How Divorce Changes a Man

Divorce is a complicated, emotional journey. It reshapes the lives of those involved, leaving a lasting mark on their lives. The divorcing spouses, children, in-laws, and friends are affected too. While the impact of divorce is unique to each individual, this life-altering experience changes men in particular in profound ways. Here, we will explore men’s transformative journey during and after their divorce. We will shed light on the emotional, societal, and psychological aspects of this challenging stage of life.

Emotional Rollercoaster

The term “rollercoaster” is often used to describe a complicated emotional process. It’s an apt description. Emotionally taxing experiences like divorce are filled with unexpected twists and turns. Some moments cause your stomach to drop. Others are full of excitement, hope, and nerves about what comes next.

During divorce, men find themselves grappling with an array of emotions, ranging from anger and grief to acceptance and hope. Often, men push away grief, trying to remain stoic and even-keeled. This suppression of feelings may feel like a common-sense approach to getting through the process. However, if there is something to grieve, that grief will catch up to you sooner or later. Resist the urge to suppress it.

Allow yourself to experience your feelings without judging them or trying to polish them for the sake of those around you. Certainly, you need to control the expression of your emotions to avoid unhealthy or harmful outbursts. But it is not only okay to be angry, concerned, disappointed, or grief-stricken—it’s healthy.

Sometimes, you may feel you aren’t processing your emotions or need help balancing remaining in control while venting. If that happens, consider seeking advice from a counselor experienced in dealing with men who are processing the end of their marriage.

New Identity

You are getting divorced, not entering witness protection. But it can still feel like you are taking on a new identity. As the legal proceedings unfold, men confront the question of self-identity. Divorce dismantles the roles that were part of your marital relationship. You identified as a husband and must grapple with the redefinition of yourself outside that role.

If you have children, you are certainly still a dad after your marriage ends. Your divorce attorney will fight to allow you to have a continued strong presence in your children’s lives. However, your role as a father changes with divorce. You will likely have some version of shared custody, meaning there will be days when you come home to a house without children. That, too, can cause an identity shift.

This transformation of identity can be daunting, forcing you to ask yourself who you are, how you describe yourself to others, and what is most important to you. The longer you’ve been married, the more ingrained your relationship-based identifiers will be. That may make your process for shifting your identity more challenging.

While this can be an intimidating process, it can also be liberating. You are free to rediscover facets of yourself that were overshadowed by the dynamics of a struggling marriage. Parts of you that you suppressed for the sake of the partnership can rise to the surface.

Some identity shifts are simple. For example, you go from “married” to “single.” Others are more complicated, like figuring out your new habits and values. And others are fun, like nurturing a love for motorcycles that you put on hold in your marriage, or enjoying dating when you feel ready for it. But all of these are adjustments that a man experiencing divorce will face.

Fatherhood in Transition

For fathers, divorce brings about a profound shift. While your custody law firm battles on your behalf and advocates for you and the best interests of your children, the way you parent inevitably changes. Co-parenting means there will be times you don’t see your children. On the other hand, it means that when you are with them, your time together is no longer taking place in the shadow of a stressed, tense relationship. You may find it easier to bond with your children and spend quality time with them when it is just you and them.

If you are just beginning the divorce process or contemplating divorce, you may share the same fears most divorcing men have about what your relationship with your children will be like when your marriage ends. The evolution of your fatherhood experience and approach will require adaptability and resilience. However, you may find that your relationship with your children improves once you settle into the transition. It becomes yours, and yours alone, to manage and define.

While successful co-parenting does require coordination with your ex, you will have few constraints on how you father your children. You can do it your way without constant compromise and conflict.

Evolving Relationships

Divorce inevitably leads to a shift in and reevaluation of relationships. If you were close with your in-laws, you may grieve the loss of those relationships. Friend couples shared with your spouse may pick sides, leading to losing valued friendships. Some men find that married friends tend to drift away as different phases of life set in.

Building and maintaining a robust support system during your divorce and beyond is vital. These relationships are essential for men navigating the emotional complexities and uncertainties of divorce.

You need friends you can count on during this time. Be intentional about reaching out. You don’t need to call a friend and share your feelings if that’s not what feels natural. Getting together with your buddies to share a meal or watch a game on TV, even if you never mention your divorce, is a healthy outlet. Men often neglect their friendships during the divorce process, leaving them less able to cope with the many shifting relationships in their lives.

You’re in Good Company

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national divorce rate in 2021 was 6.9%. Divorce in Utah occurs slightly more than that average, at 7.3%. That amounts to many Utah men dealing with the upheaval and turmoil of ending a marriage. All of them will find themselves changed by the experience. While concerns for the future and fear of the unknown are common, most men find that post-divorce life is fulfilling and satisfying. As long as men seek healthy outlets, nurture their other relationships, and receive help when necessary, the changes that come from divorce are usually good ones.

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