From Michael Roe: every so often I will post an interesting commentary on divorce issues here at Illinois Divorce Lawyer Blog. I’m not convinced that men have a necessarily worse time adjusting to divorce; I see in my female clients high levels of stress, grieving, and anxiety. I feel the case can be made that the stressors imposed on men can be different in some ways than those imposed on women, generally. Certainly, men start out a child custody case with the unwritten presumptions in place that child residential custody usually goes to the mother, though the law requires that the Court determine best interests…one reason I’m a shared parenting advocate in many cases. As an aside, I see that both the men and women that I represent in my practice do benefit, along with my work on the legal side of the case, from having a competent therapist to help process issues that arise in divorce.
From the article:
It turns out that in the age-old comparison of the sexes, men seem to be having a more difficult time coping with the dissolution of a marriage. According to a recent study from the Journal of Men’s Health, divorced men are more susceptible to heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes than married men are – in addition to being 39 percent more likely to commit suicide and engage in risky behavior. Why does this finding exist?
Men Lose Their Sense Of Identity
“My key breakthrough was realizing that I was defining myself with respect to my marriage,” said one man. Even with multiple degrees and a successful career, he found himself lost in the process of his divorce. “I made the marriage the be all and end all, and when I saw that crumbling, I felt like my identity was crumbling.”
So what do you do? In order to rebuild confidence post-divorce, experts suggest getting involved in a new activity or organization. “One really powerful thing for me was joining a non-profit group called the Mankind Project,” he said. There, he found his way to the New Warriors Men’s Organization, where he would meet weekly with groups of men going through hard times, coming together to listen and help each other in “a non-judgmental way.”
Their Paternal Instinct Is Challenged
“For me, family has always been important,” says one man, now divorced. “I grew up in a happy family, and I never doubted for a minute that I would get married and raise one of my own. I think just as there are maternal instincts in women, there is a paternal instinct in men.” He describes part of this paternal instinct as a longing to belong with the status quo, and to be a provider.
“If a man is feeling distraught or shameful [because of the impact his family is feeling from divorce], he might disappear from the picture” “Which is why most post-divorce men need to remain connected to their children, if they have them.”
When men maintain relationship with their kids, it eases those feelings of shame, and can re-instill that lost sense of belonging. “The love that can flow back and forth between you and your children is very healing in itself,” he said.
They Don’t Allow Themselves To Grieve Properly
“Bottling up feelings with no outlet leads men to experience feelings of depression.” “As someone with no biological predisposition, I definitely think that the breakup of my marriage brought me to experience physiological problems like high blood pressure and mental ones like my battle with depression at the time.”
Rather than following this level of stress into a no-way-out mentality, D suggests that men see marriage counselors, regardless of the current state of their marriage. “I started seeing a marriage counselor on my own, before my divorce. My then-wife joined in for a while, but I continued on my own, even after the divorce was finalized, he said.
“Men have to break though the ‘I’ve got to do it myself and go it alone’ attitude,” he said. “Women are so much better about relying on one another, and this whole ‘big boys don’t cry’ mentality has had an entirely negative impact on men’s well-being.”
By Tiffany McHugh for YourTango.com. Post originally published on YourTango.com