As a divorce coach, I am frequently asked: “Why men?”. It’s a question that deserves a thoughtful response. When I first embarked on my journey as a divorce coach, I was open to working with both men and women, but assumed that most clients seeking break-up coaching would be women. I thought I would see male clients occasionally; however, this was not the case. Well over three-quarters of the divorce coaching clients I was seeing were men, and observing this recurring pattern compelled me to focus on the specific needs of men in navigating the challenges of divorce.

Unreasonable behaviour was the most common reason for females petitioning for divorce among opposite-sex couples in 2021, accounting for 48.1% of applications; for males, the most common reasons for divorce were unreasonable behaviour or two-year separation, which both accounted for 34.8% of applications.

– ONS statistics on divorce 2021.

So much about relationship breakdown is hidden behind closed doors. Poor communication, domestic abuse, controlling behaviour, toxicity, mental health issues and unhappiness exist for both men and women. Whilst there are broad patterns that show women suffer in disproportionately higher numbers, the truth is there are also significant numbers of men struggling to deal with relationship trauma and heartbreak.

For example, men often found themselves in an uphill battle when attempting to be successful as a single parent. Feeling overwhelmed or a failure frequently made them feel cornered, as if they had no alternative but to step away and accept less time with their children. This inequity troubled me deeply. Especially when this meant that children were missing out on a parent they need in their lives. Whilst toxicity in relationships is all over social media, and a lot of the problems are quite rightly laid at the feet of men, my experience as a divorce coach has revealed there are lots of men trying to do the right thing when a relationship breaks down. These men are able to reflect on their mistakes and want to learn better ways of interacting and maintaining healthy relationships with their ex-partner and their children. They are very keen to deal responsibly with their obligations as husbands and fathers.

In every situation, each person must be considered uniquely according to their story and circumstances. Following my years in practice, I feel intensely drawn to talking about the male need for break-up coaching. This does not diminish the needs of women, but highlights the devastation of heartbreak. All parties who genuinely want help to create better outcomes for themselves and their families should be considered throughout this challenging journey.

Acknowledging that the divorce process can be inherently biased and unfair to men as well as women is essential. The truth is that both men and women lose out in the UK divorce system, as do their children and wider families.

Emotional turmoil is an inevitable part of divorce, and men experience a range of reactions during this process. The end of a relationship is next to the loss of a person in terms of its emotional impact. Here is a brief list of the emotional stages that men commonly grapple with:

  1. ‘It can’t be true’ phase: At this initial stage, shock and denial often dominate. Men may struggle to accept the reality of divorce, hoping for a different outcome to avoid the pain.
  2. ‘I am hurt but won’t show it’ phase: This phase encompasses the onset of emotional pain, but many men conceal it behind a facade of composure. Unhealthy coping mechanisms such as excessive drinking or promiscuity can emerge, but don’t provide genuine relief.
  3. ‘I am so angry’ phase: Society often expects men to express anger during divorce, yet I repeatedly see sadness combined with that anger, which forms a profound sense of loss. Some men direct their anger inward, while others blame their spouses for the breakup, using anger as a coping mechanism. 
  4. ‘I’m not going to ask for help’ phase: Historically, men have been reluctant to seek help believing they should resolve their problems independently. This leads to men becoming isolated and withdrawn, often when their family needs them to work constructively to move things forward. Fortunately, this attitude is evolving, and more men are becoming open to vulnerability and support.
  5. ‘I’m not going to do anything about my life’ phase: This is a pivotal phase post-divorce where vital choices determine the path forward. Embracing emotions, addressing past relationship dynamics, and seeking unbiased guidance can aid in positive recovery. However, opting for inaction keeps individuals trapped in negativity. Coaching actively combats this by helping implement an Action Plan to move forward.

These emotional stages of heartbreak are entirely natural and normal. Everyone goes through them in their own order, at their own speed, only sometimes in a straight, predictable line. Knowledge and understanding help the process run more smoothly. It can feel natural for women to talk about their relationships in society. My goal with this blog is to highlight the immense benefits for men and their long-term health to seek expert relationship advice when things go wrong. Real men can talk too, so divorce coaching for men is essential.

I hope this explains why I believe in offering support to men seeking to protect their health and well-being during the emotional challenges of divorce support. When empowered with knowledge, expertise and a steady approach, they can successfully navigate a system that may be inherently biased, but is always devastating and leads to massive changes in the lives of all concerned. By addressing men’s unique emotional processes and advocating for equitable treatment, men can emerge from divorce with their strength, dignity, and confidence intact. This benefits the men and leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.

My role as a break-up and divorce coach in this context is essential.

As a coach, I aim to help and support men in gaining clarity about where they are in the emotional cycle, take responsibility for their emotions, feelings, and behaviour, get back in control of their lives and create an effective set of stepping-stones to move forward.

If this feels like you, here are the next steps:

  1. Pick a time and book a free 20-minute call or Zoom to have a chat. I will listen calmly and without judgment. All our meetings will be conducted in a conversational manner and will be confidential.
  2. I will tell you how I may be able to help or if you need other support, I will point you in the right direction.
  3. If we decide to work together, we will meet for one 1.5-hour meeting by Zoom or by phone. This call is a bit longer so you have plenty of time to share your story and at the end you will have a clear Action Plan outlining next steps to keep you motivated and moving forward.
  4. Following this first meeting, we will initially meet weekly or fortnightly and communicate during the week by text, WhatsApp, or email to keep you on track and supported.
  5. As part of my service, I also offer ongoing support out of hours if you need extra help as you transition to your new life during and after your separation.

Men often fear that life after divorce and separation will be grey, boring, and lonely. If this is how you feel, please reach out for help now. Your future is in your hands, and whatever you are going through: change is possible, feelings will pass, and wounds can heal.