The good news is that there are now much better resources and
services for men facing a relationship crisis and its knock-on effects
than in the past.
Bill Hewlett, a counsellor from Relationships
Australia, says counselling organisations have previously tended to
approach the issue of divorce from a female perspective.
find that the only processes they're offered to deal with [the fallout
from separation] are ones that are alien to them – to sit down and have
a chat over a cup of tea."
But things have changed for the
better. "Separated men should take the risk with organisations that
they suspect will be unsympathetic because they might turn out to be
more sympathetic than they think," he says.
This is important
because part of the problem for men coming to terms with a marriage
breakdown is that they tend to clamp down on their emotions rather than
talking them through with friends and family as women might.
This sense of isolation can be deepened by the fact that men often lack
the supportive networks that women rely on, says Hewlett. After
divorce, some men find themselves excluded from friendships and social
groups that had been initiated by their partners in the first place.
Dealing with the basics
One key difference between the
challenges facing men and women after divorce is the fact that men tend
to be less well equipped with domestic survival skills.
"When I left home, I could hardly boil water," remembers Michael Green. "But my mother handed me a Commonsense Cookbook and told me to do something about it – and I did."
are not so lucky. Over the years, Green has talked to numerous divorced
men who "come home, have a beer and a counter-meal for dinner, don't
have the energy to exercise and end up living in a grotty share
His observations seem to be supported by medical
research. For example, in a recent study of nearly 39,000 men,
researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA, showed
that divorced men eat significantly fewer vegetables, and tend to smoke
and drink more than married men.
Research shows your ability to
cope with trauma is greatly enhanced if your energy stores are
maximised by a good diet, regular exercise and nourishing sleep. A good
general practitioner can be invaluable in getting support with these
Turning around bad habits takes time, but exercise in particular is a
good place to start. Even as little as a brisk half-hour walk a day can
promote the release of chemicals that relieve stress and help you sleep
better. Making the decision to start exercising also makes you feel
empowered rather than a helpless victim. And there's nothing like an
improved appearance through weight loss and better muscle tone to
combat feelings of rejection.
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