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Separation: looking after yourself

This tip sheet is also available in Arabic.

Separation and divorce are among the toughest life experiences people can face.
Men report a huge range of intense reactions and feelings during and after separation. Here are just a few: 
  • Frustration
  • Powerlessness
  • Anger
  • Desperation
  • Denial
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness
  • Bewilderment
  • Hurt
  • Relief
  • Isolation
  • Shock 

These feelings can lead to difficulties such as loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and withdrawal from social networks, family or work commitments.

While painful and distressing, such responses are normal and with time these will lessen.

A new ‘normal’ will settle in, where it will be possible to continue on living a fulfilling and happy life. 

Adjusting to the change

Separation is rarely easy. You will find yourself experiencing the highs and lows that come with all grief and loss. You will revisit memories and feelings you thought you’d left behind.

The emotional and mental impact may test your strength and your capacity to look after yourself. Often, the last thing men want to do is seek support of any kind.

Some men try to deny that the break-up has happened. Others feel ashamed that they are not coping very well. It is important to ask for help if you’re not coping or feel you need it. You’re likely to be surprised at how willing people are to offer support.

You could talk to:
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78 - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Work colleagues
  • Local GP
  • Counselling services
  • Men’s groups 

It is particularly important to speak to a professional if you are struggling to maintain your normal routine, unable to get out of bed, or have thoughts of harming yourself.

Ways to get life back on track: 
  • Maintain regular routines with eating and sleeping
  • Maintain a balance between activities and time to think
  • Take the time to reflect on where you are now and what you have
  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid using alcohol and other drugs (including cigarettes) excessively
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
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User comments

28-Jun-13 11:32 PM
My wife left me 20 days ago after 18 years I am 44 years old. We have 6 children which 4 are dependant. We had ups and downs for years but i thought it would never end, my future was planned. She found a new man the day she left and said it was for comfort!! I just finished moving her out into her new home today. She says she still loves me and always will but goes to this new man for comfort! This is not our fault guys, yes i feel like my balls have been kicked into my stomach but i refuse to let her blame me. Our ex partners are only trying to justify their be trial and guilt. Chin up guys if this is how our wives were going to treat us for the rest of our lives well we are better off without them. I am sure our sole mates are waiting out there for us somewhere with the true love we deserve.
16-Jun-13 09:16 PM
My wife left me emotionally for 3 years and the moved out With my 4 kids 1 year ago . For most of you this will sound weird and religious .
After 1 year of intense prayer .. I can say rebuilding is beginning . It was that hardest year in my 38 years of life . And I'm glad the sun is starting to shine slowly again . Thank you in part thus site :)
10-May-13 05:05 PM
I am alone. My wife left me for another man. She took our 4 children with her. Apparently they really like him. This is so hurtful because im their father. She has done so much damage to me by accusing me of all kinds of things and even taken out an avo on me when she pushed me through my doorway. She lied to the police and they believed her. After pleading to see my kids at two seperate mediation sessions I am left with no contact with them at all. I can't believe it. I don't work and have to get legal aid for help which takes forever. I'm so desperate and I just want to see my kids again
31-Mar-13 12:14 AM
At the moment its been 13 days out of the house , I feel gutted, angry, dis belief, there is a viod in me, but I know that in time it has to get better. I have to change my ways and stay strong for my children.
02-Dec-12 07:38 AM
I needed to get help and advise on separation and was about to call when I found this tool and its exactly what I'm exeperiancing now. Thank you
18-Nov-12 08:03 AM
Mr. P has a good comment. I also totally agree with what tim said. Personally, I get lonely, angry, and apprehencive about the whole situation. Prayer,Bible reading, and the gym has helped me through alot. I've been seperated over a year and I still get confused.
14-Nov-12 10:00 AM
Wife says she loves me but says she doesnt know if she wants to be married to me. I have been out of the house for 10 days now, and soon she moves out and I move back in with our 2 young kids. I dont even know what to say. Its one day at a time I guess. Good luck in uncharted territory gentlemen.
20-Sep-12 11:34 PM
11 months on and I can genuinely say that while it doesn't seem like it at the time, it does get easier and you do find a "new normal", even happiness again. Just don't try and take the weight of the world on your shoulders alone. Friends, family, professionals, whoever you find can help. There's no shame in getting help from people who really do care for your welfare.
29-Jun-12 11:40 PM
So devastaded... I hope it gets better....to all those in a similar situation... my support and thoughts are with you
18-May-12 10:05 PM
i am really nervous about what is going to happen to my family and relationship over the next few months, i am so glad to see there are sites like this one to help us guys because it seems in these situations the women have full control and it feels like im just along for the ride
15-May-12 06:30 PM
I have never felt so alone and helpless ever,I am not a bad person I love my wife and kids but she has moved on I feel alienated
11-Jan-12 03:56 PM
This was my first Christmas and new years eve without my wife in 29yrs. I have never felt sadder in my life.
25-Dec-11 06:26 PM
Its my first Christmas without my wife and two kids. I was feeling quite sad.. And logged onto this site. I feel better now. :)
Mr p
23-Nov-11 05:07 PM
Life has a way if kickin u in the guts!