"In moving forward after a divorce, honesty is vital to growth."
Amid the division of assets and the ending of a marriage, two newly single individuals emerge from the experience, and while they may not necessarily be ready to take on the world of dating and relationships right away, there is a future beyond the experience of divorce, where one of them may meet another person.
For men exiting a marriage, it can be difficult just to get out of bed some days. Studies have shown that men are nearly twice as likely to suffer from post-divorce depression as women, according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. There are a variety of physical and mental health hazards that they face, including an increased risk of suicide, an increased risk of an eating or sleeping disorder caused by a poor diet or stress, an increased risk of addiction in the form of gambling, drugs, or even alcohol, and physical changes like hair loss or weight gain. With all of these risks, it’s no wonder the prospect of meeting new people is so scary and unwelcoming.
One positive aspect to meeting new people is that they don’t know you. They don’t know your story. They don’t know what you’ve experienced. They don’t know about your divorce or your custody battle. They just know that they’re talking to you.
This encounter may be a month after your divorce. It may be a year afterward. It all depends on the individual and their ability to process the experience. Additionally, any residual feelings and emotions, both positive and negative, regarding your ex-spouse may linger, causing a delay on moving forward.
Moving forward can only occur when the individual in question, has processed the experience and has moved on to a healthier point in their own lives. This does not include destructive behaviors that can harm your progress and drag bystanders into your emotion-fueled decision-making.
Decisions and behaviors
These decisions can range from the stereotypical “one-night stands” to even more destructive behaviors like crime or substance abuse, which can do irreversible damage to your divorce or custody case moving forward. In reaching out to others for comfort or support, divorced individuals are seeking the companionship of others, which was lost during the dissolution of not only the marriage, but the overall relationship.
Researchers at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University examined the adult perceptions and expectations of post-divorce intimate relationships and observed that in post-divorce relationships, there is an expectation that persists in a desire for both companionship and friendship within the confines of an intimate relationship.
This desire is understandable, especially when you consider the psychological importance of friendship in the confines of a marriage. According to psychologist Staci Lee Schnell, married couples use friendship to feel safe enough to be more open with one another without worrying about being judged or feeling insecure.
For divorced individuals, it may be easier to pursue instant comfort and build on that, later on, in an effort to feel temporary security, but it’s not sustainable long-term. Unless you already have a preexisting relationship of some sort with the bystander in question, it’s difficult to build the security of companionship from destructive beginnings.
In moving forward after a divorce, honesty is vital to growth. Creating a candid dialogue with yourself about the events that have transpired, about your feelings with the way your ex-spouse behaved, about your feelings regarding the way you behaved, and also about how you pick up the pieces and start anew.
This type of honesty allows you to interpret the divorce and better understand the emotions from the opposite perspective, which gives you an opportunity to learn from these mistakes moving forward in future relationships.
The study from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University observed that the emotional aspect in moving forward in post-divorce relationships was not the only concern. Another was the financial problems stemming from the divorce itself and how they impacted post-divorce life.
Individuals who are attempting to recover and move forward on their own, or in a new relationship, after their divorce are often hampered by their own financial decline. Due to alimony or child support, financial dependency on family or friends becomes a necessary evil, in order to regain one’s own financial legs.
In being unable to stand on their own two feet financially post-divorce, individuals feel like their life has taken two steps backward, and they can often lose sight of ways to recover. This also can have a negative impact in meeting someone new. Suddenly, you, as a divorced individual, no longer wish to meet someone new, if it means being unable to afford the means to spend time with them in public places.
This spiral can take some time and budgeting to recover from, but work helps. It can quiet your mind and provide the boost necessary to financially recover from your divorce and move forward in your post-divorce life.
Another trap that is often laid out is expectation. Every person in your life is going to have an opinion about how to move forward and may offer hindsight commentary on what you should have done, in order to avoid divorce. While these opinions and thoughts may come from important individuals from your life, hindsight commentary is not always useful in moving forward after the divorce already has occurred, and what you might do, in an effort to move forward after a divorce, may be very different than what a friend or family member may do.
These distinctions are important, and knowing what is best for you can help you regain your sense of independence. After a divorce, it can seem like opportunities for failure are beckoning at every corner, but knowing what to look for and how to avoid destructive traps and behaviors can give you the tools to become a stronger individual.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.
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