The first thing to understand is that it’s perfectly normal for a person to seek help during a divorce because divorce is hard.
When you’ve worked in a role like I have that involves seeing people going through the process of officially ending their marriage, you quickly learn that divorce is more than capable of causing immense harm to one’s emotional wellbeing.
You also learn that those who are best equipped to address and recover from the damage divorce inevitably brings are those that seek help when they need it. Sadly, I’ve also learned that men are significantly less likely to seek help during divorce – meaning that their divorces are significantly more likely to have a long-term and adverse effect on their mental health.
The reasons why men are less likely to seek help during a divorce are multiple and complex. A fear of appearing weak; a desire to uphold and adhere to more traditional views of masculinity; a belief that their peers will deride them and their friends abandon them – these are just a few of the beliefs I’ve encountered. They are, like most fears and worries, largely baseless, but this does not change the fact that sufferers perceive them as being all too real – something that consistently prevents them from seeking the support they desperately need.
Divorce is hard; there’s no shame in seeking help
Yes, there are divorcees who’ve emerged relatively unscathed after their marriages have ended, but it’s rare. Most will need help of some kind and, often, the support of friends and loved ones is all that’s needed.
Sadly, whether for the reasons discussed previously or any of the other myriad of potential motivations, men regularly refuse to seek help during a divorce altogether. If they do seek company, they may not inform the people that they spend time with why they’ve sought their company in the first place. Indeed, whilst their friends will very likely inquire about their wellbeing, they’re likely to be told that all is well – even if the exact opposite is true.
Whatever your fears may be, though, there’s no reason to be dishonest. We’re entering an age of more enlightened thinking. and the majority of people now recognize that traditional portrayals of idealized masculinity are often toxic. Consider how you would react if one of your close friends informed you that they needed help and were certain that you’d offer to do anything you could to assist them.
Alternatively, what would you think of a friend who ignored such pleas or, worse yet, berated someone that expressed them? At the very least, you’d think less of them and perhaps you’d decide not to see them again. Ultimately, most people will share this outlook.
So, seek help during a divorce. Let your friends and loved ones know how you feel. Anyone that views you as weak as a result probably wasn’t much of a friend to begin with. And if they no longer want to see you again, what would you have really lost?
If you need support, put your needs first and let others do for you. You’ll certainly be surprised at the level of support offered to you and how understanding people are. More importantly, you’ll have begun the process of establishing the support network you’ll need to emerge from your divorce unscathed.
Times are changing
The stigma previously associated with people who seek help during a divorce is slowly but surely dissolving. It may have previously been seen as weak, but as far as the vast majority of people are concerned, this is no longer the case. Now, we recognize the fact that asking for help when we need it is actually an act of bravery. So, men, please don’t suffer in silence – get the support you need.
Jay Williams works for Quickie Divorce, one of the UK’s leading providers of divorce papers in the UK. He lives in Cardiff, Wales with his wife and three-year-old daughter, Eirys.