There is no such thing as a single cure all technique or step to divorce recovery for men. A man’s mind and emotions cannot be controlled at the flick of a switch as much as many women might think it can be. Men are just as emotional and vulnerable to the ravages of a post divorce life as any woman. In fact, many guys end up worse off psychologically with a huge increase in male suicide after divorce compared to the relatively low number of suicides in females.
That is getting off topic however, what I actually wanted to talk about today is the steps everyone needs to take to recover from a divorce and be able to move on with life in a happy and healthy way. The reason there are steps is that these steps are not just steps of recovery from divorce for men – but they are the 5 steps to overcoming grief in general as related to divorce. If you do not see the connection between grief and divorce you might after seeing these stages because grief is the loss of something and the loss of a marriage is definitely something you should have to grieve. Only through greif can we eventually reach a state of acceptance and peace – no stage can be skipped.
The 5 steps to divorce recovery for men are:
- Denial - Have you ever felt that “This is not happening” kind of feeling? The sense that as you see this unfolding in front of you, you cannot quite believe it, or connect with it. Some might even feel a total sense of denial and simply refuse to believe their wife is serious about the divorce and will not take it seriously until it is too late. This is a classic reaction we all get when socked by a sudden and massive loss or change in our lives. Our psyche cannot quite resolve this because it would change the very core of who we are …
- Anger -We cannot stay in the realm of denial though as you can imagine. Eventually our mind catches up with the inevitability of the divorce and the truth sinks in enough to dispel the denial. This leaves a vast and gaping hole in our hearts, and leaves our inner sense of self in complete chaos. The first reaction for every person in this stage is anger. This can range from outbursts of pure rage, to simmering cold internal fury. This is a natural reaction – but a very destructive one if it is not brought under control quickly. This anger is also directed in many different ways, some are angry at themselves, their ex wife, family, friends, the world at large – or all of the above!
- Bargaining – Once we fight our way through the anger we realise just like children who throw a tantrum that we are not getting our way and we must change tactics. (I am not saying men after divorce act like children by the way! I mean that our most basic instincts kick in, in times of crisis like this and everyone going through grief hits this point!) At this point we start to bargain, we look at ways we can try to fix the problem before it slips away. We might promise to change, we might threaten and blackmail, we might plead with god. This is the stage where we desperately try to stop the inevitable even though in our hearts we know it is gone …
- Depression – This is sometimes the longest and most dangerous stage as discussed in the opening of this article. Men end up here once it has all happened, there is no anger left, no bargaining to be done – the inevitable has happened. This is where too many men stop and do not continue for too long because of a lack of support, and a lack of understanding about their own emotions and mind. This depression might seem obvious in it cause, but the deeper reason has to do with a mans sense of self respect, and more importantly how he sees himself in the world. The sense of self has been hit hard and this can take a long time to come back if you do not understand this.
- Acceptance – The final stage that ends the turmoil. When a man finally accepts the divorce they are much more free to move on without being dogged by negative thoughts and without carrying the baggage of the divorce with him to every new relationship and new project in life. This usually happens when the man can reconcile his own sense of self with his new situation. Some achieve an even higher level of acceptance by truly achieving forgiveness as well – which is a horribly misunderstood word!
Each stage requires some time to work through to achieve full recovery from divorce for men, but when you know how to do this you can pass through these stages faster than you think and emerge from the other side much more full of commitment to a happy life. To find out all the tools you need to do this I highly recommend Men After Divorce by Kyle Morrison who addresses this in detail.