Memoirs of a Psychologist: Effects of Divorce on Men

Divorce is hard. I know because I've gone through one myself. I think the effects of divorce on men are often overlooked, because guys are "supposed" to be strong and stoic, even through difficult times like this.

The fact is, it's okay for men to struggle during a divorce as well. Dr. Robert Erdei helps us understand what guys go through during a divorce and how to ease the impact of this tough time.

Fact: 50 % children of divorced parents have not seen their father in a year.

How does divorce impact a man's health?

Make no mistake about it, the effects of divorce on men can be just as detrimental as that of women. Divorced men experience health-related problems and the rate of premature death is significantly higher among men - attributable in many cases directly to divorce. The most common causes are pneumonia, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, but the rate of suicide among divorced men is four times higher than in the sample of married men. (Rocky Mountain Family Council, n. d.)

Although the health effects are concerning men and women as well, women are more heavily affected. Men have lower levels of depression and have higher levels of engagement in sexual relationships without remarrying. (Montenegro, 2004 - AARP The Magazine - Study PDF)

How do you define "dad"?

Google says that "dad" and "father" are the same.

I respectfully disagree. Here's our new definition of dad and why we think the words are not the same.

When men get divorced, their finances go...up?

Men have a better financial situation after divorce, according to British data, their income increases about almost one-quarter, while women suffer a decline about 30%. (Fisher & Low, 2009 - University of Cambridge - Study PDF) Nonetheless, financial gains or lowered losses are not the only measuring stick when it comes to measuring the impact of divorce on men. Other areas of life certainly suffer; even when the financial side remains intact.

Naturally, men are also concern about their children, but they are more concerned about their future relationship with their children as the non-custodial parent most of the time. (Montenegro, 2004) Existing study literature and the experiences of divorced fathers suggest the relationship of absent fathers with their children usually suffers both children AND the father. Perhaps somewhat surprising, though, only 50% of divorced mothers think that a continued relationship with the father is of value to the children. One fifth of the mothers see no value in it at all and actively try to sabotage the father’s relationship with the children.

Memoirs of a Psychologist Series

Men experience strained relationships post-divorce.

Fagan and Churchill also see the weakened parent-child relationship as one of the greatest dangers of divorce. In many situations the father is usually the non-custodial parent which has a diminishing effect on his relationship with his children. Men are far more likely to have their relationships with their children affected than the mother.

Fathers might want to be part of the life of their children, but considering the significantly diminished amount of time they are able to spend with them, it only goes without saying the father sees reduced opportunities to provide emotional support, stand in as a regular role model or just be accessible as a father figure when those roles are needed. One study reported that almost 50 % children of divorced parents have not seen their father in a year. On the other hand, fewer than half of the fathers have seen their children more than a few times a year.

Need Help Overcoming Parenting Challenges?

Memoirs of a Psychologist is a series of post in partnership with Dr. Robert Erdei. Memoirs of a Psychologist doesn't just scratch the surface of your parenting challenges. We dig deep, seeking to help you create the change needed to be a better parent and have better relationships with your children.

Click below to visit the Memoirs of a Psychologist blog post series home page for more parenting tips and resources.

How did your divorce impact you and your relationship with your children?

Divorced fathers are often on the outside looking in.

The contact between the children and the divorced father declines over time after a divorce, but the level of trust between the non-resident father and his children also decreases. Children usually trust less in their fathers after divorce and also often lack the emotional support from them, which parallels the parent's limited ability to provide it. Fathers have less opportunity to influence the behavior and attitudes of their children once the parents dissolve their marriage.

Men are facing an additional challenge of losing social support after divorce and they are also less likely to seek help for their problems. This is mainly due to the different socialization of the genders. Men suffer from the effects of divorce as well, but they are “taught” to be strong and not to show too much emotion. This makes it a lot harder for men to cope with and elaborate on the feelings associated with divorce.

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What do you think? Are you a divorced man? How were you impacted by your divorce? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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