When it comes to divorce, are men given the same consideration as women?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately; wondering about the different ways men and women approach divorce, deal with it, and how we all survive it. And although every situation is unique, I’ve come to the conclusion that most men think they have it harder than women as they’re navigating a divorce.
One reason might be that men don’t seem to seek out advice as often as women do. They don’t confide in their friends, their family, or their co-workers. Instead, they go it alone and suffer silently.
Another reason might be that society perceives men as the stronger sex and, therefore, they can handle the emotional fallout of a divorce easier than women, the alleged weaker sex.
And then there’s the stereotypical damages that are caused by some men but for which the entire gender seems responsible. Damages such as cheating, lying, disappearing, being the “Disneyland dad,” or worse, being the “deadbeat dad.” (I wonder why there’s no such thing as a “Disneyland mom,” or a “deadbeat mom?” Is it because the alliteration is missing?)
It used to be that men were presumed to be the breadwinners, and women were presumed to be the caregivers. Now that we’ve all been enlightened about the term, “gender equality,” and for many other reasons, that presumption has become outdated. Barring anything really extraordinary, courts have become inclined to grant joint legal custody. Physical custody is decided upon when reviewing all factors, not just gender, so joint physical custody has also become quite commonplace. Additionally, child support (which used to be a father’s obligation) is instead determined based upon the ability to pay.
Have changes come about because more fathers are asserting their rights in divorce? Are men becoming more able to identify and reveal their emotions? Are we, as a society, becoming more equality-minded? As a divorce mediator, I make sure that I’m offering equal time to the men in order for them to feel safe in their ability to vent, cry, yell or scream, and ultimately negotiate their own divorce settlement.
So, do men really have it harder? If so, do they blame the judge? Their ex? The attorneys? I’m pretty sure they’re not blaming the mediator. In any event, I’d like to hear what you 21st Century divorcing men have to say. Please comment. You may remain anonymous.