These breakup tips for guys are a refreshing change from my usual “She Blossoms” advice for women! A divorced dad left valuable advice on one of my articles about cheating in marriage. He shared what helped him heal after his wife left him; in this article I share the best of his breakup tips for guys.
“Hi, I’m a guy who is also going through emotional struggles after my wife left me,” says Charlie on Is Your Wife Cheating on You? A Simple Test. “I was in a relationship for 13 years, married for five. I found out that my wife had been cheating on me after the first two years of marriage. I tried to make things work. It happened again and I asked her to leave, but then tried to work things out again with her. It’s been eight months since she left me after sending me an email, but I’m finally starting to heal a bit. The first months were quite harsh because of the constant loops of depression, blaming myself, etc. I also had to get used to the idea of being a divorced dad, which was hard.”
I didn’t have a dad or brothers growing up; it wasn’t until I got married that I learned how deeply and profoundly some men are affected by divorce, breakups, and loss. I often get comments from guys who ask for breakup tips and relationship help, but that’s not in my wheelhouse. So when I read Charlie’s breakup tips I immediately thought they’d be perfect for guys. Divorced dads know a thing or two about healing and moving on :-)
The most important thing a guy can do after a breakup is to express his feelings in some way. For some guys, breaking up is a sign of failure and shame. Divorced dads whose wives cheated – and ended the marriage with a “breakup email” – can be especially prone to anger and even rage. They may also be dealing with guilt, resentment and confusion about their wife’s affair.
Breaking up is painful and difficult no matter who you are. But some circumstances, such as a wife or girlfriend cheating, can have a devastating effect on a man’s ego. This makes recovering from a breakup even more difficult! Hopefully – whether you’re a guy recovering from his first breakup or a long-married husband who is learning how to take care of himself through the divorce process – you’ll find Charlie’s breakup tips helpful.
10 Breakup Tips for Guys From a Divorced Dad
~ Written by Charlie ~
To be honest, I still want my wife back. I guess I’m still guilty of dwelling on all the positives of the relationship, but I’ve tried to force myself to remember the negatives. It helps occasionally, but dwelling on my wife’s affair and negative qualities is not a positive way to heal myself. I don’t like using anger in that way either. If you’re a guy healing from the pain of a break up (email or otherwise), it might help to remember the bad parts of the relationship and possibly get angry. But use that anger effectively, such as during exercise.
Someone commented that men are wired differently than women. I agree to a certain extent, but have to say that I hope it wasn’t intended that all guys desire sex over love. As a divorced dad I want to teach my daughters and son there is no value in sex if there isn’t a solid relationship based on love first. Love holds much more value.
1. Read self-help books
I was never the type to read self-help books, but it does help, so take the initiative and do it. Read some in a pleasant environment out of your house if you think you can control your tears. I read Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You. It helped but it wasn’t for divorced dads. How to Be a Good Divorced Dad: Being the Best Parent You Can Be Before, During and After the Break-Up was helpful.
2. Find a new space to be in
Occasionally remove yourself from the environment where you and your wife used to hang out most, such as the bedroom or living room. Perhaps stay with your friends, parents, or other family members. If you do this in long durations, it will truly help. I didn’t know this breakup tip until my kids and I had to stay with my mother while my house was fumigated. Guys aren’t great at staying in touch with family and friends but my divorce showed me how important it is. Especially after a breakup.
3. Share your feelings
Open up your most deepest feelings of pain with your friends/family even if you don’t think they are ready or willing to hear them. Sometimes, when they see how much pain you are suffering, they automatically realize that they need to support you rather than impose their opinions of you or your wife. It also helps them grow and mature their own relationships. As a divorced dad I don’t know how much to share with my kids, but I do talk about the breakup. I want to help them deal with their own relationship failures.
If you’re not sure what emotions you “should” be feeling after an email break up, read 11 Emotions You Will Feel After a Breakup.
4. Focus on healthy activities
Exercise! Do things that you enjoy, like hiking, biking, cycling or starting a new sport. This is natural for most guys after a breakup, I see that tip all over the place. I tell my kids to take some time to just sit and meditate. I used to go out for late night runs, and sit out under a clear night sky, close my eyes, and just trust the world to not harm me. It’s quite rewarding! If you can’t sleep at night, something a very good friend (a divorced mom, actually) told me to do was, “Let God take over the night shift.”
5. Stay connected to your friends
Meet up with a lot of friends, old and new, even if they are of the opposite gender. I’m not advising that you immediately look for a new relationship; instead, meet people of the opposite gender to almost survey them and all the different personalities, lifestyles, and perspectives. It can really be a growing experience.
6. Volunteer – formally or informally
Help others. When you take the time to help others, it can be a very positive distraction and help you handle a breakup. You’ll feel good about yourself as a guy and community member. You can help a friend move apartments, help at a religious group, food bank, or just be an ear to someone else in pain. Remember that almost everyone has dealt with a breakup at some point. It helped me to talk to other divorced dads and learn why their marriages ended. I hate to admit it but I felt better when I learned that wives cheat just as often as husbands.
7. Think about your career
Re-evaluate your job. As a guy maybe you were too work-oriented, perhaps causing issues in your relationship. Maybe your work suppressed your confidence. If the breakup is affecting your job, consider quitting or taking a leave of absence. Guys sometimes take the breakup pain and express it at work, which is not healthy or good for your colleagues. As a divorced dad I can’t afford to lose my job, but I did keep the breakup separate from work.
(Note from Laurie: if you work with your ex, read How to Get Over an Ex-Boyfriend You See at Work Everyday. It’s written for women but the breakup tips apply to guys, too).
8. Settle family issues
If you have troubles with the immediate family, try to sort it out during this time of separation. A breakup can be a good time to deal with issues you’ve been avoiding. As a guy I wanted to avoid the family problems. As a dad I wanted to help my kids deal with the divorce. I got help, which is a breakup tip guys avoid. A good book to read is Family Ties That Bind: A Self-Help Guide to Change Through Family of Origin Therapy by Dr. Ronald Richardson. Another book that might help is The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho.
9. Remember the Serenity Prayer
You don’t have to be religious or even believe in God to find strength in the Serenity Prayer.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
– Reinhold Niebuhr
Healing from a divorce or separation after your wife cheated can also involve sharing your pain online. For instance, the comments on How to Cope When Your Husband Leaves You for Another Woman helped me deal with my wife’s affair. Not many guys talk about breakups or give tips, so you get advice where you can. We’re all human.
10. Remember that healing takes time – especially for guys whose wives cheated
Make sure you know that the healing process is a slow one that you can only do it at your own pace. The first months after the breakup will be very emotionally intense, but don’t give up. Don’t think that it is taking too long, take your time and don’t let people push you in to doing things that don’t jive with your inner self. As a divorced dad I tell my kids to check in with themselves all the time. At the same time, be open to new things if they pose no harm.
I wish you well in the future and hope the universe rewards us all with lessons of growth and happiness. I also hope my breakup tips help other guys cope with divorce and separation.
Are you surprised by your emotions and how long it’s taking to get over the breakup? Read 10 Reasons Breaking Up is Hard to Do.