Everyone is emotionally impacted by divorce. The psychological toll can be even more dramatic when children are involved. There’s little doubt that a relationship breakup ramps up stress for both partners. However, several factors seem to indicate that divorce may be even more stressful for men than for women. Here are four reasons why divorce can be more stressful for men.
Here’s Why Divorce Can Be More Stressful for Men
1. He’s More Likely to Be Blindsided by the Divorce
In general, women are the first to initiate or file for a divorce. This seemingly sudden announcement often comes after she spends years feeling unhappy or frustrated in an unfulfilling marriage. Frequently her husband is not aware of her feelings, or he shrugs off her complaints as needless whining or nagging.
Sometimes these unhappy women reach out first to family and friends for support. Others seek out professional counselors or coaches. When, despite that help, she doesn’t achieve the emotional resolution she craves, she may ultimately decide it’s time for divorce. This is especially so for women over 50 whose husbands are oblivious to the emotional distance in their marriage. She’s been experiencing despair for years, sometimes even decades. He’s totally caught off guard. This is a physical and emotional shock her husband never saw coming.
2. He’s More Likely to Internalize Divorce as Personal Failure
Having been blindsided by the divorce, many men are not prepared for moving on or starting life over on their own. Studies show that marriage suits men more readily than women. That makes it harder to let go and create a new life alone when divorcing wasn’t his idea in the first place. Some men feel like failures or losers. Other men mourn the loss of power or control in the marital relationship, which wounds their self-esteem.
While men are less likely to seek out mental health professionals, it’s often the best decision they can make. Reaching out to divorce and relationship support groups can result in new friendships. Coaches and counselors often bring welcome insights about moving on more smoothly and successfully.
3. He’s More Likely to Grieve Alone Without Asking for Help
Men usually have a more independent approach to personal development. Women, by nature, reach out more readily for professional guidance. They also talk more easily to friends and explore self-help resources. For men, grieving may be a more personal process. Unfortunately, the stress of an emotional breakup is difficult to handle alone, and men may be more resistant to accepting grief as a natural consequence of any breakup. Consequently, they may not allow themselves the time to reflect on their feelings and recognize the part they played in the divorce.
Failure to acknowledge our mistakes limits the lessons we learn and the strategies we implement. It impedes moving on with confidence and optimism. Single men who don’t own their past relationship responsibilities are more likely to repeat old patterns, leading to disappointing partnerships ahead.
4. He’s More Likely to Be Overwhelmed by Guilt, Shame, or Failure
Some men feel challenged both personally and professionally after divorce. Riddled by guilt or shame, they carry a sense of failure that can impact their confidence at work or in new social circles. This is particularly important for men with children who may question their new roles after divorce. It’s therapeutic for these men to maintain their relationships with their children, reminding them they will always be loved and valued as a parent. Children of divorce need both parents as role models. It’s significant even if the father is not spending as much time with his kids as before the divorce. It can also be healing for dads to strengthen their bond with the children, redefining the relationship on new levels. Building a cooperative co-parenting strategy will also go a long way toward supporting the children in the emotional and psychological ways they need.
Divorced men need to remember that they are not alone. Don’t cope alone and don’t isolate yourself from others who care. Learn healthy ways to handle stress, grief, and a wounded ego. Embrace help. Take advantage of online support, groups, networks, and programs. Acknowledge what you’re feeling and understand that guilt, shame, anger, and other strong emotions are natural when healing from adversity. Networks like the Child-Centered Divorce Network offers many resources on parenting after divorce and co-parenting in the best ways for you and your children. Be there for your kids and start creating a path toward a brighter future in the months and years ahead!