Category Archives: Recovery

Surviving Valentines Day For Men After Divorce

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!

Recovery From Divorce & Domestic Abuse Againt Men

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.

 

 

Happiness & Meaning For Men After Divorce

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.

 

Depression in Men After Divorce

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.

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

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

 

Divorce Support For Men – Cultivating Support Networks

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.

Prefer to watch a video of this article?

Or keep on reading instead!

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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Starting Over After Divorce For Men

Starting Over After Divorce For MenStarting over after divorce for men and women is always going to be a very long and painful event. For men in particular though there seems to be a greater shift in how they must do this which many women might not really understand – and many guys who have not been through the same things as well.

There is a certain myth, a certain misconception that men move on fast after a divorce and actually start over after divorce very easily. There are many reports of guys finding new women in a few weeks and leaving behind their old life in the dust like a cloak they could just take off and throw away. If you are a man recovering from divorce you know this is not exactly the case and that this view of men is grossly unjustified for a few reasons.

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  1. That guys you see swanning about with new women has usually NOT moved on and started his life over. This is a classic case of a guy trying to find meaning, or compensating in wrong ways for the pain he is suffering inside. Womanising, drinking, trying to feel free and forgetting their ex wife is behind this sort of activity and when done too soon this is often harmful and damaging in the long term.
  2. This is STILL a very unusual thing to see. Most divorced men take just as long to start over and come to grips with the emotional turmoil than women. The role of husband is often so ingrained into a man that being single again is disorienting and confusing. The reason you see that other guy is because he is visible – the other men are at home alone with their thoughts and memories haunting them.

This is not exactly what I wanted to talk about though, it is just something that bothers me and gives the wrong impression to society about men and men’s mental health as well. What I did want to speak about was the process you need to go through to truly be able to start over after divorce for men.

fresh start after divorceLets define what starting over is though. On this site I use a lot of phrases like “divorce recovery for men” & “life after divorce for men” and so on, and while all that could be seen to be a single facet of moving on there are some differences between each phrase. If you are looking for the words starting over after divorce for men online for instance then you are looking for a specific thing which is a new beginning, a break point from your old life into a new one. This implies a reset, a fresh start which is a good thing overall, but can be fraught with danger of you have not gone through the right process to get to this point.

As I have mentioned before on this blog a few times the feelings of despair, anger, hopelessness, and panic all comes from the same place which is a sense of grief. It is not a unique cycle that only effects the divorced, we go through the same process when a loved one dies, or we lose something very close to our heart in any way. The problem with divorce is that we lose it – but they are still around and taking you to court!

A man must go through the stages of grief and emerge form the other side with a sense of acceptance and hopefully even forgiveness (this is a loaded term, but it does not mean condoning any actions of yourself, your ex wife or any other parties – it just means it no longer bothers you.). Once a man can come to grips with the emotional turmoil and find that sense of peace and purpose then he can start over and live him life anew.

What this means is that it is not really possible to start over after divorce for guys until they get this sorted. If you think you can just dust your hands and begin a new life by moving into a new place, getting a new job, dating a new woman and all that jazz – you are mistaken. Trying to move on and start over without dealing with these issue is like building a castle on shifting sands. It is like trying to win a race with your feet nailed to the floor. You can try but you are going to hit a brick wall because you are not ready. Recovering from divorce and starting a new life is a process, not a single decision point.

My eBook goes into depth on this process but also covers the steps to starting out again and moving into a new life including dating. This is only covered after the most important part which is understanding your own mind and heart and achieving a level of peace before this new life. Click below to find out more.

Men After Divorce – Divorce Recovery For Men

 

Self Help For Divorced Men

self help for divorced menThe self help industry is a strange modern phenomenon. If you go into any bookshop you will find row after row of self help books dealing with every aspect of life. Self help books for all ages including kids (which strikes me as going a little bit too far!) and for all the problems you can possibly think of. Self help for divorced men however is not overly well represented on these shelves just as the issue of men after divorce is not terribly well represented.

Before I get into that though, just what is it about this whole industry of self help that has captured the interest of the western world at least? Why the sudden boom over the last few decades? Are we all on a self improvement kick to explore our true potential, or are we just addicted to gurus who preach common sense which we take as drops of golden wisdom?

Now, I am the author of a book that gives self help for divorced men so I am a part of this industry whether I like it or not. I wanted to make it clear where I stand as I discuss these things so I do not seem hypocritical or nonsensical. However, I am fascinated by good and bad self help, and there is a LOT of bad self help out there – but also some very good publications as well. The problem is that it is a mess of too much choice and too much information. This can be confusing, but still alluring to those desperate for an answer to their troubles.

After looking into many self help books I have realised that nearly all of them CAN be used to help you through your struggles, but the statistics show that 80% of self help book buyers are repeat customers who find they continue to buy more and more, but never seem to get the right results. Why? This seems counter intuitive right?

Some have speculated that this is because the readers looking for answers are more interested in looking for an answer, rather than applying the methods needed to get the results. Other say that repeat customers blame themselves when they fail and get the next book to try again. I do not want to comment too much on these things without doing research except to say that I have found that some self help books and courses have been very good for me which inspired me to write my eBook on self help for divorced men.

So what’s the point of this post? The main thing I wanted to say is that self help is only as good as you apply it with diligence. Too many skim read, think they get a greater understanding but do not apply the wisdom within and end up feeling bad about the whole experience, or thinking they are wiser without any real proof of this fact. If you just read a few books on self improvement but take the teachings to heart you will be much more effective in your life than if you buy a hundred that you only half think about properly. Application is the really hard bit – it is easy to read words on a page and nod along.

If you think about it, this is the real basis of “self” help – you are helping yourself. The knowledge you get from others is only the catalyst for your own self improvement. With this in mind I want to say to all men after divorce looking for help that there is a lot of good stuff out there, but you have to actually put some real effort into making significant changes in your life based on the knowledge you gain from whatever source.

While I obviously want to promote my own eBook, there are many great motivational and self improvement publications out there. A few other of my favourites are:

How To Help a Friend Going Through Divorce

how to help a friend going through divorceWhile this site is mainly dedicated to self help for men going through divorce, all too often us guys do not go seeking advice and help out of a mistaken sense of trying to be “strong” and independent. It is often other people in their lives that try to find ways to reach out to them and find it very difficult, or simply do not even know how to approach such a raw and delicate topic. How to help a friend going through divorce is not just a unique skill for this particular situation – it can be applied to any situation where you are trying to help someone overcome grief and loss. However this post will delve into the more unique aspects of men and divorce as well, to help you tailor your approach.

Firstly I think it might be helpful to break it down into what you should NOT do. Common mistakes that people always make out of ignorance, or out of well meaning – but misplaced efforts.

  • how not to help a friend through divorceDo NOT Insult Their Ex Wife - It might seem tempting to begin to demonise the ex wife in an attempt to make your friend feel they are better off without them, or to try to convince them that it was all the ex wife’s fault and none of theirs. Even if they are doing it themselves in front of you, never join in because they might not really feel the same as what they – and you – are saying. A session of complaining against women and especially the ex might actually end up angering your friend because they still will leap to the defence of their ex at this stage. It is also just good practice not to bad mouth people even if they do deserve it.
  • Do NOT Try To Fix Their Problems – I know the feeling of seeing a good friend or loved one dealing with a big problem badly. Sometimes you just want to jump in and tell them exactly how they should fix it. You might even know from experience, or have very good reason to believe you are correct. However at this stage you should not be offering advice to someone who is not yet ready to hear it. They might be angry at you, ignore you, or take the advice the wrong way. People will only change when they are in the right space to change and your role as a friend is to support not to force their hand.
  • Do NOT Attempt To Get Them To Date – Some people believe the best way to get over a hard break-up or divorce is to hit the dating scene again to find a new lover. This is the absolute WORST mistake a friend can make when trying to help their friend. This could be disastrous to a mans self esteem if they do badly, and very bad even if they are successful because they are trying to boost their self esteem in the short term rather than trying to find a long term solution to their happiness and life goals. Trust me; do not encourage them to do this!!
  • Do NOT Avoid The Topic – While it is a difficult topic to approach you should not shy away from talking about the divorce. This does not mean you should go headlong into it, but acknowledging that you know they are getting a divorce and that you are there to help them is a good start. If you do not acknowledge this, it becomes a strange unsaid void between you and your friend and they will not be certain if they should talk to you about it as you might be uncomfortable with the topic.

Now these are not the only mistakes that you can make when trying to help a friend going through divorce, but they are some of the most common ones. They also lead into how you should be approaching this delicate topic. Here are a few more tips on what you SHOULD be doing to support your divorced friend.

how to help your friend after divorce

  • Acknowledge The Divorce – As mentioned before, you need to broach the issue quite early so that there can be a dialogue about the divorce. You do not need to say you want to talk about it, or that they need to talk about it – you just need to let them know that you know and that you care. You might even tell them that you do NOT know what to say and how to feel about their divorce; that is ok too. It will mean a lot to them that you are just there for them – and it gives them the initiative to talk when they are ready without fear of being ignored, misunderstood, or preached at.
  • Listen! – This is the most important skill to have when supporting a friend after their divorce. You do not need to even need to reply, as long as you are there for them to talk to when they are ready. One problem is that we often feel the need to interject and ask more questions, or offer advice. This will not help when what they need is someone for them to pour out their thoughts and feelings too. This will allow them to often find the right decisions without ever saying a word! One tactic that is very useful in this area is what is known as active listening where you reflect back what they say to them in your own words. This way you engage in a conversation but they drive the entire thing.
  • Be Grounded – While you need to empathise, make sure to not get carried away if they begin to over react to things. You need to be grounded and realistic to help them avoid complicated situations and be able to more through the divorce well.
  • Offer Help – Make sure you offer some practical help as well as your words and your ear. Simple things like doing small errands to help them save time, or doing small things that might be painful for them to deal with can make a big difference and shows a lot of support.
  • Watch For Warning Signs – While it is natural for them to be anger, sad, scared and so forth – if you see a major serious decline into depression, drinking, or any other destructive behaviours do not turn a blind eye. Make sure to contact whoever you can to give them the help they need if things are becoming out of control.
  • Laugh! – No matter how serious life is we all need to laugh. It is amazing how much this can help someone who is feeling low and lost. Simple humour and laughter can have a massive impact on their outlook and actually stimulates feel good chemicals in the brain that can boost their mood. It can also remind them that life can be fun and worth living even if times are dark.

This is by no means an all encompassing list, but I think it sums up what you need to be to help a friend going through divorce. You are not their psychologist, you are not their life fixer, and you are not their silent companion either. You are their metaphorical shoulder to cry on until they need you to be more. You are there to help when it is needed – and not before. You are there to enable and empower them to change their own life for the better.

If you feel they are ready to learn more about themselves and how to get over a divorce specifically related to men, perhaps direct them to this blog – or to the main page where they can download the Men After Divorce eBook which maybe be a good guide for them to move through this rough phase of their life.

Living With Your Wife After Separation and Divorce

living with your wife after divorce
Still Sleeping On The Couch?

It came as quite a surprise to me to find that there seems to be a significant number of men living with their wife after separation and divorce. After speaking with a number of divorced men in real life and many more online in various forums, blogs, and via email it seems this phenomenon is quite widespread – if still not the norm. This prompted me to think a little more deeply on this topic of living with your wife after divorce and what the consequences of this might be.

I am going to hold off judgement on whether I think this is right or wrong until a little bit later. For the moment lets look at a few issues that surround this issue, and are consequences of it:

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money

Money: Many men I spoke to commented that it was simply about money. They could not afford to move out, or they could not afford to support their wife moving out. Money is always a major player in our minds when separation and divorce rears its ugly head and many guys focus on it almost exclusively as a way to keep things in perspective. Money becomes a central theme for some men and it gives them something to concentrate on and wrap their minds around while the more ambiguous emotions are left aside because they are too hard to deal with. While you can never dismiss the importance of money, it does sometimes become more of an issue that it really is – men should ask themselves the question, if they did have money, would they move out right away? If you hesitate then perhaps it is not really the money and you need to take a closer look.

childrenChildren: Another curly issue that comes up is of course children. How can either of you manage with kids when one moves out. Custody is a major issue here, but more importantly the safety, security and health of your children who are the innocent victims in this adult problem of separation and divorce. This is a tricky one and of course depends on custody laws and how far you are through getting s divorce. Amicable divorces might end up doing this for the sake of the children which might be a good thing, but if the divorce is not amicable – there might be more consequences of staying living together for the children than if one or the other moves out. A question to ask yourself might be what long term impact will the arguments, the lack of clarity and anxiety about the situation between their mom and dad. Are you doing what is best for your kids in this instance?

attachmentAttachment: For many men after separation and divorce, the real reason they do not move out is because of the attachment issues they still have with their ex-wife and their home. This is the real reason behind many guys choosing to live with their ex-wife. Some men even sit through enormous indignities such as their ex going out partying every night, flirting with other men on the phone in front of them – and in some very sick cases having to be present when their ex brings back a new boyfriend for the night (in one case the kids were also present which makes me very sad). Men who do this are often stuck in the stage of denial which is the first stage of grief where we cannot accept what is actually happening. In rare cases some men have gone through this – past the stage of anger – and end up in the bargaining stage. They are actually trying to somehow work out a deal to bring their marriage back (which never happens). I explain in more detail the stages of divorce in my e-book you can find by clicking here.

stubbornPride & Stubborness: Another reason some guys do not move out is pride and/or being stubborn. Not wanting to move because they should and if they refuse this becomes a kind of passive aggressive action against their ex. Men doing this might be mired in the anger stage of divorce and are looking for nay way to express it without too much confrontation. A kind of Mexican stand off with their wife but never actually saying what they really want. This is quite rare though from my experience as this cannot last long before something breaks.


So should you live with your wife after separation or divorce?

At first I thought it was very strange and my mind instantly said no. From my experience and research this sort of proximity with the person you must end your relationship with causes until tension and problems. Emotional turmoil, arguments, hostility, and sometimes sexual encounters which can complicate things even further. It also, as has been mentioned, comes with a certain amount of humiliation for many guys whose ex wife does not respect their feelings or space. However, after thinking upon this and talking with some men my mind has been changed but only very slightly. If you are living with your wife (or ex-wife) after separation or divorce then there are only a very few select sets of circumstances where it might work out.

  • It needs to be an amicable divorce without hostility
  • If children are involved they need to be treated fairly and understand what is happening
  • You must be doing this out of a sense of co-operation and not being mired in the early stages of divorce recovery.
  • If money is the real issue, then you must be prepared to save up and work out better living arrangements as soon as possible.

Some Tips to Live With Your Ex After Divorce

live with wife after divorceSome further tips on how to create a stable living environment if you have to live with your ex wife after you are separated or divorced are needed because this can be an emotional minefield that you will have to navigate every day. Let take a look at a few things you can do:

 

  • Separate sleeping arrangements that never meet are vital. NEVER sleep together or in the same room. Make sure you separate yourself and if possible both have beds, don’t have one person sleeping on a couch as this is a kind of humiliation that causes friction.
  • Draft a living agreement that clearly states who will do what so there is no leftovers from your marriage about who used to do what. Make sure there will be no arguments or manipulation, just a document which outlines who will do what so there is no confusion.
  • Make sure both of you have your own space. Following on from point one; you have to both feel comfortable in the house and not be stepping on each others toes all the time. Add this into the living agreement about times for bathrooms, when you have access to certain facilities and so forth.
  • Schedule things. Make sure everything is planned so you know when you should be out for the night when she invites the girls around, and vice versa. Also make sure to schedule in times to talk about the divorce if it has not finished yet so that it is never ad hoc and happens when one party is angry, upset, or tired.
  • If you are only waiting for a time that you or her can move out, make sure to keep to the schedule as well! Do not delay it!

You can only truly overcome and recover form divorce once you have the space to think and internalise all of the emotions and feelings that comes from a failed marriage. This can only be achieved after you stop living with your wife after separation. This is a process that can take some time and can be very destructive if you do not handle it right. This is why I wrote the Men After Divorce E-book and highly suggest you look into it if you are a guy struggling to cope after divorce.