When it comes to advice on moving on post-split, men seem to get the short shrift. The reality is, divorce is just as crushing for men as it is for women. Most of us take our vows with the intention for the marriage to last. Rerouting your future when the relationship falls apart is hard regardless of whether you’re a man or woman.
To help balance things out a bit, we asked a few male divorced writers to share their best advice on rebuilding after divorce. Read their helpful advice, that’s applicable to everyone regardless of gender, below:
1. Remember: You only divorced your spouse, not your kids.
Your marriage may not have worked out but that doesn’t mean you’re any less responsible for the well-being of your kiddos. Your children need you in their lives now more than ever. Take it from Joel Schwartzberg, the author of The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad.
“I know it’s tempting to think a divorce will dilute, minimize or do irreparable harm to your role as a dad and it can… if you let it,” Schwartzberg said. “But in many ways, divorce can also free you of others’ expectations and standards for parenting. It allows you to parent your way. My divorce enabled me to be a much more authentic father and my relationship with my kids couldn’t be stronger or more fulfilling.”
2. Stop asking, “What if?”
If you gave yourself permission, you could spend every waking moment analyzing what you should have done differently in your marriage — but to what end? The marriage is over. The next step is to move on. In the middle of his divorce, Al DeLuise learned a simple trick to curb all his second-guessing.
“My therapist told me to do the following: Give yourself 30 minutes each day to think about the divorce, but it has to be the same time every day,” DeLuise said. “If a divorce thought popped into my head I had to say, ‘No, not now, I’ll think about that later.’ If I missed my self-appointed time one day, I had to wait until the next day to think about things. I have to say, it was a very effective way to clear my mind during the day.”
3. Don’t feel guilty… unless there’s reason to be.
Divorce isn’t a dirty word. Like countless other couples, you and your ex went into your marriage with the best of intentions and it simply didn’t work out. Remind yourself that there’s no shame in splitting up, advised Schwartzberg.
“Unless you’ve personally broken your vows and betrayed your wife and marriage, you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting a divorce,” he said. “Everyone makes mistakes and not all incompatibilities are immediately obvious. In the end, my unwarranted feelings of guilt — especially since we had three kids — made me less objective and self-protective when it came to protecting myself legally in the divorce.”
4. Don’t introduce your kids to everyone you date.
There’s a good chance you’re eager to get back out there and date — and that’s completely understandable. But try to take your time and recognize that your kids don’t need to meet every Tinder match or blind date.
“Do your kids a favor and keep them in the dark about your love life,” said divorced dad and writer Austin Blood. “If there’s one thing that raises my blood pressure, it’s watching supposedly mature adults act like emotionally stunted, lovesick teenagers while their poor kids bear witness to mom or dad’s complicated dating life. Divorce is traumatic enough for kids without them having to see their parents rushing to get their groove on with someone that’s not mom or dad.”
Blood said he tells divorced pals it’s best to wait a year before making any introductions: “And that’s a minimum of one year. Frankly, the longer, the better as far as I’m concerned.”
5. Don’t get too invested in a rebound relationship.
If you do jump into a relationship, take it slow. It’s easy to get caught up in the heady early stages of a new relationship — especially after going through a divorce — but don’t allow yourself to commit too soon, Blood said.
“Why? Because in the beginning, everyone is in love and on their best behavior — you feel like the stars and constellations are aligned,” he said. “The truth is: you don’t really get to know someone until at least a year or more into the relationship. It doesn’t matter if you’re welded at the hip for the first six months; certain things only reveal themselves with the passing of time. Just take it easy.”
6. Add some routine to your life.
Whether it’s going to the gym, or heading to the movies on what used to be date night, falling into a routine of some kind will provide some much-needed stability to your life. For DeLuise, the routine was treating himself to pizza for dinner. DeLuise said it wasn’t the healthiest but that it was a short-lived stage.
“What mattered was that it was a routine and at the time, that was all I was looking for –- something constant I could count on,” he said.. “Plus, it was delicious.”
7. Learn everything you can from the experience of being married.
No one walks away from a divorce completely blameless. Whether you care to admit it or not, you made some mistakes in your marriage that ultimately led to its downfall. Take ownership of what happened and you’ll set yourself up for a stronger, healthier relationship the next time said, Schwartzberg said.
“Then after you’ve done that, ask yourself: Which needs of mine were met? Which weren’t? This will give you valuable insight in choosing your next partner,” he said. “It’s enticing to act mainly on sexual attraction once you become single again -– and there’s nothing wrong with that — but the trick is to find a woman who can provide you with something that was absent or lacking in your previous marriage.”
Taking stock of what he wanted in a future relationship led to Schwartzberg remarrying in 2008.
“For me, it was really about finding someone new who was as interested in giving and receiving affection as she was in forming a strong partnership,” he said. “I’m glad I realized that.”
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