The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

May 22, 2007

Breaking Up is Hard to Do (If Kids are Involved)

There was a Statistics Canada report released this week about marriage breakups. I've taken a few days to even decide whether I wanted to open up this can of worms and blog about it.

I've decided I'm going to, but not to focus so much directly on its main finding: that men are more likely to suffer depression following a marriage breakup than women.

Who can know that? I expect that people, male or female, who are told by their partner that the marriage is over, are the ones most devastated by it. What other conclusion could there be?

Were they assuming that marriage breakups are always by mutual agreement? That there is no dumper and no dumpee? I think there usually is a dumper and dumpee. That's life. Shit happens.

If the study said that more women break up more marriages than men, by my logic, the findings would then stand to reason -- obviously more men, abandoned by their wives, would be depressed.

But the study didn't say that. It just said that men were more likely to be devastated by a marriage breakup than women. So I don't know what to do with that.

What I DO want to talk about here is the devastation I felt when I could no longer see my kids on a daily basis, another part of the study that was minimized in the Canadian Press story I found on the Web.

All it said was that this was a significant and less acknowledge factor for men in a marriage breakup: that aside from the wife and whatever they may feel about her, they miss their kids.

First, let me explain without going into sordid details: My ex ended our marriage. I'm glad now and have been for a long time. I've moved on, except for when it comes to our kids.

I didn't see my daughter bring home her first boyfriend. I wasn't there when she had her first period (I apologize, but I would have wanted to be there for that and to help however I could).

I could not be there to be the male influence I wanted my son to have on a daily basis. What did I miss with both of them? How much don't I know right now that I would have known?

My kids have lived with their mom for seven or so years now. I have my kids every second weekend but I talk to them quite a bit more often than that and see them more often.

They are beautiful young people, my kids.

They've grown a whole bunch since these pictures above were taken. My daughter's just finished her first year university and has my car tonight and will have it tomorrow night.
She is so strong and independent...but she still doesn't escape my wrath at times when she does something goofy.
My son struggles some in school and he needs reality checks from me fairly often and a kick in the butt from time to time, but he's a popular kid with a big heart and lofty goals.
This picture was from about three summers ago. Now my son towers over my daughter (she's barely 5 feet) and he's almost as tall as me.
I've done everything I could to try to stay in their lives and be a dad, and I think things have turned out about as well as they could given the circumstances that their parents are divorced.
It's hard, sometimes, to accept what has happened, still, from the perspective of my kids.
I get shivers sometimes when I hear the term "deadbeat dad" and I know that not all dads from broken marriages are "deadbeats" in that way. I know many are. But not all.
My buddy, Homo Escapeons, is the farthest thing from a Deadbeat Dad you could ever know. My brother in Ottawa, Doug, is the most caring father you could or would ever see.
In my most negative moments, I think of how I'm coughing up huge child support payments to a woman who initiated the end to our marriage and who takes my kids to Disneyland and other places.
On my buck, while I sit in my apartment. All I can do is hope my kids see the longing I have for them to be happy, and to do everything in my power to make that happen.
Just by being a dad, even if not a full-time, live-in dad.

Men more prone to depression after a divorce, study finds
TORONTO (CP) - The stereotype might be that a man relishes trading his wife for a fast car or a younger woman, but a new study finds that men appear to take separation harder than women.

While both men and women whose marriages have dissolved have a higher risk of being depressed than people who remained with their spouses, a Statistics Canada study found that men who had divorced or separated were six times more likely to report an episode of depression compared with men who remained married.

Women who had undergone marital breakups were 3.5 times more likely to have had bouts of depression than their counterparts who were still in relationships.

The survey found that 12 per cent of people who were no longer in a relationship reported a new episode of depression, while just three per cent of those who remained in a relationship had suffered new depression.

Michelle Rotermann, the author of the study, said she was surprised, and also not surprised, by the results.

"On the one hand we know depression in general tends to be more common among women, but there is also a lot of evidence that shows that men have fewer social supports and social support does seem to play a role," she said.

"Perhaps one of the reasons why men are more at risk of experiencing subsequent depression is because one of their main sources of social support is their partner, their spouse, and now she is no longer there," said Rotermann, an analyst at Statistics Canada.

Nineteen per cent of men who were no longer with their spouse found a decline in social support, while only six per cent of men who remained in a relationship found a drop. Among women the proportions were 11 per cent for those no longer in a relationship and five for those who were.

Jenni Tipper, a research associate with the Vanier Institute of the Family in Ottawa, said "typically women are much better at building and maintaining social supports, which isn't often the case for men."

After a breakup, women tended to live in households with an income ranking far below that of their male counterparts. In fact, nearly 30 per cent of recently divorced or separated men actually experienced an improvement in the ranking of their adjusted household income, the study reported.

The study found that 34 per cent of men and three per cent of women were residing with at least one less child after the breakdown of their relationship.

Tipper said the study is a good reminder that the breakdown of a marriage is an extremely challenging transition for everybody involved.

"We sometimes tend to think that it's the woman who bears the brunt of a divorce outcome. And there is no question that women experience higher levels of economic strife," Tipper said.
"What we tend to forget in many instances, for the men in particular, they see children all but removed from their lives, which is a huge impact on your life."