This time last year, I found myself staring into something I never expected: the beginnings of divorce. I never expected to hear my now ex-husband ask for it, and I never expected myself to be willing to agree to the dissolution of our marriage.
As we began the process, I quickly learned just how stressful and exhausting divorce can be. Let me tell you: It’s pretty awful for everyone involved.
And even though my ex and I definitely tried to keep things amicable, I can say without a doubt that many parts of the divorce process are more difficult for men than they are for women.
No matter when or why it happens, divorce is never an easy process. In fact, most people never feel fully prepared for all of the paperwork or the emotional toll the proceedings have.
However, if you’re a man who has found himself amid a divorce, there are some critical pieces of advice that you can take and use to help you not only survive the divorce process but come out stronger than ever on the other side.
How to cope with divorce as a man
Whether you feel relieved or devastated by your divorce, the fact of the matter is that you can’t control the situation. However, you can cope with the events and emotions you are about to experience.
You need to make sure that the coping strategies you use are healthy and not dangerous to your health or wellbeing. In fact, life coach Natalie Maximets suggests that all men avoid the following standard coping methods that can get them into trouble:
- Substance abuse - which can provide a short-term fix but comes with a whole other list of complications and problems.
- Affairs - which can complicate divorce proceedings and effectively ruin your chances of walking away with anything.
- Angry outbursts - which can cause physical or emotional damages that you’ll pay for over time.
Instead of engaging in these unhealthy coping methods, Maximets recommends a clear set of guidelines that can help you effectively cope with your divorce. These guidelines include:
- Moving out of the same living environment as your ex as soon as possible
- Prioritizing your basic needs, like sleep, food, exercise, and hydration
- Giving yourself space and time to grieve the end of your marriage properly
- Engaging in meditation and other mindfulness techniques
- Disconnecting from social media for a short time
A great way to cope with divorce is by tapping into some new hobbies or rediscovering old hobbies you used to enjoy.
While these coping suggestions can often help you deal with the pain and sadness you feel, they may not always cure it completely.
Therefore, it’s a good idea also to consider seeing a licensed therapist or counselor during and after the divorce process so that you can have some professional help on your side.
How should a man prepare?
The divorce process can be long and difficult. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take the needed steps to prepare. According to attorney Chris Hildebrand, men can do the following things to prepare themselves for divorce.
Research the divorce process
Proper research can help you adequately prepare for what you’re about to go through, and information is power. Therefore, it’s best to fully research the divorce process in great detail before you even get started.
When you research, don’t just consider the ideal outcome, though. Also think what could happen if you and your ex cannot agree and need to move to mediation or even court so that you’re fully prepared for all the possibilities.
Gather all of the needed financial information
Since a large part of the divorce process involves the division of assets, one of the first things attorneys do is request all of your financial details to assess everything that will end up in question properly.
You can help speed up this process by collecting your bank accounts, credit card statements, and retirement account balances. Furthermore, you’ll need details on each vehicle and all other property in each spouse’s possession, such as houses, boats, etc.
And, of course, each spouse will need to provide ample proof of income and your past 2-3 years of tax filings.
Consider custody arrangements
If you and your former spouse have children together, you’ll also want to prepare your thoughts on what an ideal custody arrangement should look like.
You should absolutely research custody arrangements in advance and find one that will best fit your family’s lifestyle and take your children’s ages and well-being into consideration.
Establish your support system
Depending on how long you and your former wife were together, chances are your social circles overlap to some degree.
During and after the divorce, though, you’re going to need some emotional support. Therefore, you need to establish a healthy support system.
This will not only help you feel less alone, but it will speed up the bounce-back process for you after you sign your divorce papers.
Hire a lawyer
No matter how amicable you think the process will be, you need someone on your team to look out for your best interests. So hire an attorney for yourself and encourage your wife to do the same.
Men's divorce checklist
For most people, the divorce process can go smoothly if they adequately prepare themselves. That’s precisely why the attorneys at Rosen Law Firm have prepared an outstanding divorce checklist for men to follow. This checklist includes:
Step 1: Before you file
- See a marriage counselor
- Hire an attorney
- Gather all needed documents
Step 2: During the process
- Review financial data
- Prepare a list of expected earnings and expenses post-divorce
- Research moving options if needed
- Plan ahead for separating finances and other entanglements
Step 3: After you finalize
- Change beneficiaries on retirement accounts and life insurance
- Make any needed changes to wills or power or attorney paperwork
- Revisit any joint accounts to make sure that they are fully separated and only one party is listed on accounts
How can you protect yourself?
Obviously, the best way you can protect yourself during the divorce process is by hiring an experienced attorney who knows how to help you handle the divorce process. Beyond that, the experts at DivorceNet recommend several other suggestions on how to protect yourself best.
First and foremost, you want to make sure that you remain in the family home until an attorney advises you that it’s safe to separate. Furthermore, you should not allow your wife to leave with the children until a settlement is reached.
These two things will prevent any accusations that you’ve bailed on your obligations to the family, which can cost you parenting time and child support.
Furthermore, you want to protect your finances by canceling any joint credit cards as soon as possible. This not only safeguards you from tons of unexpected fees, but it can also help you avoid frivolous spending as a coping mechanism.
Along similar lines, you should absolutely find ways to reduce unnecessary expenses as soon as possible. You’ll likely need money for divorce costs, but you and your former spouse both need to adjust to a one-income lifestyle, and this can help.
However, don’t skip out on paying any bills that could be considered family support, especially if you are the breadwinner. This could cost you tremendously.
Of course, don’t sign anything without consulting your attorney first. This can help you avoid any agreements that may harm the proceedings, and it can also safeguard against differences in information being exchanged between spouses and attorneys.
Finally, don’t hide any assets and make sure your spouse isn’t hiding anything either. Suppose any hidden accounts or expenses come out during the divorce proceedings that you didn’t disclose upfront. In that case, it can cause massive problems and essentially wash away any shot you had at an amicable divorce.
How long does it take to get over it?
The amount of time it takes for men to get over divorce varies widely. However, most experts say that it takes nearly two years for most men to fully get over their ex and move on after a divorce.
Instead of focusing on how long it takes to get over your ex, you should instead trust the process and give yourself the time and space you need to walk through the stages of grief fully.
You can’t take any shortcuts when processing a divorce, and you definitely can’t use duct tape solutions to hold yourself together. It’s normal to need time to heal. In fact, it’s fully expected.
According to divorce mediator Kathleen O'Connell Corcoran, men tend to hold onto the marriage longer than their spouses, which means that the grieving process can often take longer for men as well.
In general, though, the length of time it will take you to process the divorce and move on will depend on the following factors:
- How long the marriage lasted
- Who initiated the divorce
- Infidelity and who was unfaithful
- If there are children involved
- How good your support system is
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your divorce, chances are you’re hurting. That’s completely natural and understandable. I know I definitely experienced lots of pain during the divorce process, and I know my ex did too.
You may be dealing with an unwanted divorce or find yourself going through the needed motions after a long battle of trying to make things work.
Anywhere on the spectrum of divorce is still considered a divorce, and you’ll need time to process all of the complex emotions you’re feeling.
While you may feel like life as you know it is ending, you can absolutely find healthy ways to cope with your feelings during this critical time and take the needed steps to prepare yourself for the divorce process.
You may feel lost, confused, and more than a little bit sad — but just remember that these feelings are natural and they will fade with time.
Although you may not believe it just yet, you will eventually get over your ex and discover that light at the end of the tunnel.
You’ll find peace, happiness, and possibly even a new relationship — all in good time.
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