Divorce is difficult for everyone, but there are significant differences in how men and women come to terms with divorce. The unique issues men in heterosexual relationships face when divorcing can further complicate the divorce process if not properly addressed before divorce proceedings begin. How men handle divorce can determine whether they emerge as broken individuals or ready to begin a new chapter in their lives. In this blog, we discuss the issues faced by men in particular as they differ from those of women, as well as how to best navigate them to ensure a smooth divorce process.
A disclaimer before we continue: The issues discussed in this blog do not apply to all men and we are not stereotyping. In our experience and in speaking with other experts in the divorce field, this is what we have seen in many men.
In our discussion with divorce mediator John Nachlinger on A Better Divorce Podcast, John and I discussed several tendencies of men going through divorce in terms of how they process and handle their emotions. Men often fail to recognize the signs that their spouse is unsatisfied in the marriage. Even when their wives have expressed their dissatisfaction, men frequently choose to ignore what’s happening. It’s only when there is a threat of separation that they begin to understand the severity of the situation.
The emotional stages men experience during divorce can be tumultuous. They move from indifference to paralyzing fear. This emotional turbulence often fuels anger, which can influence the outcome of their divorce. It’s important for men to understand that going into a divorce angry can be detrimental to all parties involved. Men must acknowledge and address these emotions first, as doing so will pave the way for a smoother and more amicable divorce process.
Gender Differences in Communication
Divorce often becomes further complicated due to differences in how men and women communicate.
The first difference we see is that women typically contemplate divorce for extended periods of time before telling their husbands. They talk to friends and family and may even consult with an attorney before broaching the subject. Men on the other hand seldom feel comfortable discussing their marital difficulties with friends and may be resistant to therapy. As a result, when a wife lets her husband know she wants to divorce, she is more emotionally prepared while her husband is caught off guard.
Passive communication is another aspect that adds to the confusion. Women may express their dissatisfaction indirectly, making it challenging for men to grasp the gravity of the situation. Statements like “We never go out anymore” or “You never let me do anything” are good examples of this passive communication. When men are faced with the reality of divorce, they need to be guided through the emotional aspect, even if they aren’t ready to accept it.
When one party is ready for divorce and the other is not, it can lead to contentious legal battles. Whether a party wants the divorce or is shocked to learn that it is happening, each party should be able to set reasonable boundaries and allow each other the time they need to process their emotions.
Seek Support and Guidance
Divorce coaches can be invaluable for helping men navigate the emotions involved in their divorce. They offer support and guidance, focusing on the personal aspect rather than the legal and financial intricacies. However, men often find it challenging to seek help from a divorce coach and open up about their concerns.
Men commonly grapple with two fears when divorcing: losing custody of their children and having to give all their money to their spouses. A divorce coach can help them understand and address these fears and offer a path to constructive communication with their spouses. They can also help men communicate with their wives without being scared or letting their irrational fears surface.
It is not uncommon for men to avoid seeking a divorce coach as it can seem intimidating and belittling at a time when they are already sensitive and vulnerable. However, it’s important to remember that your divorce coach is not there to bring you down but to lift you up and help you get clarity on what’s happening.
Men can also benefit from support groups composed of other men who are divorced or divorcing as an outlet for their emotions and an empathetic soundboard, allowing them to process their feelings in a healthy manner. Managing frustration and anger outside of the divorce process is vital to achieving a positive outcome.
Effectively Communicating With Your Spouse
To ensure a fair and amicable divorce, effective communication with your spouse is key. Divorce coaches can help men convey their intentions and goals to their spouses, including their desire to avoid conflict and pursue a suitable divorce process for reaching a settlement that benefits both parties.
It’s important for women to allow their husbands enough time to accept the situation. Women must understand that rushing the process before their spouse is ready can lead to increased conflict and unfavorable outcomes for all parties. Women often spend extended periods of time contemplating divorce, so they should allow their husbands the space and time to process their emotions and talk to a therapist, coach, or support group before moving forward.
Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney
Navigating the unique challenges men face during divorce requires a combination of emotional awareness, effective communication, and the right legal guidance. Men’s first concern when they realize their marriage is ending is often what they should do first to protect themselves. This is a valid concern, which is why it’s crucial to choose an attorney who is experienced in divorce law and understands the process. You will benefit most from working with an attorney who exclusively practices family and divorce law and is extensively experienced in settling divorce disputes in a non-adversarial setting.
Vacca Family Law Group helps individuals of various genders and gender identities navigate their divorces amicably with as little acrimony as possible. Our attorneys exclusively practice and are trained in non-adversarial divorce law, including collaborative divorce and mediation, with over a decade of experience settling divorce disputes outside of court. To learn more about how Vacca Family Law Group helps both men and women approach the divorce process, contact us to schedule your free introductory call.