The Concept of Family After a Divorce
When marital problems begin and the storm of negativity and tension makes it look like a divorce may be on the horizon, there are a million different things that a guy in that position has to sort out. Whether it is the custody issues, the financial aspect, or the division of assets, there suddenly becomes a lot of facets to sort through in a very short period of time. It does not always give men in this position a chance to process all of the events occurring to their family.
The dynamics of a family are different, depending on the individuals and families involved, but in today’s society, the concept of a family still reigns as a widely-held ideal. For men facing a divorce, they may feel as though they are losing something that they had strived for. They may feel that they no longer will be able to attain the social construct of what the ideal family entails.
Legality and social stigma
The legal system is forced to adapt to the ever-changing blueprints of what a family entails. Family, as a concept, is a highly personal experience that is infinitely variable and in a constant state of flux, according to the “Family in Question” by University of Essex professor Diana Gittins.
For men of divorce, they can find themselves in a constant state of flux just trying to process all of the changes that are happening. After all, the social pressures to get married have a similar functionality during and after a divorce. The stigmatic nature to which people react to other people’s divorces is as well-established as the rushing of those divorced to “get back out there and meet someone,” even if they personally are not ready.
Much of that societal pressure to pursue the dating scene and not to give up on marriage is a long-held perception that family is an essential nucleus to society. For men of divorce, understanding the societal and legal side of this issue can help them better process the experience, amid all of the other chaos to worry about.
According to Federica Giardini of the University of Padua, Italy, the legal definition of family starts at matrimony, but because of all of the legal, cultural, and social changes to matrimony itself, the legal entity of family is evolving.
However, this does not necessarily change many of the societal expectation imposed on a man who experienced a divorce. They still are expected to be paying alimony and child support. They still are expected to visit their children during the court-appointed times. They still are expected to not show their emotions, nor mourn the ending of the familial dynamic that they had heavily invested in.
These expectations provide a damaging environment in the way it attempts to dictate what a man should be feeling during and after the divorce process. How an individual processes the experience is entirely up to the individual, and the expectations of how they are expected to act or react are unhealthy and unconstructive to the mental and emotional health of the individual.
In losing the construct of what a family could be, many individuals are under the false perception that they no longer have a family. This is not the case. While marriage itself can create a familial dynamic, a divorce does not have to mean isolation. It does not have to mean never seeing your children, if you have them. It does not mean not spending time with them. It does not mean being shunned for ending a dysfunctional and unhappy relationship.
It means reaching out and letting those that care about you, care. It means relying on siblings, parents, loved ones, and close friends, creating the community of kinship that you desire in your time of need. The societal expectations for the preservation of the family does not account for the unpredictability and dysfunction of individuality. In the more recent trend that breaks the norm of what a family should be, men can continue to navigate their lives and emotions without the worries or anxieties that social expectations and pressures can create.
This strategy also can help you regain your focus, as you strive for a better future for yourself and whom you consider to be family, moving forward.