After Divorce: The Impact On Men's Health
While everyone may experience the issues mentioned in this article, please note that as part of our initiative responding to the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men (2018), these articles will focus on how these topics affect men and boys, and the mental health of men and boys, in honor of Men's Health Month. We use “men” to refer to people who identify as men.
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article mentions topics that include abuse and substance overuse. The information found in the article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have. If you need help immediately, the Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) and the SAMHSA National Helpline (Substance Use): (800)662-4357 can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In a matter of moments, weeks, and months, your whole life can be turned upside down. What was supposed to be a forever commitment can end early, shaking a foundational element of your life.
Divorce is becoming an increasingly common reality for married couples all across the globe. This commonality doesn’t make the harsh consequences any less challenging. How can we support men who have faced the divorce process and help them rebuild, despite traditional masculinity standards?
What Causes A Marriage To Fail?
An estimated 39 percent of marriages in the U.S. end after divorce. Some couples, however, have remained married after starting the divorce process. What are the leading causes of divorce?
According to one study, these are the main reasons for divorce:
- Lack Of Commitment 75%
- Infidelity 59.6%
- Too Much Arguing Or Conflict 57.7%
- Marrying Too Young 45.1%
- Financial Problems 36.7%
- Substance Overuse 34.6%
- Domestic Violence 23.5%
Keep in mind that the study participants were allowed to report multiple reasons for their divorce, so the numbers add up much further than 100 percent.
How Does Divorce Affect Male Health?
Going through a divorce is a painful and stressful process for every party involved. That being said, men can face a heavy burden when going through or after this experience, especially due to their tendency to engage in risk seeking behaviors to cope with stress.
A new paper published in the Journal Of Men’s Health found that divorce can take a toll on men's physical and mental health.
According to this paper, divorced and unmarried men tend to have higher rates of depression and mortality and are more prone to substance abuse than married men. They found the mortality rate of men who get a divorce can be up to 250 percent higher than married men.
The study authors also showed that men after divorce are at a greater risk of experiencing health problems like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, weight fluctuations, and even the common cold.
It’s also important to note findings related to mental health; the researchers found that men after divorce are more likely to experience depression and partake in risky activities. These dangerous activities could include drug abuse and alcohol use prompted by depression.
How Does Divorce Affect Men Compared To Women?
As mentioned earlier, divorce is generally painful for everyone involved. This experience can impact all genders and parties involved. But, how do men's, after a divorce, experiences compare, and what challenging issues do men in particular face?
As you can imagine, losing a partner and primary social support can increase a man’s risk of isolation and depression. One research institute reported that 66% of men rely on their wives for their primary social supports. It’s also known that isolated men have an 82% higher risk of dying from heart disease.
Going through a divorce is a painful and life-changing experience, especially if you're one of many divorced dads. That makes it crucial to seek guidance or encourage your friends to do the same during this period. However, many men are less likely than women to get the professional help they need.
It’s crucial to note that divorce isn’t something you have to power through alone. Seeking guidance for depression caused by divorce is one of the most powerful things you can do during a hard time.
What Are The Stages Of Grief In Divorce?
You may also have a challenging time identifying and processing the stages of grief related to divorce. These stages won’t always come in order, but here’s an idea so you can be prepared after divorce.
1. Shock And Denial
The first stage is shock and denial. You may feel numb and in disbelief at what is taking place. You might also deny the emotions you’re experiencing.
2. Pain And Guilt
After the shock wears off, you will likely start to experience the pain of what you are going through. This stage can be excruciating, but make sure to confront your emotions head-on. Don’t try to cope with drugs or alcohol, as relying on these will worsen things long-term; instead, this is an excellent stage to start seeking guidance.
3. Anger And Bargaining
In this stage, you may become increasingly angry or start to make bargains with yourself and the situation. You may lash out at others, blame your ex-partner, or try to make deals or promises to get them back.
It is vital to control and harness your anger into something constructive. Watch your impulsivity and avoid harming the ones around you.
4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
Stage four may be one of the most demanding stages to overcome. In this stage, reality starts to set in, and you can have feelings of despair or depression.
Avoid closing yourself off during this stage. Take the necessary actions to keep moving forward by reaching out to friends and loved ones.
5. The Upward Turn
In stage five, things are starting to turn around. You may still have bad days, but you will eventually experience more of the good. You’re not entirely over the depression threshold yet, but luckily, it’s getting easier day by day.
6. Reconstruction And Breaking Through
Stage six is one of the most empowering stages of the grieving process. You can finally start to “move on” and make plans without your ex. You may begin setting goals and feel a sense of excitement for the possibilities that await you.
7. Acceptance And Hope
How Can A Man Rebuild His Life?
Make Time To Grieve
Build Or Join A Friend Group
Maintain Your Health
Plan Your Finances
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Long Does It Take A Man To Get Over A Divorce?
The general rule of thumb is that it takes one year of rebuilding to get over five to seven years of marriage. It might take the average man two years to get over a divorce, but everyone’s mileage will vary.
It’s important to note that men may feel more negatively about their divorce and have a more challenging time going through the grieving process. Misunderstanding the grieving process can lengthen the time it takes for a man to heal properly.
How Does Divorce Affect Men In Comparison To Women?
Compared to women, men tend to experience more negative side effects in divorce. Divorced men have a higher mortality rate and suicide rate compared to married men and women. Men can also suffer from adverse health risks such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke. Divorced men might also have a more challenging time seeing their children or gaining custody compared to women.
How Can A Man Rebuild His Life After Divorce?
There are many ways a man can rebuild his life after divorce. We recommend:
- Allowing yourself time to grieve
- Finding or building a social group
- Taking ownership of your situation
- Maintaining your health
- Planning your finances
- Setting goals
- Seeking help
These steps can be done in any priority you choose, but you must maintain your health, properly grieve, and seek out guidance if you need it.