I was talking to a colleague yesterday who is struggling bigtime with personal issues at the moment. I'm not sure exactly how old he is, but older than I he must be because he has children to his first marriage who are in their 30's.
For a number of years he has been a visitor in his own house, sleeping on the couch, cooking and doing most of the housework, but unwilling to leave the family home for the sake of his kids. In recent months he moved from the couch onto a mattress on the floor of the study and over that time his wife gradually packed up everything belonging to him and placed it in boxes in the study.
A few weeks ago he decided to finally leave and his children have not spoken to him since. He is lonely and depressed and I can empathise to a degree.
He admitted that he is going through a grieving process but the major issue for him is that issue with his kids. He is bewildered and hurt and I think a large part of that may be due to what his wife is saying to them. Fortunately for me, whilst some of the issues may be the same, that has not happened in my situation.
Of course children are going to all react differently to these sorts of events, and at some stage we should expect sadness, anger and hopefully one day acceptance. But I can't help thinking that people assume a few things about how the man in the situation will react and cope. One thing we discussed yesterday is that women often have a much bigger support network than a guy. That they have people they can talk to and talk through issues with. For blokes, though, we are often expected to grin and bear it. To actually be open and speak about how you feel is something that is not encouraged. In fact if you do, you risk ridicule and ostracism in some quarters, or at the very least have people think you are a bit strange.
Because feelings are hidden it is often difficult to even find someone in the same situation to talk to anyway. The public face is very different to the private one. Yesterday the conversation began quite innocuously and moved into what might sometimes be called a D & M. Pretty unusual for blokes, but I did find it valuable for myself to understand how someone else was dealing with a similar situation. It also helped to be able to talk about it with another male rather than a female.
It does not matter who is to blame for a marraige breakup and it certainly doesn't help anyone to sheet blame upon someone else. In a sense, everyone is a victim, irrespective of whether they were the initiator or not, and that is particularly true when children are involved. Any parent who suffers the ultimate hurt of losing touch with their children, even if that is only for a short time, will know what I mean by that.