Men and Divorce
The decision to divorce may be one of the hardest decisions a person makes in life, regardless of gender. But it may not surprise most of us that men deal with divorce differently than women. If you’re a divorcing father, knowing how to deal with what is yet to come can make a difference in whether or not the divorce will be destructive or amicable.
It is possible to have a good divorce. Sam Marguilies, Ph.D., J.D. explores this and more in his book, A Man’s Guide To A Civilized Divorce With A Little Grace, A Little Class, And A Lot Of Common Sense. Marguilies says, “You can choose to have a good divorce, but you can only do this if you understand what a ‘good divorce’ is and what emotional and behavioral dilemmas must be confronted along the way to this goal. If you understand, then the decision to divorce is only the first of many decisions you will need to make carefully and consciously rather than by reflex and impulse.”
That’s an important choice if you are a father who wishes to maintain a co-parenting relationship that is in your children’s best interests. It’s difficult to go from an intimate relationship of husband and wife, to leading two separate lives with one commonality, your children. You may not wish to maintain a friendship with your ex any longer, but as parents you can commit to creating a new, unique relationship that is a partnership in rearing your children in a healthful, well-adjusted environment.
Divorce is a great loss, and the manner in which a man mourns this loss may be different than a woman’s. Men are more apt to express their emotions in action rather than words. They will go through the same stages of grief, but in their own way. Men may start this mourning process later than women, especially if the wife has initiated the proceedings. For a divorced father, the loss of his family life may be harder to cope with than the loss of his wife.
Bottom line, by taking the initiative to learn how to make sound decisions with care and insight, men can have a good divorce.
Women and Divorce
Divorce has dramatically changed for women in the past few decades. It’s gone from being a stigma to an option to escape an unhappy marriage. All 50 states and the District of Columbia now have no-fault divorce, a significant change in the way divorce is viewed and handled.
More divorces today are filed by women than men, somewhere around two-thirds. Women no longer feel obligated to stay married just because they have no alternative way of supporting themselves. Today’s women are better educated and more independent. Many work outside the home and are self-sufficient. That fact alone makes it easier for women to divorce than years ago.
Still, many women realize there will be significant changes in their quality of life after a divorce, especially if they are the primary caregivers of the children, trying to make one income support multiple family members. Yet, even knowing this fact, many choose to proceed and get divorced anyway. Why? Did modern society convey the message that there are things that are more important in life than financial security?
Whether or not a woman decides to remain single after a divorce or remarry down the road, the same advice applies as for the men when it comes to the kids — always put the children’s happiness and welfare first.
Finally, perhaps the biggest change for today’s woman to realize about marriage is that it is in her hands. Divorce, remarriage, remaining single; it’s her choice. Now that’s what it means to be a truly liberated woman.