Struggling adapting to being a single father after abandonment

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  • #15884 Report


    New member looking for a safe place to put down in writing the struggles I am going through in the hope it helps me make sense of things.

    I’ve only ever been in two relationships, the first was a long distance one which ended in my early 20s when my fiancée called to say she was going into hospital to have a baby which was the result of a one night stand with someone she didn’t even know the last name of – she had kept it a secret from me and her parents until she couldn’t any more. I wanted to stay together and help bring up the child but she decided to end the relationship and it took me a long time to get over it and feel able to start another relationship.

    Eventually I did, and to cut a long story short we got married 10 years ago (next month) and have an 8 year old son together. Both having been hurt by others cheating in the past my wife (who’s parents had an unhappy abusive relationship where both cheated on each other openly in full knowledge of their children) was always paranoid about me cheating on her and regularly made me promise that I wouldn’t ever do anything like that to her.

    Unfortunately the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and earlier this year she didn’t come home from work one night.   The next day (April Fools Day) she came round with her mother, packed up her things and left, taking our son with her and accusing me of some truly horrible things that simply weren’t true. Two days later I got a call asking me to go round to her mother and stepfathers house to talk and when I arrived she was unwilling to discuss anything about the relationship, just setting out her demands for what money I was to give her, what possessions she wanted to take, how much child maintenance I would be expected to pay and asking me to make a commitment right then and there as to what days I was willing to look after our son to allow her to carry on working her part time job.

    I wasn’t really ready to make those sort of decisions after the shock of going from planning our 10th Wedding Anniversary break away together on the Thursday Evening to being told we were getting divorced on the Saturday and presented with a settlement to sign on the Monday so said I would need some more time.  Her mother then turned nasty and threw myself and my father out of their house and I had to watch as my mother-in-law held my screaming child back (he wanted to come home with me) and threatened to call the police (despite the fact we were complying with her request to leave).  My son wriggled free so she pushed him over and locked the front door leading to him screaming through the letter box for me not to leave.

    Eventually my wife decided it was better for our son to come home as the situation wasn’t working with them living at her mothers and they both moved back in, but after thinking everything over she decided she still wanted to leave so whilst she was looking for a place to move I set up one of the rooms downstairs as a studio flat for her to live in.  She ended up staying there about 7 weeks but became increasingly nasty towards me, even calling the police to report that her ‘abusive ex husband had come round looking for a fight’ which wasn’t true on any account as I wasn’t abusive, wasn’t her ex and lived there – the ‘fight’ as she called it was me asking her if she could look after our son for an evening (when I was due to be having an assessment with a counsellor to get help for the worsening depression that was leading me to the brink of suicide) and she had refused, saying some incredibly hurtful things. Rather than retaliate I had gone out for a walk to think things over and ended up being picked up by a police officer. She was doing everything she could to antagonise me and became increasingly distant and mean to our son as well.

    One day she came home and told us that she had signed a rental agreement for her new flat and would be moving out the following week but that children weren’t allowed so she wouldn’t be taking our son with her. He was due to go on a school camping trip the following week so she chose to do it then, when he got back his mother and all her things had gone and I was now a single parent. That was late May and she started off seeing our son about once a week for around 2 hours but that has now become increasingly less frequent to the point she hasn’t had him round yet at all this month and it is now the 20th.

    My wife hasn’t spoken to me since she left but from social media and what my son has said her considerably younger new boyfriend moved in with her a couple of days after she moved in so whilst it has never been admitted and she is still going for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour by me I think she was having an affair (hotel room and other charges on our joint account before we had separated being a bit of a give away).

    A few months on from all the drama I am still struggling to accept and understand what has happened, I still love my wife and know what ever issues there were in the relationship could have been worked on had she been willing. I don’t want us to get divorced but my hopes of her changing her mind and coming back are fading as I see her making choices that take her further away from our son and repeatedly letting him down.

    She has always been very sensitive about criticism, particularly, given her struggles with her own parents, around being less than perfect in some aspect of motherhood and I always stuck up for her, spending many hours talking things through and supporting her, even going in to meetings with her managers as work when she was struggling but now even I, her husband, loving companion, greatest defender and advocate am getting to the point of thinking that our son might be better off without her negative influence in his life.

    I wasn’t planning to be a single father, I doubt anyone ever would, but this is where I now find myself – struggling to understand what has happened, feeling broken inside and trying to balance working full time to provide for my son, the practicalities of life like making packed lunches, homework, being there for school and medical appointments, doing the housework and most importantly being there to comfort him when he is sad, reassuring him that he is loved and that, despite his fears and nightmares, I won’t also be abandoning him!

    #15902 Report


    It sounds as though you have had a terrible time. You are doing a great job- don’t let yourself get too down your little boy needs you.

    #15969 Report


    I understand the shock of how suddenly your whole world can fall apart.  What happened to me is nowhere near as extreme, but I do sympathise with the experience of your wife turning into someone who hates you and who you barely recognise practically overnight.  For the last 9 months since this all happened to me I’ve found it helpful to focus 100% on my kids, and stay as far away from my wife (and social media) as possible.  I hope in time you will make sense of all that has happened.  Or make peace with it.  I hope the same for myself.  You sound like a good person and a good dad.

    #15985 Report


    Thanks, I haven’t really told many people about the separation yet but the few that do know are struggling to understand the changes in her as well, if I am honest she has never been the best wife or mother as there was always a lot of need and take but not much give, the new depths she has sunk to these past few months are hard to comprehend though and the damage it has done to our son is heart breaking – he was in floods of tears when he first found out and asked if he could spend the evening with her but she just told him there was no way that was happening and didn’t even give him a hug before going out shopping to buy furniture and white goods for her new flat, he is still waiting for that hug as mine just aren’t the same as mummy hugs.

    #16003 Report


    She pays a nominal few pounds a week but doesn’t earn much with only working part time as a care worker, she is also planning on going back into full time education soon. I was the higher earner in the family and had been saving up for the deposit on a house for several years so although I lost half my savings and our belongings when she left I have so far managed to carry on working full time, still have a small pot of money to fall back on and no debts. If we are talking purely financially then the household is actually better off since she left as when I sat down and worked it all out she had always spent substantially more than she earned each month.

    I have transferred the child tax credits and completed the benefits calculator on GOV.UK but didn’t qualify for any additional assistance, my work place offers a salary sacrifice scheme for childcare vouchers though.

    I haven’t thought about hiring a cleaner but I had been doing all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing etc. since we got married anyway as my wife wasn’t the most skilled domestically or particularly interested in changing that, she needed a car for her work and couldn’t be a passenger due to severe travel sickness so she did all the driving and took the car with her when she went (despite me having paid for it), transport is the only area we really struggle with since she left but I still have my bicycle which gets me to work and back each day.

    On a practical level the day to day running of the home is smoother now, I just get up a bit earlier to get things done and make two packed lunches instead of one, it is the emotional side of things that we are really struggling with – I was already suffering with depression and anxiety before she left and it has got much worse, for all her flaws and the terrible way she has treated us lately I still love her dearly, I miss my wife and our son misses his mother.

    #16014 Report


    I’m so sorry to read your post & thread…..

    A lot is said about Dad’s abandoning their kids & here is a horrendous situation of a mother doing the same.

    Totally unforgivable.

    I’ve had a similar situation but the other way round as I’m the mother.

    Please think, why do you love someone that treated & continues to treat you & your son with such little regard or care?

    The way my ex treated me made me end up loathing him, which I’m not proud of & work very hard on hiding from my two gorgeous children (who are now 6 & 8)

    I am almost four years post separation (instigated by me) so I will say that time does help.

    I agree with the reply to ignore social media & be careful what your posting on yours (if you have it)

    Concentrate on your son, work, take each day as it comes & eventually you will start to feel asthough your moving forward.

    And remember, your doing a great job, one day your son will know how lucky he is to have you



    #16022 Report


    When you grow older  and your son becomes a man you will  be proud of both of your achievements.  My friends son turned 28 years this year and his mother abandoned him when he was 10 months old and has never looked for her son.  Don’t worry about it. It’s her loss and she will look back with disgust and regrets . Good luck x

    #16029 Report



    really sorry to read your post, it looks like your son and you have had a really tough time. It does sound like you are doing a great job and as hard as it is it will wirk out for the best for bith if you.

    I think Anonymous has given some great advice and links which are definitley worth following up. Online shopping and a cleaner is a brilliant way to take some of the pressure off, having less on your plate means you can concentrate on doing more for your son and yourself.

    You will find your peace and happiness again, i know it feels really tough at the moment but you will. Try and go out with friends both with your son and without, do lots of things that make you happy and you enjoy. Before long even the things you force yourself to do to be happy naturally start to make you happy.

    You should be really proud of yourself, your son has an anazing role model and will grow up to be a wonderful man.

    Good luck x

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