6 Tips Just For Men Dealing With Divorce

While getting through the emotions of divorce are unique to everyone, men usually have a different experience than women.In For Better or for worse: Divorce Reconsidered,” authors Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly wrote that men tend to mourn later than women — typically after the decision to divorce has been made.

This may be because, statistics show, more women initiate divorces in the United States. A recent study showed that about 25 percent of divorced men had no idea that their spouse was considering divorce.As a result, according to the book, men are often less prepared for the emotions associated with divorce, which can include depression, anxiety, guilt, and anger.

Also during a divorce, men also tend to have some emotional experiences that differ from women. This can include a deep sense of loneliness.

In the U.S., it is often not culturally acceptable for men to openly express vulnerable emotions. According to Hetherington and Kelly’s book, many men only share such feelings with their wife, who is now no longer available. Also, men usually have less social support outside of marriage and are less likely to seek emotional help from family than women. A man’s feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated by the potential loss of friends shared with an ex-wife and, for fathers who lose custody, the loss of daily interaction with their children.

According to Helping Families through Divorce: An Eclectic Approach,” a book by Ellen Bogolub, losing custody can also raise fears the children loving your ex more than you or the kids, potentially, forgetting their father altogether.

Many men find themselves having doubts about divorcing. One recent study found that men are likely to have affectionate feelings toward an ex-spouse and harbor hope for reconciliation, even when unrealistic, Hetherington and Kelly’s book shows. These feelings are normal and don’t necessarily mean that getting a divorce was a mistake.

It is common for men to experience mood swings after a divorce, as thoughts can quickly change from savoring new opportunities to regret. Mornings may be easier for men, as a new day can be seen as full of promise, while returning to an unfamiliar and empty home can heighten feelings of loneliness. The first year after a divorce is typically the most difficult emotionally, with improvements in the second year. But men can do some things for themselves to ease the transition, including:

1. Be kind to yourself.
Divorce can bring an openness to change, which sometimes includes trying new activities or behaviors that may feel out of character afterwards. This is normal ““ be forgiving of yourself, according to one suggestion from Hetherington and Kelly’s book.

2. Plan for a difficult time.
Establish and reach out to friends and family who can be supportive. And don’t be afraid to get professional help, especially if you find yourself using bad habits to cope with the stress. Verbalize your feelings. Plan fun events for yourself.

3. Be watchful for unhealthy coping styles.
Be wary of working too much, becoming isolated, engaging in risky behavior, drinking or using drugs, and other self-destructive behaviors. If you are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others seek professional help immediately.

4. Form a new intimate relationship.
A recent study found that forming new intimate relationships was the best indicator of happiness two years after divorce. Be mindful that casual sex, while often used to alleviate loneliness, can lead to greater feelings of loneliness afterward, according to research cited in Hetherington and Kelly’s book.

5. Take care of your health.
Eat well, get plenty of rest, and sleep on a regular schedule.

6. Actively change.
Divorce represents an opportunity to make positive changes in life. Envision how you would like life to look and plan the steps needed to get there.