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Divorce: An Emotional Minefield

The Early Show's week-long series "Kiss and Break-up" continued Wednesday with a look at the emotional journey many people take when they go through a divorce.

For some, divorce support groups, such as Divorce Care in Preston Wood Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, can help one to cope with the pain of ending a marriage.

The groups are either privately sponsored or run through community organizations including churches. At Divorce Care, there were more men then women in attendance. Many of these men were going through their second or third divorce, and in many cases their wives decided to leave them after several years of marriage.

A divorce support group is probably the most important thing a man can do when going through this difficult time, says Warren Farrell, Ph.D. and author of "Why Men Are The Way They Are" and "Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say."

"Men are 10 times more likely than women to commit suicide. Men who don't commit suicide are often depressed, but they cover up the depression by quickly remarrying to fill the void. These men also tend to overwork, drink or gamble too much," Farrell says.

Women tend to adjust better after a divorce, according to Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D., psychotherapist and contributing editor of Divorce Magazine. But members of both sexes experience distress equally.

"Men and women often have different expectations of what a marriage should be. When those expectations are not met, both can feel rejected, unwanted and unfulfilled," she says.

"In most divorces, women are the ones likely to ask to end the marriage. For many men, divorce means his home becomes his wife's home, and his children are turned against him. And he fears spending his life working for people who hate him," notes Farrell.

His advice is for men to join an all-male support group first, so that it will be easier to open up about feelings. "When you are first going into a divorce, you should not have to worry about what you are saying to the group," Farrell says.

Blair agrees. Yet she notes that co-ed groups offer a broader perspective on the struggles each sex goes trough, helping both men and women recover as they learn about one another.

The steps to recovery that Bair says people should expect as they go through this divorce process are:


  • Shock - If you are the dumpee
  • Denial - "This can't be happening to me",
  • Anger
  • Bargaining - "I'll change if you just come back",
  • Depression - Grieving the loss,
  • Acceptance - Adaptation to a new life

"The faster you move into counseling, the faster you'll learn things," says Farrell encourging couples to learn from their mistakes. "When a man and a woman goes out and says, 'I have to learn that better than I knew it before,' that's when he or she begins to heal."