From a divorced guy: I just don’t know anymore. Everything I had worked to build for over twenty years–retirements, my house, everything, she took it all. Three years later, I am struggling and she is doing great. Everyone tells me to move on. I just don’t know how to move on after divorce as a man.
I don’t know one person who ever went through a divorce and didn’t go through a period of feeling sorry for himself (or herself.) It is understandable, normal and even healthy to grieve with some self-pity for a little while. The key words are “a little while.”
Three years later? Seriously?
I know lots of divorced men (and women) and I truly think it’s hard to figure out how to move on after divorce as a man. But men do it. But I will say, after 3 years, this man isn’t where he should be.
I know that sounds judgmental, but from one paragraph he wrote, it seems to me that the reason he hasn’t moved on is because he’s focusing on all the wrong things:
“Everything I worked to build, she took it all…”
“I’m struggling, she’s doing great…”
“I can’t find anyone or any reason to move on…”
It’s all so negative.
How to move on after divorce as a man? 3 words for him:
I want to address his sentence about how he worked for twenty years to build everything and she took it all. Let’s stop right there. She did not take it all, she took half. So, that right there screams self-pity and massive victim-playing. That said, she took half and that is no small thing. He might feel injustice, that things are unfair, especially if she wanted the divorce and maybe had a boyfriend (or even got remarried.) It’s a killer. I totally understand. But let’s not pretend that she took it all, when she didn’t.
Also, this man needs some self-awareness. I have to believe that he played some role in the demise of the marriage. He had to have done some things, right? He didn’t write anything about how he might have contributed to the unhappiness in the marriage.
The next point he makes is “she is doing great and I am struggling.” First of all, how in the heck does he know she’s doing great? Because she seems blissful and is posting happy, smiling pictures on Facebook and Instagram? It seems like he is engaging in magical thinking and creating this fantasy of her perfect life. Deep down, does he think maybe she SHOULD be happier without him? Also, she isn’t as happy as he thinks. Everyone on earth has problems.
But, even if she IS doing great, why does that bother him after 3 years? And, why is he focused on her doing great instead of figuring out how to better his own life?
I don’t feel much gratitude coming from this guy. Does he realize that he has the rest of his life to live, and can choose to live it how he wants? Is he ill? Doesn’t sound like it. Is he homeless? Doesn’t sound like it. He can choose to be miserable and continue to say, “I see no reason to move on,” or he can say, “Fuck this. I’ve had enough of feeling sorry for myself. I’m going to start living for myself and doing things that make me happy. I’m not going to focus on the money my ex-wife took from me, but rather the money I still have left, a job I like, people I love, and all the beautiful moments that are still ahead for me if I let myself experience them.”
I really believe this man is struggling because of one thing: himself.
He is his own worst enemy. He has not listened to his friends and family telling him to move on because he has made a choice to act like a victim, be depressed about what happened to him and stay angry, bitter and not accept what happened.
I’m not telling him to forgive and forget. Maybe his ex-wife really screwed him over and maybe this is extremely unjust. If that is the case, I feel terrible for him. But, there comes a point when a person decides to stop living in the past, resenting what happened, focusing on the ex and what she did to him, and start living for today and for the future. Make the best life possible with what you have now.
I hope he does that.
Like this article? Check out my post, “Divorce Advice: Keep Hating.”
Jackie — Having been there myself, I do agree with your response — sometimes you just have to say to yourself — enough — it’s over. My realization came when I finally admitted to myself what I had done to contribute to the unhappiness of my spouse. She left but I certainly contributed to it — that’s a tough look in the mirror.
Thanks, I enjoy your blog a lot — I find your writing very balanced. It makes me think as a guy what I need to do to be a better partner. Thank you
thank you so much for the kind words. self-awareness is what separates people who accept and move on in divorce and those who don’t. That goes for women and men. Best wishes to you!
I think your response was a bit harsh. 3 years sounds long, but it takes a full year (in my books) to deal with the separation in the first place. Three years is a long time, but he’s suffering over the loss of a marriage. Maybe he’s concentrating on the finance part because for men, that’s a big part of their life/manhood. But let’s be real, he is hurting. It may be time to start working on himself yes. But you were definitely harsh.
It is all done with love. Sometimes harsh helps.