dads have found themselves in your position, filled with anger at your ex and ready to walk away from the whole thing.

You Can Calm the Anger At Your Ex

The truth is that, for both parents, divorce is a time of shifting of power and control. And although you may not sympathize with your ex, you certainly can likely acknowledge there is a real change for her too. So, if you can calm the overwhelm and anger, it’s likely you might decide you need to cope with whatever is thrown at you and make it work for you and your kids.

No matter the difficulty in this transition, however, there are three key reasons you cannot decide to abandon your kids because of it.

Why You Can’t Abandon Your Kids

  1. It hurts your kids. You may ultimately believe you are expendable because, according to your ex, you do everything wrong anyway. You aren’t. In fact, it helps kids to see that there is more than one way to manage a situation, even when their parents are married. In divorce, kids build resilience and good coping skills when they see their parents can support them well, if differently.

You can talk honestly with your kids about your struggles to manage it all but don’t try to make them take care of you, emotionally or physically. You can build a teamwork mentality; however, that will make your kids better able to take good care as they learn and grow. Create a household schedule with shared responsibilities. Usually, even the youngest of kids can participate in helping get ready for dinner, clean up, and other housework. You may even create financial or other incentives for pitching in on extra chores. Motivate your kids to appreciate hard work, and it will pay off for the rest of their lives.

When you need to do it, block out the noise. Set aside one time each day to review email from your ex. Don’t respond to toxic messages, at all, and communicate simply and neutrally to the others. This makes certain you are shielded, on a limited basis at least, from that which you cannot control, and make sure you keep the focus on what does: the kids.

  1. It hurts you. You may believe you can just re-connect with your kids when they turn 18. Guess what? That’s too late. Sure, you may have heard stories about dads that do that, but if you probe a little deeper, you most often find the relationship is never restored to the level they once had with their children. In fact, there are too many sad tales of children who imagine they were abandoned by their fathers because they did something wrong. 

It doesn’t help to tell the kids it’s because of their mother, by the way. Remember, she’s the other parent to them, and they deserve to love you both very much. Don’t stand in their way even if you genuinely believe she stands in yours.

In a practical sense, you need to develop coping skills and an outlet for the difficulty. If you don’t get physical exercise and practice mindfulness too, start. If you already do, push harder. Get out of the mental space of focusing exclusively on the difficulty you face and learn to manage your thoughts better. When thoughts turn negative, use a physical prompt, ear pull, wrist snap with a rubber band, to shift away from that pattern. It works! Physical activity and meditation, even briefly each day, is a great way to do this and also get you in better shape for all you need to manage in your new life too.

If you find yourself too angry or sad to make a change, get professional help. Unless it’s been a pattern, it’s likely situation, and a professional coach or therapist can help you identify ways to cope too. You will be better for it in the long run.

  1. It Will Always Be With You. You may have been able to outrun pain in other areas of your life by ignoring it. It’s much less easy to do with kids. You will not forget them, and you will likely suffer legal and financial consequences for abandoning them too.

Staying engaged with your kids is a down payment on your emotional and physical health for the future. The link between mental and emotional health is now clear. If you disconnect from your kids, it’s a huge loss for your health too. It may seem simpler, in the moment, to walk away and compartmentalize the anguish by blaming your ex, but you must recognize that isn’t fair to either of you.

Don’t Let Her See You Sweat

Consider the mantra, “This too shall pass.” As hard as it may seem to communicate with someone who may no longer your ally, but is still the other parent of your children, it is possible. Simple and neutral rules the day. Don’t let her see you sweat and try to make clear that you can handle whatever arises with the kids. Whatever ideas you have about her desire to control or manipulate, it’s likely she loves the kids as much as you. Figure out how to work it out for them.  And remember that it takes a while for new habits to form. Don’t expect change immediately. Calm and consistent gets the most results in the long run. Don’t allow yourself to be derailed by your own emotions or your ex’s expression of hers. How you feel can be shared with your therapist or coach but how you behave with your ex must be consistent and unflappable. That, uniformly and universally, helps the kids.

You can overcome your anger at your ex to parent your children. The process begins by prioritizing the needs of the kids. Next, you will need to figure out how to support yourself while learning effective communication with her. If you can’t do it alone, consult a professional to help. In extreme circumstances, you may even need legal help to protect yourself and your children.

Continue Parenting Your Kids

However, it’s often the case that both you and the mother of your children need to learn new skills for communication and co-parenting to go neutral with each other. If you keep in mind that your children are one-half of her too, it may help you understand their need to love both of you and why it’s important to allow that. Whatever you say and do to her, you do to them too. By remembering that and using the tools outlined here to help keep you focused, you can overcome your anger at your ex and continue parenting your kids. It’s likely one of the best decisions you will ever make.

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Alimony 101 An Introduction to Spousal Support

Alimony 101 An Introduction to Spousal Support

It’s the punchline of a thousand bad movie jokes…but what does it actually mean? What does it entail?

What It Means 

The word “alimony” is derived from the Latin alere, meaning “to nourish”, and the concept is simple: it is the legal obligation of one spouse in a marriage to provide financially for the other after separation or divorce. If it helps, think of your marriage as kind of like a cell phone contract; you can break that contract, but you’re gonna pay for doing it.

In the past, the paying spouse was invariably the male spouse…but as social norms have changed, and with the advent of same-sex marriage in many states, that’s no longer always the case.

So what does that mean for you? Will you have to pay support? Can you ask for spousal support? The answer is: it depends. Financial support is not an automatic right, but either party can ask for it during divorce proceedings. In many cases, the terms of financial support can be handled privately between both parties. But if you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement, the courts can step in, and that’s where it gets complicated.

State Laws Vary on Alimony 

How support is assigned, and how much and how long, varies wildly depending upon where you live. Each state is different and your divorce lawyer will be intimately familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. In many states, spousal support is only awarded if the marriage lasted over ten years or if you have children. (In that case, spousal support is still handled separately from child support, which is a whole other massive deal.) Some states factor marital fault into support proceedings: if you cheated on your wife, you might end up literally paying for it.

Some states have limits on how long spousal support must be paid; in Kansas, for example, payments cannot last more than ten years and one month, while in Utah, it can’t last longer than your marriage did. On the other hand, if you live in Mississippi, Massachusetts or Tennessee, you might be expected to pay until the day you die or your former spouse dies or gets remarried.

Some states have alimony pendente lite, which is basically “separation spousal support” that is paid from one spouse to another during the separation period, until the divorce is finalized. If you’re a house husband or stay-at-home dad and your wife kicks you to the curb, you can ask for “rehabilitative support” from her, which will only cover you until you can get a job and a place and get on your feet.

Where and How Much 

But let’s assume you’re the one who gets saddled with making payments. How does the court determine how much you’re going to be shelling out each month? Again, it depends on where you live, but it’s also going to depend on how much you make; the standard of living you provided for your spouse during the marriage; whether your spouse supported you at any point during your marriage…the list goes on and on.

And it’s usually not going to be cheap. Generally, you won’t be asked to pay more than you can afford and still cover your own bills, but it’s important to remember that most courts consider spousal support more important than voluntary debts (like credit card bills or car payments) and won’t take those into account, which might leave you in a tricky position. The one upside is that the federal tax system allows you to deduct spousal support when filing your taxes. (If you’re receiving support, though, it’s considered taxable income.) Negotiating court-ordered support is what your lawyer’s for, but you can also use this handy-dandy calculator to get a ballpark figure.

Try To Reach an Amicable Agreement 

For childless couples, negotiating spousal support can be the nastiest part of divorce proceedings. In the long run, it’s going to be a lot cheaper and less painful if you and your spouse can negotiate the terms of alimony between the two of you, and come to an amicable agreement without bringing your lawyers (and their billing departments) and a judge into it. If you can find a way to make sure that everybody gets what they think they’re entitled to, for as long as they need it, it will make the transition out of the marriage that much easier.


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    On the Origin of Alimony A Modern Opinion on an Antiquated Practice Groucho Marx once said, “Paying alimony is like feeding hay to a dead horse.” Ironically, that works when you think of the word alimony. The word itself comes from the Latin words ‘Alere’ and ‘ment’ - ‘Alere’ means…
  • 56
    Before you experienced divorce for yourself, you may have been under some false impressions about divorced men. Maybe good.  Maybe not.  After all, the guy at work seemed to do just fine following his divorce last year.  Truth be told, you were a little envious.  He had a dating profile…
  • 49
    Alimony has its place in divorce, but far too often it is like a punishment for men. Alimony has traditionally been used as a way to get them to stay in a marriage they possibly did not want anymore.

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