Men & Divorce: Have All the Feels
I’ve heard the younger crowd discuss “catching the feels”. Sometimes they say things like, “I had all the feels.” or “That got me in the feels.”. What they describe in this slang is simply having feelings, emotions. While men are often portrayed as stoic and unemotional, they are human. Pretending like one does not have emotions is not healthy and can cause major problems. Men do experience pain and loss, anger and sadness, as well as the happier emotions. One of the biggest dangers for men during and after divorce, more so than women, is the effect of emotions: depression.
Men, sadly, are not taught to express emotions in the same way as women. Often, they are taught that catching the feels is a sign of weakness. Feeling perfectly human emotions is not weak at all it’s just, you know, human. If a dude isn’t willing to address his feelings he is in a dangerous place--especially after divorce. Studies show that men experience major dips in self-esteem and are at a much higher risk of self harm after a marriage falters.
Aside from admitting a man is having a tough time emotionally, men have not been taught to build a support network in the same way as women, either. Instead of isolation and destructive habits (drinking, hookups, working too much, etc.), men need to invest in friendships. Finding men who can relate or are a positive influence can help them cope. Play golf, play video games, go for a run-- do man stuff and talk. Just the activity will boost mood and confidence. It’s not weakness to have a good friend to help you cope. Vulnerability is a brave thing--it’s the ultimate sign of strength. If a friend makes fun, that’s not cool and it’s not friendship. Call your pastor, a trusted relative, someone, but don’t weather the storm alone. Even if at first you aren’t sure about the right person in whom you can confide, there are excellent support groups online.
Science says to address your feelings and have friends. Trust science. Pay attention to research. It’s about to get better. We’re here to help.