For all the heartache and anger that has built up inside you as the realization of your situation sets in, when the day arrives that you are no longer living with your wife, while you will likely feel some sense of relief and joy, you are now in a vulnerable place where your behavior will be scrutinized and your mental health must be addressed. This is a time where you can begin improving yourself as a man or make your situation worse.
With the added free time you have as a single man, it is important to keep your confidence and desirability at its maximum. You want to maintain and grow your strengths while not allowing your weakness to overcome you. For example, if you are a physical fitness nut, you want to keep on that path. If you have had issues with your weight and it is a constant battle to keep from getting too fat, you do not want to give up and just eat yourself into oblivion. The goal in the initial stages of divorce is not to compound the problems that come with divorce while also not making mistakes that will live with you for the immediate or long term future.
Here are 10 simple tips that men must follow so the divorce experience is not made worse while also allowing you for personal and spiritual growth as time begins to heal you.
1. Avoid all alcohol. While having a drink on occasion is not going to make a difference, you do not want to increase your alcohol intake to help you deal with your problems. If you are already a drinker, and you know who you are, do everything you can to cut it out of your life or at the very least reduce it to a minimum. Alcohol can increase negative emotions and behavior and the last thing you want to do is get a DWI or a physical confrontation. Get rid of it. Don't smoke pot either thinking it is good for your mental state and it ok because you don't drink.
2. No dating and stay off the damn online dating sites. A man who gets divorced either thinks that he will experience a whole new joy from dating or he will date to prove he is still a man. If you are still separated and not divorced and you think signing up for all these sites to meet women is going to be great, the reality of it is they are not. That does not mean you aren't going to meet women or be single the rest of your life but you dont need to be making decisions regarding your emotions or your sexual health. The reality is that most of the women on them are broken, crazy, or just flat selfish. You just got divorced because you wanted away from that. Jumping back in to the dating game is not likely to be successful and trying to put notches on your belt is just reckless and empty. While you could meet a nice woman randomly and a good social interaction can be a nice distraction, be very careful about it and let it be through a friend or family member rather than swiping left or right five minutes after you leave your marital home. Don't actively seek to date for at least a year after you separate and preferably not until your divorce is finalized. You need time alone and to gather yourself. Nobody wants to see "separated" on a dating profile. Quality women will appreciate that you went through the process before you got back in the game. You will also have so many women available to you that mistakes will likely be made when you are still in the fog of initial separation. You do not want to get a STD or have a unwanted pregnancy. You also don't want to reek of a desperation. Spend time with yourself. The women will find you.
3. Reevaluate all of your other relationships. If you had friends as a married couple with people you met after your marriage, or made new friendships after you were married that are tied to your wife or activities you did with her, ask yourself if you need them in your life. While most of them will pick a side, even if they lean toward you, get rid of all the negativity or reminders of your past. Hopefully you are a man that had friends before you were married. You should solidify those relationships and stop speaking to all of your friends that were there only because you were married. It might hurt because you have time invested but with rare exception you really don't need these people in your life.
4. No Contact With Ex Wife- Once you have made the decision to divorce you cannot stay friends with your ex wife. I have never understood a man who talks to a woman who said she cant be married to him and then takes atleast half his assets. He is mowing her lawn and meeting for lunch like they are friends. Idiots. If you divorce her she isn't going to be your friend or talk to you while likely using all opportunity to sabotage you or pass on gossip. Her motives aren't genuine. You cant call her, ask her for any thing, or do anything to help her. Its rare there is total honesty and honorable behavior in the lead up to a divorce otherwise there would not have been a divorce. Get away from that person. Don't try to get back with her. If you want to be divorced act like a divorced person. Stay away. How to do this when there are kids involved is for another post.
5. Do not abandon or ruin your employment. Whether you work for yourself or a company, you need to do all you can to keep your business going or to keep yourself seen as a valued team member. People you work with likely know your situation. If there are slight problems with your behavior or productivity, you could lose your business or job which simply cannot happen when you are in the initial stages of divorce. There may be time later to move away or take new risks related to your employment, but that your stability after a divorce is often your job. It is vital this stability stays in place.
6. Increase your Physical Activity. Extremes in anything are not usually good but immediately after a divorce they can be devastating. You don't want to start trying to date every woman that moves and you don't want to start lifting tons of weights because you think you need to be in great shape to be desirable. That being said, you cannot just sit on your couch. Whatever level your fitness, try to do a little bit more. If you are sedentary start walking regularly. If you exercise regularly, try to add some things to mix up your regimen. It is easy to lose what makes you strong and your physical well being is as important as your mental health.
7. Watch your behavior around others. There is going to be so much anger and resentment as you face the divorce process. This can turn a nice guy into a mean person or a positive person into a negative person quickly. Its unrealistic to not have some personality change early on in the process but you need to do your best to watch how you act. Your friends don't want to hear about your situation regularly and if you socialize with them they don't want to hear about how much you hate your ex. Try to be as happy as you can and place yourself and social environments where you wont be prone to bad behavior(bars or clubs) and focus on places that make you count your blessings(church or charitable causes). Think about how others see you as you go through each part of your day.
8. Don't talk about your ex in front of your kids. This is probably the most difficult thing a man has to face. Women usually get the majority of the custody of kids and a vastly unfair distribution of the assets relative to the money earned and have an innate ability to act like nothing happened. They are the cats that got the canary and think no one notices because they are emotionless. They hit the lottery and secretly get off watching the man squirm and suffer. It becomes so easy to put such an unemotional person on blast in front of everyone including your kids. You have to do all you can not to do this in front of your kids. It will effect them. I remember the first time I was allowed to see my kids after I left my wife and my 4 year old daughter gets in the car and instead of a hi dad I miss you, she just blurts out "daddy is going to lose all his money". I cant say my response was appropriate. I have struggled since that day not to bash my ex wife in front my kids. You have to do all you can to keep your negative emotions from coming out in front of your kids. They will be suffering enough.
9. Watch your finances carefully. Whether you like it or not, divorce, especially with kids, causes your lifestyle to go down. Disposable income is not going to be there like it was before. Buying things can be therapeutic and vacations can be great. It is easy to buy big ticket items or go on vacations because it makes you feel good even in the moment. Once you sort out your child support obligations and how much you have left after the divorce, you can adjust but until then do things that cost less money and buy little things if you need joy in the moment.
10. Get a mentor or life coach. Every man needs a mentor. A man who has life experience can be invaluable to someone who is younger or going through a tough divorce. Your friends will listen but its the rare male friend who can give good and honest advice based on experience. You also dont want to be that dude calling women you know to talk about your bad marriage. If you don't have a mentor that you can rely on, the life coach can make things much better once you get past whatever apprehension you have about using one. There are so many men that after the fact of divorce who talk about how they wish they had someone to talk to who understood their situation and could give real life advice through the tough stages. The money they would have spent to get the coaching and emotional support would have been saved with better decision making following some good advice. Any man who has been through the divorce machine can look back on the financial errors and the emotional trauma he suffered because he suffered alone. Mental health professionals certainly have their place, but it is the rare one that has real training and life experience that can make a difference. The life coach who has been where you are is likely better and cheaper than the psychologist your family doctor will refer you to see.
Your reputation is everything in this life. Top notch men maintain who they are through the toughest of times and while the system is not set up to make you feel like divorce is this great thing for your wallet and your family relationships, if you are forced to be a part of the process, make sure you behave the best you can and keep your mental and physical situation as good or better when you started. You will be a better man because of it.
The Red Devil