How Do Men Really Deal With Divorce?

How do men deal with divorce when they realize making it official won't necessarily make it work.


*Names have been changed for privacy.

I was upset when Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck split. When Tisha Campbell-Martin and Duane Martin went their separate ways, I literally felt like I didn't want to live in a world where those two couldn't make it. To be honest, I'm still rooting for Channing Tatum to pull Jenna Dewan back. Lately, it seems like people can sign off on a car lease with more commitment than a marriage, and generations before us love to preach that today's young couples don't have a deep understanding of what “till death do us part" actually means.

If I'm convinced of anything, it's that any good marriage is built on a solid foundation. So when I recently touched base with an old friend named *Brian, I wasn't all that surprised to hear that after telling the world how he handled a heartbreak that went on to become a marriage, he was now dealing with an impending divorce.

The last time I bumped into Brian was in Fall of 2015 when he told me he had recently married his college sweetheart after years of making and breaking up.

The couple now had a five-year-old daughter, but the longest "break" they endured occurred during the first few years of her life. During that time, Brian had ended the relationship over living arrangements that included feeling disrespected by his then-girlfriend's dog and just generally being too immature for a serious relationship. After moving halfway across the country, he made several attempts to heal that included having sex with someone new just days after the break-up and throwing himself into work to try and get through the heartbreak. Ironically, his plan for getting past the pain was interrupted a few months later when family and friends living a few states away in his hometown dropped the bomb on him that his ex was expecting his child (turns out, she wanted the whole world to know before he did).

Finding himself almost smack in the middle of new fatherhood, Brian made the decision to move back home and try to build a life with his ex for the sake of their family.

I've always gotten the impression from Brian that many of his relationships included the tug-of-war of making and breaking up and that many of his relationships didn't really form over falling in love with anyone, but more so from the fear of being alone. Last year, more than being excited over finding the person he would spend the rest of his life with, I suspected he was using marriage as a way settle the drama that can sometimes come with a challenging co-parenting situation. Recently, he revealed that he knew the marriage was over pretty much before it began:

“I knew it probably wouldn't last when I asked her to marry me. I was trying to be the good guy. I wanted it to work for the child."

Not even a year later, Brian now admits that it's not working and recently filed for legal separation. Brian's story is proof that if dealing with heartbreak isn't hard enough for men, then divorce isn't any easier.

Even though your ex might be getting down in several girls' DMs or losing his life savings in Magic City to ease the pain after a break-up, dealing with a divorce tends to make things a little more complicated. Untangling assets, establishing spousal and child support, and a number of other things might just have your ex-husband too busy to worry about which chick he wants to hit up next to help ease his pain. A 2013 Huffington post article broke down exactly how harmful a divorce can be for men not only mentally, but physically as well. A Journal of Men's Health study revealed divorced men are more susceptible to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke and 39 percent more likely to engage in risky behavior or commit suicide.

So for all of you renewing your membership in the National Creep Squad Association, even science says that being happily married is good for your health.

YourTango relationship expert, Cecil Wong explains that in some ways men deal with divorce much like they deal with break-ups: By avoiding their feelings and diving headfirst into unhealthy behaviors. He warns, a sudden Hennessy and strip club binge might just be covering up a bout of depression and a need to prove that just because his marriage fell apart doesn't mean his whole life has to:

"In general, men seem to focus on externals (no surprise there): financial and legal matters. Many seem to quickly find new partners or simply resolve to not get too close ever again. Seems like there's a lack of attention to what goes on the inside and the result is blindly going into another relationship with all the same baggage or just continue living with a fear of intimacy. In a way, it's another example of guys always wanting to fix things. Jumping into another relationship or avoiding them altogether are quick fixes which occur when we are either ignore or avoid the inner life."

Wong says that unlike women who will bond and get honest about the pain they're going through which helps the healing process, men tend to bury difficult feelings or hope that work or other women will distract them.

So what went wrong in just a few months and just how is Brian dealing with divorce? Brian sheds some light below on how he's coping:

1. Who was the first to realize it was over what do you think went wrong?

"We had so much miscommunication, for the most part about finances. Checks were bouncing for bills she was supposed to be paying. When I wanted to sit and works things out, she wasn't straight with me. It was like she was too proud to ask for help. She'd rather have an eviction notice on our door than admit she was struggling with money and it always fell on me. I couldn't do it anymore."

2. What's been the hardest part about being separated?

“The hardest part is when your kid keeps asking, 'When are you moving back, Daddy? When are we getting a new house?' It really leaves me at a loss for words because I feel like I can't explain the whole situation. So I'm just like, 'I'm getting a place for us soon.'"

3. How is getting a divorce different from any other break-up?

"There's more people involved when you get a divorce: lawyers, family, children. It's not as easy to make a clean break because so many people are affected. And once the law gets involved in your relationship, it's not as easy as just deleting a number from your phone or taking down some Instagram pics. Shit gets real."

4. What have you learned from your situation and what do you think you should change about yourself, if anything?

“I think there's someone out there for me, but I don't think I need to change anything about myself and I know what I want for my next relationship. This one just wasn't right for me. I wish I had figured that out before having kids, but I know next time to trust my gut. The first break-up was probably a foreshadowing of things to come."

Looks like when it comes to dealing with divorce, being “in our feelings" continues to keep women better off in the long run, even if the only thing we're cuddling up with is a carton of Butter Pecan while we do some soul-searching. One thing I've learned from Brian's experience is that although love isn't everything in a relationship, it's pretty important. And if it isn't one of the main reasons you want to spend your rest of your life with someone, you're doing yourself and maybe even your kids a huge disservice in the long run.

Have you ever been divorced or dealt with a break-up? How did you deal and what are some important lessons you learned during your soul-searching?

Featured image by Shutterstock

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