The writing is on the wall and sadly, both spouses concede that their marriage is not able to survive. Who is going to find adapting to life after divorce the most difficult — ex-husband or ex-wife? For a number of reasons, men and women do experience divorce differently. Research indicates life after divorce for men is more traumatic than it is for women, taking a more significant emotional toll as well as sparking physical deterioration. Women file for divorce 70% of the time, and when it’s a shock, with no time to prepare — that has a marked impact on how men handle divorce.
Women put work into being able to cope with grief
During marriage, women tend to foster more relationships with family and friends based on deep emotional connections than men. Thus, when divorce happens, there is a support network in place to help them grieve and recover. Many men, on the other hand, come to the abrupt realization that it was their spouse who invested the lion’s share of work into maintaining relationships during the marriage — and now those connections are justifiably retained by her and lost to him.
Men are also notoriously less likely to seek professional help. They bottle their emotions, believing that talking about their feelings or shedding tears makes them somehow “less of a man.” Thirty percent of men who live alone haven’t seen a physician within the past year and 42% don’t have a regular physician. “Toxic masculinity” — a term for harmful stereotypes about what it means to be a man — affects men’s mental, physical, emotional, and relationship health, and often contributes to them being afraid to ask for help from friends, family, physicians, or qualified therapists.
Men don’t get to see their children as often as they’re used to
A deep-cutting pain of divorce for men is the inability to see their children each morning, evening, or on weekends as they were accustomed to while married. Usually, the children’s mother is granted primary custody, and the man is granted limited time as part of a child custody schedule. The new, dreaded reality is becoming a “weekend dad.”
The time away from children provides men more time to dwell on the significant changes in their lives, while the responsibility of taking care of the children means mothers are able to be distracted and stay occupied. Anxiety can build in men as they worry about missing out on their children’s events and milestones, and losing the ability to help their children grow up with their dad constantly at their side.
Men’s health declines after divorce
Divorce impacts men’s health more than women. While women lean on support networks, go to work, and stay busy raising the children as the primary custodian, for men, there is a void they did not see coming. After divorce, there is no longer a partner there to encourage healthy habits or discuss everyday concerns. The aforementioned longer grieving period means men’s day-to-day activities become more sedentary and healthy routines fall by the wayside.
Men are more than twice as likely to suffer from post-divorce depression than women. Anxiety and hypertension are common in men after divorce, which can result in substance abuse and in the worst cases, suicide. Ten divorced men commit suicide in the U.S. each day. When poor mental health translates into a lack of will to eat properly and exercise adequately, post-divorce physical health risks can manifest in the form of cardiovascular disease and sometimes cancer.
Men must meet financial obligations
Meeting strict financial obligations is a primary source of stress for men after divorce. Both ex-spouses take a loss, but typically, men suffer a larger hit to their standard of living than women — between 10 and 40% — due to alimony and child support responsibilities, the need for a separate place to live, an extra set of household furniture and other expenses. And it is worse for men who provided less than 80% of the family’s income. These men have been shown to have a much tougher time making up for lost income.
New relationships only patch the heartbreak
Divorce grief is dealt with differently by men and women. Women, so often the instigators of divorce, can be more ready for a fresh life. Men’s behavior after divorce can set them up for years of hurt. When despairing men are stunned by recent divorce, it is common for them to be afraid to be alone, and so they rush into new relationships. The hurt from the divorce is never properly or professionally dealt with, causing new “replacement” relationships to subsequently fail.
Divorced men: You will never regret reaching out for help
If you are a man who feels intimidated by the concept of divorce and are not sure how to cope or structure your future, we invite you to contact Collins Family & Elder Law Group. We know how to provide the assistance you need to transition to a happy and fulfilled life post-marriage.