A Father Without a Family recently surveyed six divorced/separated/single men across a range of six different topics. This survey is a follow-on from our post last year called, “Six Degree’s of Separation” where six females where questioned on exactly the same topics and questions.
To gain some insight into how both men and women cope with the loss of marriage or a long-term relationship we broke down the surveys into the following areas.
- Emotional Wellbeing
- Having a Child
- Social Stigma
- The Future
The following is a summary of our findings from the men, in the coming weeks I will publish a third and final installment, which combines the results from both the men and women to see where the common ground lies.
Looking ahead I am hoping to conduct similar surveys with adults who lost a partner in death, followed by surveying the children of broken families. A large proportion of the followers of this BLOG are teenage children, it would be great to engage them in how their lives have been affected by the loss of a family unit.
As always I welcome your feedback or commentary.
Our first set of questions was based around demography so we could learn a little about who the men are. Two have been married more than once, one married once, one in a relationship, and two separated. 4/6 has completed their Higher School Certificate, two finished in year 10. Post school, we have a full range of qualifications from Cert III through to a Graduate Degree. 4/6 of the men own their own home, and two of the men rent. Income wise, 5/6 men earn between $80,000-180,000PA with one person earning over the $180k mark.
When asked about the ages of their children we have toddlers, pre-schoolers, middle childhood, young teens, teenagers, and 18+ in the mix.
Age wise, one of the men is between 32-40, four are between 41-50, and one is over 50. Work wise, one has a management role, three work in the media, one in transportation, and one in R&M/Installation. Lastly, 5/6 live in NSW and one in Victoria, with most living in a 3-4-bedroom home.
The second section of questions was centred on relationships. The responses from our men were quite even over the range offered with one to two years being the most common for the time taken to be comfortable enough to consider a new love. The majority of our men called themselves a mixture of modern and traditional when it comes to their role in a relationship.
5/6 responded that they had been unfaithful in a relationship, whilst this may match the social feeling; it actually reveals a deeper issue, one that I hope we can drill into in further discussions. Interestingly none of the men condoned adultery in a relationship, again I can see the pundits rolling their eyes at the apparent double standard, lets move on! When it came to love at first sight it was a 50/50 result.
We asked our men to rate their deal breakers in a relationship, with violence coming in first followed by infidelity, lying, and possessiveness rounding out the top four. When asked to rank their must haves, communication, passion, time together, and selflessness were out top four. Sex and intimacy and romance were the lowest three!
Concerning new partners, we asked how long the men thought was appropriate before they would co-habitate; six to twelve months being the clear winner. We had the same response for when talking about introducing new partners to children. Finally we asked the men to tell us who comes first, 4/6 men chose their children.
The next series of questions related to their future with the first questions asking the men to rate the importance of personal safety, shelter, access to services, employability, and financial independence. Access to services the clear winner, with all the others receiving roughly the same response levels. The next questions asked them to rate emotional well being, trust, access to children, intimacy, and physical well being. Intimacy followed closely by trust, were our most popular responses.
We asked the men to briefly consider their own mortality and, consider who they would want to raise their children if they passed away. 5/6 responded with the other parent. 4/6 of our men have a life insurance policy, which is great news. When asking the men about the possibility of outsourcing the raising of their children, we really did get a mixed response. From a clear yes, to if I could afford it, to no. Social media ranked number one when asked to tell us what they thought was the biggest threat to their children’s future were. From Alcohol, drugs, social media, health issues, poor education, social media was the clear winner with drugs and poor education also getting a Guernsey.
4/6 men said they would relocate interstate despite an objection from the other parent. All six of our men responded yes to being actively involved with their child’s schooling and the positive effect it has on them. 5/6 men believe the children benefit from being home to greet their kids after school. All six men answered yes to their children eventually wanting to change which parent they live with. No confusion there!
Our next set focused on social stigma with question one asking if there had been any measureable improvement in equality for women in society over the past twenty years; 6/6 responded with a yes. However, when asked if our former PM Julia Gillard did anything to help equality for women, 4/ said no. When considering the workplace, none of the men think there will ever be 100% equality for women in the workplace with 4/6 saying maybe. Next we asked the men to rate what the biggest threat facing equality for women was from domestic violence to workplace equality or a divided feminist movement. 4/6 responded with the later…
Questioning the validity of the current women’s liberation movement in Australia the men were divided right down the line between no and yes-but disjointed. All six of our men believe women are partly to blame for the stigma attached to their vanity and appearance. We asked the men what political party might best support policy that valued equality for women. The Liberal party scored one vote, one for the Democrats, one for independents, and three other responses ranging from a lack of faith in political parties to no idea!
Asking if religion was partly to blame for the oppression of women, 50% answered maybe, two yes, and one no. When it came to being a single father, 5/6 men believed that the stigma had not improved, but also not gotten any worse. The last question in this series asked the men what the core issue of inequality for women was in Australia. Our responses were, pure sexual identity, media portrayal, treatment of partners post separation, equal pay, with one man offering that in his world they were not unequal.
The fifth set in the series was about children. Our first question asked if since becoming a parent, had their wants and needs with regards to a relationship changed. 100% answered yes…
Same level of response from the men when asked if they regretted having children, 100% answered no…
4/6 men did not feel less attractive to their partner after having a becoming a parent. 4/6 would consider having a child with a new partner. Sadly, 50% of the men responded yes to their partner having taken drugs, alcohol or smoking whilst pregnant.
All six of our men answered yes to being fair in their dealings with the other parent regarding access to children. 4/6 believed women do not make better parents than men! 50% of our men believe that same sex couples should not be allowed to adopt babies, two undecided, and one for a yes.
We asked the men to next consider what the single biggest mistake is when it comes to parenting. 50% said not listening or spending enough time with the child. Two offered responses that were more about their partner and her needs, and one offered a mixture of both. Out last question in this series asked if they thought there was a gender bias when it came to welfare and support mechanisms. 100% answered yes to women.
The last set of questions covered emotional well being. Question one asked the men if they struggled making a conscious free decision to make time for themselves in lieu of time for their children. 4/6 said sometimes, two said yes absolutely.
When questioned about anxiety and if they were suffering from it, one answered yes, 3 sometimes and two said no. The answers to depression were 3/6 with a no, sometimes, 1 with a yes. Low self-esteem is not relevant with our six men with 4/6 saying no. I asked the men to compare anxiety, depression and low self-esteem since losing their relationship, 3/6 answered anxiety, and two for depression. Asking them to rate materialism, people, and security in importance. People, was the clear winner with only one person offering up materialism. None of our men have ever taken medication for a mental illness. Almost all our men have not found it harder to connect with new people since losing their relationship. 4/6 of our men believe that your physical condition is directly connected to your emotional well being.
50% of our men believe that women were not more emotionally vulnerable.
From an initial evaluation there are some common themes between what both the men and women have come back with. In the coming weeks I will publish a report overlaying all results so we can see exactly where the common and divergent grounds truly lie.
These men are all normal people, from all walks of life and suffer just like the rest of us when it comes to losing a long-term relationship or a marriage. Find someone to talk to, at the start it may even be yourself and that’s ok!
The entire article (female and male responses) is available here
Photos courtesy of Steven Markham Photography….