How To Cope With Divorce As A Man? EXPERT ANSWERS

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Going through a divorce is certainly anything but easy, be it for a man or a woman. Regardless of the person’s gender, a divorce, or at times even the end of a relationship after years of being together, can be hard. And coping with divorce as a man with or without kids can be doubly difficult because men often struggle to acknowledge and feel the full extent of difficult emotions. Apart from the emotional toll, the financial strain of a divorce can be crippling. How to cope with divorce as a man and not let its shadow loom large over your future?

Going through a divorce as a man can be a debilitating experience. However, it’s possible to ride out this storm without being emotionally and psychologically broken. If you see yourself as a broken man after divorce or are struggling to come to terms with the possibility of your marriage ending, we’re here to hold your hand through this challenging journey.

Let’s delve into ways to cope with divorce as a man, with insights from psychotherapist Gopa Khan (Masters in Counseling Psychology, M.Ed), who specializes in marriage & family counseling.

What Are The Emotions Of A Man Who Is Going Through A Divorce?

The emotions of a man going through divorce can feel like being on a roller-coaster ride that tears through your gut and leaves your heart beating in your mouth. Gopa says, “Anger and disappointment are among the foremost emotions of a man going through divorce. You feel like a failure. This is followed by a lack of confidence and low productivity. No matter what the reason for divorce, there is always a feeling that everything has gone down the drain in his life.

“A man going through a divorce feels the exact same things that a woman does and goes through the same emotions more or less. Most of the male clients who come to me after divorce feel confused, withdrawn and very angry, feeling ashamed. They are in a lot of pain and feel like a failure. Men also feel very lonely after divorce.” 

Coping with divorce as a childless man or a father is challenging. Irrespective of whether you have kids or not, going through a divorce as a man and dealing with the aftermath can be overwhelming for most. “How to cope with divorce as a man? This is a question I am often asked. I would say for a man who is childless, it is a bit easier. He is just thinking about himself, so it is just easier to live with it and move on a bit faster,” says Gopa.

emotions of a man going through divorce
Men often withdraw into a shell after a divorce

“The grieving process is, of course, still there but since children are not involved, it’s a tad easier to snap the chord and move on. Even in this situation, when it comes to learning how to survive divorce as a man, my advice to my clients is not to get involved in relationships just for the sake of it or have a rebound relationship. For people with children, it depends. There are fathers who are just not that involved in their kids’ life. To get even with the wife, they try to use their child.

“I know a particular couple who are stuck in this scenario. I’ve only met the wife though. The husband wants full custody of their child and will only allow her to meet the child under complete supervision. He is scared that the wife will turn the child against him. So a lot of this controlling behavior and seclusion is exhibited by the man.

“In my opinion, the best way to handle divorce as a man is not to get into pettiness. I know it’s easier said than done. When huge alimony is demanded and there is a custody battle looming, it’s not easy to be in a peaceful frame of mind. But a man needs to think of what kind of impact the divorce battle is going to have on his future and take his decisions accordingly,” advises Gopa.

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The emotions of a man going through divorce are also dependent largely on the couple’s circumstances and the nature of the marriage. Coping with divorce when you don’t want it is definitely harder. On the other hand, when a man files for divorce, he may have already checked out of the marriage emotionally. In such a situation, the divorce becomes a mere formality of formalizing the end of a marriage that may have been long over for him.

Likewise, what stage of life a man is in also impacts his ability to cope with possible divorce. Picking up the pieces and rebuilding life after divorce for men over 40 can seem a lot more challenging than it is for someone in their 30s. Similarly, life after a divorce for a man over 50 can be riddled with loneliness and an overwhelming sense of a bleak future. He may feel like a broken man after divorce.

The emotions of a man going through divorce are complex and wide-ranging. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how to survive divorce as a man because its impact and how a person handles this setback depends on the personal circumstances, values and life stages.

Related reading: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Men and Divorce

Why is it so hard to cope with divorce as a man?

Going through a divorce as a man can become that much harder when the end of marriage also means separation from the children. “There are a lot of fathers who are very much involved in their children’s lives. So they go through a lot of trauma since the kids are usually with their mother if they are young. And the fathers have to make do with weekend visits and also have to stay in touch with their ex-spouses while reigning in their true feelings or anger toward them,” says Gopa.

If there are no kids involved, both partners can make a clean exit from each other’s lives. However, spouses who are also parents don’t have that luxury. This is when it becomes harder to cope with a divorce. “

“Parenting after divorce invariably leads to conflicts and arguments, sometimes in front of their children, leading to an awkward and uneasy feeling. There also might be a lack of coordination between the ex-spouses. Many of my clients who are in therapy post-divorce deal with similar issues.

“For instance, there was this divorced couple who’d have rifts over their schedules with their child. There was this one time when the wife wanted the child to stay with her because her friends were coming over, and the ex-husband felt uneasy having to explain this to his parents,” she adds.

So, going through a divorce as a man and juggling co-parenting responsibilities can pose a unique challenge as there is no flexibility between ex-spouses, and basically, the child is used to getting an upper hand over the other. This is the worst aftermath of a divorce. A child is tossed between parents.

Related Reading: 10 Real Fears about Love after Divorce

How long does it take for the man to get over a divorce?

The emotions of a man going through divorce can take a while to settle down. However, it’s not possible to predict a set timeline for when a man is able to get over a divorce. “It usually depends on the person. But typically, the person who has been taken by surprise finds it difficult to move on. Coping with divorce when you don’t want it is certainly more challenging.

When a wife asks for a divorce, a man often goes into a state of shock because he never saw it coming. Men keep on drowning in the pain and despair for a long time. They may take a year or more to move on. But the person, who has initiated the divorce, finds it easier to move on. So when a man files for divorce, then chances are he would move on faster,” says Gopa.

Is it the same in case of a breakup?

Yes, the emotions of a man going through divorce are the same as one who is going through a breakup after a long-term relationship. A person who is going through a lot of pain, trauma, anger, takes a good year or more. Healing after heartbreak is as difficult after marriage as it could be after a breakup.

People go through all kinds of emotional upheavals when their relationships do not work. But it is possible to get over a breakup as it is possible to move on after a divorce. But one needs that time to process the emotions and go through the entire phase before they could come out of it. There is no quick fix process but some steps can be taken to get over a breakup fast or move on after a divorce.

Is male depression after divorce real?

“Yes, it is very much a real thing. Male and female depression after divorce is real. After all, it is a complete change in their lifestyle. (Because a large majority of Indian men still shy away or try to avoid topics like mental health altogether, usually it is the wife/female partner who comes in for therapy.)

“One of my female clients told me that the fact that she got divorced hit her only after a few months after the divorce had happened. That’s when loneliness kicks in. You start feeling extremely lonely, you miss the routine of daily life and you feel your world has collapsed. So surviving a divorce does not come easy,” says Gopa.

How to cope with divorce as a man? Men have to start accepting that their life has changed and if need be they must opt for counseling to help them ease themselves into this new life. If you too are grappling with how to survive divorce as a man, speaking to a skilled counselor can be immensely beneficial. With certified and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel, you can avail of the right help from the comfort of your home.

Related Reading: 8 Negative Effects Of Divorce On Children

Does A Man Change His Ways After A Divorce?

“Oh yes. Let me tell you, one case where the man has actually changed himself, he has put it on Facebook, he is actively dating. There is another case where the man has completely secluded himself and is interacting less even with his family. So, a lot of how you actually react to the divorce actually depends on the personality.

“For people who are a little more extroverted, it is easier to cope. They have a lot of friends, family and a support system. For people who are introverted, it is more difficult to cope with the divorce, because often, their wife was their only support system, so once she leaves, there comes a lot of loneliness,” says Gopa.

However, breaking old patterns and replacing them with healthier coping mechanisms is easier said than done and almost always requires the help of a trained mental health professional. A broken man after divorce may introspect and see the error of his ways, which may have contributed to his marriage crumbling. However, can he just will himself to change those patterns? Most likely not.

Our behavior patterns are often rooted in our emotional baggage, past traumas and life experiences, and stem from subconscious issues that we may not even be aware of. While it is possible for a man to change his ways after a divorce, he needs the right help and support to effect that change.

What Is The Best Way To Handle A Divorce As A Man?

Divorce can be rather harsh for a man, the emotional trauma post-divorce is sometimes the same or even worse compared to the woman, even though it is usually the woman who is depicted as the sole one struggling with their divorce proceedings as well as dealing with their children, if any.

Brad Pitt described his anguish post his split with Angelina as he slept on a friend’s floor for six weeks because was “too sad” to go back home. No doubt, men are often denied custody of their children, financially ripped apart with child support charges and have a hard time dealing with the grief of losing their family.

Related Reading: Do You Know Divorce Changes Men? And If He is Remarrying then Consider This…

There are also instances where men have someone else waiting for them post-divorce, even when they are dealing with their divorce and actively not looking for anyone. For most men going through a divorce, there is always hope to find new love again. They might take their time to settle down first and start things afresh with the inculcation of new hobbies, eating healthy, working out regularly and so on.

If the question is how to cope with divorce as a man then it is always recommended the time they take off for themselves helps them to get better. With time, the painful memories fade away and they can move on for good. One has to process the emotions after a divorce. It is normal to feel the pain but with time one does heal.

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