While divorce can be difficult for everyone, men and women tend to experience it differently. Of course, both men and women face some of the same issues when a marriage falls apart — property division, child custody, co-parenting, etc. — but for men, a divorce can mean dealing with a unique set of problems and complications.
A study by the American Sociological Association revealed that women initiate 70% of divorces. It could be that women are more emotionally attuned to problems in a marriage and are able to come to terms with the end of their marriage before men do. If the divorce filing is a surprise to the husband, he may have to deal with an emotional rollercoaster on top of navigating through the divorce process.
Further compounding the pain of a divorce is the social construct that says men should not show emotions, and that doing so makes you appear weak. Buying into this notion by pretending that all is well when it isn’t can be unhealthy. Unfortunately, men tend to suffer in silence rather than reaching out to loved ones or therapists to help process their grief over the loss of a marriage.
Although the gender stereotypes that used to hold sway in family courts are not nearly as prevalent as they were in the past, men still face an uphill battle if they wish to win sole custody of minor children. Even in joint custody situations, men who used to be with their children every day can find it extremely painful for their parenting time to be ruled by a court order. Many fathers find it difficult to maintain a close bond with their children when their time with them is prearranged and limited, and this loss can often be more traumatic than the divorce itself.
Typically, both spouses face daunting financial issues in a divorce unless they enjoy a high net worth that easily covers expenses for two different households and lifestyles. But no matter how much money you had as a couple, there will be a lot less of it when you split.
In cases where the wife has primary physical custody, she usually retains the family home as well, which means that the ex-husband must bear the expense of moving to and furnishing a new home. Child support and alimony are also large expenses, and with the new tax laws that went into effect in 2019, an ex-spouse paying alimony will no longer be able to take a tax deduction.
Some studies have shown that following a divorce, men have an elevated risk for heart disease and cancer. They are also more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs and engage in other high-risk behaviors to fill a void. Suicide rates also rise for men after a divorce.
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