Divorce support for men can be thin on the ground in many places around the world for many reasons some obvious, some not so much. Besides the reasons for there being so little support for divorced men I also wanted to go into some detail about where divorced guys can get support, or how they can begin to organically grow some support from their current set of circumstances and resources. Having an understanding of the why and the how is quite important for a man to know and understand as it allows us more than just an insight into the plight, but also the tools to act on this problem knowing the causes and so being informed for good solutions.
That sound confusing? OK let me rephrase – men like to solve problems for the most part, knowing all the information about the problem allows us to build something to overcome it!
Lack of Divorce Support for Men
So just why is it that men cannot get a lot of support when going through a divorce? Why does it seem like there is no one to turn to in this painful stage, and who’s fault is it if it is anyone’s?
Well this is really a complicated web of societal, and historic pressures that come from society as a whole, but also from ourselves – us men – who can be our own worst enemies when it comes to support for males. This is not just an individuals fault though, it is something deeply ingrained in our psyche as a group, and further reinforced by women as well.
I hate to generalise, but to get the point across here is the example I use when explaining this concept. Have you ever heard the term “Harden the fuck up!” ?
This phrase annoys me so much because it is the epitome of what is wrong when it comes to support for men going through any crisis including divorce. It is the view that men should be strong no matter what the circumstance. It implies men should not feel emotions, that we should be stoic automatons that cannot be flustered by anything. It also implies that men cannot have a sense of empathy, at least towards other men – and probably towards women as well. Now take an individual who says this and multiply it by multiple millions of men all having the same attitude. What happens to those who might not be this harsh? The group mentality this evolves is very dangerous and infects females as well who come to believe that men should be like this because they hear it so often.
Now being strong and being able to withstand distress is not a terrible thing mind you. There is a time for grief though, and there is a time for strength, and there is ALWAYS time for understanding and empathy. This pervasive view of men as totally self sufficient is a lie especially during divorce when the one thing that men traditionally had to support them – their wife – is gone. From this we can see that no one puts the effort into services to help men, to programs designed to help guys through grief, and of course it makes it difficult for men to ask for help without feeling weak, and difficult for other men to offer support without feeling they are insulting the divorced friend. In fact, many men have said this term only to find themselves divorced then HATING themselves for feeling weak – it is a vicious cycle.
Women on the other hand are almost the opposite being told that they are the weaker sex (this is less so these days but still is there) and need support. As such they seek support and have support given very easily.
Getting Support For Divorced Men
So how can a guy get post-divorce help in this environment? Well thankfully not ALL of society think the way I described. In fact most guys are not as keen on this saying as they might have others believe also. As such, there are avenues to help men in post-divorce stress but they are not as widespread as they could be. I will list a few places around the world that you can contact in your local area, but I also wanted to talk about something more important which is how a man can grow a network of support.
Having social support is essential to help you recover. The main thing that needs to change is within yourself though, but it is hard to get to this point alone. Having others to reflect on your problems and how you are feeling allows you a much speedier recovery. Doing it alone is possible but much, much harder. Here are a few tips to help you foster this support form your own group of friends and family:
- Write Down a List of Friend & Family: Make sure they are people who you think could be supportive but might not know how to help you. Also include people who you think you need to stay in touch with, those perhaps with problems themselves. It is not a case of misery loves company, but they might be more empathic and you will be to them also. This creates a good bond where you can support each other – it is not just about you even though it feels that way.
- Commit to Staying in Touch: Try to make one emotional connection each day. You do not need to unload your miseries on them, you just need to be in contact and this starts a network of support. You do not need to ask anything of them either, just the act of contact stirs the basic human desire to help each other.
- Share Honestly: I do not recommend doing this straight away, but when offered help do not hesitate to share your thoughts with your friends or family. Ignore all of that crap about being strong and hardening up. You do not need to break down but it is ok if you do. Just do not miss an opportunity to get support because you fear to articulate your struggle. This is how men defeat themselves!
- Listen: Remember that creating meaningful connections to gain support is not a one way street. Remember to listen to your friends and family also. Rise above the horribleness of your own life for a moment to understand who you are talking to and empathise with them as well. If you are just a sponge for pity you will quickly drive them away, and if you simply shut down your own emotions you shut down your ability to connect with others and have them connect with you too.
- Make social plans: Create opportunities to strengthen your relationships with fun things even if you do not feel like it. Get some help in organising them if possible. This can be as simple as going out for a dinner with a friend or down to the bar, or something more substantial. A place where you feel some level of social integration is important so you feel you are not along – because you are NOT alone – we often simply tell ourselves that we are.
I hope that helps somewhat. Below are a few resources that also might help for mroe formal groups that are there to help divorces men.
- http://www.toinquire.com – Men’s rights and discussions as well as support
- http://www.newbeginningsusa.org – MD, DC and VA
- http://www.divorcecare.org/findagroup – for Canada also
- http://www.mensline.org.au – Phone support for men
- http://www.dadsindistress.asn.au – Help for divorced fathers
- www.fnf.org.uk – Families need fathers
- http://www.divorcesupportgroup.co.uk – Men and women’s support groups
- http://dadscanada.com – Fathers support
- www.divorce-for-men.com/canresources.doc – A document of great info