The mainstream media and marriage and family therapist acknowledge that the divorce journey is both a physical and emotional experience for women but little is said about how divorce affects men.
Alone Time: Generally, once the formal paperwork is completed, submitted and served, men become isolated often by their “choosing,” the distancing of friends, co-workers, family members and their children. This may be because historically men are left to internalize their emotions, fears & concerns. It is not been, and still is not, commonplace for men to voice their emotional feelings and thoughts. The fear of being ridiculed and ostracized can be paralyzing. This is unfortunate because men do struggle with emotional and mental issues, concerns and fears. The problem that men face, is how to share and deal with these issues.
The Blame Game: The key to successfully working through the divorce process is to resist at all cost the urge to blame everything that went wrong with the marriage on your ex-wife. The quicker we get over this notion and you accept that it takes two to make a marriage work and two to make it go south the quicker we can begin to heal and move forward. Taking ownership that we contributed to the divorce, maybe not intentionally, but that we may have let things slide, didn’t listen, misread the wife’s and children’s verbal, facial and non-verbal messages is the first step.
The Right Connections: In order to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally it is important to seek out male family members and friends who have adjusted well to a divorce, and avoid those men who are still angry, bitter and taking part in disruptive behaviors. Personally knowing others have successfully survived the experience, and hearing first hand about the experience is comforting and reassuring.
Divorce is always a key stressor, even when both parties are cooperative and amicable. It is far more intense when it is bitter and neither party has stabilized their emotions by acknowledge their feelings. Tension soars and can ultimately result in jeopardizing custody agreements, negotiations, etc.
On My Own: Along with the emotional roller coaster, come possible physical changes. Following a divorce many men find themselves living alone for the first time as an adult. Eating habits certainly undergo drastic changes often resulting in weight gain or loss. Men with pre-existing smoking and drinking habits tend to increase frequency and amounts while other men start drinking to neutralize anger, depression and loneliness. These are areas in the man’s sphere of physical realm to which attention must be paid as you prepare to move through this divorce experience.
You will survive if you make the effort to work through your anger, guilt, and sadness and embrace the process no matter how difficult you will recover. In the end you will have a joyful life. This can be the beginning to a new, more adventurous, richer life for you and your children.
Richard Avdoian is an employee development expert who works with businesses and associations committed to recruit, train and retain highly motivated productive employees. He has worked with clients in over forty different industries providing programs and consulting services in the area of personal achievement, teamwork, and customer service.
Richard Avdoian formed TeamWork By Design, a consulting firm in 1995 and he is a nationally recognized speaker who offers keynote speeches, workshops, and executive & business coaching.
In July, 2003 he received the designation of Certified Speaking Professional (C.S.P.) from the National Speakers Association and International Federation for Professional Speakers, the highest earned level of excellence attainable in the industry and a distinction representing the top 10 percent of all members of the profession.
In October, 2006 he was honored by Niagara County Community College and inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Gallery in recognition for his personal and professional accomplishments and community service.
Drawing on his 26 years in private practice as a psychotherapist, Richard founded the Illinois Men's Institute and Voyager Experience to challenge and inspire individuals to achieve a healthier balance in life, enhance relationships and reach their full potential.
He received his A.A. degree in liberal arts from Niagara County Community College, B.A. degree in sociology & minority studies and master degree in counseling from Niagara University, New York. He also earned a master degree in social work from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
© Richard J. Avdoian, MS, MSW, CSP (2009)