Richard J. Avdoian, MS, MSW, CSP
The mainstream media and marriage and family therapist acknowledge that the divorce journey is both a physical and emotional experience for women but little is said about how divorce affects men.
Alone Time: Generally, once the formal paperwork is completed, submitted and served, men become isolated often by their “choosing,” the distancing of friends, co-workers, family members and their children. This may be because historically men are left to internalize their emotions, fears & concerns. It is not been, and still is not, commonplace for men to voice their emotional feelings and thoughts. The fear of being ridiculed and ostracized can be paralyzing. This is unfortunate because men do struggle with emotional and mental issues, concerns and fears. The problem that men face, is how to share and deal with these issues.
The Blame Game: The key to successfully working through the divorce process is to resist at all cost the urge to blame everything that went wrong with the marriage on your ex-wife. The quicker we get over this notion and you accept that it takes two to make a marriage work and two to make it go south the quicker we can begin to heal and move forward. Taking ownership that we contributed to the divorce, maybe not intentionally, but that we may have let things slide, didn’t listen, misread the wife’s and children’s verbal, facial and non-verbal messages is the first step.
The Right Connections: In order to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally it is important to seek out male family members and friends who have adjusted well to a divorce, and avoid those men who are still angry, bitter and taking part in disruptive behaviors. Personally knowing others have successfully survived the experience, and hearing first hand about the experience is comforting and reassuring.
Divorce is always a key stressor, even when both parties are cooperative and amicable. It is far more intense when it is bitter and neither party has stabilized their emotions by acknowledge their feelings. Tension soars and can ultimately result in jeopardizing custody agreements, negotiations, etc.
On My Own: Along with the emotional roller coaster, come possible physical changes. Following a divorce many men find themselves living alone for the first time as an adult. Eating habits certainly undergo drastic changes often resulting in weight gain or loss. Men with pre-existing smoking and drinking habits tend to increase frequency and amounts while other men start drinking to neutralize anger, depression and loneliness. These are areas in the man’s sphere of physical realm to which attention must be paid as you prepare to move through this divorce experience.
You will survive if you make the effort to work through your anger, guilt, and sadness and embrace the process no matter how difficult you will recover. In the end you will have a joyful life. This can be the beginning to a new, more adventurous, richer life for you and your children.
Richard Avdoian is an employee development expert who works with businesses and associations committed to recruit, train and retain highly motivated productive employees. He has worked with clients in over forty different industries providing programs and consulting services in the area of personal achievement, teamwork, and customer service.
Richard Avdoian formed TeamWork By Design, a consulting firm in 1995 and he is a nationally recognized speaker who offers keynote speeches, workshops, and executive & business coaching.
In July, 2003 he received the designation of Certified Speaking Professional (C.S.P.) from the National Speakers Association and International Federation for Professional Speakers, the highest earned level of excellence attainable in the industry and a distinction representing the top 10 percent of all members of the profession.
In October, 2006 he was honored by Niagara County Community College and inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Gallery in recognition for his personal and professional accomplishments and community service.
Drawing on his 26 years in private practice as a psychotherapist, Richard founded the Illinois Men’s Institute and Voyager Experience to challenge and inspire individuals to achieve a healthier balance in life, enhance relationships and reach their full potential.
He received his A.A. degree in liberal arts from Niagara County Community College, B.A. degree in sociology & minority studies and master degree in counseling from Niagara University, New York. He also earned a master degree in social work from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
© Richard J. Avdoian, MS, MSW, CSP (2009)
8 comments on “A Man’s Mind: Dealing With Obstacles On The Male Divorce Journey”
The fact that most if not all judges we’re attorneys once is the beginning and the end of the problem. Now after two years of legal strife and nearly an entire year’s salary spent on attorney bills for custody and with over 40% of my takehome pay awarded in support, I am hardly better than I would have been without legal representntion. Drug testing, broken legal contracts, contemp of court all on her part, the court responded with deaf ears. Play the game pay the attorney’s bills and most importantly suck up your pride and call nightly to see and visit with your children. Never give up, be there whenever possible.
Anger motivated Action
I soo understand the frustrations and anger of mjaybee. We all have our circumstances to face dealing with isolation, the deprivity of resources from a biased legal system, and an X that is motivated by greed/revenge. Anger is an appropriate emotion men need to express…and YES, dealing with that anger and getting through it is likewise vital to turning one’s life post divorce into a productive happy male again.
BUT…emotion without action is pointless. Granted, action while anger CAN be destructive. Some would say that the colonists anger against the British control over them was destructive. I’m not advocating a revolution…but something must change in our society today and how men are viewed/portrayed. Sitcoms portray men as sex craved beer guzzling baffoons who can’t find the bottom end of a paper bag over their heads. News broadcasts pour countless stories into our living rooms of heinous crimes being committed in our towns…all by men. Commercials portray females as assured, confident, arrogant even…and their male counterparts are almost always denegrated.
Anger needs to foster action…and that action should involve standing boldly against the rage of feminism frolicking unchecked in our society today. Men deserve to be revered, respected, honored, and esteemed…and not debased, degraded, or denegrated. The time for action is today. Refuse to tolerate feminism.
Vice-Chair, Coalition for Equal Parenting
It’s important to work through the onslaught of emotions that come with divorce, particularly an especially conflicted one. Seek professional counseling or establish an on-going relationship with someone experienced in helping men get re-grounded after this kind of tragedy. Don’t go overboard in either the grief category or in trying to escape from facing the emotional turmoil that is part of the grieving process. Understand that it will take some time, but that you will get past it and be able to move on in life post-divorce.
Above all, maintain your priorities in life, remembering to keep your children and their specific interests in the forefront. Stay involved in their lives, even on a daily basis, assuming you’re allowed to. Be there for them, because even though you and their mother are no longer together, children need both parents.
Assert your rights as a parent, if you must, in order to keep your tie to your children. Place their best interests above all else, even when you feel like “getting back” at your ex. Don’t allow the [i]system[/i] to beat you down, but keep your chin high, even in the face of what can seem like insurmountable odds. Keep your children as your goal but maintain your own sense of self and well-being.
You gotta love a simple message like that when it comes from your kid. I just noticed a drawing my youngest daughter had made that said, “My happy life.”
Absolutely! Most of us certainly have good reason to be angry!
I’ve been there and it still pops up unexpectedly. It comes and goes in phases for some reason.
The point is that we have to learn how to deal with that anger (and other negative feelings.) Every man should feel his anger. He should fully feel it and explore it while it’s there and in it’s raw form. Allowing yourself to feel the anger and ultimately letting it flow through and out of you is one very effective way of eventually healing. Don’t fool yourself though. It could take years. But in the meantime, feel it, acknowledge it and move on.
Staying angry for the rest of your life is no way to live. Men deserve to be happy and at peace in their post-divorce life. More importantly, CHILDREN need to have a happy, positive and productive Dad. Whenever I’ve been at my lowest points, I focus on my kids and what kind of Father I want to be for them.
One of my sons made a Fathers Day card for me in school last year. The teacher had preprinted the beginning of the card, and it was the student’s assignment to fill out the rest. It read:
[b]Dad, You are special because:[/b] you never give up.
In my mind, succumbing to anger and letting it rule my life or destroy my chances of a happy future is giving up… and I won’t do that. I owe that to my children and to myself.
Maybe men are angry for good reason. Disenfranchised, cut out from your children’s lives an financially raped by a system that sees men as financial workhorses only.
Men [u]should [/u]get angry, and they should stay as far away as they can from marriage post-divorce.
I posted a similar article, “The Top Five Feelings That Displaced Dads Need To Deal With”, on my blog site at: [url]http://www.displaceddads.com[/url]
The feelings are: Loss, Anger, Depression, Worry and Resentment. There is also advice on dealing with those feelings.
I’ve also seen that men in particular are more prone to the anger feelings. I have a post on that too! 🙂
Thanks for the dadsdivorce.com site. It’s a great resource.
I would have to say I agree with Mr. Avdorian. It is pretty hard to discuss this divorce with anyone around me.