I want to thank all of the men who trusted me in their “brokenness.” At no other time did they voice such weakness; at no other time was my perception of their strength so real. Their stories inspired this article and hopefully will go on to help others.-MJR
Women still initiate the majority of divorces in the United States. The reasons are varied, and it doesn’t really matter why it happened in the mind of the man who is left. If there are kids, the silence can be deafening because when your wife leaves, the kids usually go with her. Feelings of anger and rejection can overpower men and lead to life-threatening behaviors. Many times, men do not have the network system to offer emotional support and encouragement like women do. This leaves them to vices such as alcohol, driving too fast, physical aggression, and violence. When men are upset, it takes their heart, respirations, and blood pressure longer to return to normal readings than it does for women. For most men, having their wife walk out on them is a sign of failure, and failure is unfortunately viewed as being weak. The only way a guy is taught to handle feeling weak is to get angry, which begins the cycle of anger that the man’s wife left when she walked out the door.
Men feel and act much quicker than women do. When men feel alone or hurt, they are not socialized to go to other men to talk about their feelings. They are socialized to talk to women. This usually leads to them “hooking up” with another woman before they are prepared emotionally. Women view relationships with more intensity in the beginning than men do. This usually means for the guy who isn’t emotionally available that, once again, he will fail and be rejected. Women are also judgmental of these men as the men often don’t get close enough or vulnerable enough to be understood. If she cannot understand, she has no recourse other than to judge the present behavior.
By the time these men make it into my office, they are broken. Many times they are sleep deprived, confused, hurt, and angry. Trying to convince him at that time to cease using the vices he has been socialized or mentored to use by friends, family, and the media is almost impossible. He needs a fix, but his emotional and physical health depends on him feeling the pain and grieving it before moving on. He won’t trust his ability to grieve until he has other options to help him manage it. Here are several options for men dealing with a loss of love. They can be done alone or with the guidance of a counselor or third party:
1. Begin writing down your thoughts. Writing it seems to be cathartic, whereas holding it in your head can make you more confused and angry. Get a journal and make it your mission to fill it daily or hourly.
2. Each day, make sure you talk with someone you trust. This can be a simple text or email, but communicating with someone else is important. This will help give you balance and stability at a time you feel off-kilter and rocked.
3. Pray. Pray every day. It doesn’t have to be an organized prayer, just talk to your god. Talking to a minister or mentor from the church can help you feel less alone.
4. Go to the gym or walk outside each day. Movement releases endorphins, which helps improve your mood and lower your depression.