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.

"Men 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."

Others 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 situation."

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 issues.

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.