When you are a man going through a divorce, everything changes. Your relationship with your children, your housing, and your ability to do your work and move on with your life. Not only is divorce stressful for you, your children will be going through a tough time as well so it is important to maintain a strong relationship with them. Here are some tips to help get you through this hectic time.
- tell your children that you still love them and want to be with them
- accept emotional support from your family and friends
- see a therapist and join a support group
- go to work and continue as you have
- work with your lawyer to arrange a child custody arrangement
- criticize your ex wife to the children
- use the children as messengers or mediators
- ruminate to coworkers
- think you can do this all alone
- over indulge in potentially addictive substances or behaviors
Your children can go through their own trauma when their parents divorce. It is important for them and for you to let them know that you still want to be their father and you will be in their lives as much as you can. When you learn what the specific arrangement will be, let them know when they will see you and how you will remain in their life. Be at their school activities, have them for weekends and certain holidays, etc. Do everything you can to keep in contact and assure them that you aren’t leaving them for good and will be there to love and support them.
Many men believe that they have to go at it alone and have to be strong. While you do have to be strong, it does not mean that you shouldn’t seek support from family and friends. Parents, siblings, and other family members can be great support. Seek it from the family members who gave emotional support to you in the past. Friends can also be a good support. Male and platonic female friends can be helpful and if you have both kinds of friends, use them for support.
Sometimes family and friends will not be enough to help you. A therapist can help you cope with your feelings of anger, sadness, depression and anxiety. A support group can help you realize that other people are also going through divorces and feeling as you do. Consequentially, you learn to accept your feelings and vent them.
When you get divorced your feelings about work can change. You can no longer feel like the breadwinner for the stable family. However, you are still the breadwinner, and working can make you feel useful and accomplished if you feel that you have been unsuccessful as a husband.
You will miss seeing your children. However, you should work with your lawyer towards a custody arrangement that satisfies you, makes you happy, and shows your children that you are still their father and want to have a close relationship with them. Not only will seeing your children as often as you can help you cope, it will also help your children cope with the stress of their parents going through a divorce.
In the 1993 movie Mrs. Doubtfire, the late Robin Williams gets divorced and masquerades as an old woman involved with the family to get his children back with a good custody arrangement. In the first scene when he has the kids after the divorce, they are at the dinner table and he asks, “How is the battleaxe?” There is an embarrassing moment of silence that is awkward for everyone. Any form of putting the children in the middle of your animosity just creates tension and stresses you and your children. Keep in mind that your ex-wife is still their mother and will be a big part of their life. No matter how much anger and sadness you have towards your ex, you don’t want to put your children in the middle of it. It will only bring about more problems.
You and your ex wife need to work things out with custody, support, dividing assets, and all the other issues that come with divorce. The children need to be concerned about school, their friends, etc. without being caught in the middle.
Complaining to coworkers is contrary to Do #3 and Do #4. If you do not get therapy and join a support group you might vent to coworkers who do not need the added stress. It will only add to your work stress.
Many of us still feel that we need to handle stressors ourselves without help. Consequentially, you hold everything in and this can lead to stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease. You can be a stronger and healthier man when you seek support.
Whether it is alcohol, smoking cigarettes or marijuana, or working too hard to escape thinking about your loss, do not do it. Addictive substances can often be thought of as people substitutes because they make you feel good without demanding anything back. In reality every aspect of your life suffers. Heal your self through therapy and real people and not an addiction.
When you get divorced there are healthy and unhealthy ways to handle the situation. There are right ways and wrong ways to continue as a father, working man, and person. Getting a divorce does not mean that your life is over. You still have obligations as a father to your children to provide support and love for them as they grow up. Keep this advice in mind to help you find the support you need to get through this difficult time.