10 Ways Men Can Bounce Back from a Bad Marriage Breakup
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IT'S A CRUSHING FEELING; after years of marriage, your wife tells you she wants out, and it hits you like a tonne of bricks.
You didn’t see it coming; everything appeared to be absolutely fine from your perspective.
Marriage breakups are tough at the best of times. But when they’re really bad, and you’ve already gone through the emotional extremes and things are a little more settled, you’ll need to rely on the following coping strategies to come out unscathed:
Focusing on body, mind and soul
Any feelings of positivity will be far from your mind following a bad marriage breakup, but there are small steps you can take to lift the fog from your vision.
Consider this; now you’re separated, you have a completely blank canvas from which to operate.
This is a new chapter of your life, and you can start by focusing on three elements of yourself to gain a renewed sense of confidence and purpose:
- Mind. Your brain is the most capable organ you have when it comes to making a positive change. Make your inner dialogue positive by being kind to yourself and repeating positive affirmations every morning.
- Body. A healthy body can foster a healthy mind, so give your grey matter a regular boost with daily exercise. Get to the gym, take regular walks and start getting as much oxygen into that brain as possible.
- Soul. Think of your soul as your essence. Enrich it by making (and acting on) a bucket list and giving back to the community.
Looking for positive signs
Marriages that break up particularly badly will often go the other way and show green shoots of positivity.
They’re not easy to identify, but when you find a positive aspect of your divorce, it’s important to focus on it.
- dealings with your ex are entirely drama-free – almost business-like;
- when you describe your post-divorce relationship to friends, you don’t get angry or feel regretful;
- the kids appear to relish the time they spend with each parent individually;
- when meeting the kids and ‘handing over’ there are no obvious attachment issues;
- the kids are always put ahead of any relationship issues; and
- conversations with others about divorce or relationships don’t feel tough or tense.
These positive signs are proof that while the marriage is over, you have both successfully moved on.
Embrace the grieving process
If you’re yet to fully grieve the loss of your marriage, let’s consider those five stages of post break-up:
- Denial: This isn’t happening; it can’t be.
- Anger: How dare she leave me? After all I do for her!
- Bargaining: I’m not going down without a fight!
- Depression: It’s over. My life is over.
- Acceptance: It’s time to move on!
If you can preempt and embrace the grieving process, you’ll stand a far better chance of coping with it.
It’s ok to deny it’s happening, just as it’s fine to get angry. And, just because you’re a guy, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel depressed.
We’re all hardwired to go through these stages of post break-up and there are countless documented stories of men who have successfully moved on afterwards.
Using clinical psychology
The end of a marriage can be gut-wrenching, and us guys find the process of recovery particularly challenging.
During a brilliant TED Talk, clinical psychologist, David A Sbarra Ph.D., discusses ‘what now?’ moments and how clinical psychology can assist in marriage break-ups.
Life is full of these moments. They’re forks in the road – epic decisions we have to make that will determine the course of our remaining years.
These moment challenge us to re-think ourselves and see the world in fundamentally different ways.
Marital separation are fundamental insults to our well-being. They impact our mind, body and soul (see point 1), but there are three things you can do to start the repair process:
- Get your sleep! You can’t function without sleep. Sbarra notes that compromised sleep can be a serious health risk when a marriage ends.
- Cultivate self-compassion. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to make the most of this idea; simply look at yourself as you would a dear friend. Accept your inadequacies and failures.
- Stop thinking ‘me, me, me’. You’re not the first person to be divorced, or the last – think about your role in the wider community.
Being compassionate with yourself
I noted this above, but let’s explore it further.
The kinder you are with yourself, the easier it will be to let the pain pass and get on with your life.
After the break-up, you’ll probably spend a great deal of time looking for someone or something else to blame. This isn’t helpful.
Rather than indulging in the blame game – because the end of a marriage is the result of many combined factors – try instead to be kind to yourself and view any mistakes you made as learning experiences.
Those mistakes you made or lessons you learned will help you in future with the relationships you’ll have down the road.
Don’t dwell on all of the negative things that happened.
Physical and mental recovery
Sixty-five to seventy percent of divorces are filed by women.
By comparison, men are more likely to resist divorce, which makes any break-up particularly hard for the guy to come to terms with.
We’ll scramble to save our marriages and do all we can to ‘win her back’, but as soon as your wife has initiated the separation, you have no choice but to start the recovery process.
A solid way to rediscover your self-confidence and a sense of purpose is to indulge in interests or activities that define you.
This might be a particular sport, or a hobby in which you’ve always indulged given any free time.
Well, guess what? You’ve got acres of free time now, and can indulge in those passions to your heart’s content. In doing so, you’ll be actively recovering both mentally and physically.
Removing any sense of shame
You should never be ashamed of your divorce.
Remember – the break-up is the result of a number of factors. No one is blameless, but, equally, you’re no less of a man just because she’s decided to leave you.
Counter any feelings of inadequacy by working through the following in your mind:
- Remind yourself why you divorced. No matter what other people say, the divorce was down to the two of you. What other people think is irrelevant; you separated for a reason.
- Marriage isn’t always right. Clearly, the marriage wasn’t going to last. Fate has brought you to this unhappy conclusion – you haven’t inadvertently forced it.
- You’re not making history. Your divorce won’t be the first or last. Over the course of human history, millions of people will find themselves in your exact position.
Thankfully, divorce is less stigmatised than it used to be, and regardless of whether that’s a symptom of higher rates of separation, it means you have far less reason to feel ashamed.
Becoming a brilliant divorced dad
Divorces are made a thousand times worse when kids are involved.
Yours might either be far too young to understand or old enough to feel a sense of anger towards you both, but whatever the situation, becoming a divorced dad is extremely challenging.
There’s the sudden tussle for custody and the thought of another man entering the fray and potentially taking your place.
There are a few things you can do to make the separation process as stress-free as possible for your kids.
Keep close at home after divorce; it’s vital you’re still seen to be around and available for your kids, no matter the state of your marital relationship.
Get to know the rules surrounding child support – particularly if you end up being the non-custodial parent after separation. You might need to start making payments, therefore ensure you’re familiar with how support is calculated and managed.
Lastly, stay connected. We live in a world full of wonderful technology which makes relationships with your kids when you’re one step removed far easier to manage.
Get Skype installed on your tablet or make judicious use of FaceTime. They’ll grow to love this unique way of spending time with you when you’re not there.
Moving on and dating
It’s the last thing you’ll think about doing (unless it’s in a fit of anger and retaliation), but at some stage you’ll want to get back out on the scene and begin dating again.
The first date you have after a difficult divorce will feel completely surreal. And that’s fine; you spent years married to your wife – she was your world and the only person with whom you had both sexual and close emotional contact during that time.
Now, you’re free. But, when you feel ready, just bear in mind the following tips for successful post-divorce dating:
- Be wary of predators – women who seek to take advantage of emotionally vulnerable guys post break-up.
- Don’t assume you need to find a fellow divorcee – you’re not in some special club – the world is your oyster!
- Develop a new routine and schedule that gives you time to go out and meet new people.
- Treat dates as casual meetings; don’t put pressure on yourself to immediately find a replacement wife.
You’ll probably read countless blogs and message board threads that suggest an ideal time you should wait before dating after divorce, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this.
Start dating again if and when you’re ready.
Sweating the small stuff
I’ve noted several times in this post that you shouldn’t get bogged down in what went wrong, but there are some small details you should focus on post break-up.
- Focus on your daily plan. What are you going to achieve today?
- Be patient. Not just with others, but with yourself – you’ll hit rough patches. And that’s fine.
- Don’t let your life be ruled by Facebook. Social media is a distraction. If you have to use it, treat it as the inaccurate representation of real life it is.
- Focus on the stuff you can control. That’s you and everything you do, because you’re the only person you have control over.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. They won’t instigate a divorce – ever.
- Ignore ex antics. Whatever she does now is entirely her business (and, potentially, downfall). Let her get on with it and focus on being kind yourself.
And lastly – take care of yourself. Going through a divorce is as emotionally draining as it is physically exhausting. Do things that make you happy.
“Life has been pretty good,” explains a divorced guy in a thread that provides an insight into his life, six years after the separation.
He reached a successful conclusion, and his parting words are as simple as they are inspiring: “things do get better”.
Follow at least one of the tips above, and you’ll find yourself and your situation getting better.