Divorce isn’t easy on anyone, irrespective of their gender. Men are somewhat unique in that they’re not likely to seek professional mental health help or reach out to others for support. Numerous studies support the belief that divorce can be harder on men because many don’t address the emotions involved in such an event.
Here are ten common emotions of a man going through divorce:
Why many marriages don’t seek a divorce has to do with fear. A man going through a divorce likely had an idea in his mind of how his life was going to be with his spouse. Financially, professionally, socially, and just living day-to-day, there was a plan. Now, there’s no plan. Uncertain of what the future holds, this sort of fear is what often spurs into other emotions like frustration, anger, sadness, and anxiety.
Another common emotion of a man going through divorce is denial. Especially in the early stages of divorce – unless it was initiated by themselves – a man is likely to want to refuse to move forward with things like signing the divorce papers. To deny is a very common emotion in men going through divorce as they feel to accept it is to accept failure.
Denial also provides them the chance to refuse the reality that’s surrounding them. In order to move forward in a healthy manner, it is imperative to move towards acceptance of a ‘new normal’ and to be cooperative.
The most common mental health issue associated with divorce in men is depression. They’re handling identity loss, financial losses, and more. On top of this, men are likely to self-medicate using alcohol and drugs than women. All of this creates a perfect storm wherein sadness and depression sets, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out. This is why it is imperative to seek professional help even if a man feels like they are alright after a divorce.
Anger in the form of blaming the other person, rage that’s difficult to control, and becoming cynical are all aspects of going through a divorce that men face. Expressing anger in hostile, vindictive actions are unfortunately common, even when they do not serve one’s own interests. Anger is a natural response to divorce. If it was brought on unexpectedly or if they do not want the marriage to end, anger is where most men will go to.
Disappointment is hard to face for men. Even an unhappy marriage is still a marriage. When a marriage is undeniably over, many men are disappointed in themselves and feel a sense of shame. They take it on themselves that they did not find a way to make their marriage work. If unaddressed, this can begin to affect the quality of other relationships and lead to serious consequences including depression.
Avoidance to address one’s emotion can act out in many ways. The most common is to immediately enter into a new relationship, be it romantic, sexual, or even another marriage. Avoiding one’s own emotions can also cause a man to throw themselves into work or make sudden changes to their lives that may appear drastic, uncharacteristic, or unhealthy. This is all the more reason to address the emotions a man goes through during his divorce.
Divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can go through and is on par with even a death in the family. In a marriage dissolution, many men do not take the time to grieve and sometimes unknowingly bottle up this emotion. When doing so, it can act out in other ways including panic attacks and anxiety. Even if they aren’t directly related, bottling up emotions creates a dynamic in the body where with things like stress, we become more sensitive.
When couples are together, men identify with being ‘the husband’. When that ends, a key part of one’s identity is gone. This can cause confusion in a number of ways. A man going through a divorce may be uncertain about their future, may have doubts about other aspects of their life including their job, and may act out in defiance of these feelings of confusion by asserting themselves in unhealthy ways. The man may also be overwhelmed by the legal proceedings, although this burden can be alleviated by hiring a family lawyer for help.
9. A Sense of Longing
Even with imperfect marriages, when they come to a divorce, a man when long to go back to the way things were. A sense of longing can also apply to missing one’s children. Most divorces end up granting the mother child custody. This excludes the father from a lot of decision-making and forces them onto a schedule they don’t inherently want to be on. To miss one’s children is particularly problematic because an immediate remedy to these sentiments can be tough to discover.
Loneliness is a challenging hurdle. In your marriage, you had someone there and now they’re gone. For men, they may try to fill this emptiness with things like a new relationship, alcohol, spending money, drugs, or other things. The difficult thing with loneliness is that it’s something many, many people struggle with post-divorce and the only way to truly cure it is to gain confidence in one’s self that they are alright being alone.