Is Divorce More Difficult for Women or Men?
Divorce is generally more stressful and difficult for men, according to the findings of a recent study.1 In fact, as these researchers discovered, men who are divorced or who are going through a divorce are:
- Far more likely to suffer from heart disease, strokes and/or high blood pressure (when compared to married men)
- Nearly 40 percent more likely than married men to engage in risky behaviors and/or commit suicide.
In explaining the above findings, researchers pointed to three following factors:
- Divorced men can lose their sense of identity – It is not uncommon for men to define themselves by the role they play in their marriage, as these researchers explained. So, when the marriage falls apart, men can end up feeling like the foundation of their identity has been pulled out from under them. Without having a support system and a new way to rebuild their confidence, the loss of identity can give way to significant emotional distress.
- Divorced men are less likely to channel their grief in healthy ways – Generally, men are not predisposed to talking about their negative feelings, dealing with them head on and/or letting themselves “cry” on someone else’s shoulder to get through significant grief. This, researchers say, can lead men – far more often than women – to bottle up their grief, depression or stress over divorce; and this, in turn, is far more likely to trigger more significant physical and mental health issues later.
- Divorce can challenge men’s paternal role – Another reason that divorce can be so stressful for men is that it can complicate their connection with and/or relationship to their children, as well as their greater sense of belonging and providing for a family. While distress and shame about the divorce can cause these feelings to snowball, making an effort to maintain a close relationship with children can help quell these negative feelings.
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1: Published in the Journal of Men’s Health