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It's never easy when a marriage or significant relationship fails. Whatever the reason for the split, and whether you wanted it or not, the breakup of a relationship can turn your whole world upside down and trigger all sorts of painful and unsettling feelings.
For men dealing with divorce there are a number of different issues that we must face before the healing is complete. There is in fact a bunch of stages of grief that we all go through with any event of loss, divorce is no different.
Divorce has a lot of loss in it, more than you might think. You can lose:
Your self esteem
Your sense of self
Your confidence as a man
Your confidence as a father
Your emotional support
Your place in the world
In the two days previous to me posting this article - two different men have said to me that they lost EVERYTHING due to divorce, including their whole social circle.
Just the utter feeling of emptiness and desperation can be some of the most difficult feelings that men express during this period of turmoil – several guys I work with struggle to function effectively on a daily basis, have had to take time off work, are unsafe to drive their vehicles and spontaneously breakdown in tears. Many men simply have never had emotions anywhere near as strong as this and so have no way of knowing what to do with it.
Through all of this, men must also battle with a new set of finances, and if children are involved then you need to work out how to be a good divorced dad as well. The plate is very full, and the soul feels so very empty. It is no wonder than most men do not cope well with divorce and many end up clinically depressed, isolated, lonely, and with confidence or self-esteem issues.
A key difference between how men and women react and recover during this time is their ability to openly and honestly talk. Men find talking to others difficult at the best of times, but during a time such as this - many men unfortunately simply can't cope with the distress with some feeling the only way forward is to commit suicide.
There is a way forward however, and it involves going through these stages of divorce as quickly as you can to build a new life. By understanding why you feel, and think the way you do, you can then take action to recover from divorce. The immense, searing pain you feel is usually short lived, although each man will experience differing time-scales, but the remedial pain may last a lot longer - this is the time when you start to rebuild your life to be the man you want to be.
Working with a coach through this period of chaos can pay real dividends and help you come through the painful process as a stronger man, in a quicker time frame and enable you to come through more positively. A coach may help you:
Recognise that it's OK to have different feelings. It's normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, and confused—and these feelings can be intense. You also may feel anxious about the future. Accept that reactions like these will lessen over time. Even if the marriage was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown is frightening.
Give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period of time. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you're accustomed to for a little while. No one is superman; it's OK to take time to heal, regroup, and re-energise.
Don't go through this alone. Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. Perhaps consider joining a support group where you can talk to others in similar situations. Isolating yourself can raise your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and get in the way of your work, relationships, and overall health.
Overall your coach will be there for you – to help you achieve the outcomes you want to achieve. Your coach can help you set goals during this period of confusion and work together to develop actions that you can take towards a better life.
The one thing I want most for men to know and understand is that you are not alone!