Divorce is rarely, if ever, easy. The emotional roller coaster that embodies divorce often leaves a person’s head spinning, even in the best of circumstances. Close to half the population goes through at least one divorce, if not more. It’s a hot topic discussed extensively on blogs, articles, and podcasts.
I think it’s fair to say that in the past, much of the information available about divorce has been relegated to women. Fortunately, that tide has turned. The number of articles, blogs, websites, newsletters, and forums for men has increased exponentially with many of these dedicated to men, for men, about men, and written BY men. And that’s a good thing. Actually – it’s a great thing!
When it comes to divorce, the effects on men are transformational. Aside from a man’s career, his relationship with his partner is his most vital relationship. Thus, the loss of this through divorce can often be a traumatic experience. How he interprets and experiences this recent trauma varies. Each man is different. However, what does hold true are feelings of trauma are often exacerbated by feeling inadequate and socially isolated more than he has before in his life. This can occur because by and large, women are often the ones that create and maintain social relationships outside of the marriage and men come to depend on them.
With the loss of his most stabilizing relationship ending along with the other social relationships and connections, it is not uncommon for men to quickly throw themselves into new, sexual relationships – often long before they are ready, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. They seek comfort and distraction from the incredible pain they feel. On the flip side, many isolate themselves, which only worsens the problems and their feelings of loneliness. Many remain bitter and insecure.
Yet, despite the trauma of divorce and the emotional roller coaster everyone rides going through divorce, there are several things you can do to help you manage this very difficult time in your life and truly come out on the other side – healthier, healed, centered, and feeling good about the next chapter of your life.
Here are a few suggestions on how to get there:
- Take care of yourself. Don’t neglect yourself physically. Get up, shower, and show up. So many men let themselves go and not do the basic things that make them feel better. Don’t let this be you.
- Don’t tell yourself to ‘man up.’ Part of the problem our society has is that we expect men not to feel or to grieve. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your marriage and any dreams and hopes you may have had for your future.
- Reach out – even if it feels uncomfortable (and it probably will). Gone are the days of engaging in unhealthy behaviors that keep you locked in a negative mind set about your divorce. Turning to drinking and drugs and not paying attention to what is going on in front of you prevents you from taking stock of what is happening in your life presently.
- First, give yourself time to heal and accept your circumstances. A big part of your healing process is taking charge of your life despite any hidden hopes of reconciliation.
- Learn to ride the roller coaster of emotion. Identify and understand your triggers, how they make you feel, and, more importantly, the thoughts behind the triggers. Triggers often beget more triggers and soon you may feel that, everywhere you turn, you experience a trigger. This might be the case – but remember that eventually the triggers will decrease in number. They will one day disappear.
- Reach out for support. Although men are not inclined by and large to do so, this is a critical time. Support is vital to your process of recovery and ability to get through your divorce. Support can come in the form of family, friends, a coach, or an experienced therapist. It creates a space to help you heal, talk about your problems, and find resolutions. Doing this will also help you examine your past and your present in order to find a different – and better – future.
- Hobbies! Are you interested in a particular hobby? Did you want to take up a new hobby but didn’t while you were married? Now is the time. Take the newfound free time that you have and make use of it. Learn to surf or snowboard. Read more. Build things. The world is your oyster.
- Exercise. I cannot express the importance of this! It will help you mentally, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. It not only gets you into shape (or keeps you in shape), but it keeps your mind off things. It releases endorphins. It’s good for you. It also releases those feel good neurotransmitters like Serotonin!
- Get in touch with what’s important to you. As you begin your journey through divorce, get to know yourself, who you are, what’s important to you, what you like and dislike, what you want your new home to be like, and how you want your life to look like – even if you are not completely sure at this time. Ground and understand yourself. Recognize the things that are important to you and remember them.
- Practice forgiveness. Not just for yourself but your soon to be ex-spouse. This is no easy feat, but it is necessary to move forward. If not, you will stay stuck in the anger, disappointment, and sadness. Though those were there for a purpose in the beginning, keeping them there will keep you stuck in the past and not allow you to keep pushing on.
Stay strong and carry on!
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