Going through a separation or divorce is a very complicated and troubling time for a man. I separated five years ago, divorced three years ago, and started to really recover two years ago. It was not an easy process. I had an angry ex-wife and three young children.
There is a lack of support for men getting divorced. Divorce support groups are filled with women. Many of the articles online for men are written by women. My goal is to change that. I have made all of the mistakes mentioned in this story and have learned from them. I want to pass that onto you before you make them as well. Read on and good luck with your journey!
Rule 1: No dating the first six months!
You are not ready to date. You’re lonely, upset, and emotional. It’s not easy to leave a marriage, especially if there are kids involved. You might be thinking about the lack of sex and love you had during your former marriage. You might be thinking you need to feel alive again. Don’t do it! Now is the time to take a step back and regroup. You don’t need another woman to fill the void. You aren’t ready. Now is the time to learn more about yourself. I’m basing this on personal experience—don’t do it! I made that mistake of jumping into the dating pool too soon. I wasn’t ready to date, and it wasn’t fair to her that I was not fully committed to the relationship.
Rule 2: Focus on your well-being, especially if you have kids. You are no good to anyone if you are not 100% able.
Physical health: Schedule those doctor appointments. Get a physical. See a nutritionist and join a gym. Stay away from the big gyms for now. Join a small boutique gym that has boot camps or offers structured classes like Body Pump or boxing. Don’t shy away from the group fitness classes—they will be mostly women. But they work well and keep things moving, plus you get to be around beautiful women.
Mental & emotional health: See a therapist. Join a men’s only support group (steer clear of divorce groups since they tend to be mostly women based on my experience). Check out some self-help books, but know when to stop reading them. I know a few men who have read hundreds of books on self-improvement. I was going down that path as well. At some point, you have to actually act and take those steps to improve. Reading about it for years does nothing for you.
Financial health: Where do you stand financially? Do you have debt? Kids? Support payments? Home and bills? Put your numbers on a spreadsheet and determine where you are currently at in life. When I first separated, I had to pay half a mortgage, child support, and also find a place to live myself. It was a constant struggle and years later I am still recovering from debt and financial mistakes that I made. Take stock of your situation now and avoid steering down the wrong path.
Job health: Are you doing well at work or has the divorce experience affected your performance? Do you like what you do? Take an honest look at your work life. It may be time to regroup and start over. I thought I was putting on a good front to my co-workers at the time but a year later, when I was starting to finally come out of that fog, they would tell me how different I was. Stress shows itself. You can’t hide it.
Get out there: With friends, family, even all by yourself. Take a walk. Join a meetup group that focuses on things you like to do. Don’t isolate yourself. I know you are depressed and would rather stay home and drink beer, but now is the time to reconnect with friends. I gave up all my friends when I got married. I thought I needed to focus on my wife and kids. Looking back, that was a big mistake. You need to have balance in life. You need to do things with friends as well as with your family.
Learn how to be alone: I know that I just said not to isolate yourself, but this is different. You will be alone. You may have moved out and the kids are with their mom most of the time. It’s a huge adjustment for you. At first, you will try to fill that void by drinking, dating, surfing porn sites, or hiding in your crappy apartment. Now is the time to learn how to truly be okay with being alone. Read a book. Take a walk. Take the time to do all the other steps I mentioned above. Being alone is okay. It’s a great time to think and take stock of your life.
Rule 3: Follow Rule #1: No dating the first 6 months—VERY IMPORTANT!
Recovering from a separation or divorce is a difficult process. It takes time and patience but you can get through it. The road map I laid out is meant to help you get started. I have made many mistakes during my divorce process and hopefully, those missteps will guide you down the right path. I wish you success down this road.
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