Symptoms of PTSD After Divorce

Symptoms of PTSD After Divorce

Well, it’s finally over, the divorce I mean. But, way can’t you rest? What the heck is going on? You keep re-hashing the old tapes of the relationship in your head. And, a single thought can trigger your emotions to go back to those God forsaken times in your relationship when nothing seemed to go right, and everything you did was wrong, all of which culminated in your failed marriage and the bitter disputes that followed during the divorce. You’re still pissed off all the time and living with sleepless nights, stress, body aches and pains, headaches, maybe even migraines. Fact of the matter is, you may be suffering from PTSD after divorce.

What Causes Symptoms of PTSD After Divorce

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.”  The Anxiety and Depression Association of America explains that PTSD is a reaction to a traumatic event, including experiencing or witnessing natural disasters, combat, sudden death of a loved one, violent personal assault or other life-threatening events.

If your marriage was a disaster, and the divorce was a long, losing battle, you may have experienced your whole life spinning out of your control. The sustained emotional trauma was real, and has lasting effects.

Let’s be honest, most divorces are not easy. You enter into a bond with someone who you plan on building a life with. The fear of things falling apart never enters your mind. Then the unthinkable happens: one day the divorce papers are signed, and life as you know it is over. While that thought alone is traumatic, it is the in-between times that leave lasting scars.

The arguing and fighting takes its toll. The mistrust, the understanding your marriage is ending, or even worse; it all buries deep in your subconscious. Then when these thoughts and feelings are pulled back to the surface, those reactions bring back some extreme emotions. When this happens and you are powerless to stop it, this might be a form of PTSD.

Signs and Symptoms Common to PTSD

While reviewing the signs, remember this is not an all-inclusive list. You may see yourself in some or all of these. Maybe you don’t associate with any but there are different symptoms for you. In either case, the things you are feeling are real, and deserve attention.

Recurrent Distressing Memories

If you’ve become consumed by remembering past upsetting events from your marriage and divorce, and you find yourself getting upset over and over again, it may be a symptom of PTSD.

Sleep Problems

Can’t sleep? Do you stay up all hours of the night even with an early morning alarm looming? Does your mind race into the wee hours of the morning with thoughts of what you could have done differently? Insomnia is linked to suffering from trauma.

Sustained or Uncontrollable Anger

After my divorce, I was angry constantly. There was little happiness or joy in my life outside of my children. Everywhere I looked I saw reminders of the life I once had and was now gone and every day the anger grew. I finally reached out because if I didn’t, the fire inside me would have consumed me.

Depression

How often do you feel defeated and alone? Depression is real. Your pain is real. Feelings of defeat and isolation can lead to severe depression after a tough divorce. There is no shame in accepting depression as a by-product of divorce. Understanding this as another sign of PTSD will lead you to recovery.

Body Aches and Pains

Body aches and pains tend to appear right along with depression or PTSD. Your body reacts to stress in different ways. One is chronic pain that can last until your stress is dealt with.

These are just a few of the many signs of PTSD. Others include: panic attacks, hyperventilating, flashbacks, and issues having or starting future personal relationships.

What You Need to Know

Whether or not you have developed full-blown PTSD after divorce, if you are experiencing many of these signs, you deserve to use every resource you can find to move on to a happy and stable life.

Now that I can look back and recognize many of these symptoms, I can say with certainty that I suffered with symptoms of PTSD after divorce. After many years, I have come to a place in my life where none of these bother me anymore. However, if I would have recognized these symptoms much earlier, I could have saved myself and my children a lot of struggling. This is why you are here, and we are understanding PTSD together.

I am not a psychologist. I can show you from personal experiences of my life and I can point you in what I feel are right directions. But, to beat this, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and get a little tough. Are you up for it?

Solutions for PTSD

So what can I do Dwight? I don’t want this to control me but I feel powerless to stop it. My friend, there is good news and greater news. You can, with a lot of hard work, overcome symptoms of PTSD after divorce. There is a life out there for you that is free from debilitating trauma.

It won’t be easy. There is nothing wrong with getting help, even at a professional level, and I encourage it. At the end of the day, you know what works for you.

Acknowledge the Stress

A good starting point is acknowledgment. You have seen the symptoms in yourself, it’s now time to accept them for what they are. By understanding what has brought you to this point, you can begin the process of healing.

Research-based ideas published by Psychology Today emphasizes the need to take care of yourself after a rough breakup.

I want to start with what you can do for yourself, before we get into what someone else can do. Taking care of yourself should start now. Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Get active – Exercise releases endorphins which are natural mood enhancers and help with pain.
  • Eat better – Studies upon studies have been done on the benefits of eating healthier. Bottom line: it will help the body while you are focusing on the mind.
  • Connect with yourself – Whatever your preference: meditation, yoga, tai chi, fishing, take some time to connect to yourself and listen to what you’re saying.
  • Be prepared to move forward – There is no going around this, you must go through it. Learn, understand, and be open to lessons learned
  • Take it easy – Resting, getting extra sleep, and taking time out to relax are all positive steps to help you

Professional Help and Support

Getting off your butt and getting professional help can be a daunting task. Asides from the fact that we men are taught not to let anyone help us when it comes to problems, depression makes it hard to make the effort to do anything. Do it anyway.

Never take professional help for granted.

Military veterans return from war suffering from PTSD every day. They live with the terror and troubles it brings. Many have sought help, sadly many more do not. Traumatic events in our lives need not control us nor keep us from living productive lives. It is time for a change.

Do this for yourself – You’re Worth It

Divorce is rated right up there among the most traumatic events a man can face. Is it any wonder we now understand the impact it can have and the havoc it can cause?

Take some time to evaluate what you have gone through since your divorce.  If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD after divorce, admit it. Then take active steps to conquer what is holding you back. You’re worth it.

Does this sound like you? Tell us how you’re dealing with symptoms similar to PTSD in the comments below.

You’re not the only guy struggling with life after divorce. That’s why Real Men Join Divorce Support Groups.  Maybe you never saw it coming? Check out How To Keep it Together When Divorce Blindsides You.

 

Don’t keep it to yourself.

Share this article on your social media.


(c) Can Stock Photo / tashatuvango

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A Divorced Dad’s Guide to Toddler Safety

A Divorced Dad’s Guide to Toddler Safety

As divorced fathers, one of our highest priorities is the safety of our children. This is paramount when they are little: unable to protect themselves, learning to walk, and curious enough to get into everything. Toddler safety requires  constant vigilance on our part.

Danger lurks around every corner for a little one learning to walk. So understanding and preparing for these threats can not only make our child  ’s experience exciting but keep us from worry.  

Today we will look at important ways we can keep our toddlers safe and make their experience at our homes better.

We will examine our house for dangers, our yards, and our automobiles. We will take a look at what the professionals say about toddler safety, but remember: at the end of the day, you are in charge . You are responsible. You’re Dad. That is not to scare you, but to help you understand this is a serious topic.         

According to The Global Childrens Fund, the leading causes of toddler injury are:

  • Car accidents
  • Drowning
  • Fires and burns
  • Suffocation
  • Pedestrian deaths
  • Firearm mishaps
  • Falls

Read that list again. Now, tell me the one thing that should jump out at you about it? If you said the majority of these are preventable, you would be correct. Let ‘s face it. Accidents do happen. Keeping the probability of those accidents low is our job. Let’s take a look inside your house first, That is where most of the toddler’s time is spent.   

Toddler Safety In Your Home 

Take a mental inventory of your house. Think about the main playing area, the bathroom, your bedroom, and the kitchen. Can you think of anything three feet from the ground up small enough to fit in your toddler’s mouth? What about stairs? Maybe you have a coffee table with sharp edges or a cabinet with chemicals hidden within? These are all areas where steps can be made to change your place into a safe zone for your children.

When my oldest was a toddler, he was curious just like most kids his age. It was a full-time job running after him, making sure he stayed out of trouble. One day he was playing in the front room and happened to run across a fork. To this day I am not sure how that fork ended up on the floor but whatever the reason his explorer nature found it.

Before I knew what was happening, he had stuck the fork in the electric outlet on the wall. Time slows when there is imminent danger inflicted on your child. I remember a popping sound, my son staggering backward, and the fork lying on the ground next to the wall.

Then came the crying. Well, crying would not be the correct terminology here; it was more of a wail. Along with the slowing of time, we as dads have the superhuman ability to cover a large amount of distance when our children are hurt or about to be hurt. I was at his side before his little mind could register that he needed me.

Once the tears subsided and something else demanded his attention, he was off playing as if nothing happened. I believe I hurt more than he did. One odd thing did happen after that experience: he would walk as far away from all outlets as he possibly could.    

Head back to your mental inventory. You know your home more than anyone, but there are a few essential safety points I can suggest. These are a starter, not a comprehensive list. We will start here, but it is your job to evaluate the environment and make your home safe.        

  • Outlet covers – make sure they are hard to remove and swallow
  • Toys – age appropriate, we don’t want choking hazards
  • Gates – block your baby from stairs and other unsafe areas
  • Toilets – keeping lids closed diminishes the possibility of drowning
  • Lower shelves – knick knacks need to be out of reach (and watch for climbing)
  • Cabinet locks – keep chemicals away from curious toddlers
  • Blinds – strings from blinds can be a strangling hazard

One important tip to remember when accidents happen is: if you are calm = they are calm. Toddlers are experiencing      everything for the first time, things we may take for granted. When the inevitable accidents happen, your first response should be to keep calm. Not only will it help your child not to panic but keeping a level head will assist you in thinking the situation through and making the right decisions.          

Outdoor Toddler Safety

Outside play can be a rewarding and exciting time for you and your little one. There is a great big world out there to experience. Taking precautions does not mean being afraid to be outside; it means thinking about your surroundings and keeping them safe.

In my days of working in a factory, there was a sign on the wall I saw every day.

3 Causes of Accidents – I Didn’t Think, I Didn’t See, I Didn’t Know

Pretty sound advice for keeping toddlers safe.

Evaluate your yard. Can you point out any dangers right off? This may be a bit trickier because most of us don’t think of our yards being dangerous. To a toddler though, there are just as many hazards outside as there are indoors. Identifying hazards and making the necessary adjustments will save time and trips to the hospital.

  • Low hanging branches/bushes – could cause potential cuts and eye injuries   
  • Loose rocks – toddlers love to put everything in their mouths
  • Chemicals – lawn care, insect, or cleaning
  • Shed – keep this one locked

The biggest danger is the pool. If you have a pool in your yard, make sure it is covered and locked down. Until I could teach my children how to swim there was never a second they were allowed near a pool without me.  “More than 7 out of 10 fatal pool drownings in children from 2005 to 2014 occurred among those under age 5, and most of these occurred in backyard pools.”

Keeping Your Toddler Safe in the Car

Car accidents happen. That is a fact, and there is little we can do except be more careful drivers.    Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of accidental death for children under age 19. In addition to crashes, children left unattended in vehicles are at extreme risk.

 In my opinion, there are only two hard, fast rules:

Make sure you have the correct car seat for your toddler. There is a myriad of information on what are the best types for each age. Follow those instructions, and your toddler will be as safe as they can be in a car. 

Never, under any circumstances, leave your child in the car. It takes a little as a few minutes for a toddler to succumb to heatstroke from being in a vehicle. They cannot get out of the car by design, so it is up to you to always make sure they go with you when you leave the car. 

Being Prepared is Half The Battle

Remember, I am not trying to scare you into not having fun with your toddler. I am, however, trying to scare you into making sure your toddler is safe.

Child-proofing your home and surroundings doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong, but being prepared is half the battle. Keeping your calm will save precious seconds when you need to act in an emergency. Do you know the route to the nearest hospital? Do you keep a list of your child’s medications and her doctor’s number?

Make the best of your time with your toddler. These days will fly by, and before you know it there will be a new set of safety tips to consider. Have fun and keep safe.


(c) Can Stock Photo / famveldman

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How To Get On With Your Life After Divorce

How To Get On With Your Life After Divorce

It’s over. Finished. Your divorce is final. Now that it’s over, what are you going to do? Maybe you had pictured what life after divorce was going to be like, maybe you never thought about it until after the final decree was entered. Either way, now it’s time to face it.

Now that the divorce is over, what you do with yourself will determine your true character, your future as a man, and how you (yes, you) affect those in your life.

Don’t Let This Destroy You

We all know what destructive behavior is, and what it can do. Maybe we have seen it in others. Maybe, at one time, we have even let it happen to us. Either way, now that emotions have settled, or at least should be settling, what you do can make or break you.

There are things you need to avoid if you plan on moving forward. Here are a few:

Alcohol 

I’m not saying not to drink, most people do. But for a year after my divorce was settled, I climbed in a bottle and it was the worst time in my life. Forgetting the pain and frustrations I get, trying to deal with the memories from the past I understand, not wanting to face the future single I remember. But these all must be done in order to move forward. And excessive amounts of alcohol cannot help you accomplish this.

Physical Neglect

I get it. When you’re thinking is in turmoil, the outward appearance suffers. I call it the “lazy day syndrome”. You can always tell when someone has a day off or is having a lazy day. Sweats, baggy shirt, messy hair; you know what I’m talking about. But when every day you look the part … let’s just say that is not a good thing, my friend. So get off the couch, take a shower, then put on some nice clothes and get your mind in a better place. Easy? No. Necessary? Yes.

 Under-Eating

When I am stressed I tend to not eat. Sometimes for days at a time. This is where I say, “Don’t do what I do, but follow what I say”. And it’s true. Eating is how the body survives, and when we do not take care of our body, nothing good can come from it.

Take a quick peek at 17 Habits of the Self-Destructive Person to make sure you’re not seeing yourself on that list. If you are, it is time to take action to stop.

Give Your Place an Overhaul

This one depends on your financial situation. One of the first things I did after my divorce (and after some counseling) was to get rid of every reminder of the marriage. A bed, pictures, trinkets, and purchases bought together – they have to go. You’re not doing yourself any favors by looking at those every day.

Take your time. The pain you’re feeling is real, and removing “things” from your view is not an all-in job. Want my advice? Find a time when you’re the maddest and let that guide your decisions on what to get rid of. Emotional strength is your ally, use it, just don’t let it control you.

Take a ‘You’ Vacation

Getting away from it all may seem like a great idea. The problem is, what happens when you return to normal life and the issues are still there. My grandfather used to say “you can’t run from yourself.” I think what he meant was that no matter where you go, you are still going to have to deal with the issues that bog you down. So taking a ‘you’ vacation means just that. It doesn’t mean leaving your house, or the state for that matter; it means taking some time for yourself.

Do something that makes you happy. Do something you haven’t done in a really long time and do it without feeling sorry for doing it. Be adventurous, be spontaneous, be daring.

Make a To-Do List for Bettering Yourself

 We all know about to-do lists. Stop cringing; this one is for you and you alone. Take a second and think of something you would like to work on concerning yourself. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Say hello to a new person today
  • Help a stranger
  • Write down one thing positive about yourself
  • Smile
  • Do one thing for yourself today

This is no time for thinking being a better person is squishy. You have just been through Hell and back and it will take some time to get yourself evened out. Take that time. There is life for you after a divorce but smaller steps are in order.

By starting in the small areas, when it is time for the bigger changes it will be easier.

 For Pete’s Sake – Talk to Someone

This has got to be the most overlooked part of life after divorce, and the most important.

You have just been through a divorce. Psychologists will tell you to let yourself mourn the loss. That is equating your divorce with death. That analogy is not far off. Your marriage has died. Try as hard as you may, you are not strong enough to deal with that by yourself.

Be it a friend, coworker, clergy, or a counselor – take the time to talk about what is going on inside your head.

I was lucky. I had not only a good friend at my side, I found a fantastic counselor. She opened my eyes to a lot of negative actions and helped me change them. Once I started changing those, I became a better person than I used to be. I certainly found the strength to move past a divorce that, admittedly, almost ruined me.

Recognize That Things Don’t Always Work Out

It’s time to realize there is nothing wrong with you, even if your ex-wife told you everything was wrong with you daily. Sometimes people are better off apart. Sometimes the feelings get lost and you couldn’t find them again. Sometimes things … just go bad.

Whatever the reason for your divorce, it’s time to focus on positive thinking. That means to stop blaming yourself.

There is a wealth of information on all facets of what you are going through. You came here to start the process. Don’t let your desire for improvement falter. Check out Stages of Divorce Recovery for Men by Dr. Goldstein for a more in-depth look at understanding what you’re feeling.

Look at the bright side. Your time is yours. No more in-laws. You have time for new hobbies or ones you stopped doing. There is room for new friends in your life. And when you’re ready, there is room for someone special, too.

No Lie – Life After Divorce Won’t be Easy

As we are connecting right here, right now, I will not lie to you. This is not going to be easy. Maybe you are one of the ones that walked away from a marriage and have already dealt with it. All the better. But if you are here, listening, then I bet you are not that guy.

You are looking for answers. What you feel is real. And it hurts. But all is not lost. If I can come from where my divorce put me then I have faith you can, too.

Life after divorce, a better life, is possible. Will it be easy? No. But to be better for yourself, your friends and family, and for any future relationships, you need to start down the road to recovery. All it takes is one step. Take that step today.

 

Has your life after divorce been what you expected? Tell us about it in the comments below.

 Guyvorce has your back! Our contributing CPA, Janet Berry-Johnson, explains How to Begin Recovering Financially After Divorce and Andy Nathan tells you 5 Reasons NEVER to be Friends With Your Ex.

 

Lots of guys are in the same boat.

Remember to share this on your social media!


(c) Can Stock Photo / mindscanner

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4 Important Ways Dads Can Maximize Visitation

4 Important Ways Dads Can Maximize Visitation

Now that you don’t see your children every day, finding ways to maximize visitation is paramount. But there is a deeper connect here … now it is more than just the things we do … it is about how we do them and the lasting memories we create. Using LOVE as our guide, I propose four ways we can enrich our time with our children and create lasting bonds: Listen, Openness, Value, and Encourage.

No amount of preparation will ever lessen the blow of structured visitation. Going from seeing your children every day to a few days a week can be devastating. The amount of time spent away from your kids versus the amount of time with them seems terribly unfair. As a divorced father, there is little advice I can give that will make the transition better. What I can tell you is that it does get better with time and there are ways to maximize visitation.

Listen – What Your Kids Say Will Surprise You

 

Communication is the linchpin that holds relationships together. Communication is a critical element that cannot be overlooked if you are determined to maximize visitation with your kids. I have tried to instill that into my children because I believe it. The problems come when we hear what our kids are saying, but we are not really listening to them.

Listening involves understanding, processing, and reacting.

What Happens When Your Kid is Being Bullied

When my youngest came to me and told me he was being bullied at school, my initial reaction was to talk to the principle and have the other child punished. Even though that was the final outcome, my son wanted more than just action; he wanted someone to listen.

He felt inferior and ashamed because he was being singled out. He needed affirmation that he was not different and even though he had had major back surgery at a young age, he was still able to do everything the other kids did.

Once I moved past my initial anger over him being picked on, I could address the deeper issue: his feelings and what he could do about them. What we could do about them. Together.

Sometimes, it takes a long time to help kids see their self-worth when they are constantly devalued by other kids. Listening to our children and helping them work on issues is the beginning of a lifetime of trust and acceptance, and it can be done in spite of scheduled visitation.

Tips on being a better communicator with our children include:

  • Be available to your children.
  • Let your kids know you are listening.
  • Respond in a way your child can hear.

An extensive list of Communication Tips for Parents is available from the American Psychological Association that includes the ones just mentioned, is a great resource for single dads.

Openness – Keep the Lines of Communication Open with Your Kids

You are the one getting the divorce. Yours is the heart that has been trampled on. There are days or weeks where pushing forward in daily life seems impossible. It is in these times … of course understanding age-appropriateness … where our closest allies are our children.

We should always be aware of their pain and confusion during this time. It is a rarity when children don’t blame themselves, even though we as parents know it has nothing to do with them. Make sure you tell them it isn’t their fault. But, also show them how it isn’t by maximizing communications during visitation periods with them as much as possible.

If you want your children to open up to you, you have to be willing to open up to them.

You won’t be surprised to learn that a large part of our success in life is directly attributed to our communication skills. That means that no matter how ambitious, how committed, or how highly educated someone is, they still have a low probability of success unless they developer the right communication skills.  In other words, maximize visitation with your kids by maximizing your communication skills. The good news is that anyone learn to communicate more effectively.

Your openness with your children is another way to maximize your time together and bring you closer.

Value – Show Your Kids How Much You Care

It is inherent that we place different values with people and things in our life. How important each one is determines the amount of time and energy we spend on it. If your children are not the most important people in your life, it is now time to change that thinking.

Our children need to know they are valued above whatever turmoil is in our lives. They need to be above the happiness, sadness, divorce, work, hobbies, and everything else. It is then we can begin to bridge the bond between our children and make it stronger.

Here are a few building blocks for helping our children feel their value:

  • Talk about your child’s good points. By bringing out the positives, we nurture results and show how much we appreciate them.
  • Praise more, criticize less. Children need to know you are proud of their accomplishments.
  • Hold quality time at a premium. Even if it has been a long day, children remember when we spend quality time with them.
  • Never, never compare your children to others. They are individuals (faults and all) and need to accept themselves.
  • Don’t miss special occasions. Make it a priority to not miss school or sports functions.
  • As I mentioned above, listen to your children. Let them know you are there.

Encourage – Be the Strength They Need

I believe every one of these four concepts are equally important. But if I had to pick one, encouraging our children would be it. If there is one truth missing from parenting these days is it encouraging our kids. Without them knowing we stand behind them, how will they come to have the confidence to face the world?

Self-motivation, by definition, comes from within. This part may not be able to be taught, but it can be shown. By being a ‘fan’ of our children … always having their backs … we can show them there is worth within. This will give them the ability to see that light from within.

What is the by-product of good self-esteem? For one, children who are confidant to be themselves without someone accepting them. Two, by encouraging them they learn to encourage others.

Maximize Visitation to Be a Better Dad

Having given of ourselves, with closeness being the goal, the bond between ourselves and our children will grow. Listening to them, striving to be open with them, placing value in our children, and encouraging them every step of the way is just the beginning. Maximizing visitation with our children will bring about a closeness you all need. These times are tough, lean on each other during the good and the bad.

Expect great results … it will take time but it’s worth it.

Think about more ways you can maximize your visitation time. Not just in what you do (even though that is important too) but how you will treat your children. What are other ideas you have to bring them closer during this trying time? You never know when something you say or an idea you have will spark someone searching for new ways to grow closer to their children.

What communication challenges have you overcome? Do you have divorce advice for men on maximizing visitation? Please share in the comments below!

Sometimes it’s not just your kids you need to communicate with! Jason White explains the difficulties in Navigating Fatherhood in a Blended Family.

 

Would this help someone you know? Please share on social media!


(c) Can Stock Photo / Graytown

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Real Men Join Divorce Support Groups

Real Men Join Divorce Support Groups

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?

Data gathered in July 2016 by the Statistic Brain Research Institute reveal some alarming facts about stress:

  • 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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