For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart -- Thoughts on Surviving Separation

11/13/2010 01:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Welcome to a Huffington Post exclusive: a serial blog-vlog about surviving separation which will arrive in 12 segments over the coming weeks.

The goals are straight-forward:

  • Offer hope (and humor) to men who are disconsolate after a relationship has hit the rocks
  • Offer a resource to women who care about such men.

I wrote For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart because I would have liked a book like this when my first marriage nose-dived.

Millions upon millions of men have had their hearts broken and now live apart from former lovers/partners/spouses. Such separation is not only heart-rending, it is downright disorienting.

For most of us guys, it is one of life's biggest challenges. Men often play the stoic, but most of us feel desperate when our relationships disintegrate. For some men it can lead to alcoholism, addiction, even homelessness and suicide. My serial is designed to be a man's best friend in such circumstances.

I wrote each section as truthfully as I could -- about what I learned during my first years of separation. There are no rules, only lessons. And a fair amount of humor. It is a favorite coping mechanism of mine.

I offer it in a spirit of brotherhood and with a strong faith that once our broken hearts mend, we have the capacity to be more compassionate, wiser, more resilient and stronger than we were before.


Once there was a man who had everything.

He had a loving spouse, two children, a house, and a good job.

He was a husband. He was a father. He was a provider.

He had a sense of purpose, a sense of pride, even a sense of humor.

Life was hard sometimes, but it didn't matter because he had everything and, everything considered, that was a lot.

Then, after years together, he and his wife grew distant. The relationship broke in two. So did his heart.

His wife was no longer loving, he no longer saw his children every day, he no longer lived in his house and his job no longer earned enough money.

The man saw black. Life seemed empty. He felt sadness sink into the marrow of his bones and stretch from the hairs on his head to the calluses on his toes.

That man was me.

What to Expect

This is a blog of experience, not expertise.

It's what I've learned, not what you should do.

If you've separated, you may be in pain. You may feel alone. You may feel like a failure. The last thing I needed when I separated was verbal diarrhea. So this blog-vlog is brief, brisk and blunt.

I've tried to capture the truth I've found since I separated from my wife. I offer it in the hope that other men will find it useful as they find their own ways of coping and growing.

To me, there is nothing worse than loneliness. So, first, a thought for those of us who are suffering right now. Remember, no matter how down you feel, there are millions of men around the world who are in a similar situation. You are not alone. And there is hope, you just have to find it.

Keep Trying

When I separated from my wife, I felt relieved at the start. But as the first few days passed, the relief turned to worry and the worry to a powerful sense of loss.

I was a man who prided himself on keeping his cool and maintaining an emotional balance. But more and more, I began to feel like a rudderless boat on a very stormy sea.

My family was no longer together.

I felt I had lost much of the meaning of my life.

I felt ashamed.

I also felt like giving up.

It all seemed impossibly hard. And I had no game plan, no strategy for mounting a recovery. It felt like the biggest defeat of my life, and turning my back on the whole thing seemed a very tempting option.

But I didn't.

Instead, I fell back on the oldest instinct I have: trying.

Each morning I summoned my strength and focused my energy, not to achieve some lofty goal, but just to keep going.

Not exactly a plan of genius. But it worked.

Here's why: Every time I tried instead of giving up, it was like a statement of faith in myself: a statement that I mattered, that my life mattered, and that I believed that one day, I would recover my balance, my prowess, my joy. Trying was my way of saying: I am strong enough to cope with this.

And 14 years later, I can report that I was strong enough. And I have coped.

It was the toughest challenge I ever faced.

But I met it with the simplest of philosophies.

So if you're hurting, I say to you: Don't give up. Life changes. And courage now will reap huge benefits later on.

Keep trying.

There's more vlogging and blogging and to come. I promise it will be personal and positive. Watch the Divorce vertical for the next installment of For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart. Or simply sign up for email alerts and each time a new segment is posted, you'll be informed. Thanks.