How often do you read about what men really deal with emotionally and mentally after a divorce? I would dare say not often at all. We rarely hear about the not-so-obvious mistakes that many men — including myself — have made and are making right now. Here are the top three most common mistakes that men make after their marriages have ended:
#1 – Rush back to the altar too soon
Fortunately, I did not make this mistake; I do, however, know many men that have. Men are creatures of habit. If you are in the habit of having a woman cook, clean, or do any of a number of other tasks for you, then it is very difficult to break that pattern. It may sound old fashioned, but many men like having the “lady” around for these reasons, as well as for the company. Unfortunately, this enjoyment sometimes clouds their judgment. Many men are so desperate to have company after a divorce that they marry the first thing in a skirt. They never get to know who this person really is or whether or not they are truly compatible. Before saying “I do” for the second time, take time to become aware of who you really are and learn what matters most to you. When you rediscover yourself, you will be able to easily see if the new person in your life is compatible. I personally recommend that you take two years before even thinking about getting back into the dating scene. During the first year, evaluate what went wrong and start rebuilding your life. During the second year, take time to discover who you are without a wife. For example, go to self-improvement seminars, read self-help books and find a support group or coach. You may be surprised as to what you learn about yourself when you have no one but you to answer to. As Eckhart Tolle says, “Intimate relationships do not cause pain and unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you.” This can, however, lead us to mistake #2.
#2 – Become the town playboy now that you are single
I must admit that I had a bit of “playboyitis” after my divorce. It felt good to come and go as I pleased, but it gets old pretty fast. I had been out of the dating world for seven years. What was amazing to me was that a lot of the same games that people were playing when I was in college and high school were still being played by people in their 30’s! I was blown away. When I was doing research for my divorce recovery book, I discovered that the herpes virus is most common among persons that are divorced, separated or widowed. What I realized was that people still had extremely casual feelings about sex. In addition to the dangers of sex, there was also the risk of unplanned pregnancies. I know of divorced men that had children with women they didn’t love simply because they used sex as a band-aid to medicate their pain or loneliness. Think about what this may mean for that child. A good question to ask your self is, “Who do I have a chance to become now that I am single again?” Please let it be more than the town playboy. Find one woman that you can settle down with, but please don’t make mistake #3!
#3 – Introduce your children to the new woman in your life way too soon.
I am definitely guilty of this one. I wanted the feeling of my family unit back so badly that I took my kids through a lot of unnecessary heartache. Men, you have to remember that your children have gone through a lot emotionally with the tearing apart of their family. The last thing they need is to see dad with a new woman so soon after the divorce. Children love their parents, and deep down they desire to have them back together. Give them time to adjust before bringing someone new into their lives. If the woman you are dating is really the one for you, then she will understand your decision not to rush into meeting your children. If she does not understand, then you may need to reevaluate your relationship. Does she want what is best for everyone involved? Do what is best for your children.
I hope that these three mistakes have made you stop and think. The key is to remember that you control your actions and decisions. Take this time for self evaluation in order to make the best decisions for you and your children. The last thing you want to do is be the victim of any of these three mistakes!
Carlos Phillips, founder of Healed Without Scars Ministries and Joanie Winberg, founder of the National Association of Divorce for Women and Children have joined forces to support men during and after divorce.