How Long Does It Take For A Man To Get Over Divorce? 10 Factors That May Affect Healing
"Guys, you are not a failure for going through a divorce; in fact, you may be going through a life change that will place you on the path to a more pleasant future. Divorce can happen for various reasons, but how you view it is how you will cope with it. Try to see the divorce as an opportunity to make a fresh start and create the life you want while learning from your past mistakes. You can still have a bright future!" - Dr. Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPCC.
Moving on after a divorce can be challenging. Studies show that divorcees report increased psychological challenges, distress, and financial stress after divorcing. Divorce can also be traumatic for some. Many individuals turn to unhealthy coping skills to cope with the feelings that arise after losing a marriage, regardless of whether the decision is mutual. If you're a man that has gone through a divorce, you're not alone. Moving on can take time, but it may be possible with several healing factors and lifestyle changes.
How Long Does It Take To Get Over A Divorce?
How Do You Get Over A Divorce?
Many men may see divorce as a weakness or a flaw. However, divorce can be a part of life for many, and you're not alone. If you're experiencing a loss of intimacy, social connections, or reduced finances due to the process, these aspects can also cause distress that may compound feelings of missing your ex-spouse or the marriage you had. Moving on from divorce is a personal process that can differ for everyone. A few common ways men may start to move on include the following:
Talking to a divorce therapist
Spending time with close friends and family
Journaling about the relationship
Creating art to process emotions from the relationship
Distracting oneself with hobbies and activities
Starting a new project
Getting active through exercise or sports
Spending time in nature
Factors That May Affect Healing After Divorce
Knowing you're not alone in your experiences may help you feel validated in your divorce. Below are a few factors that may affect your healing process and how to address them.
Shame About Grief
Grieving after a divorce can be normal, but some men may feel shameful about their grief and feel that they should move on. While grief is commonly associated with death, many types of loss can cause it for various people, not just men. Giving yourself time to grieve and mourn can be beneficial as you process your divorce.
Studies show that divorced men have poorer health than married men, with many reporting higher rates of depression, mortality, substance use disorders, and a lack of social support. These factors can cause health challenges like high blood pressure or heart concerns. If you're experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition or feeling unwell after a divorce, consult your primary care physician and try to avoid unhealthy coping habits.
If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.
Difficulty Being Alone
In addition to coping with the stress of the end of a relationship, men may spend more time finding themselves and figuring out who they are alone after a divorce. Due to societal pressures to act a certain way in "alignment with masculinity," men may feel they must experience their emotions alone and not reach out to anyone. However, loneliness can be a factor in mental health conditions and suicidal thoughts. Reaching out to friends, family, or a therapist may help you cope with challenging emotions after a loss.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 to talk to someone over SMS. They are available 24/7 to offer support.
Dating Soon After Divorce
If men feel shameful about grief and try to skip the process of processing emotions, they may find themselves wanting to hurry to date another person. Dating may be a way to try to avoid memories of their ex-spouse or feel less alone in their pain. Using sex to cope may also be unhealthy, as it can associate painful emotions with intimacy and vulnerability.
However, jumping into new relationships may not allow these men to heal from their marital dissolution. Instead, it can be more challenging to get over the divorce because they are repressing their emotions, delaying the healing process. Memories may arise if the new relationship ends, and they might find themselves grieving their ex-partner while committing to a new one. Instead, it can be beneficial to talk to a therapist and devise a plan to confront your emotions before deciding to move on. Studies show that suppressing emotions can also come with emotional and physical health risks.
Some men who get divorced have children with their ex-spouse, and custody laws may cause them only to get part-time visitation or lose their children altogether. Not being able to see their children may cause symptoms of depression or anxiety. Feeling that the situation is unfair or unjust may also cause anger and envy.
Many men may feel that their family is a significant part of their identity and life. These identities can change when going through a divorce, and they may struggle to find meaning. If you're experiencing custody challenges or seeing your children less than usual, you might benefit from talking to a custody lawyer or a divorce counselor to discuss your circumstances.
What Factors Can Impact Moving On?
Several factors may impact how long a man takes to get over a divorce. Other factors may also be present depending on your situation. However, the following are ten common ones that men may face.
The Length Of The Marriage
The length of your marriage may impact how long it takes to get over a divorce. If you had a long-term marriage, you might feel that you have wasted your time or have no options for love in the future. If you are divorced from a shorter marriage, you may think you failed or struggle with self-esteem. Any divorce can be challenging for men to cope with, but reaching out to a therapist can help you discuss how the length of your marriage impacted you.
The Element Of Surprise
If you didn't know your spouse wanted a divorce and the divorce is brought up soon before it happens, it can feel scary, confusing, or heartbreaking. Although communication can be healthy in a relationship, spouses may not always communicate about their feelings, and a divorce might come as a surprise.
Men who initiate divorce may find it easier to move on than those asked to divorce against their will. If you ended the marriage, you might have felt there was a healthy reason to do so. However, if you didn't want the marriage to end, you might struggle to understand your ex-spouse's reasoning or still feel in love with the individual.
If your spouse was unfaithful, you might experience mixed emotions about the divorce. For example, you could grieve the end of the relationship as you knew it and also feel upset, angry, or confused about the infidelity. You might feel betrayed or heartbroken if your partner was going through an affair. Discussing these feelings with a compassionate therapist can be beneficial when moving forward.
Studies show that it can take longer to get over a divorce when children are involved because you may have to communicate with, see, and co-parent with your ex. Seeing your ex may bring up past feelings or make you feel that you don't have the space to move on as you need. In these cases, post-divorce counseling with your spouse may be beneficial to develop boundaries, discuss custody, and plan for co-parenting.
Studies show that income may impact divorce. If you are financially stable and make enough income to support a household on your own, you may feel more comfortable moving forward without your spouse. However, if you lack income or owe a large sum to your ex-spouse, you might find it challenging to move forward. In addition, financial arguments or legal proceedings regarding asset distribution can be challenging for both ex-spouses as they try to separate a previously-shared life.
Many men have a job and find it beneficial after leaving a marriage. With a job, you may be able to find distraction, companionship, and purpose through your grieving process. If you do not have employment due to a disability, retirement, or another concern, you may struggle to find support from others and could feel isolated in your experiences.
Mediation Vs. Litigation
Going to court can be challenging for many divorcing couples. If the divorce is not amicable, arguments or heated discussions about assets, finances, custody, and other matters may arise. In these cases, family or divorce counseling may be beneficial to develop a healthy plan for the most amicable divorce possible.
In some cases, men may lose their pets during a divorce. Although pet custody may not be as much of a legal concern as children, pets can be an essential part of a family, and losing the family you love can be challenging.
Many men may struggle to find a support system after divorce if they don't have many friends or do not have a social circle where they can feel safe talking about their emotions. In these cases, talking to a professional can be beneficial, as it allows men to reach out to someone impartial in a discreet environment where they can find guidance.
How Therapy Can Help
It can take time to get over a divorce, and you're not alone if you still love, miss, or want to be with your spouse. However, moving forward can be possible, and a relationship therapist may help you do so. If you feel shame about your divorce or struggle to consider the option of an in-person therapist, you can also try post-divorce therapy online.
Through a platform like ReGain, you can meet with an individual or couples counselor to discuss the factors surrounding your experience, emotions, and worries. You can develop actionable solutions and get matched with a therapist that meets your needs and preferences (you can choose to meet with a male therapist if you feel most comfortable).
Studies have found that men often prefer internet-based therapy to in-person therapy on a more significant level than those of other genders due to its discreet nature and flexibility in communication. When you sign up for a platform, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions and use a nickname if you don't want the therapist to know your identity.
Going through a divorce can be painful, confusing, and emotional. Know it's okay and healthy to grieve, and you're not alone. Support is available through hotlines, therapists, support groups, and social institutions. Consider reaching out to a therapist online or in-person to start taking steps toward your new life after divorce.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about men and divorce.
How Long Does It Take A Man To Grieve Divorce?
Divorce can have long-lasting effects on many men. In cases where there was abuse in a relationship, you may also leave a relationship with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For many divorced men, grief is a long-term process that can ebb and flow. There is not necessarily a "right way" to grieve, and grief can have various timelines. You may experience several emotional stages of grief and find that your self-esteem and self-respect are low.
If you have been grieving for over a year, it may be time to seek professional help. Receiving emotional support and choosing to seek therapy is brave, and over 41.7 million adults see a therapist in the US.
If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.
What Should You Not Say To Someone Getting Divorced?
If you are close friends with someone divorcing after being in a long-term relationship, try to avoid pointing out their physical appearance, mentioning their former spouse, or pressuring them to "get over it." Creating a healthy environment that does not reinforce toxic masculinity can be beneficial. Let your friend know it's okay to cry, need support, or talk about loving or missing their ex.
You can also try to distract them and help them with their grief by being present, kind, and validating when they are upset about their divorce. Chronic worry and physical health problems are common after a divorce, especially if it is a contested divorce (unwanted). Help your friend or family remain preoccupied and be present for them as you can. Recommend resources like a hotline or a local therapy center if they are talking about concerning mental health symptoms like substance use.
Is The First Relationship After A Divorce Doomed?
When considering getting into your next relationship, consider working to heal the hurts from your previous marriage. You may want to consider legal rights over children or assets. If you get married in the future, custody changes or certain requests from your ex could impact your relationship.
No relationship is necessarily "doomed" from the get-go, and there are ways to make your relationship work if you find it healthy. Try to take it slow and be gentle with yourself. You have the right to grieve and take time alone if you need it.
Is It OK To Date A Man Going Through A Divorce?
You can date a man that is going through a divorce. However, understand that there may still be legal proceedings occurring with their ex-partner, they may have custody challenges, and they may experience stress or emotional reactions during the process. In addition, their ex-partner may struggle with the divorce and take out these feelings on you. If you and the man you care about are certain about wanting to start a relationship, it may be beneficial to see a couples therapist as you navigate the circumstances of their divorce.
Do Men Regret Divorce?
Some men regret their divorce, whereas others might feel relief, neutrality, or another emotion. Regardless of how you feel after your divorce, your feelings are valid. How you react to those emotions and take steps to care for yourself can be unhealthy or healthy, depending on your choices. If you require support due to regretting a divorce, consider contacting a relationship therapist for guidance.
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