Below is some divorce advice for men that was given by a divorced guy to a guy whose wife recently filed for divorce:
“Separate yourself as fast as you can. Limit your contact as much as you can. With kids it’s tough but try not to communicate. Trust me. Just move on and move on fast.”
Here are the reasons I think this is the worst divorce advice I’ve ever heard:
- By “separating yourself as fast as you can,” you are deeply hurting your children, who like all children are traumatized enough as it is. Getting separated is something that adults have to realize means being SELF-less and sucking up having a relationship that is cordial (at least) to meaningful and productive as far as co-parenting in a best case scenario. This guy needs to remember that his children need him more than ever, so if he separates himself fast, his children will be deeply touched by it in a negative way.
2. Limit contact? Uh, I don’t think so. I have to hope he wasn’t referring to the guy’s kids, but even limiting contact with the wife could have a negative affect on the kids. The bottom line is, he needs to be around whenever the kids need him, especially at the beginning, and if that means seeing the soon-to-be ex wife, (since she is most likely going to be around the kids) then so be it.
3. Move on and move on fast?? It seems to me that this guy is telling this other guy not to grieve the breakup. That he should run from it and not let himself feel the heartbreak and the sorrow that is happening in his life. If he moves on too fast, he will not heal. He will most likely rush into another relationship, or pick up some other negative coping mechanism (alcohol, drugs, gambling, excessive work, etc.) which will lead to problems down the road for him—it’s like covering up a wound that needs stitches with a Band-Aid.
4. If he treats his soon-to-be ex wife like a cab driver treats a customer, everyone will suffer: the kids, the wife, the divorce process (it will go more slowly) and the guy himself.
Here’s the thing. I have written about the importance of treating a divorce like a business deal, and I think that is a very smart approach. Taking emotion out of financial decisions and what you think is best for your kids makes sense.
That said, remember that there is a huge human element to a divorce, which makes it unhealthy to “move on fast,” or “limit contact” or “separate yourself as fast as you can.” You are being left by the woman you probably thought would be at your deathbed when you turned 95. Experiencing that is traumatic and hurtful and devastating and infuriating and confusing and sad.
It takes a long time (sometimes years) to learn how to live with it, and the only way to get to a really good place is to let yourself process it, grieve it, and that usually means sticking around for a little bit. I’m not saying the guy should be at his soon-to-be ex’s house for dinner every week, or call her 7 nights a week, but running away and pretending it didn’t happen is never a healthy option.
It’s incredibly hard to put resentment and anger you have for the woman who left you aside, even if you know it’s for the benefit of your kids’ mental health and wellbeing. I get it. But the ones who do the right thing, who develop a relationship with their ex that they know benefits the kids are the ones whose kids have a chance of coping/adapting better. And, they themselves end up happier because they know they are handling it in a positive, productive way. Those are the ones who possess self-love that perpetuates a happier, new life that they feel good about.
The choice is yours and it’s pretty simple. But I happen to think that limiting contact means limiting your kids wellbeing and honestly, your own.