Question for divorced fathers from a divorcing father...(Long)

Well, my wife left me about a month ago. She wants a divorce. We have an awsome 2.4 year old girl from this short 4 year marraige. There was not infidelity nor were either of use abusive towards each other. She just kinda fell out of love with me slowly over the last year she says. We are both great parents and neither of us really has any serious complaints about the other.

Unfortunately for me, I do not want this divorce. I think we could work it out for my little girl. Regardless, I am not going to fight it because I do not want to guilt my wife into staying with me and then we are right back here a few months from now. I love my baby more than life itself and my wife knows that. My wife and I are not yelling at each other all the time like alot of split couples do, good for my girl.

Let me get the required stuff out of the way first. If you have been thru this before you know that everyone asks you the same questions when they first find out.

  1. Counseling is out of the question. She thinks, and I kinda agree, that we are too far gone for counseling. As I said, she doesn’t love me anymore. Not to many places you can go from there.

  2. We will not reconcile. Its over.

  3. My daugther is staying with her mother because I work mid shift and it would be extrememly difficult for me to take her because of that. Besides, shes a good mom.
    Ok, now that that is out of the way, let me ask my questions:

  4. Do all divorced fathers feel like a major failure like I do? It seems that on television and the movies divorced dads are typically portrayed as “being released” frmo the marriage and go on sex binges and drink alot and party. I dont do any of that. I just miss my family amd feel like I failed my daughter.

  5. Do most divorced dads blame themselves for the ruined marriage? I am asking this question to guys in the same boat as I am. Not guys who were cheating, or the wives were cheating or in other circumstances where the trust of the marriage was obviously violated by one or more of the partners. I keep on thinking that I could have done alot of things differently to keep the family together, ie showed her more love, gave her more freedom, etc…

  6. How long is it before you stop thinking of her as your wife? I can’t barely stand to look at other women, and I have already been moved out for over a month. I still refer to her as my wife when I talk about her.

  7. How long is it before you get used to your child not living with you? This is the hardest thing for me. You know what I am talking about here. Not waking up every morning and making them breakfast and watching toons with them etc… Very painful.

  8. How did you prepare yourself for the inevitable time when your wife started dating again? I know this is going to be the toughest thing for me of all. Don’t know if I will ever be ready for it.

Anyway, I could ask a million more questions, but these are the hardest ones for me to deal with. I will ask that people who had very ugly divorces not say a whole lot about how you got fucked over, just because I am trying to keep all the bad vibes out of my mind right now. If you have been thru this (which if you are replying to this you probably have been) you understand what it is like to hear about how shitty other peoples divorces went and how much worse it made you feel.

Are there any message boards or websites that are more focused on emotional support of divorced fathers? All that I have found are ones that focus on the legal impact of the divorce and I have that covered.

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Very sorry about this whole situation for you. It sounds really difficult. I can’t imagine it myself.

Just offering a great source for message boards. Towards the bottom of this HUGE list is a message board that might help you, in the Divorce section.

All the best. And remember, no matter what, you’ll always be your little girl’s Daddy. Nothing can change that.

Phlip, I can’t address your specific questions, 'cause I’ve never been divorced. I’ve only seen it from the kid’s eye view. The only advice I can offer is explain this to your daughter that it’s not her fault, that sometimes it happens, and you and her mother both love her very much. Don’t blame her mom or put her down in front of your daughter, don’t try to make your daughter take sides, don’t use her as a pawn in a war with your soon-to-be-ex. The damage can be severe, in ways you can’t imagine.

I was about 8 when my parents split for good, after several separations. I didn’t understand it, and didn’t like it. The best you can do is still be involved, and be a dad to your little girl.

But from the sounds of it, you’ve got that part down cold already. Good luck!

Oh, and counseling isn’t only to heal a marriage. You might consider going just to ask the questions you posed here. It sure can’t hurt!

All I can do is commiserate with you on this. My wife left in November. We have joint custody so our son stays with me several nights each week. The nights he is gone are tough to endure. I can’t imagine not having him with me at least some days. Just make sure you get to spend as much time as possible with your little girl. And most importantly, when you are with her, enjoy it and don’t think about the times when she’s not there. Don’t let the bad times ruin the good.

First of all, hang in there. My situation was very close to yours, and my answers for 1-3 and 5 are related. I felt like a total failure and blamed myself for about 4 months. I hit my lowest point after about 3 months but I soon realized how I had actually bent over backwards to make things work, and I started to recover. At about 6 months my ex surprised me and started dating. By then my problem wasn’t (very much)her relationship with this guy, but my son’s relationship with him. I had pretty much stopped considering her my wife at around 4 months, but this sealed it for me.

As for number 4, I’ve never got used to my son not living with me, and its been over 5 years now. I’ve accepted that as the current situation, but I’m hoping it may change in a few years. I still suffer the occaisional bout of bad depression, but the wonderful, supportive woman I’m now married to has always been there for me. Also, even though I only see my son on his visits (we’re separated by a good bit of geography), I actually see him more now, since I don’t have to work 2 jobs to try to keep up with my ex’s spending habits. And my ex and I have had a better divorce relationship than we had in our marriage.

So, like I said, hold on. It will probably get worse before it gets better, but for me it ended in a better situation then ever.

I know you’re looking for the men-folk to help you here, but I couldn’t go to work with this statement hanging in the air.

She’s still your wife. It’s only been a month…a mere blip of time. You are still married. I still sometimes call my ex “my husband” and it’s been six years. You have been dealt a horrible blow, and the last thing you need to do right now is worry about other women. Give it a year…after the divorce is final…before you get serious about anyone…for the new woman’s sake. Spend as much time as humanly possible with your child…that is the only way to make it up to her. I speak as a mom whose two children want nothing to do with their dad because he spent no time with them for 6 years, and now that he’s alone, he can’t understand why they don’t like him. Make you child your priority. And remember, you are still married…us single women really don’t want to deal with you til you’ve divorced and healed up a bit…at least a scab. Right now you are still an open wound. And Married. Good luck…didn’t mean to be hard on you, I know the shock and pain your’re going through, and I’m glad I didn’t rush into a new relationship when I was in this boat…as much as I thought I wanted one.

I feel your pain, and my divorce is five or six years behind me now. I didn’t have the best of marriages, in fact it really sucked, but we did produce some fine offspring and that is my focus in life. If I can offer a small bit of advice, it is to not so easily give in on your child. From the outset, you should ask for and demand joint legal and physical custody. It needn’t be rancorous, I get along better with my ex better in divorce than we did for much of our marriage and I think she somehow respects that I have gone to great lengths to maintain contact with my children.

If you have to, take another job that allows you to spend more time with your daughter, if you have to move to maintain that same contact, do so. You have the right to ask that your former wife stay within a reasonable distance so as not to interfere with your custody. Work hard at maintaining an amicable relationship with your ex.

I think it is important to establish those rights in the very beginning. It’s too easy to agree to giving up too many rights when one is vulnerable from a fresh divorce.

Phlip, I am so sorry to hear that you’re having to walk this path. I have never been divorced, thank God, but I have several friends and family members who have. All the advice given so far, especially about your daughter, is right on, and you seem the kind of father who will bring his baby girl through this as intact as possible. Never, never, ever, say anything negative about your wife in your daughter’s presense if you can help it. And don’t let your wife try that with you either, if you can. It will hurt your daughter far more than it will help either of you. I’m not sure what more I could say, but my shoulders are strong, and my ear is ready to listen, and my arms are open wide for as many hugs as you many need.

{{{{{{Phlip’s darling girl}}}}}}
{{{{{{Phlip’s wife}}}}}}

I can’t believe no one has said this yet. Phlip, I am extremely confident that you and your family will come through this difficult period alright, and that you are a fine father to your little girl, because you are clearly a very caring and sensitive individual. How I wish my dad had had half the concern you show in your OP when my parents split up.

It’s fantastic that you and your wife are both good parents and don’t have conflict over your child. I want to second all the encouragement that’s been expressed for you in this thread, and while I’ve never been married (or divorced), I’ve been through my parents’ divorce and out the other side, and if you ever want to talk to someone in that situation, or just to anyone at all, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email (really).

Thanks for the support folks.

The one uncontrolable wrench in the system here that I forgot to mention is that my wife is active duty military. Meaning that she is going to leave this area sooner rather than later and at that time we will have some tough choices to make about where my baby girl lives.

I am keeping all my options open and not signing away any rights at this time. The future is one of those things that I can’t focus on right now because the present is such a clusterf**k. I am trying not to focus on uncontrolable aspects of this divorce such as her dating, or her leaving.