Sometimes, divorce is a much-needed relief from a toxic relationship. Other times, it can be a life-altering catastrophe that ends in heartbreak. Movies tend to portray women as the ones who experience most of the emotional distress, while men are often depicted as being hardened and unphased by the ending of the marriage. The reality is that women initiate 69% of divorces, according to a sociologist at Stanford University, and the pain of divorce for men is often worse than it is for women.
How men handle divorce affects the course of the rest of their lives. Here, we’ll talk about life after divorce for men and how they can avoid common mistakes that lead to suffering during an important recovery period.
Mistake #1: Going Into Isolation
Mens’ behavior after divorce can be self-destructive. Without their wives to lean on, many men find it difficult to know who to turn to for love and support. They tend to push away their friends and family members to save face and protect their pride, opting to isolate themselves and lick their wounds in private. In doing so, they cause themselves needless feelings of depression and loneliness that can lead to substance abuse disorders.
Instead of being alone, a newly-divorced man should immerse himself in the company of good people. This is the opportune time to reconnect with long-lost friends, return to college, join support groups, participate in community activities, join fitness clubs, and expand one’s professional network.
Spend plenty of time with your family — whether it be your parents, siblings, grandparents or children or whoever else you feel comfortable with. These people don’t expect you to act or put on a brave face and they have already seen you at your worst. They are your biggest cheerleaders, and they will build you up during this trying time in your life.
Mistake #2: Reentering the Dating Game Too Soon
One of the most common coping mechanisms used by men after divorce to heal from a painful divorce is to find new companionship. You thought you were done forever with dating, so it can be exciting to jump back into the world of dating again.
Sadly, divorcees often find that replacing a lost relationship with casual dating isn’t nearly as fulfilling as their marriage was. A rebound relationship can be fun for a time, but eventually the thrill wears off and you’re left wanting something deeper — and thinking of the relationship from which you haven’t healed. Worse, you could end up compounding your pain by marrying again too soon, only to end up divorcing faster than you did the first time.
Instead of rushing into the dating scene, give yourself time to grieve. As with all wounds, your heartache will heal with time. Find a therapist to help you work through the five stages of grief until you find yourself feeling at peace. Look for other ways to engage your mind as you work through the hardship. This could mean taking up a hobby you gave up when you got married, spending more time with your children, throwing yourself into your job, or whatever else helps you pass the time.
Mistake #3: Avoiding Court Orders and Alimony Payments
Some men try to wish away reality by ignoring court orders and avoiding alimony payments. Doing this doesn’t help you heal. Instead, it puts you in contempt of court, which could mean big trouble — usually in the form of fines or even jail time. Ignoring court orders also causes you to lose any input you might otherwise have had in your divorce.
Even though it hurts, you must respond to court orders and pay alimony and/or child support payments. If you have a change of circumstance, such as a significant loss of income, there’s a good chance that you may be able to work with the court to modify the agreement.
Mistake #4: Following the Same Routine as You Did While Married
When you get divorced, your entire life changes, and you will need to adapt accordingly. But at the same time, your protective instincts will also kick in, and you’ll probably be inclined to keep your lifestyle the same as it was when you were married, in an attempt to maintain some sense of normalcy. Not only is this not helpful — it also keeps you from healing and progressing.
You need to start changing your life immediately for the sake of your sanity. Changes can be as simple as getting a new haircut to symbolize a new life, or finding a nice apartment for yourself. Eventually, you’ll also need to adjust your budget to accommodate a new lifestyle and arrange a visitation schedule with your children, if you aren’t the custodial parent.
Mistake #5: Trying to Handle the Divorce By Yourself
Now that you’re single again, you have to look out for your best interests because your spouse is no longer going to do that for you. The best way to make sure your interests are protected is to hire a divorce lawyer. A divorce attorney can help you navigate the complexities of divorce and help you move on with life. Contact our experienced and compassionate team at Collins Family & Elder Law Group for a case consultation today and start living again after your divorce.