Monday, April 5, 2010

Divorce Adjustment for Men


Men have unique challenges after divorce. Unlike women, men are not big on social networking. Before the divorce men were likely to have worked more hours than women in order to support the family, and spent little time socializing. Consequently, they tend to have fewer social contacts and socializing was limited to other married couples and events involving the whole family. Men are likely to feel isolated and abandoned after divorce, especially if they don't have custody of their children. They have more time to be alone, mulling over the details of the marital problems and the separation.

Divorce is a painful loss that involves a grief process, and since men are not likely to be in touch with feelings the same way as women they are less likely to be aware of the stages of grief. When the initial stages of numbness from the shock of divorce wears off and the sadness begins to surface, men commonly don't reveal their distress to others. They are not inclined to reach out for support. They feel that they should be in control of their emotions, and that sadness is a sign of weakness. Men don't normally cope as well with sadness as women. It is more socially acceptable for men to be angry, and easier for them to deal with anger towards their former spouse, which allows them to blame her for the problems and the divorce.

Blaming, like anger, tends to keep us stuck in difficult emotions, keeping us from moving on with life. Divorced men are vulnerable to resorting to the bar scene after divorce, which can complicate things even more. Single women in bars who are looking for men are likely to have some of the same issues: recently divorced or recently out of a relationship. They are looking for a man to "make them feel better". As you can imagine this is a recipe for disaster.

Men, like women, commonly have a low self esteem after divorce, depending on the circumstances. Women are 50% more likely to have initiated divorce than women, leaving men with sour feelings about their former spouse that they often transfer over to women in general, which is understandable. It is easier for men to remain feeling angry and bitter as a result. More men than women are likely to be at risk for suicide after divorce because they don't handle the feelings of sadness and loneliness well, especially when they are adjusting to not seeing their children on a daily basis.

So, what is a guy to do after divorce when needing companionship and social activities ? Here are a few suggestions that will help men get back on track.

*Ask your married male friends and family members if they know any women who would be open to casual get-togethers. When you do get an introduction, suggest getting together for a movie or dinner. Think of it as making new friends rather than as a romantic connection.

*Arrange a home movie night with other guys and any single women you have met and their friends. Make it a casual non-couples event. Your guests will feel more comfortable and you can meet your needs in an emotionally healthy way.

*Join a divorce support group. It will be a good support system for you and you can get some exposure to women who are coping with divorce, which can help you understand the perspectives of your former spouse. This is the best way for you to learn more about the grief process and how you are coping with it.

*Join a singles group. It's a great opportunity to get to know women in a casual setting as friends, and an opportunity to make new male friends who are recently divorced.

*Focus on developing friendships with women. This will give you an opportunity to learn more about yourself when it's time for serious dating.

Men who make it a point to educate themselves about the grief process will make an easier adjustment to divorce. Additonally, men can ease this process by maintaining close contact with their children by phone between scheduled visits.The love you experience from your children is unconditional, and by expressing your love for them you will feel less sadness.

There are no shortcuts out of the grief process. When divorced men try to escape the sadness, pain and anger of divorce by getting involved in the bar scene, overworking, turning to alcohol or rebound relationships they are not helping themselves adjust. They are also making the process more difficult for their children since unresolved anger and pain can seep into your relationships with them. If you are a recently divorced man give yourself permission to feel sadness and hurt by talking to family members who can be supportive and following the suggestions mentioned here. If you can do that, your recovery will be easier and you will be more emotionally available to your children.

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