If you're a man dealing with the prospect or the reality of a divorce, you might be wondering, "How strong do I have to be," and "What exactly does it mean to be strong?"
I am reminded of these questions as I was thinking about some old forgotten "love letters" and cards I found while cleaning out my basement. I'm in the midst of moving from my house of 15 years to my (new) wife's house.
While going through some old work boxes, I found some letters my second girlfriend wrote to me while we were away at separate colleges; she was at Cortland, I was at Oneonta. I also found a card from my ex-wife that was given to me in anticipation of me being away on another business weekend.
It hit me that we may have many loves in our lives and many of them may not go the distance, meaning, result in marriage. That can be a (very) bad thing if you let it debilitate you. It can also seem very pessimistic. I don't think so. I think it's realistic, it's life. These "short-term" relationships can also be opportunities to learn about ourselves and what we need, what works, and--perhaps more importantly--what doesn't.
So how does "being strong" play into all of this? >>>>>>>
Men have had to live up to many stereotypes or ideals, one of which begins when we are little boys. You're familiar with this scene: a parent and child (son) are out on the town, something happens to the boy and he begins to cry. The parent says, "Stop crying Johnnie, be a big boy. You're OK."
What's the lesson?
It's not OK to cry, being a big boy (or man) means you don't cry when you're hurt, you suck it up, you tough it out, you carry on.
The thing is, we need to feel and express our emotions and one of the most emotional times of your life is (God forbid) when your marriage is falling apart. There are numerous emotions at play; you experience conflicting feelings. Ignoring these feelings can cause even greater pain and prolonged suffering. I don't think that's being strong; I think that's being stupid! There, I said it.
I suggest that being strong as a man dealing with the breakup of your marriage and the potential or actual loss of your partner means knowing what type of support you need, when and where to get that support -- and getting it. Being strong does not mean, "Suck it up, tough it out, accept it like a man."
A separation/divorce is hard work and it's on top of your "normal" life: going to work, taking care of your health, paying the bills, keeping up the house/apartment/yard, maintaining social relationships, dealing with the kids (if any)...
So be strong -- look for help and ask for it. This is one trip you do not want to make alone. And you don't have to.
If you're a man moving into, going through, or coming out of a divorce and you are looking for resources and support to help you get through this more quickly and with less pain, be strong, contact me.
Ciao for now,
The Divorce Coach 4 Men
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