Divorce can be one of life's most stressful developmental transitions. Most people choose their mate and marry with the intent to stay married for a lifetime. When the marriage ends, it is a very significant loss, even in the face of strife and chronic conflict. Men are often faced with variety of overwhelming and at times, unexpected emotions as a result of the process of divorce. It's not uncommon to find oneself feeling confused, angry, hurt, alone, rejected and sad as a result of both the ongoing marital distress and the stress associated with separation and divorce. Simultaneously, men are less likely to seek counsel, help, or support to deal with these issues. This can lead to emotional suppression, isolation, and a wide array of maladaptive coping mechanisms, including the use of alcohol, sex, drugs, electronics, gambling, food, and pornography to avoid and numb feelings.
In light of these facts, it is important for men dealing with divorce to find healthy and adaptive ways to deal with this very challenging time. The following is a list of practical suggestions for men to aid them in recovery process.
1. Don't avoid the pain; find ways to resolve and work through it. Seek wise counsel and develop a support system. Many churches and counselors offer support specifically for divorce recovery and support.
2. Stay away from angry, bitter, toxic people during the first few years after the divorce. Sometimes our well meaning family and friends add fuel to our emotional fire. Negativity tend to create more distress and can prevent you from moving through the recovery process.
3. Invest in your children. Be the most involved, loving, consistent parent you can be. You may be divorcing your wife, but your children need you more than ever. Staying involved with your children can allow them to navigate the adjustment of divorce better.
4. DO NOT RUSH INTO A NEW RELATIONSHIP to distract from the pain of the loss. Give yourself time to deal with the grief so that you do not bring "baggage" into future relationships. People who start dating prematurely have a greater chance of developing unhealthy subsequent relationships.
5. Be patient with yourself. Divorce is a developmental trauma that may take a year or two to resolve. Using the first year to recover is a great way to invest in your own development and growth.
It is important to remember that this is a very challenging season that may overwhelm and tax your usual coping mechanisms. Seeking help and assistance is not a weakness, it's a step towards creating a healthier future.
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