A second marriage after a divorce carries a layer of complexity that you wouldn’t experience in first marriages. The complexity emerges from the person’s post-divorce response and the situations that arise. Within this, there are differences in how men and women respond to divorce. The emotions of a man going through a divorce are myriad and there are ways in which divorce changes men.
Men go through emotional stages while going through a divorce and they develop their own coping mechanisms. Sometimes this whole experience changes them completely. He might be a broken man after a divorce nursing a hurt that remains invisible to all around him.
Life after divorce for men over 40 can be difficult and lonely. Even if they opt for a remarriage, you have to be aware that they might be carrying a lot of emotional baggage into the marriage. A broken man after divorce may struggle to forge and sustain long-term relationships unless he has done the necessary work to process and cope with the pain. If you’re getting into a relationship with one, it’s imperative to understand the emotional effects of divorce on your man and how these may manifest in your relationship.
We decode the emotions of a man going through a divorce and beyond it in consultation with counseling psychologist Gopa Khan (Masters in Counseling Psychology, M.Ed), who specializes in marriage & family counseling, to help you understand how his past may impact his present and future.
How Divorce Changes A Man?
When you’re entering into a relationship with a divorced man, you need to consider a few things. People generally consider the physical and material aspects of marrying a divorced man, such as children and his financial commitments related to the previous marriage.
Although these are matters of importance, the critical thing is the emotional aspect of how he responds to the divorce as well as his family and social circle. Let’s face it, divorce changes a man. He goes through a number of emotions while he is going through a divorce and he emerges a different person at the end of it.
When you are planning to marry a divorced man you have to realize that he is still grappling with a number of emotions and carrying baggage from his previous relationship. The tendency to push away or bottle up their emotions can make life after divorce for men particularly hard.
Since the difficult emotions are not acknowledged, addressed and dealt with healthily, they can turn into triggers over time and find a way to rear their ugly head in subsequent relationships. That’s why, in a majority of cases, a broken man after divorce might remain so – emotionally distant and fragile – long after his marriage came crumbling down.
Related Reading: Lonely After Divorce: Why Men Find It So Hard To Cope
Emotions Of A Man Going Through Divorce
Gopa says, “A man goes through a lot of anger, a lot of disappointment, and feels like a failure. A lack of confidence and low productivity is also there. No matter what’s the reason for the divorce basically there is always a feeling that everything has gone down the drain in his life.
“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 but there are a lot of fathers who are very much involved in their children’s life. So they go through a lot of trauma and the kids are usually with their mother if they are young.
“And then they are getting to have weekend visits so they have to stay in touch with their ex-spouses and try not to express their true feelings or anger toward them. Whereas the person who has no kids does not have to interact with his spouse anymore. This might make picking up the pieces and rebuilding life after divorce for men a shade easier.”
How long does it take to get over a divorce for a man? If you’re interested or romantically involved with a divorced man, this question may weigh on your mind a lot. While it’s not possible to give a definitive timeline, the wearing-off of the emotional effects of divorce is directly tied to the person’s circumstances. As Gopa points out, if there are no children involved, men after divorce may bounce back more easily.
Likewise, if the man is in touch with his emotions and open to seeking help in dealing with the aftermath of divorce, moving on can become a lot easier. The complex emotions of a man going through a divorce, if left unaddressed in the right manner, can open the floodgates for unhealthy coping mechanisms like excessive drinking, sleeping around, or even self-indictment through social isolation.
Gopa Khan says most often men don’t see a divorce coming their way even if the relationship is going through a really rough patch. “When it finally it’s them it’s like a hurricane and they don’t know how to deal with it. They suffer from extreme grief and are not over the trauma for a long time. 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. In that case, he becomes a very different man post-divorce,” she adds.
Even when a man files for divorce, the magnitude of the emotional turmoil that hits him during and after the dissolution of marriage is something he may not be prepared for. The court battles, tussle over alimony and custody can take a severe toll on anyone going through a divorce, irrespective of their gender. The loss of a relationship, no matter how fraught with issues becomes one of the defining aspects of a person’s identity, can be a debilitating experience.
This can also lead to a lot of inner conflict over missing or pining for a relationship you so badly wanted out of, further exacerbating the emotional effects of divorce. Divorce has changed him but how? Men who want remarriage after divorce usually fit into 4 categories.
Four groups that divorced men fit in
There is no denying the fact that divorce is a life-altering experience and people change in many ways after that. Emotions of a man going through a divorce can change his personality, particularly his outlook toward relationships, forever. Does that mean he will never want to get into a relationship again? Not necessarily. Will a divorced man ever remarry? He might.
However, what’s important is whether he is choosing to remarry for the right reasons. If he is not, it could have far-reaching repercussions for the future of your relationship. People who have gone through divorce fit into certain groups for the reasons they want to remarry. We list the groups here to help you assess why the divorced man in your life wants to go down the marital lane again:
Related Reading: Lonely After Divorce: Why Men Find It So Hard To Cope
People who go through a divorce fit into certain groups. Some are enhancers, who emerge successful at work, socially, as parents, and often in new marriages. They flourish not in spite of the divorce but because of the events surrounding the divorce. They learn from past mistakes and they’re also likely to make more stable choices. He is not your typical broken man after divorce.
If you’re entering into a relationship with an enhancer, you’ve chosen well, assuming that both of you are a good match. The emotions of a man going through a dramatic change after a divorce but enhancers handle it far better and try not to make the same mistakes again.
2. Happy to start afresh
The largest group though are the ones who have divorced with dignity and are ready to start afresh. For them, divorce had been difficult but didn’t leave a lasting impression, positive or negative. They continue with the same problems. The good part is that the divorce itself hasn’t turned them angry or bitter.
You would find a good match with them too. Divorce does not really change them nor do they carry emotional baggage. They are more than happy to start afresh. You will need to understand the emotions of a man going through a divorce and how these may have impacted him to be able to build a sustainable relationship with him.
Life after divorce for men can be a lonely, isolating experience. This may make some of them want to get back to the security of a relationship or marriage as soon as possible. Such men can be categorized as seekers. Seekers want to marry quickly, usually, men who need a spouse and a marriage to give structure, meaning and a secure base to their lives.
When unmarried, they are desperately unhappy and clinically depressed. Seekers are fine too if the other aspects meet your expectations. The same rules that apply to first marriages apply to whichever category of partners you are entering into a relationship with.
4. Negative reasons for remarrying
However, if the person is remarrying to prove a point to his ex or to the world, he’s carrying the bitterness of his broken marriage into the next relationship, which means you probably aren’t making a good choice.
If he wants to marry early to spite the ex, he’s still carrying the emotional baggage attached to the ex. If it is to show the world that all’s well with him, he suffers from a fragile ego. He must want to marry you because he’s ready for it and because he values you. That’s the only way the second marriage will work.
The bigger question of how to judge the person’s nature and post-divorce responses is a matter of giving the relationship time to let the haze of romance and the best-foot-forward syndrome settle so that you can see the person clearly.
4 Things You Should Discuss With Him Before Remarriage
Life after divorce can be really hard. While on the one hand he feels lonely and grapples with the feeling of losing his family, he also wants to move on and start life afresh. You too may be keen to turn over a new leaf and start a life with him. How long does it take to get over a divorce for a man? Will a divorced man ever remarry? These are valid questions when you’re waiting to take your relationship to the next level.
However, building a life with a divorced man can prove to be a complicated affair, both emotionally and logistically. Even if he is into you totally, he would have some connections with his past that you cannot deny him. That’s why it’s crucial to discuss some aspects of his life and how they’d impact your life as a couple, such as:
1. Child custody
Life after divorce for men can turn out to be far more complex if there are children involved. If the man has custody of his children, you need to discuss the issues that will crop up. Children of different ages require different kinds of contribution and resilience from you. Don’t step into the marriage, expecting that things will fall into place. It makes things all the more difficult later.
If you are bringing children of your own to the marriage, there’s the additional stress of managing the dynamics among the two sets of children and learning how to resolve conflicts in a blended family. Have a discussion with your children. He needs to do the same with his children. Come to an agreement on the ground rules.
The children are likely to make periodic visits to their mother and her family and you would need to be part of the coordination. Be prepared to handle it with control over frustration and anxiety.
Related Reading: Second Marriage After 40 – What to Expect
2. Child visitation
If his ex has custody, he’s likely to have visitation rights. You’ll need to accommodate the requirements of the visiting children, including providing them with space in your home and retaining it for them, particularly since space is likely to be limited. If you don’t make that effort, his children may perceive it as anything from indifference to a deliberate act of alienation on your part.
Expect that he will be involved in his children’s growth, including academics and the steps they take in their work and personal lives. All these can be handled by giving him enough space and support, but more importantly, talking things through with the intent of coming to a common understanding.
Older children can have particularly strong opinions about their father’s remarriage and of you. You’ll need to take it in your stride. Yet, the father handles overt rudeness with calm firmness. There will be some co-parenting rules that he’d need to follow and you will have to support him.
Make a plan for how to handle predictable situations. Despite all your preparation, unexpected situations will arise. Vince’s grown-up son, who had moved away for work when Neena had made her commitment to Vince, returned unexpectedly. It caused additional adjustment on her part without an end date in sight.
3. Financial responsibility for previous marriage
Take into account the fact that alimony and maintenance payments are likely to place a strain on the new family unit. The ideal situation is when he has made the payments in a lump sum and is no longer responsible for alimony or maintenance.
That is a clean break in financial matters and one less issue to accommodate. But when children are involved, a father cannot wash his hands off completely after paying alimony. If there are emergency health care needs or money to be paid for a college education, a father will have to pay that. He might have to cut down on his own expenses and pay for his children.
The emotional effects of divorce aside, as his partner, you will have to prepare yourself for such practical hindrances as well. Don’t let the decision to build a life with a divorced man be governed by emotions alone. You will need to get into the practical nitty-gritty of his life, have an honest conversation about what to expect, and set boundaries that work for both you and your prospective spouse.
4. Extended family and social events
Some may find family and other social events difficult to deal with. Don’t expect every family member to be considerate. Some may retain sympathy towards the ex and may still be in touch with her. That’s fine too. Give them space and time to get to know you irrespective of their relationship with the ex.
Don’t blame the spouse for the others’ behavior. Yet, you need to figure out the balance between situations that you need to handle yourself and those in which the partner to pitch in. The deal is managing the situation with calmness. If your children face the brunt, do your best to foresee the situation and shield them from it. John’s mother had invited his new family, which included his new wife and her children from her previous marriage.
Along with them, she had invited her grandchildren from his previous marriage and went overboard in praising the grandchildren, making her preference clear. It is for John to intervene and divert attention towards other matters. Some of these things happen in the most casual manner and there isn’t always a good way of handling them. You may want to shield your child from such events in the future.
Naturally, all the aspects that are important in first marriages apply here too—matching traits, communication, respect, space, calmness and the many things that make a marriage stable. Further, remember that it takes a person two to three years to get over a divorce or separation and build a new life. Don’t rush into a marriage in which the person hasn’t healed from the previous ones.