Welcome to our series, The Divorce Diaries. Today we hear from a man with a dilemma, who has found himself asking the same question every January: “Should I divorce my wife?”
In our past instalments over the last year we’ve covered everything from when you’re most likely to divorce to whether they’re contagious to whether being on the contraceptive pill can effect your chances! and have now spoken to dozens of women – including one whose husband announced he was leaving her to have an open relationship with a 19-year-old, another who was quite literally ghosted by her own husband and one who had been trying for a baby for a year when he finally admitted he’d had a vasectomy years earlier.
If you have a topic you’d like to discuss, share your thoughts, experience or advice about, drop a line to [email protected].
For the last few years, John* has pondered the same thing each January – whether he should make one heck of a New Year’s resolution and divorce his wife.
He says he’s been unhappy in his marriage for a long time – in fact, he’s not sure he ever has been really happy in the relationship.
“I suck it up for most of the year, but by Christmas and the summer break, I’ve had a gut’s full,” he says.
After a stressful end of year and lead up to Christmas, he says there’s just one thing that stopped him from having ‘the talk’ with his wife.
“Well, it’s actually two things,” he tells. “My two kids.”
John and Jessica met in a bar one summer evening and started casually dating. They’d catch up every week or two and get a few drinks – John wasn’t sure where it would go, but it was at least a bit of fun for the summer. But just a few months later, they discovered they were expecting a child.
“I did want children, but it wasn’t the timeline I imagined,” says John. “Or the relationship, really.”
But John was committed to being a good dad, so he committed to the relationship – and to doing everything he could to support Jessica through the pregnancy.
It turned out her parents were quite religious, and, after Jessica expressed how upset her parents were, John proposed, quite on a whim.
“Yeah, looking back it felt like it was the right thing to do, but with 20/20 hindsight I can see that wasn’t the right thing to do for either of us,” says John.
So, the pair married quickly, then settled into life as new parents. They got a double surprise, when a pregnancy test turned up positive when their first child was barely six months old. Having two under two was a huge commitment, but, John thrived on it. “I’m lucky that I don’t need much sleep,” he laughs. “But I enjoy it. I enjoy our chats in the middle of the night and spraying ‘monster spray’ under their beds to chase the monsters away.”
John says he absolutely adores being a dad – more than he even imagined he could, but his relationship with his wife is far from what he dreamed of.
“I often get people saying, ‘oh, is it daddy daycare day today?’ and it really grinds my gears,” says John. “Every weekend is daddy daycare day, which I love, but truth be told, my wife barely spends any time with them.”
He says his wife went back to work, cutting her hours down to 16 a week, but both children are in daycare full-time.
“I have started finishing work early so I can pick them up early and spend time with them,” he says. “It wouldn’t bother me if she was taking time to work on her career or do charity work or something, but she just sits around the house, meets up with girlfriends or goes shopping. It’s not right.”
John says any time he confronts his wife about it, they end up in a terrible argument.
He says this year, will likely be the year he leaves his wife, but he’s terrified.
He has had a couple of sessions with a lawyer, but he’s worried about what might happen, with regards to his children. His lawyer has told him to document everything, which he’s doing, but it doesn’t feel good.
“I’m spending time with my kids because I want to,” he says. “But when I’m keeping a log of what’s happening it… it feels performative.”
He says he’s started having conversations with other key people in his life to see what a future could look like.
“Yes, it’s bad I’ve had this conversation with other people and not my wife, but I’m stuck for what to do,” he tells. “I’ve talked to my boss and I can go down to four days a week and take three months off as a sabbatical this year. I’d want that time to spend with my kids. But, how often do you hear of the guy getting the kids, or even getting a large chunk of time with them?”
John says his job pays very well, which he thinks will mean things might really be stacked against him.
“My wife doesn’t work much, so I imagine she’ll want child support to continue living the way she is – which would mean having primary custody of the kids,” he says. “God, how I’d like to be in that position instead. One of my thoughts is that I say she can have the money, I’ll pay her the child support either way, I just want to have my kids.”
John says he has a lot of regrets – and while his children are certainly not one of them, he wishes they had a different mother.
“From the things I’m saying, yip, you could say it’s definitely time I left, correct?” he says. “I know long-term it’s not going to be good for the kids if we stay together. Right now they’re so young, I think we can get away with it. But what if I lose my kids? I can’t have that.”
John’s sharing his story in the hopes that other’s might have some advice, or words of wisdom for him to help him to decide what to do in 2023.
If you have anything to share with John, please email us at [email protected]
*Names have been changed