Life after Divorce for Men – How to Rebuild your Life
Life after divorce for men spells trouble. Studies show that men are at great risk for health problems after divorce. Even suicide.
One recent study by the National Institute for Healthcare Research in Rockville, MD indicates that divorced people are three times as likely to commit suicide as people who are married. The Institute says that divorce now ranks as the number one factor linked with suicide rates in major U.S. cities, ranking above all other physical, financial, and psychological factors.
A study of 13 European countries by the regional European office of the World Health Organization found that divorce was the only factor linked with suicide in every one of the 13 countries. The study showed that factors like poverty, unemployment, and disability were associated with divorce in some of the countries but that disruption of the family was the only factor linked with divorce in all 13. Anecdotally, the coroner of Butler County, Ohio told UPI in the late 80s that he thought the high rate of suicide in that area was traceable to men’s inability to cope with divorce.
Dr. Richard Burkhardt said he thought women were more likely to feel needed after divorce because they had children to care for. But men, he said, felt cut off from their role as head of the household and felt they had no reason to live.1)http://divorceinfo.com/suicide.htm
Dr. Richard Burkardt hit the nail on the head. Women after divorce are still needed by their children. If a woman does not have children, she likely has a stronger social support network. Life after divorce for men on the other hand is one of utter disconnect. A man is cut off from his role as a head of household, as a father, and feels no reason to live. Once a man enters that state, of feeling no reason to live, he can fall deep into suicidal ideation. Suicide seems like an effective method to quickly dissolve the mental pain of being cut off from your prior life.
Why are divorced men killing themselves?
Augustine Kposowa of the University of California at Riverside, said the following on March 14, 2000: “Divorced and separated persons were over twice as likely to commit suicide as married individuals,” Kposowa states in his study. In fact, divorced men end up with twice as high a risk of suicide as their married counterparts. He did not find such a high suicide rate among divorced women, however.
First, Dr.Kposowa cites “financial obligations,” adding that “The courts in the United States are in a position now whereby money is given to the woman, or the man is forced to pay alimony, child support. The man is also asked, in some cases, to vacate the house.” Kposowa also notes familial factors. “If a man loses custody of the children and the woman keeps those children, there are situations whereby she may not allow the man to see the children, and that causes some depression,” he says.
“Women tend to initiate divorce more than men,” Kposowa also notes. “Men were nearly 4.8 times as likely to commit suicide as women.” How does Kposowa explain the connection between divorce and suicide? “It may be marriage confers health and many other advantages which divorced persons lack,” he writes. The different findings by sex occur, he argues in the report, because “Perhaps women form greater supportive networks, such as meaningful friendships at a higher level than men, and regardless of their marital status.”
So when their marital status changes, women have their friends. “Although divorce is a crisis and a profoundly stressful life event for many people, men and women react to the crisis and stress differently. Men kill themselves, but women do not,” he further writes. The study, “Marial Status and Suicide in the National Longitudinal Mortality Study,” published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.2)http://www.cbsnews.com/news/men-wear-divorce-badly/
Worldwide Suicide Rates for Divorced Men
The life after divorce for men that ends in suicide, is not a rare occurrence, nor specific to the United States. Across Europe, men are around four times more likely to die by suicide than women. More men in the UK have died by suicide in the past year (2015), than all British soldiers fighting in all wars since 1945. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, what they categorise somewhat obliquely as “intentional self harm or events of undetermined intent” account for over 1% of all deaths, killing three times more people than road accidents, more than leukaemia, more than all infectious and parasitic diseases combined.
More than 6,000 people in the UK died by suicide in 2013; 78% of them were men. The effect of relationship breakdown can be catastrophic, with most research indicating that men are affected far worse than women. The Samaritans report found that “men in midlife are dependent primarily on female partners for emotional support”. While women maintain their independent relationships, male friendships tend to drop away after the age of 30.
Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts were three times higher among divorced men, and two times higher among separated men compared to married.3)http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/20/suicide-men-305913.html Whether you are a man or a woman, alarm bells should be going off in your head. More men died in the one year of 2014 than all British soldiers fighting in all wars since 1945? If that is not shocking, what is?
Why Men no longer Believe in Marriage
Marriage can be a great blessing for a man. Marriage can also be the source of great risk. Divorce is only a result of marriage. No marriage, no divorce. If you ever spoke to a group of men who are adamant to never get married. And, you just cannot understand why a man would not want to get married. Now, you know why.
Today, men know too many other men whose lives have been ruined by marriage. More accurately, by divorce, which was a result of their marriage. Men also know that the majority of marriages end in divorce. Of course, no one gets married thinking that they will get divorced. What started off as romance and love, ended in acrimony and bitterness. A new life in marriage, ended up as a new chaotic way to die, through the stress and pain of divorce.
Who needs that? Why would a man who knows the results of divorce, ever want to get married? The fantasy image of wedded bliss is exploded by the dark reality of divorce. Specifically of life after divorce for men.
Life after Divorce for Men can Be Deadly
Studies show that life after divorce for men can be deadly. According to a new paper published in the Journal Of Men’s Health, divorce can take a great mental and physical toll on men. Specifically, divorced and unmarried men have higher rates of mortality and are more prone to substance abuse and depression than married men. The paper, titled “The Influence of Divorce on Men’s Health,” concluded that divorced and unmarried men have mortality rates up to 250 percent higher than married men.
A 250 percent higher mortality rate for divorced men is no joke. Clearly, more men are suffer from the aftermath of divorce than they admit. Being a divorced man is a real threat to your health. The causes of premature death for divorced men include cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke. There is a clear pattern of illness for men that follows divorce in America.
Divorced men are also more prone to various diseases, ranging from common colds to life-threatening health problems like cancer and heart attacks. Divorce can also affect men’s mental well being; the researchers found that divorced men are more likely to partake in risky activities such as abusing alcohol and drugs, and divorced or separated men have a suicide rate that is 39 percent higher than that of married men.4)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259167139_The_Influence_of_Divorce_on_Men’s_Health
Imagine this irony, from the one place where you should be safe. Out of your marriage, comes a force so deadly, that you might want to end your life, intentionally. A suicide rate of divorced men that is 40 percent higher than that of married men. People make the mistake of thinking that men no longer want marriage because of the availability of casual premarital sex. They say “if you can get the milk, why do you need the cow?”
The Risk of Marriage for Men
Unfortunately, there is a lot of bias against men in our ‘modern’ society. From the dimwitted male fools depicted on primetime comedies to the divorce courts that treat divorced men like criminals. In the ideal world, of course, marriage can be wonderful. But in this day and age, in our current society and legal system, marriage has a great risk of leading to divorce. Divorce almost always kills the man, unless he is very poor or very rich.
What is the upside for a man to get married? He is facing the real statistic of a 50 to 60 percent divorce rate. He knows, that if he goes through divorce, most likely, he will lose everything. His children, his home, finances, identity, self-esteem, social support and more. These are the facts, a divorced man faces a greater health crisis than a man who never married in the first place. So, next time you meet a man, who never wants to get married. Don’t judge him so harshly.
He is not just after casual sex with no commitment. Realize that he just wants to protect himself from the nightmare of divorce. He sees the casualties of divorce all around him, and wants no part of it. Not getting married, for the modern man, has nothing to do with not wanting to make a commitment. Staying single, flying solo, has everything to do with wanting to lead a peaceful, turmoil free life.
But, for those who never dreamed their marriage would end in divorce. How are you going to protect yourself? From the deadly depression or suicide that destroys the life after divorce for men? You have to protect yourself.
Depression is also more common for divorced men than married men, and divorced men undergo psychiatric care 10 times more often than married men do. Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh, the president of the International Society of Men’s Health, explained the importance of the study’s findings in a press release. “The fact is that men get affected substantially by psychological trauma and negative life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, war, and bereavement. Research is urgently needed to investigate the prevalence and impact of such effects and to develop diagnosis and treatment guidelines for practitioners.”5)http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/mens-health-divorce_n_4018432.html
The Danger of Marriage
If you are a divorced man, you are in long term danger. Dr. Shabsigh notes the importance of developing treatment guidelines for practitioners. You cannot afford to wait for practitioners to figure out the best treatment guidelines for a divorced man. You can protect yourself from becoming another statistic of men after divorce. Life after divorce for men spells ruin, in every way imaginable. Including the risk of becoming another statistic in the silent epidemic of male suicide.
A divorced man committing suicide cannot be good for his family. A man’s suicide, a father’s suicide is not beneficial for his children, not emotionally or financially. The complete destruction of a man after divorce causes great pain to many people. Including a man’s mother, sisters, and daughters. Divorce is the end of a marriage. Divorce should not be the catalyst to end life, not a man’s life, nor a woman’s life.
It is in the interest of women worldwide that the scourge of suicide among men is stopped. Any tip, idea or strategy, that can help a man emerge from suicidal ideation, is good for all. We all know that divorce is a nasty business. We all know that having divorce litigated in a court of law, leads to hurtful and vicious narratives. Each party wants to win. And, the only winners are usually the divorce lawyers, financially and emotionally.
The children cannot win in such an atmosphere where one or both of their parents are maligned. At the moment, the fact of divorce litigation in court, will not change. Therefore, life after divorce for men and women is likely to continue to be charged with great animosity. The question is if there are tips and strategies that can help a man after divorce. Men do not usually have a strong social support group to deal with their losses. For several reasons:
- A man might view going to a divorce recovery group as a sign of weakness.
- A man prefers to talk to his friends about success, strength, business, sports or politics.
- The last thing a man wants to speak about, is his divorce.
- A man does not want to speak words of failure or weakness to his friends.
- A man does not want to reveal any depression or need for sympathy.
Worldwide Risk for Men after Divorce
A ground-breaking examination of 27 different studies of suicide, conducted by the Samaritans organization, confirmed this grim trend is worldwide: “The majority of studies suggest that men are at a greater risk of suicide than women in the aftermath of relationship breakdown. There are “terrible consequences of being a divorced man,” says Kposowa.
The reasons divorced men — as well as men in other situations — commit suicide much more often relate to shame, loss of identity, loneliness, separation from children, financial pressures, job troubles, gender stereotypes and lack of social support.” While social, psychological and personal problems facing women are readily denounced, societal institutions tend to ignore or minimize male problems that are evident in suicide statistics.”6)http://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/men-and-suicide-the-silent-epidemic
As a result, the separated or divorced man, might not have many places to turn, to recover from divorce. The intention of this post is to help save your life after divorce. If the ideas here work for divorced women as well, that is icing on the cake. But, as a divorced man, who was hopeless and despondent, I was on the road to becoming another statistic after divorce. I know the pain of being cut off from the role of a father, and the desperate search for relief from that pain. For many men, suicide is the fastest and only way out.
Let’s change that. Let’s offer some new ideas which can help a man to reclaim his sense of self and identity. This is good for men and the women who care about them. There are powerful strategies that can help you recover from divorce. Life after divorce for men, does not have to end in antidepressant cocktails or suicide. You can rebuild your life after divorce. You might be surprised by the tools that can help you rebuild your life after divorce. Let’s discover them.
You Might be Thinking “How can I feel better when my whole life is upside down? I miss my kid(s), I am despondent and cannot imagine feeling better.” You might think the only course of action, or rather inaction, is to marinate in your misery. Or you might not see a way out of the divorce nightmare. How can you turn your life around, get fitter and stronger than ever before, while feeling more confident every day Sounds like a dream, right?
The only divorced men or women who are going to be feeling better, are those who have the tranquility of mind or support to take care of themselves. Or some guys who are just so rich, divorce just does not affect them at all. They still have a great home, have their lawyers take care of everything and still have their personal chef and trainer to keep them in shape. In other words, not you.
You might think that as a divorced man, you just do not deserve any better, not better health, not more respect, from yourself or others. You only deserve continued mental and physical distress. Or do you?
12 Ways to Rebuild Your Life after Divorce
1. Stop Grieving and Start Imagining. Excessive grieving can lead to depression. Depression can lead to suicidal ideation or worse, suicide. You need to tell yourself that you have had enough. Stop going deeper into depression. Find a word, a trigger word, to tell yourself enough. A word that I have found to have great power is ZEHHU.
But, find whatever word that works for you. Tell yourself that you are tired of feeling you no longer exist. Imagine that you were the owner of a field, a vineyard. A hurricane blew through and destroyed everything you had built. Your home, your vineyard, your life. Imagine what you need to do to rebuild your vineyard. Stop sitting in the middle of your field and mourning over your loss. Rebuilding your vineyard is a parallel to what you need to do to rebuild your life after divorce.
- Make the Choice to Rebuild Your Vineyard, your Life –Make the decision right now to rebuild your life.
- Select a Field that is Bright – we need bright thoughts and positive thoughts to rebuild.
- Work the Field – Start strength training to exercise and work your physical body and your mind.
- Seed the Field – Plant good thoughts, expectations and images of the future.
- Water the Field – Eat real food daily, nourish your body and mind.
- Growing the vineyard – Take care of yourself, adjust to any obstacles.
- Harvest the vineyard – Be grateful for what you have right now.
- Winnowing – Focus on the best and not the worst.
- Pressing the wine – Get the most out of what you have right now, like squeezing the juice from the best grapes.
- Drinking the Wine – we should appreciate as often as possible the gift of life, with our family and friend
2. Action is Better than Keeping a Journal. Especially if you have lost contact with your children after divorce. Seeing your kid once a week or twice a month is not contact. It is easy to feel the loss of relationship even after a few months of separation. Consider this interview of Joshua Coleman Ph.D., by Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW on February 5, 2015:
Terry: Why is estrangement so common in divorced families?
Dr. Joshua Coleman: Divorce greatly increases the risk of estrangement. It often creates a fundamental reshaping of alliances and can place parents at risk for greater distance from their children. Whether it’s a grey divorce or a breakup when the child is young, it often causes a child to see parents as winners and losers. Second, it can create the opportunity for parental alienation where one parent consciously or unconsciously (covertly or overtly) poisons the child against the other parent. Children, especially when they are young, are very vulnerable after divorce.
Next, divorce can also bring new people into a child’s life (new sibling, half sibling, step-parent) and they may feel they have to compete for love, attention, or resources. Finally, in our culture, divorce can cause a child to see their parent as an individual with their own attributes and liabilities—and less of a family unit that they’re part of.7)http://movingpastdivorce.com/2015/03/divorce-and-estrangement-what-to-try-when-you-and-your-adult-child-dont-get-along/
Staying busy building a new life is better than writing in a journal about your old life. Make the choice to be productive again. No matter how many days, weeks, months or years that you mourn, the results will be the same. You will be sad, depressed and lose the greatest asset of your life, which is time. Take action
3. Stay Positive and Do Not Lean on your Guy Friends. If you think you will hear sympathy from your guy friends, that is not likely. You will hear that you never should have gotten married in the first place! They will let you have it for being a traditional idiot. Getting married in a culture which clearly has it out for you if you are a guy. Of course, you might never have expected that marriage can land in court. And that you will never see your kids again, or the way you used to.
But, the times have changed. Most guys know that if they get married, they could be looking at a court system that will destroy their lives. What great reward in marriage is worth that risk? You cannot expect your friends to be supportive. They will scold you for getting married. Then, they will use your ruined life as the reason that they will never get married.
So, don’t expect to be feeling better by leaning on your friends. You will feel like garbage. Instead, lean on yourself. Think brighter thoughts. Start to think thoughts of calm, strength, success, rebuilding, a bright life. You have to be your own rock. Stay strong, imagine strength and think good thoughts. Stop repeating your ‘story’ to your friends. You will get no sympathy.
4. Start Strength Training, not Antidepressants. You have to start working your field. Meaning, that you have to start building up your strength. Do the hardest compound movements that you can. Start to deadlift and squat. Start doing pushups. Get as strong and fit as possible.
The physical strength is going to help you bear the mental burdens of divorce and loss. You have to get physically stronger to handle the stresses of divorce that you are dealing with. Antidepressants should never be your first course of action. If your doctor recommends them, ask him or her if they have been on antidepressants. If they have not, then tell them you want to try out an alternative approach for depression.
What you have to do is start lifting weights to lift your mood. Try it out for a month. If deadlifts, squats and pushups do not help you to feel better, then you can always go on antidepressants. But, do not think that antidepressants do not come with their costs, and that does not mean financial. Antidepressants themselves have many serious negative side effects. Most antidepressants even come with a warning label that they might cause suicidal behavior.
In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration sent out the following health advisory: Warning – All antidepressants increase suicidal behavior in adults and announcing that studies of the effects of antidepressants would be under review. FDA goes on to review 295 individual antidepressant trials of 77,000 adults with major depressive disorder. As a result, health care professionals are informed of risk of suicidality
Unfortunately, the suicidal effects of antidepressants are glossed over in our culture. People think that if they are not feeling too great, just take a pill. And, if a person harms him or herself, we can just chalk it up to suicide. Without any consideration if the antidepressants had anything to do with it. Such as in the case of Robin Williams. The assumption was that he committed suicide, a terrible declaration.
How about the fact that he was on antidepressants? We do not even hear in the media which antidepressants he was taking. For a deeper analysis of the Robin Williams tragedy, see here. His good reputation should be preserved. Antidepressants increase suicidal behavior, that is a fact that our pill popping society wants to ignore. For sure, the drug companies do not want you to think about.
So, in some cases, antidepressants might help an individual. But, in all cases, why not try weight lifting or any other exercise first? What do you have to lose, besides fat and depression? Stop looking to antidepressants to fight depression, unless you have no other choice. See the following for more information on deadlifting, squats and pushups.
5. Think Good and it will be Good. This is a real tough one. Change your thoughts to change your life. This new field that you are building, you have to plant good thoughts. Whatever you put in the soil will grow. Therefore, be careful to not put seeds of weeds into the soil. It will be a challenge to think good thoughts. But, do your best. Think thoughts of success, happiness, good relationships, health, wealth and peace. Keep your mind flooded with as much bright thoughts as possible.
6. Eat Healthy Foods. Now is not the time to go crazy on junk food. Now is the time to eat the best food possible to rebuild your body. A healthier body will help you to deal with the stresses of divorce. Healthier foods, means real food daily. Exclude processed food as much as possible. Eat more real food daily to fuel your body and mind transformation.
7. Be Grateful for what you Have. It is easy to focus on what you do not have. You can easily obsess on everything that you have lost. Especially if you have lost contact with your children. You have to think clearly and be aware of the blessings in your life. You don’t have to tell anyone else. Be aware for yourself and start with what you think is most trivial. For example, waking up, be grateful that you woke up today. And take it from there.
There are a myriad of things to be grateful for once we think about them. Be happy your kid(s) are okay and think thoughts of good relationship with them. Do not make the mistake of catastrophizing events beyond what is reasonable.
8. Do Not Start Dating Again. Are you kidding? Don’t even think about it. Dating again can lead to a relationship, and you are not ready. If you want to hang out, fine, but be safe, and stay casual. You do not need to see the inside of a court again. And for sure, do not discuss marriage again with your friends. They will probably throw you out knowing what you went through. Now is not the time.
9. Hold onto Your Job. It is easy to lose focus on your job. Both during and after divorce. You have to do everything possible to hold onto your job. Do not speak about your divorce at work. When you go into your office, be a different person. Stay focused on your responsibilities at the office. It is bad enough that you lose your identity as a husband and father. You lose your identity as a homeowner and neighbor. Do you want to lose your work identity too? You better not.
10. Stay Connected to Yourself. It is easy to lose yourself. To lose perspective of who you are. You have to be good to yourself. The better you are to yourself, the better you can be for others. Do your best to stay connected with your children They also suffer from the divorce. In addition, they must endure the hurtful narratives that they hear about their parents. Be there for them as much as possible. Everything you expect others to do for you, make sure you do that for yourself. Thinking about your welfare, checking up on you, looking out for you. Because, you might not hear from anyone else for a long time, you have to still take care of yourself.
Life after Divorce for Men is not Easy
There is no point in soft soaping the facts. Life after divorce for men is not that simple. Your life will never be the same. But, you can gain relief from the deep depression and suicidal ideation that can sink any person. You can and should be hopeful that you will rebuild your life. I know it’s hard to believe, but this approach really does work…
No more destroying your mental and physical health because of depression. Instead, you become fitter and stronger. You rebuild your new life after divorce, instead of sitting in the ruins of your past life. The result is that better health, fitness and relationships will chase you, instead of the opposite. Your children deserve the best father possible. You deserve to live the best life possible.
Whether you are a man or a woman after divorce, take action to live the best life possible. Now, go out and make life after divorce for men, your best life possible! Click here to set up a free health history consultation with a Certified Health Coach. If you are feeling suicidal, please call 1 800 784 2433 (1 800-SUICIDE) immediately.
What are your comments about life after divorce for men or women? How did divorce affect you? What did you do to rebuild your life after divorce? Did you experience estrangements for your children or family? Were you able to mend these estrangements? Please share your wisdom, thanks!
References [ + ]
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