Helping Children Cope With Divorce – A New Initiative

November 2nd, 2013 | by | parenting

Nov
02

Children are the often forgotten victims in a divorce. Even when they are acknowledged though, it is often extremely difficult to know how to help them understand while your own life is spiraling out of control.

If you have young ones and you are not sure how to help them, or you have been through this already and know the difficulty then I wanted to bring to your attention a nice little initiative that is being crowd-sourced.

Dr Leigh Weisz is a psychologist and the author behind a great childrens book about coping with divorce. Dr Weisz is now trying to get the funding to turn a simple picture book into an animated cartoon that will engage young kids even more so they can understand what is happening to their parents and how to cope.

I think this is a great idea so if you have just a little bit of spare cash and want to contribute then head over to their crowd-sourcing site and contribute!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/create-animated-cartoon-to-help-children-cope-with-divorce

Keep being great parents!

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Children Coping With Divorce – Do Kids Get It As Bad As We Think?

February 28th, 2013 | by | general, parenting

Feb
28

Is Divorce Bad For KidsAs I have mentioned many time on my blog, children suffer the worst in divorce. While the emotional anguish a man after a divorce feel is incredibly difficult to deal with, children do not have the sort of maturity to understand and process what is happening. However, I read an article recently that challenged this view and indicated that children might have no long lasting issues due to divorce . So what is the truth of the matter? Is divorce really bad for kids or not?

The article states this:

Divorce affects most children in the short run, but research suggests that kids recover rapidly after the initial blow. In a 2002 study psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington of the University of Virginia and her then graduate student Anne Mitchell Elmore found that many children experience short-term negative effects from divorce, especially anxiety, anger, shock and disbelief. These reactions typically diminish or disappear by the end of the second year. Only a minority of kids suffer longer. – (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-divorce-bad-for-children)

I really question the methodology of this survey. They do not elaborate very much on how they came to the conclusion that kids do not suffer very long, or that it does not effect them further into adulthood. There is no mention of how big the sample size for this is either – though perhaps the book they are taking this from goes into more depth. MY personal opinion is that there is a LOT of damage that a BAD divorce can do to children in the short and long term. While children are very good at bouncing back from many of life’s troubles, how many times have we heard of men and women who have serious issues that come from buried memories and emotions they could never get through as a child. No survey can go that deep unless they are doing some serious psychological profiling.

Now, it does clarify that children coming from divorces that are extremely bad are going to suffer the most, while those who divorce well lead to happier children. That seems a no-brainer to me. However it goes on to state this which has me worried about the message and methodology again:

These findings suggest that only 15 percent of adult children of divorce experience problems over and above those from stable families. No one knows whether this difference is caused by the divorce itself or by variables, such as poorer parenting, that often accompany a marriage’s dissolution.

Cute Kid DivorceSo what they are saying is they do not consider the quality of life and the parenting patterns after divorce to be a part of how divorce affects children? How can it NOT be a part of this equation. How do they measure this? 15% seems too low to me, but it shows that it certainly does effect children long term and this is a MINIMUM number as I am certain they did not dig deep enough to find more problems.

Now, I do not want to scare men recovering from divorce about the state of their children. In fact I am encouraged that there are signs that children do bounce back fast from divorce. It also re-enforces my point about good co-parenting that is essential to minimise the impact of divorce. Good management of your divorce with as little conflict as possible seems to be the way to mitigate the worst of divorce fallout on your children and it may lead to a good recovery for them in the long term. I hope that is a spot of light if you are worrying about the mental health of your children.

It also states that is a marriage was so full of conflict before the divorce, then a separation might actually be more beneficial to the child. So if you were in an abusive relationship it could be a better outcome that you split as well, but only as long as you continue to manage parenting them well.

but what about me ebookMy eBook on Men After Divorce is mostly about helping men get through the struggles of being a divorced man and dad very often. However I am not a child psychologist or expert on children apart from being a father myself – I will not pretend to be an expert. One person that Is an expert however is Wendy Mollah the author of a really cool children’s book called But What about Me?. If you are looking for a way to help your kids understand the divorce so you can be a good father and help them while you are helping yourself through the hard emotional slog of divorce, then this might be a good way to help. Check out her site here if you are looking for some help in this area, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it might be right up your alley too.

www.HelpingKidsThroughDivorce.com

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Co-Parenting For Men After Divorce

February 19th, 2013 | by | parenting

Feb
19

coparenting for men after divorceCo-parenting after divorce can be a major hassle, but it is in the very best interests of the child to do so. For those not familiar with the term, it basically  means that you work together with your partner to help raise your children, rather than working separately to raise them which is often called parallel parenting.

Parallel Parenting

The problems with parallel parenting are manifold. You are both parenting in different styles, different times, and conflicts will happen. Children are much happier when there is consistency in their lives and divorce breaks that to start with – then parents doing very different things will break it even further.

In fact, the less you talk and plan with your ex about how to be parents to your children, the more problems you are going to have with your ex, your kids, and possibly the law as well. Children of all ages simply will not understand how parents can divorce and then seem to become such different people with different rules afterwards. Children of parallel parenting also learn very quickly how to play each parent off against each other to get what they want and the habits they from here will stay with them for long into their adulthood – especially the bad examples set by parents who cannot work together and solve problems.

Co-Parenting

So, instead of parenting without the other persons involvement – the better way to handle things for your own sanity, and the mental health of your children is working together and developing a co-parenting plan. This basically means you must meet with your ex and create a plan that you can both stick to when it comes to parenting and get their absolute buy in on the idea for the sake of your children. Some tips to help make this happen:

  • Treat this like a business partnership. Do not go into emotions, or legalities, or anything else. Be as logical an unemotional as possible and always be matter of fact and calm when working out co-parenting. Keep a formal tone as if it was a business transaction not two ex lovers talking.
  • Negotiations will happen. When you are living together and are married you will have made concessions to allow your partner her way sometimes, and she would hopefully do the same for you. Your lifestyle, and your parenting styles would be similar but still different – but the proximity and willingness to make it work would simply happen as you both try to be good parents and partners. After a divorce though,most people want to get their own way as they change their lives and this can come into conflict with your wants for parenting. So in line with treating this as a business partnership, you must also negotiate things with a bit of give and take. You cannot demand anything – but you cannot be walked over either – you must be flexible.
  • Be kid focused. When you talk about co-parenting do not get sidetracked onto anything else at all. Keep the focus of your arrangements and talks with your children as he only topic of conversation. If she tries to drag it away from kids just ask her to concentrate on the parenting side whenever you are engaging in a talk about co-parenting
  • Listen. I know the LAST thing you want to listen to is your ex-wife. It can be painful and grating especially if they are unkind. However, if you keep your talks kid focused you need to listen and not just switch off because you need to know what is going on in her life and household as it related to the kids.
  • Schedule everything. Get organised and get a schedule going. Put all agreements down on paper and digital form and make sure you stick to it, and make sure she does as well. Children who know what to expect and when are happier and less prone to anxiety and outbursts.
  • Update your parenting plan an schedule each year. Kids get older, circumstances change, stuff happens. If your pans and schedules are old and outdated to what is happening now, then you are going to have to revise it. Sometimes you might do this every 6 months, or if a big change happens such as moving away, remarrying and so forth. But at least once a year reorganise your co-parenting plan.

It might be easier said that done – especially when you are trying to cope with post divorce life yourself, and not doing too well at it. However, this is a fundamental piece of the puzzle of divorce that will grant you much greater satisfaction with your life because you know you have done the right thing by your children.

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Surviving Valentines Day For Men After Divorce

February 11th, 2013 | by | dating, recovery

Feb
11

surviving valentines day after divorceMy Ex-Wife was big on valentines day. She would leave little clues and hints for weeks before Valentines day just in case I might forget, or get her the wrong thing. I remember it was stressful, irritating, and time consuming – but on the day things always turned out well. Despite our differences, even in the strained later years of marriage Valentines day’s are ones that I can now remember fondly as something that was indeed special. However, surviving Valentines say for men after divorce before you have reached the stag when you can look back without anger, depression or worry is very difficult. The first Valentines day is always the worst as well as you might well imagine.

My first Valentines day alone was probably typical. I remember actually feeling really good in the weeks leading up to it ni fact. I would see all the roses and pink toys all over the place. I would laugh at the overprices flowers and chocolates and the worried looking men rushing around trying to get something to impress, or just stave of an attack for forgetting. I felt GREAT that I was not being nagged about this seemingly inane day designed to sell cards. All was well – so I thought.

Then the day came. I had forgotten about it actually and went about my life as usual – until I went to work and it hit me. I could see it, the romantic couples kissing, the flowers being given, large banners on bridges declaring undying love. It seemed the entire world had gone lovey-dovey and I was ghosting through it like some lonesome restless spirit. I did not fare well. The work day was hell as people insensitively asked me what I was doing that night. Some forgot I was divorced and some assumed I was dating again (I was not), but the effect was all the same. I struggled through the day trying not to think – until I went home and it hit me. All the memories of past Valentines days. The surprises, gifts, the nights in front of the TV curled up in each others arms. I lost it and cried bitter tears as I had not done for months since I thought I found some stability.

I nearly made the mistake of calling her then. I was lonely and angry. I picked up the phone and held it nearly dialing for it seemed like an hour before I put it down and went to bed to forget. I am glad I never called but it hurt like hell.

So, this little trip down memory lane was not to indulge myself – but to prepare you for Valentines day, especially if it is your first as a divorced man as you can survive this day better if you choose to. Below are some tips that can help.

What NOT to do in Valentines Day Post-Divorce

  •  Do not ignore it. Trying to hide from such an event is impossible unless you go and live like a caveman for a few weeks with no access to media or society.
  • Do not indulge it. Do not try to relive it with a new girlfriend, or use it to try to get a new lady friend. This is not the time and you will be reflecting many things upon any new woman which is not fair on her or yourself.
  • Do not call your ex. NEVER call your ex on this day. Not even if you feel you are on friendly terms. It gives power to dark things inside both you and her.
  • Do not give in to hate. Some people get very angry at Valentines day as it seems to mock you at every turn. Remember, it is just another day like any other.

How to Survive Valentines Day As a Man After Divorce

  • Have a comment prepared. People may ask you your plans, so always have something to say – it is terrible to be hit with that and left speechless and emotional.
  • Remember that Valentines day is just another day. Only the human mind makes it more than another spin on the earths axis. The trick is realising this day holds no value to you at this point in time so ti does not create any further attachment and anxiety in your mind.
  • Prepare your day and night. Be prepared on what you are going to do, there are many things that could work, but it depends on your personality and situation. Some good ideas I have seen:
    • Organise an Anti-Valentines day party with any single friends you have who are tired of the day. Not a bitch fest, just hanging with yoru friends and pushing back against the expectations of the day by just having some fun.
    • Plan yourself a ME nigth and day where you pamper yourself. This might sound liek a women’s self help bit of advice but guys can use it too. Give yourself permission to indulge in whatever the heck you want and remember it is a gift from you – to you – to be enjoyed.
    • Spend the day with your kids if you have them. It is amazing how much fun you can have creating valentines days cards just within your little family unit of dad and his kids. You forget all the hype and just have fun if they are little enough.
    • Release your valentines sorrow. I would only suggest this if you are much further down the track of recovery and your heart is a dull ache not a stabbing pain. Symbolically let go of the memories of previous years. Some will burn an item to do this, others might pack them away in a box and store them. Others simply let the memories wash over them and visualise pushing them away into the distance. Symbols are very important and being able to let go of a symbol you can release its grip on your heart.

I hope that helped someone. Remmeber, Valentines day will eventually be a time for new loves, new experiences, and new beginnings perhaps. Until then you can stop this day from hurting you and make the best of it on your road to post-divorce recovery guys!

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Recovery From Divorce & Domestic Abuse Againt Men

February 2nd, 2013 | by | general, recovery

Feb
02

I just watched an inspiring video on the TED site about a woman recovering from a horrible situation where she was physically and emotionally abused for many years but finally could break free. Her name is Leslie Morgan Steiner and she talks about how even the most horrific abuse did not seem to make her leave her husband, and the question of why did she stay is answered.

I was thinking about how this sort of situation applies to men in abusive marriages also, if similar psychological factors make men stay in despite domestic violence, and what makes them want to go back sometimes! Watch the TED video it if you have time – article continued below.

What is Domestic Violence/Abuse?

This is a pretty broad spectrum actually, and I feel it is unfortunate that most people think of it purely as ‘man on woman’ physical violence when there is a LOT more to it. It is generally defined as these types of abuses:

  • Physical Abuse: The most commonly known one. This involves direct violent such as hitting, kicking, scratching, biting, or whatever can cause physical hurt and injury. It is also the THREAT of violence as well. Some relationships never get to physical hurt but the threat is so omnipresent it is just as bad. Women are just as capable of this if they choose and will employ this if they feel they can get away with it – or to provoke the man into a violent response deliberately so she can call the police.
  • Emotional Abuse: This is the broadest of all abuses and can involve a number of different methods all with the intention of making the partner afraid, have extremely low self esteem, and generally be emotionally crippled and left without support. Methods include:
    • Verbal abuse and yelling
    • Put downs and cruel remarks
    • Bullying
    • Rejection and isolation

This is probably the most easily employed type of abuse against men as it is the most subtle and insidious of abuses and can take many years to develop while the man is unaware to a large degree.

  • Economic Abuse: This is where one spouse controls the finances to such a degree that they cripple the ability of their partner to have any sort of economic freedom. While this might be more difficult for women as a typical household the man earns more – some women demand control of the finances and will sue any method they can to blackmail the husband, or stop him spending money on anything but what the wife says.
  • Social Abuse: This is about freedom of association, and controlling who and when you see people. Isolating you from your family and friends is one way. Insulting you in front of other people is another. Women are also very good at this often causing conflict deliberately to force the husband to side with his wife and not contact those involved any more.
  • Spiritual Abuse: Is the control of what you believe and how you believe. In religious households this can be extremely stressful – but it can also be conflicts between opposing philosophies as well where the controlling spouse wants to belittle the spiritual beliefs of their partner. This can be employed by women just as a easily as a man.

The first thing we can really see is that this is all about CONTROL. An abusive partner wants to control their spouse as often as possible, and as cruelly as possible. The abused partner becomes a whipping boy for the frustrations of the abuser as they take out any anger, fear, or grievances upon them. It is also about designing relationships where the abuser can always feel in control, always right, and always gets his or her way. It is nearly always planned and calculated also, not just random violence or abuse for no reason.

Men as Victims of Domestic Abuse

men as victims of domestic violenceSo what does this all have to do with men? Well the issue of domestic abuse AGAINST men is not very well known; that is a great shame. It is also something that plays very well into the hands of abusive women who are destroying good men’s lives because they can – and they know they can – get away with it. Men are extremely reluctant to report domestic abuse to any sort of authority, because they are afraid they will not be taken seriously, or that they will feel like they have lost any remaining sense of masculinity for doing so. This is well known by the abuser and used often to break the man’s self esteem.

Men are so vastly under represented, on this matter and while not directly linked to post divorce-life and recovery from divorce for men, I think it is an extremely important issue that needs more attention. Some men are held for ransom by their wives by a number of the means above. From the conversations I have had with men both divorced and not, I see a number of patterns. Most aimed two things specifically: Trying to cripple a mans self esteem through emotional abuse so he does not argue or fight back, and economic abuse in a different way – threatening to take him for all his worth if he DOES divorce her.

Abusers will use every tool at their disposal to control or destroy their plaything; it’s a horrible thing to see. I have known men controlled like this, and divorce for them was a blessing – but also a curse. Here is the link to post-divorce life.

Why Do Abused Men Still Want Their Wives Back?

There are stages in the cycle of grief we experience in divorce that we refer to as denial, and bargaining. We all go through these stages at some point, but those who have been through domestic abuse are even more susceptible to these stages even if the MAN was the one who initiated the divorce (probably because of the domestic abuse). The self esteem of a man subjected to long periods of emotional abuse cripples their ability to believe in themself. They can be unable to cope with living without their wife even though they were miserable with her. They can believe that they are still in love with them so strongly despite the emotional scars. The ex-wife may also continue to torment them after the divorce as well making life very difficult because there will be no support to stop them like there is against violent men trying to hurt women.

Men like this have been programmed to give in and sometimes grovel for forgiveness, or make any amends just to feel loved. The mental and emotional programming of their ex can extend well into the post-divorce years destroying the mans ability to be independent and break free of the illusion of low self-worth that was thrust upon them.

 Men’s Recovery from an Abusive Marriage

You can recover from divorce!This is where the hard work begins for many guys. Most men coming out of a relatively non-abusive marriage will have the stresses of living alone, being separated from their children, legal problems, financial problems, low self esteem, depression, and many more – but an abused man who cannot break free from that abuse will have all these plus they can be crippled emotionally, even more isolated from friends and family, have an incredibly skewed view of women, and will be tormented by the mind games of the abuser for many years.

While my eBook on Men After Divorce does not deal directly with domestic abuse (or spousal abuse as it is also known), the same principles apply to all men recovering from divorce. The same idea of rebuilding your life by understanding the emotional path, your own sense of self, and the scioence behind how the brain handles grief and the tearing apart of long term relationships still apply 100%

If you want to find out more information on this issue, here are some moe links that might help:

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/07/19/3549006.htm – An excellent radio interview about men in domestic abuse as the victim

http://www.oneinthree.com.au/ – The Website of that interviewee which is a very good place to go for detailed statistics and information

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence – Not just in Australia, this is from the UK and I assume it would be similar in the US

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/scottishnews/3181055/Trouble-and-strife-in-Scotland.html – more stories from Scotland

http://www.ahlanlive.com/the-rise-of-domestic-violence-against-men-145848.html – Even in the traditionally patriarchal Middle East we are seeing signs.

 

 

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Happiness & Meaning For Men After Divorce

January 27th, 2013 | by | general, recovery, self esteem

Jan
27

meaning happiness  mean divorcemeaning happiness  mean divorceWhat is being happy?

This is a question that plagues he thoughts of many divorced men for a long, long time. There is so little joy and happiness after a painful divorce many come to believe that happiness is an illusion and spiral into bitterness. Other go in search of happiness with a fervour that can only be described as manic as they clutch at anything that brings a fleeting sense of happiness, joy, or pleasure at the very least – only to find it slip away all too quickly.

So does happiness really exist? We all felt it when we got married surely – not that it ended well – but for a time we knew that for at least for a time we were happy. We remember childhood happiness as well, and happiness of friendship. We know the happy feelings when we get a present, or receive a compliment, or buy something we really wanted. Happiness does exist, but I believe we often describe such happiness with the wrong words. All of these things give us happiness for a moment in time, but they fade over time leaving us less joyful than before. Some might call this pleasure which brings to mind a more fleeting experience while happiness is something people want as a state of mind.

So what does this all have to do with men after divorce and the search for meaning?

I was reading an excellent article titles There is More to Life Than Being Happy which caught my attention the other day. It ties in very closely to the advice I give in my own ebook on Recovery for Men After Divorce but from a different perspective somewhat which I would like to explore.

The article stipulates that the endless pursuit of fleeting happiness is detrimental to a long term sense of self satisfaction in life. It insinuates at least that modern living has given us all the tools we need to engage in pleasurable pursuits, but has left many of us devoid of a purpose in life, and that purpose and meaning is what we derive real lasting contentment from. From the researchers of happiness and meaning cited by the article author:

“the researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.”

Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided,” the authors write.

So we two issues here – the definition of happiness and meaning. I want to explore this in relation to this blog which is how to get over the pain of divorce and it is quite tied together.

Happiness

happiness after divorceThis I would argue the article really means as pleasure and pleasurable activities and things. They are tied to meeting the needs and wants we have as individuals, not the needs or wants of a group. They also seem to be defined as things that bring us pleasure from ‘taking’ things. Buying things, being given things and so forth. In marriage we can end up being takers in this regard. We love the attention of our wife and kids. We like the home we create, and the things we buy and use together. We like the security that marriage and a home seem to bring and the position it places us in society – that of a married man, a breadwinner, a member of our society with some social standing as a partner and often a parent. Whether you recognise this or have not really thought about it – these are things that can bring pleasure and happiness that are tied to the self – our ego.

Meaning

meaning after divorce for menmeaning after divorce for menMeaning and purpose are a different beast. They refer to people with a sense of meaning in their lives as being ‘givers’. Those who sacrifice, who worry, who give and see the point in such sacrifice are the ones who find a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in their lives. As a married man this was a part of our sense of self as well. Men often sacrifice their time, their money, and their own pleasure for their wife and their family. This is something some do willingly, while other might resent somewhat – but it is a massive part of our psyche. The sacrifices men make in marriage bring pleasure when they are praised of course, but it also brings a sense of purpose to build a family even if nothing else in life has a sense of purpose.

The Destruction of Both

Divorce destroys both of these things. The loss of purpose however is obviously the most worrying for men. Without the centre of family life many men are devoid of a meaningful day to day existence. They try to fill this gaping hole with pleasures such as alcohol, drugs, sex, entertainment, even violence for some. Nothing fills this gaping hole unless they find a new sense of meaning. Religion does it for some, work can also fill that gap for many, but unless they are truly believers on those things they are a shadow of the meaning they gained from family.

This journey to finding a meaning in life and a new sense of your own self in the universe is the crux of my men after divorce ebook on the psychological front – but backed up by practical tips to help you edge towards this loftier goal. If you are suffering after divorce perhaps this strikes a chord with you – if so, please comment and lets start a conversation about happiness, divorce and meaning.

 

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Depression in Men After Divorce

January 20th, 2013 | by | recovery

Jan
20

depressioninmenDepression is very common in men after divorce. However, there is a major stage of grief that is usually referred to as ‘Depression’ – but what we are talking about here is not passing sadness, but what is referred to as clinical depression. Something that has been with us a long time but has only more recently been recognised as a major problem. It was even referred to in great leaders such as Winston Churchill as his “Black Dog” that has become a symbol of depression and other mood disorder.

Clinical depression is not something everyone who goes through divorce might feel. It is often something they may struggle with all of their life in fact, but a life changing event might make this already fragile state massively worse. What is even scarier is that suicide among clinically depressed individuals is substantially higher as well. In fact, 60% of all suicides have a depressive disorder or other mental disorder involved.

So, it is important to discover the difference between the more generic ideas of depression compared to its much more serious brother clinical depression. This will help you to assess your own mental health, or the mental health of someone you love who is going through a divorce.

Defining Clinical Depression in Men after Divorce

The symptoms of clinical depression are different to those of normal sadness from loss. It is obviously more pronounced, but doctors will have specific things they look for that will clue them in on the severity of the depression such as:

  • Feelings of extreme sadness or unhappiness
  • Frustration and irritability over the tiniest of matters
  • Complete loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities
  • Greatly reduced sex drive
  • Insomnia, or the opposite with excessive sleep
  • Marked change in appetite. This might be cravings, lack of appetite, or eating for comfort. So weight gain or loss is often accompanied.
  • Restless agitation. Pacing, wringing of the hands, or involuntary movements when you are worked up.
  • Angry outbursts over small matters
  • A slower pace of thinking, speaking or movement
  • Indecisiveness, inability to concentrate
  • Marked loss of energy and fatigue. Everything seems to take a huge amount of effort to do.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty. Being fixated on past failures.
  • Thoughts of dying, death or suicide that occur frequently
  • Bursting into tears without any apparent reason
  • Odd physical problems such as aches and pains as well as headaches
  • Inability to get out of bed or interact with anyone at some extreme levels

Now, you might think many of these describe any man trying to recover from divorce, but most do not have that many of these symptoms, or to the severity needed. However, many guys border on clinical depression at some stages during their divorce and should be well aware of the risks and causes.

Causes of Depression After Divorce For Men

This might seem obvious – maybe the horrible heart rending divorce and feelings of abandonment and loss? Well yes – but that is actually a trigger for depression as some people are simply more susceptible to depression than others. Some men go through much worse post-divorce blues than others, but do not get hit by depression at all.

This is not a deficiency in you if you are suffering from a depressive disorder; it is simply the way your hormones and brain chemicals work which differs from man to man. Brain chemicals such as serotonin that keep our moods balanced can be out of whack, or blocked for a wide variety of reasons. This coupled with a major life changing experience and lack of positive stimulus is what often leads to clinical depression. This can interfere with your life greatly and can send some men right to the edge of suicide – or very sadly – beyond.

ck dog of depression

What You Can Do About Clinical Depression

If you are feeling very poorly, very sad, and you feel you are exhibiting many symptoms listed above then you might be suffering from clinical depression. However, only a doctor can actually determine this and give you a definitive answer. This is nothing to be ashamed of though, if I have one piece of advice SEE A DOCTOR and ask about it as there are many ways to help with the depression. It does not make you less of a man it does not mean you have failed. True strength is being able to reach out when you are low – and you build on that by reaching out to others when you have recovered so we all help each other.

While only you can get over the trigger factor that caused the depression, doctors can organise counselling if you need it, and they can also prescribe drugs that can help balance the brain chemicals that have led to a lack of serotonin. However, most need to be prescribed and carefully monitored. This is not a cure for depression but it can help you even out your moods while you work through the pain of divorce.

The other things you can do by yourself is approach this the natural way to increase your good mood hormones and brain chemicals. This is mainly about diet and exercise.

  • Exercise has an amazing effect on your moods. After enough intensity it releases feel good hormones called endorphins which flood your brain and body alleviating stress and depression for a while. Continued exercise will have a more permanent effect. This is hard to do consistently when depressed but if you can manage it makes a massive impact on your mental health.
  • Diet is also extremely important to aiding in returning your brain to a better state. There are various foods that you should eat more of, and other that inhibit better moods that you should avoid. Hydration is also extremely important and is easy to do. More on anti-depression diets here

To help with the long term recovery from divorce for men though – click through to see my eBook on this very subject.

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Divorce Advice for Men With Kids

June 20th, 2012 | by | general, parenting

Jun
20

divorce advice for men with kids

Divorce is a tough enough process for a man without the added burden of being a good father during this period of emotional and financial strain. I have also found that most divorce advice for men with kids tend to focus on legal aspects of keeping custody while almost ignoring the emotional aspect of the whole process. This is the welfare of your children but also the welfare of your own psychological well-being as well.

While the legal proceedings are essential to get right. The real reason you should be doing it all is to be a good father right? Not just because you want to spite your ex by taking the kids from her. The very reasons we pursue the legal options is because of conflict and mistrust that can breed in us some very undesirable qualities if we are not careful. This is a little beside the point of this post but something to consider anyway …

What I really want to talk about though is just what you should, and should NOT do when it comes to kids in your divorce. This is based on the need to do the very best for your children in trying circumstances, but also do right by yourself so you can recover from a divorce and move on without hatred, anger, jealousy, anxiety, or any other negative emotions that will sabotage any new relationships – not to mention dealing with your day to day life. Without further ado …

What NOT To Do During a Divorce With Kids

children as pawns1. Use Kids As Pawns – I know, you probably think you would never do that. That you do NOT do that … but are you really? Using children as a way to hurt your ex, to prove a point, to carry messages, or any other numbers of behaviours that brings your children into the conflict between you and your ex; this is not healthy for them or yourself. There are so many subtle ways that people use children to serve a more selfish purpose and even the smallest things things can have a profound effect on how they see the world as they grow up.

2. Assume You Always Know Best – I know this is going to sound a bit harsh to some, but you might be making emotional decisions about your child’s welfare not logical ones. We can get so caught up in our divorce battle and our own internal demons that sometimes we might be thinking about what is best for US not for the kids. Sometimes what is best for them might not feel right when we are not in the right frame of mind.

3. Act Poorly In Front of Them – Now you should not act poorly in front of your kids ever if you can help it. However during a divorce we can say some pretty terrible things about our ex-wives and that comes out in front of children sometimes. You always have to remember that your children have a father AND a mother and no matter how bad your ex is, they will most likely hold quite some attachment for BOTH of you. The more you erode this in front of them the more it may backfire on you – or warp their ideas of marriage, love and parenthood.

What To Do During a Divorce With Kids

divorce and kids

1. Be a Father When You Are Around Them – The first bit of divorce advice for men with kids is that your children are the ones who are the most blameless people in this sorry affair and they need to feel some sense of security in a world that is suddenly being torn apart. The younger they are, the less likely they are able to converse properly with you about what has happened and will happen. The only way to really reassure them is to be a father, a dad – not a divorced man, not an abandoned lover, not an man angry at the law/courts/lawyers. You can be all these things while you process this devastating time but not for your kids. They need a father even when you might not feel like being a good one. While It is not good to hide your feelings deep inside, being a good father does not mean lying to your kids. It just means being the hero they need you to be for their small world when they need you … do your best and let the other stuff out when you can be just a man.

2. Let Them Know It Is Not Their Fault – Children too often blame themselves for a divorce. There are many reasons for this but since the family unit is all they have ever known it cannot occur to them naturally that mommy and daddy just can’t be together anymore and so they blame their own actions. This can be very traumatising, so make sure to tell them it is not their fault at all and that they are loved no matter what. They may not understand fully if they are younger but as they grow it will make more sense – if they are not told it will fester into something horrible inside them.

3. Do The Right Thing With Money & Time – I am not going to comment on the state of divorce courts and fairness or not of legalities. It is a minefield that I try not to walk into because it is beside the point of the emotional healing needed for men after divorce. It is painful, it is awful, it is heart rending to see so much of your finances destroyed, ripped apart and years of planning set alight yes. Fight all you can for equality, fight all you can for fairness – but whatever you do … do NOT shirk your responsibility to your child if you have to pay child support. Do not neglect them time wise if you only get to see them in limited amounts. Your spouse might make life hell for you in this regard treating these things as weapons to hurt you but you cannot stoop that low. kids asking questions about divorceYou must remain as the responsible parent for your children’s sake.

4. Let Them Ask Questions – Sometimes the questioning of a child is the most heart rending thing. They ask you the questions that you perhaps cannot even ask yourself yet let alone answer. However if children fel they cannot ask questions then they might start to blame themself as has been mentioned, or they start to imagine lots of things that might not be true. They want to understand just as you might want to understand why these things are happening – except the younger they are the less they can piece things together. Let them ask even if you may not be able to answer – just make sure you respond following the guidelines already stated.

5. Love Them First & Foremost – I do not think this really needs to be stated for you. You already know your children are such important elements in your life and you know you have to help and protect them. So this is just a reminder than there is time to grieve and look inward. You need that time, just make sure you never put this before your kids. I know you all  will follow this last bit of divorce advice for men with kids :)

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Men and Divorce Help – Why We Are Our Own Worst Enemy

January 4th, 2012 | by | recovery, self esteem

Jan
04

Men and Divorce Help

Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

When it comes to guys looking for divorce help I am often reminded that we can be our own worst enemy in this regard. While I will probably digress into broad generalisations and stereotype here, I do believe that stereotypes are not created in a vacuum and they do have some truth to them even if they are exaggerations.

Men are often too proud. We are stubborn, we believe we are right, and we do not like to beg or to ask for help. Men are considered by society as the ones who should be strong and independent, that must be the rock that bears out the storm, that they are emotionally stable at all times … and we also know this is not the truth at all for the vast majority of regular guys.

Men have the same depth of feelings as any woman. Men have problems, feel pain, feel confused, and can frequently not know what to do when they are out of their depth. As much as society beams out this image of a perfect stoic man, it is just not the case and possibly never really was – it is an idealisation just as bad for men’s self esteem as women’s obsession over models on magazines.

This brings me to why we are our own worst enemies – Because we all too often believe the unrealistic view that society has imposed upon us rather than the truth!

We are conditioned to hide our feelings and ignore them. We are conditioned to believe that if we show signs of weakness, than we are weak and therefore of less worth to society and ourselves. You might not think in those terms but subconsciously many guys believe this so strongly it impedes our ability to ask for help, or help ourselves properly. Here is a quick test to see if this might be happening to you:

  • You feel ashamed that you are feeling miserable or crying
  • You blame yourself for the breakdown of the marriage and believe it was your duty to hold it together
  • You feel a huge loss of self worth and feel that people are judging you for being divorced
  • You turn down offers of help as you do not want to seem like you cannot cope
  • You find yourself comparing your life and actions to other men poorly

These are a few symptoms of this way that we cling to the idea of the idealised man. You can see how it might be interfering with being able to get help, or be able to help yourself too.

How Can Men Get Divorce Help?

Divorce Help For MenThe first step to any sort of self improvement is self awareness. There is no one shot fixes to anything, it is a process and you need to be able to understand yourself – and what is blocking your abilities to overcome the pain of divorce. This comes down to a central point I make about all men – and women too for that matter – which is that we are all controlled by our ego; our sense of self.

Our sense of self is an important thing but it hates to change and a divorce irrevocably changes us. Part of our ego is how we believe we should act and feel due to what we have been taught and societies expectations on us too. We need to acknowledge these things and inspect them even if it might seem taboo. The only way to move forward is to leave all these things behind and not be controlled by your ego otherwise you begin to try and bolster your ego doing self destructive things such as:

  • Trying to prove how manly you are by drinking, fighting, or pushing the limits of drug usage
  • Turning down offers of help to make you feel you are powerful and strong enough to go it alone
  • Forcing your emotions down deeper and deeper because dealing with them might make you feel less of a man – but those emotions will bubble to the surface later and come out of dangerous or violent ways.

There are many more examples but the core message is that men need to be able to lay down their ego and stop the foolish adherence to the idealised idea of what a man should be. For more divorce help on the psychology of all of this, check out my complete guide to divorce recovery for men which details this in full – and how you can quickly and easily use this to leave your divorce behind and gain a happier and better future.

Click Here For More on the Men After Divorce eBook

 

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Divorce Support For Men – Cultivating Support Networks

September 16th, 2011 | by | general, recovery

Sep
16

divorce support for menOne major part of divorce support for men is cultivating your own support networks. As hard as it seems, and as much as you either want to be stoic and do it alone – or on the other end of the scale desperately want someone to step in and help – these things are not often feasible.

You need to take some action and responsibility for support because as a man you will not be offered as much, there will be less resources around, and you might be your own worst enemy and decide you cannot seek divorce support because it would make you seem weak.

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Firstly though – there are a lot of support services for men popping up nowadays. Much more than there used to be in fact. These can be very helpful to many men in overcoming the pain and hopelessness of divorce. There are services that are over the phone, via the net, or more traditional one in groups, or even one on one counsellors. There is nothing wrong with using these services and I encourage you to do so if there are ones in your area especially. This is extremely helpful if you do not have many friends of family where you live because being alone is the absolute worst part.

Secondly – and what this blog post is more focused on – is creating your own social support networks to help you through the tough times.

Men tend to not have fantastic support networks compared to women. Like all things this is just a generalisation, but there is enough evidence to see this as quite typical. Men in marriages tended to have male friends who could be counted on to be on hand to help, to be there for a laugh, to always back them up. These male friends however tend not to be as good at helping each other emotionally.

It is hard for men to open up about the things they need to talk about which often drives men away from each other when they do not know how to interact anymore. Men also tend to not have many female friends either cutting off a more social acceptable avenue of gaining someone to talk to and receive the empathy they desire. This lack of being able to interact in the way that you need is a hindrance and a man’s own feeling of shame from a divorce can drive them inwards which is a bad place to be.

Creating Social Divorce Support For Men

This is not an easy process for men as has been mentioned. It involves a lot of skills and action that might seem foreign, or at least uncomfortable for many guys. It involves a certain strength, and also an ability to show weakness and pain as well. It requires that you give to receive in regards to social and emotional help also. This might seem odd sop I wanted to start with the things that do NOT work well that many guys have tried, or unconsciously do when trying to get divorce support for their life.

  • divorce support for men mistakesDo NOT Blather – While you need to open up and talk about your emotions and feelings and all that stuff that is building up inside of you, some guys unload too much at once. This might be because it takes such a huge effort to begin to do, that it comes out in a huge wave. This can be off-putting depending on who you are speaking to. People are not ready to deal with such anguish at the drop of a hat usually. Choosing the right person or people to help is important and having their consent to unload is also important. As much as you need and want help you need to empathise with them as well.
  • Do NOT Choose The Wrong People – This is dangerous as has just been mentioned. Some guys get help form the wrong people. People such as bitter divorcees who think they are helping by filling your head with revenge, bitterness, and hopelessness themselves. Some find what they think is a helpful soul online who might not be as they seem, or might not really be committed to helping in the long run. Choosing the right people to include in a support network is vital – and categorising them for what you need is also important which I will cover later.
  • Do NOT Give Up! – It sometimes seems like an easier path to simply shut yourself away and hope that you will simply push through this on your own. You might believe that if you just cry it out alone you will emerge the other side bright and shining to rejoin your friends as you were before without them having to see you at your worst. First, this is a good way to head for a deep depression as isolation and lack of social interaction has been proven to be one of the chief causes of clinical depression. Secondly who are these friends if they do not see you like this? How good are your friends and family if they will not support you now. This might be the chance to really find who are the people who will live in your heart forever.

So with these things in mind, how can a man after divorce create a working social support group to help him through the tough time, be there when he needs company or assistance, and be a part of the recovery process?

  • mens divorce support adviceFind The Right People – This is very important part of divorce support for men and possibly the hardest thing because it can be difficult to judge. Sometimes the most important social support you will get you might not even know yet, but making the wrong choice is quite problematic. The best way to start is to make a list of your friends and family and work out how you want to interact with them. This will not be a final list, but something to jog your mind on who might be able to give company, who might be there to lend a hand, who might be the wise ones who will listen. It is also a good way to simply get something started as it does not hurt to contact all of these people just to be in touch.
  • Commit To Social Interaction – Once you have a list of people make sure to commit to socially interacting with them and others. Make a real commitment to catch up, even if it is just a short visit. Making connections with other people helps, it allows you to get perspective on your predicament and you will find ways these people can become a more solid part of divorce support networks for you. Make REAL commitments not just a vague idea you might call or visit – force yourself to do this even if you feel awful. It is better to be miserable in company than by yourself!
  • Be Honest With Yourself & Them – This does not mean letting it all out as I have warned of, but make it clear that you are having a tough time and are glad for their company at least. Be honest that this is what you also want and are not just looking for sympathy or someone to bitch about your ex with. Be honest with your feelings and share when required to get that perspective you lack when keeping it all inside. Take everyone’s points of view on board and be honest and thankful for the experience.
  • Have Empathy – The people who will become a part of your divorce support network will need to be empathic people who will be able to understand you and understand your grief. You also need to be empathic of their needs as well as to not take advantage of their kindness. Supporters do not want to be emotional sponges either and will need your thanks and support as well. We give and we get as the old sayings go, this is important for long lasting and solid relationships otherwise you might find yourself being abandoned by people who might see you as too needy or too hard to work with.

This is hardly scratching the surface I think but hopefully gives you a start on how to cultivate your own divorce support for men. Being social, choosing the right people, committing, and giving back what you get are all the main points I can think of at this time. Feel free to add more in the comments box below – or if you are looking for more help on divorce recovery for men visit the main page to check out my men after divorce eBook

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