Books Every Divorced Man Should Read

Books Every Divorced Man Should Read

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Having been through a divorce and being a therapist, I frequently recommend different books to read on the subject. Divorce can be extremely challenging due to the emotional nature of loss. Two people come into a union and hope for the best, but sometimes anger, resentment, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling each other takes over. When couples are in this state of negative sentiment override, it can make the process of divorcing very bitter and painful. This isn’t the case for everyone, but for anyone going through a divorce, it’s important to find peace within themselves. The time can feel very groundless and filled with emotional riptides. I think this can be even more challenging for men as we typically don’t share our feelings as much as women do and this can make the pain of divorce that much more challenging.

You will see a theme in the books I am recommending as they all tie into Buddhism. Let me first say that I am not a Buddhist and grew up Catholic, but what I like about Buddhism is the stories have a lot of wisdom that comes from struggle, pain, and suffering. “Storms Can’t Hurt The Sky” is a book written by Gabriel Cohen. He is very plain in his struggle with his anger, and he decided to quest out for peace through learning about Buddhism. What I enjoyed the most about this book was how obvious his pain was — even while trying to do the right thing. The quote “Perfect is the enemy of better” comes to mind when reading this book as the process through a divorce isn’t an easy one. It can be very messy, but the goal is to have a focus on trying to build a plan so you can try and get back on a path towards recovery and resources when you fall off. Below are a couple of quotes from his book that stood out to me.
“From a Buddhist point of view, if you can change your mind, you can change your world.” – Storms Can’t Hurt The Sky – Gabriel Cohen
“Once, when he traveled to a strange monastery with his attendants, a snarling guard dog broke free and rushed at them. The attendants screamed and fled, but Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche ran right toward the dog, which was so astonished that it turned tail and ran. Trungpa offered the same remarkable advice about suffering. While we try so hard to run away from it or deny it, he advised ‘leaning into the sharp points.’ Stay with the pain. Feel it fully. The result, Chodron said, could be the opposite of what we expect. We panic when we are not in control, but we can learn to accept our lack of power over everything. We can let our fear go. Instead of searching desperately for firmer ground, we may discover that uncertainty and not-knowing are okay. ‘To stay with that shakiness,’ writes Chodron, ‘To stay with a broken heart, a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge — that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic — this is the spiritual path.'” – Storms Can’t Hurt The Sky – Gabriel Cohen

Pema Chodron wrote “When Things Fall Apart,” and I loved this book as well. It is relatable to all who are going through a struggle, change, and uncertainty. You can see her path through this pain wasn’t easy, but it resulted in her gaining a lot of inner wisdom. To demonstrate a bit of what I feel most valuable in her writing, I want to repeat a couple of quotes that stood out to me:

“I used to have a sign pinned up on my wall that read: Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us…It was all about letting go of everything.” – When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron
“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” – When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron
“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.” – When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” – When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron
“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.” – When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron
Going through a divorce can be challenging. I suggest men going through it that they engage in many resources to come. For some, this may be things like church groups, therapy, family support, friends, reading, journaling, or even working out.  If you would like to know more about ways that help “coping with divorce,” then read our post which is very thorough on the topic which might be helpful. If you need any assistance coping with divorce, you can contact us to make a counseling appointment or read more about dating and relationships counseling on our dedicated page.
Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash