When the Bomb Drops
For many men, a wife's request for a divorce is the first inkling that something is wrong with the relationship. It hits them out of the blue.
Truth is, such men just don't recognize the signs. Take one common pattern: A wife snipes at everything he does, but he never stops to ask why she's always angry.
After the bomb drops, these men are usually in terrible shape, say Steven Lerner, Ph.D., of Kansas's famed Menninger Clinic, and Betty Carter, M.S.W., head of the Westchester (New York) Institute for Family Therapy. They don't just lose their wife and kids, they lose their entire social network. Ashamed of being "done to," and even more ashamed about the distress they're experiencing, they feel a failure and get deeply depressed. They tend to relentlessly stalk their partner; they refuse to let go.
And that, say Lerner and Carter, makes it a perfect opportunity for them--to redefine their masculinity. They need to shift their focus from their ex to themselves. Here's the irony: Changing themselves sometimes even has a positive impact on the marriage. But it always has a positive impact on the man.