“When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they don’t understand one another, but a sign they have, at last, begun to.” – Helen Rowland
Divorce is not pretty. It doesn’t take a psychology degree to see such a simple truth. When two people who thought they would spend the rest of their lives together decide to part ways, there is anger, resentment and loss. While there has been a significant amount of attention paid to
how women handle the depression and other negative effects of divorce, little attention has been focused on how men react as a result of ending a marriage.
In 2008, it was estimated that almost 40% of marriages ended in divorce. The statistics for second marriages are even worse. Lives are changed. And while it seems the focus is on men who leave, the fact is that the majority of divorces are filed by women. No one disputes that divorce is
hard on everyone.
In general, men are defined by more than just their status in a marriage. No one scoffs at a lifelong bachelor (just consider the terms: achelor and old maid? Who’s getting judged, just by words alone?). A man who doesn’t want children isn’t viewed the same way a woman would be. Rather, a man finds meaning in his relationships, but also in the car he drives, the sports he plays, but most of all, by the job he performs. Losing a wife is painful, but studies have demonstrated that divorce causes less anxiety and stress for a man than unemployment does.
In contrast to losing a job, men do not suffer the depression in a divorce that they do in unemployment. After a divorce, a woman’s standard of living drops by 73%. Her ex-husband, on the other hand? His standard of living increases by 42%. It’s going to get a whole lot better soon.
A man gets divorced. Now what? He still has his job. Men find their identity through their work. Thousands of years ago, men hunted to put food on the family table. They cleared land and built homes. Men were craftsmen, shopkeepers, doctors, and law men. They raised crops and livestock to feed the nation. Maybe you’re saying goodbye to one kind of life, but you’re still putting food on the table.
Remember, there is always someone worse off than the recently divorced male. Take the workers at the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Lackawanna, New York, just south of Buffalo that closed in 2009. Within three months of the announcement, two men had died of heart attacks and one found
himself recovering from angioplasty in which three stents were placed in his heart. Losing your wife or losing your life? Neither is an appealing option, but living most certainly trumps dying on any given day. Of course, nobody lives their life dreaming of the day they’ll serve their divorce papers, at the end of the day, losing your wife isn’t as bad as losing your job.