Unfortunately, it is all too common for men to isolate themselves during the divorce process and not get the support they need.
Many men are taught to suppress emotions and be self-reliant from a young age, so it’s natural that they tend to avoid reaching out for help during troubling times. But finding proper support can make the process of divorce feel much more manageable and provide relief from overwhelming emotions. We hope to provide a community for men to turn to. And here are other avenues of support men can look into:
Friends and Family
Although it may seem obvious, men going through divorce should lean into their community. Divorce is common, so it’s likely you’ll find people that can empathize with your situation and know exactly how to support you, whether it’s providing valuable insight and encouragement or spending free time together to get your mind off the divorce.
The best friends or family to reach out to are those that you don’t associate with your ex-spouse. It might not be an ideal time to continue socializing with another couple that you used to go out together with, or that are also close with your ex. This might have you thinking about all the good memories you shared together, and have you longing for the past. Those friends might feel like seeing you is tantamount to taking sides which might cause awkwardness and tension. You will also want to talk about your relationship and those friends might feel uncomfortable.
You don’t need to cut your mutual friends out of your life, but it could be helpful to look for support elsewhere, and avoid putting yourself or them in an uncomfortable position.
In fact, it could be best to avoid hanging out with couples altogether as it will naturally emphasize your newfound singleness. Meet with friends one on one, or try and get a group of men or coworkers together for a meal or activity. Feel free to talk about your divorce, but try to not make it the center of conversation for the entire time you’re together. By doing so, you may be able to forget about the stress and instead enjoy someone else’s company.
Divorces can involve a lot of emotional turmoil and it’s unhealthy to keep emotions inside and unaddressed. Depending on the nature of your split, it may be valuable to have solo sessions with a psychiatrist to help navigate difficult emotions including anger, guilt, shame, etc. A trained professional can also help you navigate how to have healthier relationships moving forward if you decide that is for you. Fortunately, there are telehealth options for men like online psychiatry services that allow for more flexibility and privacy. Personal therapy doesn’t have to be an ongoing commitment either. A great psychiatrist can potentially provide relief in just a few sessions and help you determine a path forward.
Another trained professional that you can discuss your mental health concerns with is your general practitioner. They might be able to recommend a mental health professional in your area that specializes in specific concerns you have and in the UK, they can refer you for free counselling (although this can have a long wait time and the sessions are very limited).
While your own mental health is important to take care of, it’s also a time to consider that of your children. Unfortunately, divorce is often strongly associated with mental health concerns in the children involved. Every divorce and child is different and has unique needs. If possible, take time through the process to talk to your children about what is going on in their lives, and keep tabs on how they’re doing.
Support groups are a fantastic way to lessen the sense of isolation and loneliness that comes with divorce. In a support group, such as Divorce Club, you will find shared experiences, consolation, and methods for healthy coping. Support groups may be especially valuable to discuss complex social topics like cheating, co-parenting, or how to talk to your kids. Discussing shared experiences in a dedicated and supportive environment can be extremely therapeutic. An added benefit, is that you will likely make new single friends.
Divorce Counseling or Mediation
Divorce counseling or mediation is increasingly popular for the peace of mind it provides. Many find extreme relief in having a neutral voice to help them navigate the legal or emotional process and pave an equitable way forward whether it involves splitting a house, possessions, or custody of children. There are a variety of convenient and affordable flat-fee online services including mediation consulting, document preparation, legal and litigation coaching that make that process much more manageable for couples.
Some couples might not feel that divorce mediation is right for their situation, as their issues are too high-conflict. However, a study published in the journal of Gender and Women’s studies evaluated the effectiveness of mediation, and roughly concluded that divorce mediation was a better option than even adversarial court adjudication for many couples, even those going through a high-conflict divorce.
For some people, divorce can really change the course of your life. Maybe your previous relationship was holding you back in your career, or life goals. A life coach can help you to find a new track, and even has been demonstrated to have positive effects on your health.
There are also divorce coaches who have often been through the process and can share their wisdom. Often the best divorce coaches are quite knowledgeable about law and have a good network of professionals who can help you, for example, lawyers, mediators and financial advisors.
Coaching is not very well regulated and anyone can call themselves a coach. Even if they are accredited, the have not had to pass an exam, they just need to have completed a course. This does not mean that they are not helpful, it just means that you need to speak with the coach and see whether you like them and you think they can help.
Another alternative is see if someone else can mentor you through the divorce. There might be someone you know who has mentored you before, or someone else who has been through a divorce.
Either way, having a supportive relationship is incredibly important as you go through your divorce.
Mindfulness can be one of the most important life skills to develop, and can be very beneficial while going through a divorce. In short, mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware, in the present moment. The opposite is where you mind is worrying about your unknown future or ruminating over the past (which you can’t change).
There are a number of ways to learn mindfulness, and it is a skill you develop, not something you turn on and off. While going through a divorce, it can be more difficult to stay present and mindful, but it can also make the process much more positive.
There are a couple of ways to add mindfulness into your life. Mindful meditation is the most well known way to be mindful. If you’re just starting out, try to take just 3-10 minutes a day to sit, be present, and listen to what’s going on around you. Mindful exercise can take any form, although people often find yoga to be a good exercise outlet, as well as giving you space to be mindful.
Through mindfulness, you can be more aware of how your divorce is making you feel, as well as maybe pick up on things in your previous relationship you had not before. It’s not a superpower, but it can really be beneficial in your everyday life. It’s even been shown to help you sleep better!
Take a Vacation
Taking a vacation can really be a good way to get away from it all. Having physical distance from your normal life can help give you some perspective. If money is an issue, try to be out in nature somewhere particularly peaceful and beautiful, this will also be helpful.
While family and children can be a beneficial support system, they can also sometimes be a reminder of what’s been lost, so some time away from them can be an important step in the healing process.
Think about taking a step outside of your comfort zone. You might be tempted to go to old familiar vacation spots, but maybe avoid ones that have a distinct attachment to your ex-spouse. You don’t need to forget them completely, or never go to those places again, but you might find going somewhere new gives you some extra clarity a place with memories can’t provide. On top of that, you might get a chance to form new friendships and memories, untainted by any previous relationships.
Reconnect with your hobbies and interests
Reconnecting with hobbies and interests is a helpful way to refocus your energy into something positive, rather than simmering on negative thoughts and emotions. Whether it be fitness-related or something outdoorsy or creative, hobbies are a fantastic method of coping. Times of difficult transition like divorce are also a great time for goal setting. Consider setting up goals around your hobbies to help them become part of your new routine. It’ll help keep you consistent and motivated. Divorce Club offers monthly goal setting sessions to help keep you motivated.
In the end, no two divorces are the same so your methods of finding support will be unique to you. If you find yourself struggling, consider incorporating one of the ideas above that resonates most with you into your life and see what relief it provides.