Nobody goes into a marriage thinking that it will end in separation or divorce, however many blokes find that when their marriages do end, that separation and divorce are among the toughest experiences they will ever have to face. Blokes go through a range of intense emotions during this time, including loneliness and sadness; shock, hurt and bewilderment; anger and frustration and sometimes relief that differences are finally out in the open. These responses to distress are all perfectly normal. Thankfully, most blokes can face these challenges and go on living fulfilling and happy lives, keeping in mind of course that this does take time.
Separation is complex and can involve feelings around the loss of:
- your partner
- family structure and routines
- involvement or reduced contact with children
- family home
- friends and social life
- meaning and identity
These losses are particularly difficult to come to terms with if:
- you didn’t want the separation in the first place
- the separation is sudden or unexpected
- you’re still hanging on to hope that it will all go back to how it was
- you feel betrayed by your former partner
- you lack a support network or are ostracised by your friends or others in the community
- you have reduced or limited time with your children.
The cumulative situational distress that separation contributes to, may test your strength and capacity to look after yourself properly. It may stir up memories and feelings you thought you’d put behind you. You might grieve the life you previously had. Therefore it is important to acknowledge that grieving is personal – we all do it differently. Some blokes may find comfort in focusing on activities like sport and hobbies, work, or planning a path forward. It’s not a one size fits all scenario so, it’s important to find out what helps you.
There is a temptation at this time to cut yourself off from others. Your circle of friends and family networks may change now that you have separated. Even if you’ve maintained contact, you may be reluctant to lean on them for support. However, withdrawing socially will limit the number of people you can talk to and won’t help you to overcome the grief and loss of separation. Social isolation may increase the risk of depression, reliance on drugs and alcohol, and even suicide.
If you have ongoing negative thoughts or find it difficult to cope with your circumstances, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Us blokes need to remember that when feeling overwhelmed or down, it is quite often the result of unresolved ongoing situational distress, and a chat to someone is always helpful. A GP or another health professional will be able to help to decide whether any treatment is needed and what may be suitable. There are many other men who’ve had similar experiences and they do get through it.
Reach out to those you trust, and remember …before it all gets too much…Talk to a Mate!!®.
Glen and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277