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possibly getting divorce - please help this father

  • Hi - my wife cheated on me with a two-year affair. She said it was a mistake but she did not stop seeing him even after I found out. I think our 8-year marriage is a mistake - we were long distance and she fell for another guy, and when I proposed she had a tough time but finally accepted. I didn't know there was another guy, otherwise I won't propose.

    Anyway, now we have a two-year daughter, I am in a lot of pain right now and I wonder whether your guys think I should stay married for my daughter? I am really angry and have moved out and able to see my daughter every other day, but every time I drop her off, it breaks my heart. Should I negotiate to see her everyday? Will this confuse her?

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Gary on 2nd June 2009
  • Gary,

    i am so sorry to hear about your situation! Marriages are hard and sometimes the reality is much different than the vision we had. I would suggest the first thing to do to is to get some really good counseling for yourself. This will help you work through if you want to stay married or not. Does your wife want to stay married? If you decide to try - you would certainly benefit from marriage counseling to help you work through trust and her to work through communication with you. Often times affairs are more of a symptom of larger problems. In this case, my opinion (i don't know the whole situation, obviously, and it's just my opinion!) is that this affair probably had more to do with her issues that she needs to work on and less to do with you (good or bad).

    i am sure your wife is in a lot of pain right now to and of course your daughter is likely confused. With help, you will be able to see the bigger picture and what is best for everyone. Good luck and let us know what you decide and how it turns out.

    take care,
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kate on 3rd June 2009
  • I am really sorry. Your daughter is lucky to have a father who cares for her deeply. It is very high on your part to think about how this is affecting her considering you are in great pain yourselves. If you are heading for divorce, make sure to get a good lawyer and apply for child custody.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lakshmi on 10th June 2009
  • I totally agree with Kate. First, you and your wife need to work out what you're going to do. And believe me, you have every right to be angry and hurt.

    If you both decide that divorce is the best or only option for you, then you need to work out custody. Whether you or she ends up with majority or sole custody, your daughter is likely to be confused for a while. The key things to remember are:
    Your daughter is not a tool. Hopefully neither you nor your wife will use her as such. And both you and your wife will hopefully make a concerted effort to be civil to one another - and not badmouth the other in front of her (or to her!).

    If you have joint/equal custody, no matter how much you dislike one another, you both should agree to the same set of rules between your homes - and enforce them. My husband used to see his ex's children every weekend - and every weekend, he'd have to undo the lack of structure they had with their mother. By the time he had them set back to rights, it was time for them to leave. That sort of inconsistency in early childhood especially can be detrimental down the road and confusing at such a young age.

    Finally, no. I am of the school that doesn't believe that remaining in a lost marriage is beneficial for the kid. I know too many people who have done this and their kids have the most screwed up sense of relationships - family and otherwise. Kids know so much more than parents want to believe - and they see and pick up on the little nuances that we give off. Two parents who don't like each other or outright despise each other trying to pretend otherwise for the sake of children only teach them that lying is OK, being dishonest with yourself is OK, hurting yourself and others is OK - as long as it's done in the name of (and for) someone else. I had a friend who used to tell me that he and his wife had hallway sex all of the time - they'd pass each other in the hallway and say, "F**k you." They had two kids who are now entering young adulthood and both have the most warped sense of relationship values I've ever seen. That's just one example - and an extreme one at that - but I really think that staying in a marriage for your child if you know the marriage can't be salvaged (and you've both honestly given it your all to try to save it) is the worst thing you can do for everyone involved.

    You'll probably also have to explain, in age appropriate ways, that divorce has nothing to do with your daughter. Most young kids take this burden on themselves and that's a tough thing for parents to deal with...but as long as you and your wife are age-appropriately honest and don't insult one another in your explanation to your daughter, you can help her work through this too.

    Best of luck, Gary. It's a horrible thing to have to face and I'm so sorry for your troubles. I hope that both of you make the right decisions and put your daughter first and foremost if your marriage does break up - it definitely sounds like you are a great dad. For that, she's a lucky little girl.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Phe on 10th June 2009
  • Gary, Gary, Gary. My heart really bleeds for you right now. This is truly a difficult situation and I know you don't need all of us to tell you that. But know our hearts are truly with you during this time. Well, I'm going to give it to you straight - no chaser. I'm a Christian woman who believes that marriages "should" be forever. But, I'm also a realist. Life is so very difficult and confusing nowadays. The choices we make really do follow us for a lifetime. I am a woman who has a blended family and needed to find solace in God's word for the rebuilding of my own family and the dissolution of my past relationships when they went south. So, I'm no one to point any fingers is my point.

    But being a Christian whose value-system says fight for your marriage and "till death do you part" also has one clause (see God wasn't as narrow-minded as some would have you believe). God does offer the provision of adultery to allow for a written decree of divorce. I believe in your case - you've earned that. Now you could also opt for "forgiveness" and try to work out your marriage too. But when you do, know that it's going to take a miracle from God to try and build the trust back into your relationship. It's not impossible. But you can't do it alone. You will definitely need counseling and a willing wife. If by any stretch of your imagination (and I do mean think and pray hard during this time of separation) you believe that she is unwilling and might fall back into the arms of someone else, I'd say move on with your life and the blessing of God.
    Now as for your daughter, she is going to be confused for a while, but just like all children she is young enough where if you do right by her (in person and in court - that is) she will do fine. This is one situation where you should do everything you think is right for her sake and get it written on paper QUICKLY! If you can and want to see your daughter daily - DO IT before your wife moves on with her life and someone else steps in to play "step-dad". Then it's going to be holy hell to try and shift the tide in your favor. Show the court that you want to be involved in her life and be involved. Don't let life move on with regrets. You have rights as a father, but there only as good as you push for them.
    From my side of things I have 2 children out-of-wedlock but fought for their rights in court. I receive child support for them. Their biological fathers are not active in their lives (by choice), but by God my husband is a good provider and step-father. You have rights - so be sure to enforce them so your daughter doesn't have to listen to any regretful stories later on in her life. Be present in her life and don't let your wife's mistakes be your mistake too by not exercising every parental right you have.
    As for your relationship with your wife. I believe (and it's my opinion like everyone else's) the writing is on the wall. Pray for and find someone (in time) who will be truthful, honest, and faithful to you. All the best to you, your situation and your daughter.

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