I need some womanly advice. I am a 42 year old father of 3 gorgeous daughters that I had with my first wife. We divorced in 1997 and the girls lived with me and the two youngest continue to live with me to this day, although they're in their late teens now. One attends college about 100 miles away and is 19 and the other is 18 and still very much finding herself. My oldest daughter is 24 and mother to my 3 year old grandson. We live in St Louis. I love and adore my children and always have and always will, ever though they're not children anymore.
Fast forward to 5 years ago...........I met and fell in love with a wonderful woman who had never been married or had children of her own previously. She very quickly wanted to get married and have a couple kids of her own. At the time it was a difficult concept to consider given that my own children we nearing an age where they would be more self-sufficient and hear I was considering life with a new baby in the possible near future. After a year and a half together, I proposed and we were married in fall of 2009. During this time, my wife moved in with my 2 daughters and I and played a very active role in their lives. She also got very close to my mother. She was a very positive force in all our lives for a period of time, but shortly after we were married, she began to pull away. Her mother committed suicide 7 years ago and her mom was her best friend. It was difficult for her and she always said that I had restored the light in her heart. But after the wedding was over, she began to drink quite often and watch hours and hours of TV. she grew away from my family over time and even began to resent my daughters. I began to wonder if she had been so focused on trying to be the perfect fit for my family that when she realized that my kids were already doing well with me, and not necessarily in need of a super-step-mom, it began to hurt her. She also began getting very critical and judgemental of everyone, including my mom and myself. I'd sit and talk to her and try to help her the best way I could, but to no avail. After several months of this I began to truly question our marriage. And then when she was on a business trip last november, she sent me a divorce email to my work on a monday morning. She was in atlanta and i left the office and drove down to atlanta to find out if this is what she really wanted. she said she felt it was one of the most loving things i'd ever done and we then entered a period of about 4 months which were the best months of our lives.........it's why she ended up pregnant in march.
but here's the thing............my wife's family are from the south, and out of the blue, she begins to tell me that she has to move to atlanta or, rather, that we need to move to atlanta. that she is miserable in st louis and that she's more or less paid her dues with my family and my kids. this hit me like a ton of bricks b/c to me, this was never somethign we discussed prior to our wedding. i was never the weekend dad with my kids, and my kids are the most important thing in my life, and even though they are older, i often had to play the role of father and mother while they were growing and they were living with me. we have a very close bond and the thought of leaving them make me sick to my stomach. plus i felt like had this been important to my wife before we got married, she'd have said something about it at least once. my response to this was to tell her that i needed at least a few more years to see that my kids would be established before i could move, but that after that, we could move wherever she wanted, more or less forever.
she said this was longer than she could wait and that she'd changed her mind about her willingness to stay any longer in st louis and that she needed to go.
i should point out that during our the course of our relationship (and truly, the main reason i thought it might be great to have a couple more kids with my wife after closing that door many years before), we would tlak about how cool it would be to raise our kids with my existing kids and grow the family here in st louis. And honestly, had i known that she would have to move so soon after our marriage, and in essence, kill one of the main reasons i agreed to make these changes to my life, i would not have married her. In other words, i never told her before any of this that i was planning on leaving at any time.........that my children and i had suffered through the first divorce and that our family dynamic wasn't the same as hers..........that i wasn't comfortable just moving out of state, 700 miles away, just b/c they were no longer 10 year old little girls. this move mandate hit me like a ton of bricks. but after i drove down to atlanta to see her after her divorce email, we were as good as we've ever been. all talk of atlanta went away.........we agreed that we would move there in a few years most likely but that we needed to stay here for now........that my kids were her family as well...........that my mother loved and she loved my mother. and then a recruiter called her with an opportunity to work in atlanta and then it all came back up again. we also found out that she was pregnant.
so here i was, dealing with a pregnant wife that needed to go to atlanta.........that needed me to view her needs as more important than my sense of responsibility to my kids here. she had an anvil over my head. i knew that if i couldn't bring myself around to moving, i'd lose her to atlanta anyway.........and if i left my daughters and my grandson, which in my heart just feels wrong, i'd hurt them. and no matter how many times i asked why this never came up in all of our time prior to the wedding, she just said she chagned her mind.
we sought counseling, but we continued to grow further apart...........she felt like i would never want to leave and that she had paid her dues and i should be willing to leave NOW. this only drove a deeper wedge between us.
she finally left for atlanta a few weeks ago and i'm now moving into another house and my youngest daughter is moving back in with me (she left last july b/c she could feel that my wife was totally sick of her and she didn't want to cause anymore problems which in itself was painful). we are apparently going to get a divorce.
the truth is i blame myself for much of this. i truly thought we would have a happy wonderful life together with my kids and our new kids. but she's left and has no intentions of ever living here and now we're faced with divorce and i have son that will be hundreds of miles away from me.
I'm not in any way trying to demonize my wife. I do know she tried with my family. but i also know that her mother's suicide has messed her up in many ways. i thought i was helping her for a while but i suppose my kids have often gotten in her way and interfered with what she truly wants.........for our life to just be OUR life and not one with my daughters. I feel betrayed and like now that she has her baby, she just wants to run away..........the truth is, i suppose, we just don't fit right. but now i have to decided what to do....here are my thoughts:
1) get the divorce and see my son on holidays and summers.............this sounds heartbreaking b/c i'm not the every-other-weekend father type.........i LOVE my children and can't fathom having to be relegated to that.
2) move to atlanta and lose seeing my wonderful daughters as they grow into young women in addition to not having much of a relationship with my grandson
3) relinquish my parental rights now and let her raise our child in atlanta where she has to be where i'm sure she'll find a new man who will love her and love this child and spare he, her and myself the pain of raising a child through divorce.
I'm not a deadbeat father. This isn't about money. This isn't about me not wanting to be a father to this child. but i feel like she's totally changed the rules.........the point is that i agreed to have more kids as long as we could do it with his sisters being close and around..........i'm not suggesting she did this on purpose, but this is a totally different ballgame where i'm now forced to choose between my existing children and this unborn baby that she has more or less taken out of my life. it breaks my heart to think of not knowing my son, but i also don't know if i have the strength to suffer through another divorce with a child, having to see this child infrequently and not enough while she just gets to take him and do whatever she wants. it just feels wrong to me.
i'm sure people will judge me for even considering cutting all ties with my wife and my son, but i've done this before, and it was so heartbreaking to see how divorce hurt my kids.......it was hard. i almost feel like the gift i'm giving my wife is this child to fill the hole her mother's suicide left in her heart...........that i'm not necessarily any different than a woman that offers her body to couples that cannot have children..........more or less, i feel like she's made me a sperm donor. I mean, to me, she should stay as the baby should have both parents close by.........if the situaiton were reversed, i don't think i could leave my ex behind and reduce her role to more or less, barely anything, just b/c i got sick of where i was living.
I don't know what to do. My oldest daughter called me yesterday and said, "Dad, thank you so much for not leaving. I can't imagine not having you around." - I mean.......I LOVE kids and I love my kids..........but she's leaving........she has changed all the rules. I just feel like she doesn't care if i'm in the baby's life or not.
And so I ask everyone - what would you do? Am I a horrible person for feeling like I should just lovingly wish them luck and say goodbye?
heartbroken in st louis