How men deal with divorce ain’t just going on a bender and dusting off your little black book. You’re already pissed off, frustrated, and resentful that this is happening. It gets worse when you’re slammed with sadness. You’ve had it all and it’s only been a couple of months since the split. What’s going on?
Even if you saw it coming, and want the divorce, it’s still a sucker punch that knocks you off balance. You aren’t the only guy that’s struggling to get it together after a divorce. In fact, several modern studies have confirmed that divorce is harder on men than on women.
Loneliness comes with the territory
That first night after the split when there’s nobody else around it suddenly starts to feel real. Loneliness is an early part of how men deal with divorce. You might be alone in a hotel room, some cheap apartment, or your family home that’s now too big and empty. Loneliness comes in waves and will probably be with you for a while. Even after you’ve moved on from your ex, you’ll have days when all you can think about is how much you miss your kids or the life you used to have. It sucks, but it’s an unavoidable part of life after divorce.
The anger won’t go away anytime soon
Loneliness feeds into anger. Sometimes the anger just comes all on its own. Regardless of how or why you got divorced, you and your ex will have times where you hate each other. Whatever used to annoy you slightly when you were married is now going to piss you off. Like loneliness, anger is probably going to be with you from the beginning of the divorce until the very end.
Resenting that she’s done you wrong
Resentment is a natural reaction to being jerked around by your ex. It’s an in-your-face part of how men deal with divorce. Whether she is already shacked up with another guy, screwing you over property division, or using the kids against you, you’re going to resent it. It’s tough to be philosophical about the fact that you don’t get to see your kids as much as you think you should, or if it’s starting to look like you’re going to be on the hook for alimony. Being angry and resentful is completely legitimate but try to make sure it doesn’t take over your entire life.
Find ways to stop kicking yourself
Guilt is a huge part of divorce. In some cases, it’s pretty straight forward. If you were unfaithful to your wife, you feel guilty for breaking up the marriage. In other cases, it’s not as clear cut and you might not even recognize the guilt. If your decision to break up was mutual, you have nothing to feel guilty about. At least that’s what you think. In reality, you’re still looking back and trying to figure out if you could have fixed the marriage. Maybe you feel guilty that you’re putting the kids through this whole ordeal. Guilt can suck you into a bad place, but remember, feeling guilty is not the same as taking full responsibility for the end of your marriage. Remind yourself that marriage takes two.
You can’t avoid telling family and friends about the divorce
Like anger and resentment, shame and guilt often come together. Getting divorced is an exhausting and often public affair. Your friends and family know. Your co-workers know. Your neighbors know. Your kid’s teachers know. Eventually even your doctor and dentist will probably know. The problem is, they don’t just find out. Somebody has to tell them, and it sucks when that somebody is you.
Even though we say there’s no stigma attached to divorce anymore, it’s not strictly true. You know darn well that anyone you have to tell is going to be trying to figure out what happened, and whose “fault” it is. You don’t want to explain yourself to anyone, and you don’t have to. It’s hard not to think you’re being judged. Even if you weren’t to blame for your divorce, you still feel ashamed or embarrassed.
How men deal with divorce includes facing the unknown
Now what are you supposed to do? You’re asking yourself all kinds of questions that that have no quick answers. How long will this take? How much will it cost? Will I ever fall in love again? Will my parents hate me? Will my kids hate me? How does dating even work these days? Life after divorce is full of unknowns, and can scare the hell out of a guy.
There’s nothing I can do. Nothing.
The roughest part of divorce is having your hands tied. There will be times during your divorce where you’ll just have to sit tight and let the lawyers do the talking, knowing that the outcome isn’t certain. During that time you may not be allowed to see your children or you may have to abide by restrictive rules. Your bank account may be frozen, and you are sitting in an empty apartment and can’t take anything out of the family home until the property settlement is finalized. There is nothing you can do to change it. You’re used to protecting and providing for your family, and now you’re expected to sit by and do nothing.
Sometimes divorce is spelled RELIEF
You might be one of the lucky guys that manages to find peace during a divorce. If your marriage had gone completely to hell, being alone is probably a welcome break. In that case, you’ll find peace almost immediately after moving out. In other cases, the sense of relief comes much later. Maybe even years later. Eventually you’ll come to terms with it all. You’ll look back and accept that you had a marriage, it ended, and you’ve got a new life now. Peace is that realization that it all happened for a reason and that your life is still pretty good. It might not be perfect, but it’s not terrible either.
Happiness will come – sooner or later
Last but not least, happiness. An important step in how men deal with divorce is figuring out what you look like when you’re happy. What makes you happy in your life after divorce may not be the same as before you got married. Happiness may not look like what you fantasized about when your marriage was making you miserable.
Whether you find a new partner or live it up as a bachelor, you’ll find happiness eventually. If nothing else, remember that as a divorced man you get the best of both worlds. You still have an amazing family but now you get to have your own life too. If you want to go white water rafting over the weekend, you can. If you want to sleep until noon, you can. Knowing that your children are well taken care of when they’re not with you means that you can relax completely on your days off and try the things you never thought you’d have time for.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
You’ve seen other guys land in jail or on the street after divorce, so don’t let it happen to you. How men deal with divorce can be good or bad. If you are drinking or drugging yourself into oblivion, or so blind with rage that you’re losing control, get yourself some help. Take action.
There are all kinds of counselors and programs to help men deal with divorce, and you can find one that works for you. Check for programs through your work, church, veteran’s programs or just search on the internet for local services.
If you are having any thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, it is an emergency. Go to the nearest emergency room or call 911. Go now.
It can be a long haul with some major hurdles, but you will survive. Use the tools at your disposal and you can be a better man, a better friend, and a better father after divorce.
What do you have to say about how men deal with divorce? Leave your comments below.
Still ticked off? Read the Real Man’s Guide to Anger Management During Divorce and pay attention to 7 Reasons to Keep Your Mouth Shut When You’re Angry.
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