One 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.
- Do 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?
- Find 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