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Why do men struggle more after divorce?

Many studies have shown that men tend to struggle more than women after a divorce. There are a few key reasons for this:

Loss of family structure

Men are more likely to be dependent on their wives for domestic duties like cooking, cleaning and childcare. After a divorce, many men lose their family structure which provided stability. Adjusting to a new routine and responsibilities can be a challenge.

Social isolation

During marriage, men’s friendships often get neglected. Post-divorce, men struggle with loneliness and lack of social support. Women tend to maintain closer friendships throughout marriage which provides an emotional outlet.

Identity crisis

Men traditionally gain a large part of their identity through their role as a husband and provider. After divorce, the loss of this status can negatively impact men’s self-esteem and sense of purpose.

Financial instability

One huge way men struggle after divorce is increased financial instability. According to surveys:

83% of divorced men experienced a drop in their standard of living.
Women’s standard of living drops by 27% while men’s drops by 10% more at 37%.

There are a few reasons for this disparity:

Child support and alimony

The man is usually required to pay child support if the woman gains custody. He also may have to pay spousal support or alimony which can be a financial burden.

Loss of family home

Often the marital home is sold or occupied by the ex-wife which displaces the man. He can lose his equity in the home and has to pay for new housing.

Loss of shared expenses

No longer splitting costs like utilities, groceries and insurance makes it more expensive to live alone.

Mental health decline

According to a German study, the mental health effects of divorce are more severe for men than women.

Men saw a 37% increase in anxiety and depression compared to women at 26%.
Men were 39% more likely to be stressed while women were 35% more likely.

Some reasons for this decline include:

Suppressed emotions

Men are less likely to seek help or talk about marital problems. Post-divorce they struggle to process pent up emotions.

Negative coping mechanisms

Men turn to alcohol, drugs or other unhealthy habits to cope with the trauma of divorce. Women tend to rely more on healthy outlets like therapy and social support.

Higher suicide rates

Divorced men commit suicide at nearly 10 times the rate of divorced women according to one study. The lack of a support system contributes to these mental health crises.

Parenting challenges

When it comes to the children, fathers tend to face more post-divorce challenges:

70% of men report reduced contact with their children.
56% of dads saw their kids less than a few times a month.

Here are some factors that impact custody and visitation:

Mothers gain physical custody more

Courts default to maternal preference especially when the kids are younger. Dads have to fight harder for 50/50 custody.

New partners and lifestyles

If the ex-wife remarries, the new step-dad often takes over the father role. Men’s unpredictable lifestyle or bachinglorhood also reduces parenting time.

Reduced family time

No longer seeing the kids every day, men lose the ability to participate in their children’s daily lives. Holidays and special events take more planning.

Dating struggles

For those looking to date post-divorce, men often face more obstacles:

35% of divorced men over 50 do not date again compared to just 15% of women.
44% of bachelors over 60 have not had sex in over a year compared to just 14% of females.

Some of the factors that contribute to this disparity include:

Lack of domestic skills

Many men relied on their ex-wives for skills like cooking. This makes them less self-sufficient and attractive as partners.

Appearance matters more

Looks, age and weight matter more for midlife men dating. Women are more open to a variety of partners.

Kids seen as baggage

Men with kids may be seen as less desirable and commitment-phobic. Moms tend to be viewed more positively.


In summary, there are many complex reasons divorced men tend to struggle more than women. They lose their family identity, financial stability, emotional support system and contact with children post-divorce. Stressed men also use more negative coping mechanisms. Dating and forming new relationships presents more hurdles as well.

However, many men are able to recover and adapt successfully over time. Joining support groups, making lifestyle changes and reframing their identity helps men move forward. With proper help and resilience, divorce does not have to negatively impact men forever.