Married Single Father

When I got engaged, my future wife told me she was unwilling to change her last name, and I nearly called the whole thing off. It seemed to me as if she cared more about being politically correct than letting her kids be part of a whole family instead of a partial family with an unrelated mom. Nine years later, I think my instincts were right and she really never wanted a family.

I've been a stay-at-home father since our oldest child was born; it was a no-brainer since my wife was making decent money while my after-tax pay was barely more than the cost of day care. But more and more, it feels like I'm a single father. A friend has even started calling me a single parent because Mom is never there for the kids. I've had people who know my kids ask if I'm a widower, because they don't seem to have a Mom.

My wife is a lawyer and I understand that she has to work long hours, but she is really never there for us. Even on the rare day when she comes home before the kids go to bed, she basically just sits on the couch watching tv and ignores them. If they start demanding her attention, she tells me to take them away. I sometimes wonder how much of her absence is truly work-related and how much is just wanting to avoid the kids. She never seems to have trouble making time for her friends or for political events, it's just school programs and the kids' birthdays that are an impossible conflict with her schedule. If I call the office late at night, there's usually no answer, and she hasn't answered a call I made to her cell phone in years. A few weeks ago my wife even said she wouldn't mind if I had an affair with the woman who cleans our house, since she's more of a mother to the kids (she's here two hours a week).

All of this is really starting to take its toll on me. I never get enough sleep and I'm taking care of little kids without a break from the moment one of them wakes me up in the morning until the last one falls asleep at night and I can finally crawl into my own bed. On top of it, my wife is always leaving me lists of things she expects me to do because I "have so much more time to do these things" like installing new shelves so the kids can't touch her stuff or preparing the spare bedroom for her friends to visit. About every three months or so I manage to squeeze enough out of the housekeeping budget to hire a babysitter for a few hours, but it seems like I always get called to fix my in-laws' sink or something like that during those precious few hours.

I finally felt like I just had to get this off my chest, so I'm forcing my one-year-old to sit with me by the computer while I type it out. My kids are the most precious thing in the world to me, but I'm just so worn-out and I wish they had a real mother. If only there was a way to make my wife care, but I know there isn't.
DrawingDad DrawingDad
4 Responses Aug 20, 2012

I am sailing in similar boat except in reverse situation. I am a physician by profession and work hours are really crazy. We have been married for last 13 years and we have 3 children. She was kinda lazy from the get go but then since last 7 years or so, she is not showing any interest in children. She sleeps till 3 pm!!!! Then brush, showers etc and then stays up till 12 but not doing anything with kids. She stays in her room and doesn't care what is happening outside of her room. Looking at this situation my mom moved with me to help us out. I wake up at 6 am and then kids then work then mails all household matters then pick up kids and then homework dinner and then put them to sleep. My day starts at 6 am till 11 pm. At night my patients phone calls and hospital beepers add the flavor. But my wife will never do anything. I have taken her to therapist and still no
Improvements at all. I am
So tired!!!!! If I divorce then she will take kids as this is anti-men society and court system. I didn't know marriage is a business until I am
Married and thinking about divorce. Stuck stuck and just stuck!!! Even my kids now telling her all the things to wake up and blah blah blah... And all to the deaf ears.

I understand completely. Years ago, after the children (12 and 8) were born, my wife said she didn't want to be seen as a wife and mother. That's ok,... she isn't. I have been a married single father for the entirety of my children's lives and I stay married because the odds of getting custody are astronomically stacked against men. She has social nights, Rotary Club, shopping trips, "business" trips away, and lots of time to read her new age self-help library. I get up at 530, feed the dogs and my daughter's rabbit, have one cup of coffee, make breakfasts, pack lunches and get the kids to school. Then I go to work and run my own business. At 4pm I leave to go to hockey, figure skating, 4-H or soccer. After that I go home, make dinner, clean the dishes and the house, get the kids homework moved along, put them to bed and collapse by 930. On the weekends it's skating, hockey, chores, grocery shopping, laundry and maintenance. I run our house and my own business. The business limps along as I just can't do both things effectively and have decided that my impact on my children's lives is more important. To my wife our house is more of a boarding situation as she contributes only money, not time or effort or compassion. She has had multiple affairs and has been caught but has no remorse, just disdain for me. She knows that raising and caring for my family is important to me. Teachers, friends and even her parents know the situation and the dirt. It is hard to do, and it is an often humiliating situation, but I love my children more than life itself. You are making the same sacrifices. You are heard. You are respected and you will be appreciated. Someday, by someone who sees it.

It's so CRAZY to hear this from the other side. I'm really glad I read it, because I've been starting to get this really sexist idea that men just don't care about having families, and you have proven to me that this is not a gender thing at all. I think it's much more of a personality issue, or perhaps a damaged personality issue. My husband has some things in common with your wife although I have to say I think you've got it tougher than I do. I'm so sorry to hear that you're so alone with everything. I know just how you feel. You are giving your children such a gift, though. There are men in your situation who would not be stepping up like you are- and those kids are really damaged because they've got no one. I have so much respect for the fact that you're hanging in there. Good luck, you're not alone.

Hi, just wanted to give you some words of encouragement and let you know that you were heard. Thankfully your children have you in their lives. Sometimes people take their loves ones for granted. None of us are promised time. Unfortunately some people do not miss the well until the water runs dry. You are a wonderful father and appreciated. Remember children are like wet cement whatever falls on them makes an impression. Keep making a loving impression on them