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How Men Feel After a Marriage Breaks Up

by C. Giles

Every person going through a marital separation or divorce reacts to it in a slightly different way. Your individual experience is affected by the events leading up to the separation and whether you or your spouse instigated the split. Just as there are fundamental differences between men and women, how a man feels about a marriage breakup may be very different from how a woman does.

Shock

Men may be less prepared for the end of their marriage than their wives. This may be due to the fact that men tend to focus on their role as the main breadwinner in a family, while women (whether they also pursue careers or not) are more likely to assume the position of the primary caregiver. The man may be too wrapped up in his career to maintain an emotional connection with his wife or to be aware of the issues in his marriage, suggests marriage and family therapist Larry O'Connor in the article "Men’s Challenges With Separation and Divorce" on his website LarryO'Connor.info.

Grief

Both men and women go through a period of grieving after a marriage breakdown. Losing a spouse has a similar effect as the death of a family member, says divorced father Kyle Morrison, founder of the website "Men After Divorce," in "The Huffington Post" article "Men After Divorce: Ego, Self Esteem and Recovery." The difference between men and women when it comes to coping with this huge loss is that it is intricately tied to the male ego. A man's ego is his sense of self, explains Morrison. A man may have derived so much of his sense of self from his spouse that when the marriage ends, he finds himself angry, anxious, unhappy and desperate.

Helplessness

After separation and divorce, a man may struggle to cope with even the most simple everyday tasks. If his wife was responsible for the majority of the household chores, cooking, shopping and nurturing and maintaining social connections, he may feel completely out of his depth, says O'Connor. Men often strive to put on a brave face, to be a "real man," rather than appear weak or inept. When this prevents them from reaching out to others for help in the aftermath of the divorce, it increases those feelings of helplessness and despair.

Coping Tips

To ease the pain of separation and divorce, a solid support network is crucial. A man's emotional needs are just as strong as a woman's, says the "WebMD" article "Life After Divorce: Three Survival Strategies." A man needs to open up to someone he trusts in order to ease the burden and help him work through his feelings about the breakup. A good way to get over feelings of loneliness and boost self-esteem is to find ways to widen your social circle, licensed marriage therapist Patricia Covalt tells "WebMD." Pursuing a new hobby or sporting activity, joining a community group or getting involved with a local charity are all ideal ways to make friends with like-minded people.

About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."

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