Counselling for Breakup / Separation issues
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Separation from your intimate partner is one of the most distressing and painful experiences a man could go through. Obviously, both partners suffer greatly from a separation but the aftermath of separation and divorce seems to be associated with greater consequences for men than for women. The impact on men’s physical and mental health can be more serious compared with women, for example, men are at a higher risk of having suicidal thoughts after a break-up.
Statistically, women initiate two thirds of all divorces and that leaves the men with feelings of failure, rejection and helplessness. Some men may experience the loss as devastating. The loss may also lead to a loss of connection with children and community. The impact on men’s wellbeing can be profound: grief, depression, despair.
Why are the effects larger for men?
Here are a few reasons for you to ponder:
- Once men make their choice of life partner, they are usually more than committed: they often make the woman a kind of linchpin to hold their life together. The loss is then experienced as a loss of meaning, of direction, of belonging.
- Men, more than women, rely heavily on their romantic relationship to meet their emotional and social needs. Once this source of support has gone, a man finds himself exposed and vulnerable to social isolation. Many men are simply not used to seeking support. Their sense of independence and self reliance is so strong that the idea of seeking support – not to mention paying for it – is foreign. They are used to relying on one person, whom they trust – their wife.
- Some men may project onto their wives the role of a mother who is there unconditionally to care for them, accept them and forgive them. This immaturity may result in a heavy price. Not only that the woman resents the man to the point of giving up on him, but the impact on the man is equivalent to a boy losing his mother. This man sacrifices too much of his personal power in the relationship, trying to please her. He lets his wife manage him. Superficially, it seems to be a happy arrangement for both – she has more control and he will have less conflict. Yet, on a deeper level the feminine and masculine powers are not fulfilled in a mature way.
- Men rely on the encouragement from their wives to take care of their health. Without this positive influence, divorced men may rapidly fall into unhealthy habits such as tobacco and alcohol use and self neglect.
- Even though the harmful effects may be stronger for men, they receive less support from friends or family, in part because they are less likely to share their vulnerability or seek out support.
- Some researchers suggest that men are neurochemically predisposed to find break-ups more difficult than women and to resist seeking help from friends.
Springboard for Growth
A break-up can lead to a breakdown but we have seen many men turning that into their breakthrough. There are millions of men who have made their crisis a springboard for personal growth. The pain of a break-up is not wasted if you make it the petrol to fuel your future growth.
Here are a few ideas:
- Take time to reflect on the challenges and look for the lessons before jumping into your next relationship; try to take ownership for your part and learn how to do things differently in the future.
- Build a new social circle or restore relationships with childhood friends. Discover the value of male friendships and join mens’ groups and mens’ activities.
Some men go as far as redesigning their identity of what it means to be a man. They assess their motivation and needs and realign their approach to relationships with their core values. Emotionally mature men want to lead a life based on their good core values. The traumatic experience of a painful breakup often takes them on this journey. They end up re-discovering the real person – their values, their strengths – they have suppressed and feeling more fulfilled because of it.