Forget that society has conditioned us to be men who show little to no emotion. Forget the voice inside saying men don’t cry, or feel depressed, or for that matter feel anything at all. Where are men supposed to turn when we feel the need to hide our true self; but inside we are screaming for someone to understand our pain? I’m here to tell you about divorce support groups for men. What they are, and how they work.
There Are Plenty Of Guys In The Same Boat
Life after divorce isn’t easy. I’ve been there, and that’s why you are here now. There are better options than sculling through the murky waters on your own.
I get it. Sharing feelings is hard. But let’s be honest guys, wouldn’t it be a great to get things out in the open? To talk … and listen … and support … and be there just as other divorced men are there for you? Heck, you could end up with a lasting friendship or two along the way.
Divorce Support Groups Are Worth Your Time
This has to be the most important one. Why would you hang out with a group of divorced men once a week, talking about feelings and figuring out the best way to cope with divorce related stress? What on earth could you possibly gain?
- Relationship stress ranked #4 behind Job Pressure, Money, and Health.
- 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.
- 73% regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress.
- 48% say stress has a negative impact on their personal and professional life.
- $300 billion is spent annually to employers in stress related health care and missed work.
And if we can alleviate even a portion of that stress, isn’t that something you would be interested in? Let’s see, better health, an improved personal life, and better performance plus less missed time at work means more money in your pocket. What’s not to like?
How Divorce Support Groups Gets Started
Normally, support groups sprout up without anyone meaning for them to. When two or three guys get together, sharing a common bond like divorce, there are already topics to share.
Some groups depend on a moderator to guide the group in discussion topics. A moderator can be a member of the group or someone that’s strictly there to facilitate the group. Remember, just like everything in life, what you put into a support group will determine what you get out of it.
The main point to remember is this is not a bashing session. This is for the guys in attendance. This is a time to grow, heal, communicate, share your feelings, and help others who are struggling. How you do this is completely up to you. What you want out of the group may be different from someone else, and that’s okay.
Do you know what you want to accomplish? If you need help getting started Kim Peterson, a licensed counselor from Texas, has compiled checklists and worksheets for personal use. The site has information on everything from goal setting to anxiety management to conflict resolution and relationship therapy.
Coordinating Group Meeting So All Members Can Participate
Catering to everyone’s schedules can be difficult. With jobs, children, activities, and daily life, finding a specific time for everyone is next to impossible. My suggestion is to schedule meetings twice a week. It gives those not able to attend one day the ability to attend later in the week. Many divorce support groups share reading assignments for time outside the meetings. This could be a book everyone agrees on or one suggested to the group by a facilitator.
The location can be left up to the facilitator or decided by the group. Depending on everyone’s schedule, it might be easier to hold meetings in a home, a library, coffee house, or church.
Finding Existing Groups Near You
If you are interested in finding an already established support group in your area, the best directory of divorce support groups I found is run by a group called Divorce Care. You simply put in your city or zip code and the directory will give you a list.
Another option is Facebook. Creating a private group that shares divorce advice for men and allowing only those members who want to participate is a great way to keep in touch. Call me old fashioned, but I learn more in face-to-face groups, but that isn’t always practical over the long haul. Maybe it is impossible for everyone to be together, or an existing group wants to communicate outside formal meetings, so an online group can be a great alternative.
Getting Started Can be The Biggest Hurdle
Getting started seems to be the hardest part of finding divorce support groups for men. As I mentioned earlier, it could simply be two or more divorced men you know from work, or from taking the kids to school, or from a forum group online.
Having coffee or getting together for an activity is a great way to start. But don’t let it stop there. There is a wealth of information on topics, activities, and coping skills to be shared – even without a moderator. Want some suggestions for organizing your own divorce support group? Here is a page that gives startup advice and ideas for starting a peer-to-peer self-help group.
Look At What You Can Get Before You Make More Excuses
You might be thinking “what’s the takeaway here?” and you have a valid question. It is easy for me to say the takeaway is what you put into it. And while that’s true, let’s get real.
Joining a divorce support group might not be what you’re looking for. There may be obstacles getting in your way … maybe ‘you’ being the biggest one. There is a good chance you may have to open up to strangers and friends. You might even have to talk about your feelings once in a while. All of this is manageable, I promise.
So what do you get in return?
- Coping skills for daily life.
- Being a better father to your children.
- A plan for future growth.
- Accountability through friendships.
- Knowledge to take into the future.
- The satisfaction of helping others.
Is a support group right for you? Only you can know that for sure. I would venture a guess that if we were honest we would realize there may be something to this. How many of us have tried to “work things out” on our own only to fail time and again?
And remember: you are not the only guy out there who is going through this. Why go through it alone? Life after divorce doesn’t mean living defeated and stressed. So grab a friend, make new ones, and check out divorce support groups. What have you got to lose?
Let me know in the comments below if you are active in a divorce support group or are planning to join or start one.
Divorce can knock you for a loop. TJ Carver takes a serious look at the effects of emotional trauma and asks Can A Bad Marriage or Divorce Cause PTSD?
On the lighter side, Aileen O’Leary helps you improve your state of mind with The Power of Positivity In Your Life.
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