How Men Can Move on After Divorce
I went through a pretty bad divorce a few years ago, but I survived to tell the tale. I now want to help other men cope with divorce.
Men after divorce often live an invisible life of pain and suffering. The absolute disintegration of their life and identity takes a toll that few people see or want to deal with. Society is happy enough to see and deal with the tears of women, but we seem collectively uncomfortable seeing a man in distress and so ignore it.
To add to this problem, men who are finding it hard to move on from divorce do not actively seek out help from others. Often, they feel it will make them look and feel weak and like less of a man.
This bottling up of emotions and lack of perspective leads men to feel they are isolated and shunned. In fact, many feel shunned because they often are shunned by a portion of the community who take it upon themselves to demonize the husband in a failed marriage no matter what the circumstances.
What Men Should NOT Do After Divorce
First, I just wanted to point out a few things you should avoid doing at all costs to improve your chances of living a happier life after divorce.
Do Not Try to Reconcile
The dream for many men is that, at the last minute, you can find some sort of reconciliation with your ex-spouse, and the whole horrible experience can be put behind you, and you will start your marriage again with a whole new perspective.
This is a fantasy that men create to avoid dealing with the hard truth of the matter and the difficult task of accepting a divorce and being able to move on. This is denial which we all go through to some degree; getting stuck in this phase is the real danger.
So if you are calling your ex often, begging or pleading, waiting and not doing anything in your life ‘just in case’ she comes back and other similar things, then you need to stop that and take the first brave step into the unknown. This will bring on a wave of new and often horrible emotions, but you will need to feel them rather than denying them or it becomes worse later.
Do Not Use Children as Game Pieces
This should seem obvious, but when you start getting into tit-for-tat battles with your ex-spouse, you often do not realize just how harmful your actions are to your children (if you have kids). Children are innocent victims of divorce, and while it is often the painful reality that men become isolated from their children because of divorce, no good can come of trying to manipulate them or the situation around them for your own gain.
The best thing you can do is to give them the most stable and loving life possible in this situation. Being a good father is the best thing you can do, even if it is in a limited capacity. Knowing that you are doing the right thing by your children in trying circumstances is also a way to gain more self-respect for yourself, which is an essential part of overcoming issues of self-worth which bring misery to men after divorce.
Do Not Try to Boost Your Self-Esteem
To follow on from the last point is another about your feelings of self-worth. This is at an all-time low in your life after divorce, which leads to a bad set of actions that too many men take to feel a little better.
What I am talking about are short-term self-esteem-boosting actions that make you feel more powerful, more in control, and more wanted. The problem is that anything done so quickly never lasts long. Alcohol, violence, sex, drugs, and many other actions that make you feel good for a short time quickly fade, making you feel even worse. In extreme cases, these things become an addiction as you feed your ego repeatedly with things that do not nourish it, but instead make it even hungrier!
What Men SHOULD Do After Divorce
In this section, I hope to give some usable hints on what you need to be doing to survive a divorce, be happy and give yourself the motivation and direction you need.
Know the Grieving Process
When you get divorced, you go through a mental process that is the same as any other situation where you lose a loved one. This is grief, and it is an important process to go through to move on from the situation and accept it. This cycle follows these stages for nearly all people in this situation:
Just knowing that there is a process that we are all hard-wired to go through is an important part of being able to move through these horrible bits of your life quickly and learn from them as well.
So, do not be afraid to feel these emotions; just make sure to view them in context and learn from each part as much as you can. Once you have let out all the negative feelings, it is like purging yourself of a poison and being able to live without a bleeding and festering wound.
Know You Can Always Control Your Actions, If Not Your Feelings
Another thing that I see many men say is that they could not control themselves when they get angry, or spiteful, or depressed or take any sort of destructive action. While it may seem harsh, the truth is you must always own your actions, no matter what.
If you do something, you let yourself do it; your emotions and feelings influenced you, but they did not force you to do anything. No matter what rage or injustice you feel, you are in total control of your own actions. Lack of self-control is a lack of self-respect, which (as we have discussed) is an essential part of being a happier and better-adjusted person.
IF you cannot control anything in your life-your ex-wife, your financial situation, your children, your work, and of course your volatile emotions-you can always ONLY control yourself. If you seize this opportunity to control your actions and words, you are taking a step into being a stronger and more capable person who will cope and be happy in time.
Work Towards Forgiveness
This may seem laughable to many men, and I can understand the feelings completely.
“Me? Forgive that person for what they did to me? Never!”
I said that to myself a number of times before I saw the truth at the heart of the matter. Resentment is the most punishing thing you can do to YOURSELF. Being bitter, holding a grudge, storing away your anger to serve as some sort of misguided warning to yourself and to others as you talk to about the perceived “evils” of marriage is all too common and serves no purpose. It will never inhibit your ex in any way at all; instead, you restrict how happy and fulfilled YOU can be.
The way to truly get over this is forgiveness. This is not condoning anything; this is not forgetting anything. Forgiveness just means that you no longer carry this burden and you no longer have the capacity for hatred even if you may never understand what happened or what they were thinking!
This requires you to have a better grasp of your own self-image and self-worth first and is the final stage in your journey of divorce recovery.
I hope that this article has been useful to some men after divorce looking for some advice to help them cope. I understand firsthand how unbearable the situation is: the loss of identity, the feelings of emasculation, loss of contact with children, loss of emotional nourishment and the feelings of rage and hopelessness that invade your every day.