The pop culture image of a divorced man usually involves playing the field and not doing any housework. It’s as if we imagine grown men transforming back into a teenager the moment the divorce papers are signed. But what if I told you that divorce is tougher for men than it is for women? This is not always the case but, as is detailed below, there are specific reasons why men struggle so much.
One big factor relates to societal expectations. Males are rarely encouraged to express their emotions. Therefore, when something like a divorce happens, they try to skip over the part where they acknowledge the loss. Let’s explore a few more factors.
What Is Life Like For Men After A Divorce?
Even if the divorce was the best step for everyone involved, a change of this magnitude is a serious loss. You may have times that it feels like a relief — like you’ve been liberated — but you don’t walk away unscathed. This goes double if it was a long marriage and/or you had kids together.
Meanwhile, as touched on above, men prefer to avoid emotions like grief. This is partly due to unrealistic standards but also because those expectations have not prepared men for something as intense as grief. Without mourning, they are left to find unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse or risky sex to self-medicate.
They Try to “Move On” Too Fast
Moving on, in the usual sense that phrase is intended, requires some processing and resolving. Setting up a Tinder profile doesn’t demonstrate that you’ve put your previous marriage behind you.
Depleted Social Life
When a couple splits up, it puts mutual friends in an awkward spot. Since men are more likely to be loners who do not tend to close friendships, it’s often the case that most friends gravitate to the man’s ex-wife. Social isolation is obviously not what a newly divorced person needs.
Declining Mental and Physical Health
We’re back to talking about society again. Men are not likely to report symptoms and without a partner to encourage them, they will avoid medical appointments. Their life’s structure has dramatically shifted and this can negatively impact them in multiple ways.
None of the Above is Inevitable
Any man at any time can break the mold. Below are some basic suggestions to make the divorce transition less stressful. Note: It should go without saying that if you have children, they must remain a major priority in your life no matter what you’re going through.
Maybe no buddy of yours talks about grief. You probably weren’t taught anything about it. Well, be the one who breaks the cycle. Connect with a therapist to help guide you through one of life’s unavoidable lessons: loss.
Try New Things
A divorce can cause a man to lose a powerful source of his identity. Use your therapy sessions to rediscover and/or reimagine who you are.
Create a Social Circle
Sure, your social life is in disarray. This is no reason to spend your time alone. Reconnect with old friends. Make new friends by finding new interests. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and laugh. Find connections who will listen and support you.
Take Your Time With Relationships
There’s no rush. This may feel counterintuitive but you don’t have to jump right into bed — or into another deeper commitment. Yes, you will need and want to “get out there” again. But take some time to reconnect with yourself and to process the lessons learned from the divorce.
Again, working with a therapist is a proven path for navigating something as big as a divorce.