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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
TL/ DR: wife and have have been through a lot, both finally in a place where things could potentially get better, but she wants to leave and take our son out of state and isn’t sure about us anymore.

Well, I really hoped that I wouldn't end up back here. Its been nearly a decade since I was here in regards to my first divorce and the royal hell that was...and now I'm back with a new set of issues and finding that I really just need someone to talk to. I don't have anyone I'm close to that I can talk to and get an unbiased opinion. My best friends wife just left him for another woman, so his entire view of marriage in general is a bit jaded...

Basically, my marriage is in shambles. We both are to blame for where we are at now, but I know that its ultimately my fault from the start. I have accepted that, admitted it, and owned it. My previous marriage did a number on me, and I never took the time make my peace with that and get the help I truly needed. I bounced from one bad relationship to the next, each one ending miserably and knocking me a little bit lower than I already was. I know now that I should have just taken care of myself. But I was lonely and depressed and like most people, just wanted to be loved. I still had the idealistic image of the perfect little family in the suburban house with the fence and the dog. Yet I was no good to myself, let alone someone else. I basically did all the things my counselor told me not to do. But I was dumb and thought I knew better. I met my wife around 2011, close to a year after my divorce. Our first date was eating pizza and playing scrabble at her apartment, followed by a walk in the rain. We just clicked. We spent the next few weeks spending the evenings together, and she introduced to to her 8 year old daughter. The child was a handful, and I'd be lying if I didn't have my reservations at first. Her father had walked out on her and her mother when she was 4 months old, and she never had a stable father figure, and her mom raised her as a friend, not as a mom. She was wild, whiny, and a bit unruly, but the first time that little girl told me she loved me...well, those images of family life began to take over. I fell for both of them, and thought that maybe this was my chance to be a great husband and dad.

I was so wrong.

We dated for a year, and things were definitely rocky. We fought about almost everything. Her uncle passed away fairly early on in our relationship, and I learned that she was pretty much dependent on him or her mother for transportation anywhere. She didn't drive. She still doesn't. At the time, I lived about 45 minutes away from her, so I started to stay more at her place, take her to work that was another 30 minutes away from her home while her mom watched her daughter, and either go home myself and go to work during the week and return to get her in the afternoon/ evening if her mom couldn't, or go home and wait until she was done and go back and get her. It wasn't perfect, but I did it. She ended up quitting within the year. At the time it wasn't a huge deal, I did what I could to help her out and being a single mom she was eligible for a bunch of benefits. We spend the year in a mix of fighting and fun. Close to the anniversary of us meeting, she plans a night away at a hotel and night out at a comedy club. I plan to propose. We have a great night, lots of laughs, lots of tears, lots of love. I'm hoping that this is when things will start to get better.

Again, I was wrong.

Things remained strained and tumultuous. I struggled with my self worth even more. I was having trouble at my job. I was working as an IT guy for a company that just treated me terribly. I was still struggling with how I felt, and it was taking its toll on us. I was depressed a lot, I didn't want to spend as much time with her or have sex or do much of anything really. She was literally begging for attention and I was just broken. In hindsight I really hate myself for it.

I ended up having a chance to purchase my grandparents house in the town I grew up in for a great deal. It was about a year before we planned to get married, and I struck a great bargain with my father's side of the family to purchase it for about $30,000 dollars less than it was worth. Beautiful ranch style home in the country, plenty of land, a pool, finished basement...basically my dream home. I thought that maybe this could be a turning point for us. I discussed it with my soon to be wife and daughter, and they were on board. I moved into the home around April that year, they joined me in June. I was over the moon. I had everything I wanted. Yet I screwed that up again by spending too much time in the basement. It became my safe space. It became an issue. But it seemed to work itself out, the wife ended up spending time with me downstairs and we would snuggle on the couch and drink coffee and watch tv. It wasn't perfect, but it was working. My soon to be daughter seemed to be adapting well at school and making friends. My wife's mother soon moved into an apartment in town as well.

We ended up getting married under a large tree in a beautiful ceremony at our home. Everyone told us it was the most beautiful weeding they had been to, my wife made amends with her father who officiated the ceremony...it seemed like this was finally it. This was the turning point, we were going to be a happy family. We went and had a great honeymoon. We talked about having a kid. I got the dog I always wanted. She ended up getting pregnant. And everything went to ****. It was a tough pregnancy. She was miserable throughout the entire thing. She had been working a bit as a school aid to supplement our income that was already stretched super thin, but had to stop due to being pregnant. Bills started to get out of hand. I had to take an emergency withdraw from my 401k to keep us afloat...which ended up becoming a fairly regular occurrence. My son was born a day after our first anniversary. And it was like a switch flipped in me. I never knew love like I did for him, and I felt a whole new love and admiration for my wife. I swore that things were going to be different.

And they were. In a way I didn't see coming.

My daughter started to show some signs of mental health issues. She hated everything and everyone. She suddenly had no friends. She was breaking and smashing things. She was stealing from me. Her and I could not get along for anything. It became hell. And no matter what happened, the wife did nothing. It became the two of them against me. And things at work just keep getting worse. I was miserable, but I kept on trying to make things better. But it took its toll. Things really started to unravel. I was sleeping on the couch. Things were always tense. We would have periods where things would be good. We still loved each other. The wife started doing roller derby and other things to try to take care of herself. We were struggling across the board.

Skip ahead to 2017. My daughters mental health is a disaster. Shes uncontrollable. Refuses to go to school. Destroying phones, complete screaming fights. Cops showed up a few times. It was a nightmare. I focused solely on my son, trying to shelter him from the madness. Wife and I basically have no marriage left. We can't agree on anything. we still have moments, but its not looking good. Our daughter is taking a toll on us. Both of our attentions are solely on the kids. Daughter attempts suicide a few times, wife finally gets her treatment. Things start to improve a bit, but its still not great. That summer the town puts new water lines in and blocks the drainage to my home. We ended up having two floods in the basement, completely ruining everything. At least $10,000 worth of damage. Daughter has punched holes in the walls throughout the house and smashed windows. Pool is ruined due to broken filter pipes and not being able to afford to have someone come in to dig up the concrete the replace the lines. What was once a beautiful home is now a wreck. And the wife hates it here now and wants to move out of state to be with her family. It starts to become a theme that pops up fairly often. Too top it off, we later find out that when she was working at her last job, she messed up and ended up not paying any taxes. We ended up owing close to $10,000 to the feds and state.

Skip ahead to April 2019. After 11 years, I am suddenly and without warning laid off. No severance, just 1 of 36 people cut loose. My wife had been working part time as a bartender/ waitress and she was let go a few months before that. Suddenly we are both jobless and facing a TON of dept. I pull whats left of my 401k, Between that and unemployment we manage to get by. We do not live in an area that has a lot of job opportunities, and to be able to maintain the source of income we were used to I was looking at a commute of at least 2-3 hours daily. I slipped into a major depression. I felt so useless and just could not get out of it. And instead of supporting me, my wife ended up giving me a letter one evening telling me that she was planning to divorce me at the end of the year and take my kid out of state once our daughter left for college. She was miserable and couldn't stand living here any longer. Not that it was my fault because I was a great dad and sacrificed a lot for all of them, but she just needed to be back with her family. I was heartbroken. But I took it in stride the best I could and immediately began to work on me. I started working out, I spent more time cleaning around the house and cooking, and most importantly spending as much time with my son as I could. Even my relationship with my daughter improved. My wife noticed a change, and she seemed to have regrets about everything. We had a frank discussion and we agreed that if I kept working through my stuff, she'd work through her's with an end goal of all trying to move as a family in a year. It was hard for me to agree to, I've lived in this area my whole life. My parents live across the street. My father just overcame cancer and my mother isn't in the best of health either. My younger brother lives with them, but he is a mess. They've done a lot to help us out, and the idea of leaving them and having anything happen kills me. And I know how attached they both are to my son, I'd hate to take him away from them...but it was that, or lose my family. And I am a devoted dad, I spend every evening playing with my boy. Only seeing him on weekends or something like that would be the death of me, and I know he wouldn't be able to handle it either. He tells me everyday that I'm his best buddy. I'd do whatever I had to for him. And I do love my wife very much, and I hate that we ended up where we were and that she was so miserable.

Things were better. Everyone was getting along for the most part. No arguments. We spent more time together. She started a new job that paid well and that she really loved around June/ July. She seemed much happier. I was staying at home, driving her back and forth from work and taking care of the household stuff and the kids. I was trying really hard to be a better husband and dad. I ended up getting a job offer in October in a brand new field, and I was ecstatic. It was better hours and pay than I previously had, it was 5 minutes away from my wife's job, and my parents agreed to watch my son for the hour after school that we weren't there. Finally, for once, things were really working out. The wife and I started wearing our rings again. We still were not intimate, and struggled to tell each other we loved each other or kiss. It was awkward, and I did everything I could to try and make things right. I tried to tell her how much I loved her and how beautiful she was, but it just never seemed to get anywhere. I was at a loss, but we were together and we were having fun with the kids and watching shows and what not, so I assumed that it was just going to take time. I focused on my work and just hoped that things were going to work out. At the same time, she started working on her Master's degree...which I must say I am super proud of her for. When we met, she was a high school drop out. In the last 8 years, she managed to get her GED, Bachelors, and started working on her Masters. She's worked her butt off.

I ended up having to travel for training. I was gone every other week, Monday - Friday, starting at the end of January 2020. It was the first time in a long time she had kissed me and told me she loved me before I left. I hated being away from them. It was really tough. Yet it was rewarding for me. I was excelling in the training, my supervisors back at home were commending me, and the group I was traveling with became really close. My daughter met a really great guy who has been sort of living with us, and hes been a huge help around the home and has helped with her mental health a ton. She ended up in an alternate learning program and really excelled. She got accepted to a great college and won a bunch of scholarships. I couldn't be happier or more proud of my family. And my little guy! He's blown his teacher away with his reading ability and math skills. He became a total social butterfly and just blows my mind with how smart he is. It was like 2020 was going to be the year that everything came together for us. We finally had money, everyone seemed to be happy and healthy. We got a decent tax return and were able to get caught up on some bills. Things weren't perfect, but I finally had some hope!

Then this pandemic hit. The rest of my training was cancelled, and I was sent home and instructed to work from home doing what I could to support my co workers. My wife was still working from her office. So suddenly I am taking her to work, going back home, taking care of our son, teaching him, doing my job, and trying to maintain the house all while panicking that I may have come in contact with the illness while I was at training. At the same time, my daughter and her BF are basically just sleeping and eating all day. I start slipping into a depression and anxiety again, and become acutely aware that I am in desperate need of some affection. I'm feeling incredibly lonely. I'm having nightmares every-night, I start developing insomnia. I'm having a hard time getting anything done, and I am getting annoyed and angry over the slightest little thing. I know its happening, and I tried several times to talk to my wife about it to no avail. She just gets mad that I am not doing more around the house during the day and that I am falling asleep around 7 PM. Little does she realize that that's all I have been getting for sleep. I'll sleep from 7/8 to 11 PM and be up all night. I'm really struggling. I'm literally begging her to spend time with me, I need physical contact and support, and its not happening.

It all came to a head a few days ago, on our anniversary. She doesn't acknowledge it. I'm watching all her friends and family, and mine, wishing us Happy anniversary on social media and what not. She does not thank a single person. I do. So I ask her if we can maybe spend time together and watch a movie that night, that I really could use some time with her. She responds with she has homework. OK, I know she does, so it is what it is. So I wish her a happy anniversary and give her a kiss. She was working from home that day, so we both sort of did our work thing and didn't really say much more about it until that afternoon. We always go out for sushi for special occasions together. Its been our thing for years, and this was the first time that we couldn't go out to our favorite restaurant. We finally find a place that was about an hour drive away that does take out. My daughter agrees to watch our son, so we take a road trip to go get our anniversary dinner. The ride out is fine, we chat and laugh. But the ride home, I can't remember exactly what was said, but things get tense and I mention that I was really depressed at the state of our marriage and that I had hoped we would be in a better place by now. She agrees. I say that I have done everything you asked of me, but it seems like nothing is changing. She mentions that I only went to 3 counseling sessions before I had stopped. I told her I stopped because my counselor told me that I should leave, and that I was being treated unfairly. I stopped going because that was not what I wanted, and that I wanted to work on us and work through the past because I really did not want to put our son through the trauma of a divorce, and that I couldn't bear the thought of not seeing him everyday. My going to counseling wasn't going to help us. She was quiet for a moment and said that yeah maybe we do need couples counseling. I was upset, but I thought we were at least on the same page. We went home, had dinner, I spent some time with my son as she worked on her homework, after which she went to bed. That was that.

Today was my son's birthday. We both took the day off to spend as much time with him as we could. We were all up early so he could open his presents. I played with him while my wife worked on making his cupcakes, and when she finished I took over the kitchen and made everyone a huge breakfast/ brunch. After that we went outside and hung a pinata for him to smash and spent some time playing on his new trampoline. My parents, brother, and mother in law all stopped over and we had a social distanced little celebration in our driveway where he opened more gifts and we all just chatted and loved on the kid the best we could. The mail lady stopped and dropped off more gifts for him. He was having a blast. Things started to wind down, we all came back inside and he played with his new toys for a bit. The wife's family all did a zoom meeting and sang him happy birthday, after that we went out and got him Burger king, because he was adamant that that was what he wanted for his birthday dinner. We ate, we did cup cakes and sang. I took some photos of him and posted them online, to which the wife got mad because it had some clutter in the corner and she hated it. Which led to her expressing how much she hated this house and that we were supposed to have moved by now. I got little heated and responded with "if you hate everything about being here and me so much then you might as well just leave, I don't know what else I can do. I wish you could just be happy and appreciate what we do have and our family." Her response was "I do appreciate it, I just hate it here and I need to leave this state. Do you really want to do this now?" I responded that I really did not, and went and played video games with my son, daughter, and her boyfriend for a bit before my son had to go to bed. I got him cleaned up, helped him get his teeth brushed, and gave him a piggy back ride to his room like we do every night. I gave him a big hug and a kiss, wished him a happy birthday, and tucked him in so my wife could read him a story. I choked back some tears and came back out to the living room, poured a glass of whiskey, and thought about everything that had transpired over the last few weeks.

When she came back out, I could tell she was getting ready to go to bed. I apologized for the last few days, and being depressed the last few weeks and how its effected everyone. She responded, almost verbatim, with what she had said to me in the letter a year prior. She doesn't feel like I have been working towards moving, and that she is going to go and doesn't feel like i am part of that plan. I asked what about our son? I don't plan to leave if we aren't good and going together, and that she won't be able to take him out of state. She accused me as using him as a weapon to trap her here. I said, no, that wasn't the case, but I am not letting you take my son 8-9 hours away from me, from his school, and his friends. And that I really doubt him being closer to your relatives will make up for the fact that you took him away from his dad who has spent every night playing with him, teaching him, and cuddling him. Or to take him away from his grandma and Pa and uncle that have done more for our family than yours ever have. Its not fair to him or me. I am a good dad, and and good husband. I am a totally different person than I was 8 years ago. I sacrificed so much to try and give this family a decent life, even your daughter tells me things she won't tell you. None of this makes any sense. If I was cruel or abusive I'd get it, but I'm not. All I want is to make our family work. She responded that I could always move with them and find a job and apartment near them so I wouldn't be far away from my son. Which is true, I could, but why I would I uproot myself and leave my only means of support behind to go to a city where I know no one outside of her family, leaving the house and life I worked so hard to have behind. Nor do I have the financial means to do so. Nor does she. Even if I sold the house tomorrow, I'd be lucky if I saw $20-30,000 from the sale. She said she just doesn't see me working towards moving away, and that my focus is making things at the house more permanent rather then trying to leave. I told her that wasn't true, that I said I would move if we worked on us, but I didn't see that happen. A lot has happened and changed over the last year. I was still willing to move, as a family. It hurts me to leave my parents behind, but I have been in the area my entire life. A change of scenery wouldn't kill me, but I do not want to go if we are just going to end up separated or divorced.

We went back and forth like this for an hour or so. We ultimately agreed that we don't hate or hold any ill will towards each other, we love each other, and we could try couples counseling. But I think that we both have different endgames in mind for counseling. I want to reconcile and put the past behind us, while I believe she wants to use it more as a mediation tool to separate. She said that she has basically shut me out, and regardless that she is going to move, and its on me as to how that will look. Part of me feels like she is being really selfish and is putting her own needs ahead of our sons and that of the family. I do not want to have an ugly custody battle if it comes to that, but I am not letting her take my son to another state Nor do I really want to divorce. Things are not perfect, but a marriage takes work. And I don't believe it should be abandoned without trying everything and anything to fix that. To me, 8 years is a lot of time to just toss away. But I also can't spend my life not feeling loved. One moment she talks like reconciliation could be possible, the next its not. All I know is that I miss my wife, I miss feeling like I am wanted, and that I'll be damned if I am letting her just take my son and go without a fight.

If you're still with me at this point, I apologize for the incredibly long story. I cut a lot out, but I just had a lot that I needed to get off my chest. I really want to make things work. I hate that my wife is miserable, and I am all for moving with her if we can make this work. But should I really sacrifice what I have, and custody of my son, if we can't make it work?
 

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I'm sorry you are going through all this.

I'll also admit that I did not read every word but skimmed. That is a long post.

Has your wife said anything about when she is planning to move now that this whole COVID-19 thing has happened. I don't think she can just move at this time. NY is still on lock down and probably will be for some time. That should give you some time to work on things.

The two of you have been trough a lot. With you both now employed, your step daughter going away to school (soon hopefully) things might calm down quite a bit. You might be able to take advantage of this and make some positive changes in your relationship.

There are some books that I think would help you learn how to restructure your marriage to being the two of you back together and rebuild the passion/love. They are: "Love Busters" and "His Needs, Her Needs". Read them in that order and do the work that they say to do. Then after you have done that, see if you can get her to read the books with you and do the work with you.

You say that you are depressed again. It's understandable. You finally find a good job and now this stupid pandemic. You are not stuck at home trying to work. What are you doing for yourself to maintain a healthy/strong state of mind? Can you work out at home? Can you go for walks or runs? Have you set up a schedule so that you have a structure for your days?

Also, you might want to talk to an attorney just in case. Ask the attorney how you can prevent your wife from leaving the state with you son.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your response. I don’t blame you for not reading the entire thing. It was a lot, but typing it all down helps me to process what’s happening, if that makes sense.

I’ll certainly take a look at the books. Whether she’d do the same or not...I’m not so sure. I’ll try.

My understanding is that she cannot take my son away for longer than 2 weeks without a proper custody hearing. I need to look into it more. She hasn’t specified a specific time frame I’m leaving, nor do I really know how she expects to do so. I do believe that if she had the means she’d go immediately.
 

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Contact an attorney right NOW. Your child has always lived there, goesto school there. DO NOT let this woman take the child out of state. I'm serious. Contact an attorney now, before it happens. She can go over the child graduates high school.

I'd get a divorce if I were you. Divorce, joint custody, no taking child out of state.

Contact an attorney now or you'll regret it later.
 

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Thank you for your response. I don’t blame you for not reading the entire thing. It was a lot, but typing it all down helps me to process what’s happening, if that makes sense.

I’ll certainly take a look at the books. Whether she’d do the same or not...I’m not so sure. I’ll try.
Even if she does not read the books, I think they will help you a LOT. If you two end up divorcing, you will be much better equipped for any new relationship. Sadly, no one teaches us how keep a marriage strong. Instead we all fly by the seat of our pants and many of us just don't have the tools. The books give you the tools.
My understanding is that she cannot take my son away for longer than 2 weeks without a proper custody hearing. I need to look into it more. She hasn’t specified a specific time frame I’m leaving, nor do I really know how she expects to do so. I do believe that if she had the means she’d go immediately.
I see a problem that in she seems to feel entitled to just take your son. Sometimes people will do that. The the divorce turns into a legal battle to get the child returned to the home state. It can take weeks/months to get this through court. It often ends up requiring the police to help get your child back. I think that last thing you want is for your son to experience you have police remove him from his mother's custody.

Talk to a lawyer and find out your rights and the steps you need to take. Once you have that under your belt, I think you should tell your wife that she is not to just move and take your son with her. Right now she thinks she has the upper hand. She seems to have the mistaken impression that because she is the mother, she has ultimate say about your son.

There is a good chance that you are going to have to file for divorce to protect your son.

How far from you is this place she wants to move back to? From your original post (OP) it sounds like it's about 45 minutes away. Is that correct?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Contact an attorney right NOW. Your child has always lived there, goesto school there. DO NOT let this woman take the child out of state. I'm serious. Contact an attorney now, before it happens. She can go over the child graduates high school.

I'd get a divorce if I were you. Divorce, joint custody, no taking child out of state.

Contact an attorney now or you'll regret it later.
I was really hoping to try and work things out, but I am feeling like you are most likely right. I work in Social services and spoke to a few people that are familiar with custody and they all agreed that I have a strong case to keep my son here if she does decide to leave the state. I plan to contact an attorney ASAP for legal advice and move forward with my sons best interest in mind.
For myself, I started seeing a counselor and have been burying myself in my work and spending as much time with my son as I can. It’s helping. I’m sad and lonely, I miss my wife, but I cannot condone her selfishness. I feel for her, and I’m sad she is so miserable her, but she’s done nothing to try and remedy that other than wanting to leave the state. I wish she could find happiness in everything that we do have, but there is nothing I can do for her there.
 

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You should have listened to your Therapist. You don't realize this yet, but you are being abused and used.

She has just been waiting until she could dump you in the most convenient way.

You need to file for DIVORCE as soon as possible...
 

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I was really hoping to try and work things out, but I am feeling like you are most likely right. I work in Social services and spoke to a few people that are familiar with custody and they all agreed that I have a strong case to keep my son here if she does decide to leave the state. I plan to contact an attorney ASAP for legal advice and move forward with my sons best interest in mind.
For myself, I started seeing a counselor and have been burying myself in my work and spending as much time with my son as I can. It’s helping. I’m sad and lonely, I miss my wife, but I cannot condone her selfishness. I feel for her, and I’m sad she is so miserable her, but she’s done nothing to try and remedy that other than wanting to leave the state. I wish she could find happiness in everything that we do have, but there is nothing I can do for her there.
Just remember physical possession is different than custody. I hope you understood what people where saying but I just want to make sure. DO not let her take your son for a '2 week' visit. She may not come back and it can be incredibly hard and expensive to sue your kid back to you. Especially if it is out of state. they are saying divorce now so that custody can be settled instead of her just grabbing him and heading someplace else. You would be amazed at how fast phones can be deactivated and grandparents 'no I haven't seen or heard from my daughter even though we used to talk everyday."
 

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TL/ DR: wife and have have been through a lot, both finally in a place where things could potentially get better, but she wants to leave and take our son out of state and isn’t sure about us anymore.

Well, I really hoped that I wouldn't end up back here. Its been nearly a decade since I was here in regards to my first divorce and the royal hell that was...and now I'm back with a new set of issues and finding that I really just need someone to talk to. I don't have anyone I'm close to that I can talk to and get an unbiased opinion. My best friends wife just left him for another woman, so his entire view of marriage in general is a bit jaded...

Basically, my marriage is in shambles. We both are to blame for where we are at now, but I know that its ultimately my fault from the start. I have accepted that, admitted it, and owned it. My previous marriage did a number on me, and I never took the time make my peace with that and get the help I truly needed. I bounced from one bad relationship to the next, each one ending miserably and knocking me a little bit lower than I already was. I know now that I should have just taken care of myself. But I was lonely and depressed and like most people, just wanted to be loved. I still had the idealistic image of the perfect little family in the suburban house with the fence and the dog. Yet I was no good to myself, let alone someone else. I basically did all the things my counselor told me not to do. But I was dumb and thought I knew better. I met my wife around 2011, close to a year after my divorce. Our first date was eating pizza and playing scrabble at her apartment, followed by a walk in the rain. We just clicked. We spent the next few weeks spending the evenings together, and she introduced to to her 8 year old daughter. The child was a handful, and I'd be lying if I didn't have my reservations at first. Her father had walked out on her and her mother when she was 4 months old, and she never had a stable father figure, and her mom raised her as a friend, not as a mom. She was wild, whiny, and a bit unruly, but the first time that little girl told me she loved me...well, those images of family life began to take over. I fell for both of them, and thought that maybe this was my chance to be a great husband and dad.

I was so wrong.

We dated for a year, and things were definitely rocky. We fought about almost everything. Her uncle passed away fairly early on in our relationship, and I learned that she was pretty much dependent on him or her mother for transportation anywhere. She didn't drive. She still doesn't. At the time, I lived about 45 minutes away from her, so I started to stay more at her place, take her to work that was another 30 minutes away from her home while her mom watched her daughter, and either go home myself and go to work during the week and return to get her in the afternoon/ evening if her mom couldn't, or go home and wait until she was done and go back and get her. It wasn't perfect, but I did it. She ended up quitting within the year. At the time it wasn't a huge deal, I did what I could to help her out and being a single mom she was eligible for a bunch of benefits. We spend the year in a mix of fighting and fun. Close to the anniversary of us meeting, she plans a night away at a hotel and night out at a comedy club. I plan to propose. We have a great night, lots of laughs, lots of tears, lots of love. I'm hoping that this is when things will start to get better.

Again, I was wrong.

Things remained strained and tumultuous. I struggled with my self worth even more. I was having trouble at my job. I was working as an IT guy for a company that just treated me terribly. I was still struggling with how I felt, and it was taking its toll on us. I was depressed a lot, I didn't want to spend as much time with her or have sex or do much of anything really. She was literally begging for attention and I was just broken. In hindsight I really hate myself for it.

I ended up having a chance to purchase my grandparents house in the town I grew up in for a great deal. It was about a year before we planned to get married, and I struck a great bargain with my father's side of the family to purchase it for about $30,000 dollars less than it was worth. Beautiful ranch style home in the country, plenty of land, a pool, finished basement...basically my dream home. I thought that maybe this could be a turning point for us. I discussed it with my soon to be wife and daughter, and they were on board. I moved into the home around April that year, they joined me in June. I was over the moon. I had everything I wanted. Yet I screwed that up again by spending too much time in the basement. It became my safe space. It became an issue. But it seemed to work itself out, the wife ended up spending time with me downstairs and we would snuggle on the couch and drink coffee and watch tv. It wasn't perfect, but it was working. My soon to be daughter seemed to be adapting well at school and making friends. My wife's mother soon moved into an apartment in town as well.

We ended up getting married under a large tree in a beautiful ceremony at our home. Everyone told us it was the most beautiful weeding they had been to, my wife made amends with her father who officiated the ceremony...it seemed like this was finally it. This was the turning point, we were going to be a happy family. We went and had a great honeymoon. We talked about having a kid. I got the dog I always wanted. She ended up getting pregnant. And everything went to ****. It was a tough pregnancy. She was miserable throughout the entire thing. She had been working a bit as a school aid to supplement our income that was already stretched super thin, but had to stop due to being pregnant. Bills started to get out of hand. I had to take an emergency withdraw from my 401k to keep us afloat...which ended up becoming a fairly regular occurrence. My son was born a day after our first anniversary. And it was like a switch flipped in me. I never knew love like I did for him, and I felt a whole new love and admiration for my wife. I swore that things were going to be different.

And they were. In a way I didn't see coming.

My daughter started to show some signs of mental health issues. She hated everything and everyone. She suddenly had no friends. She was breaking and smashing things. She was stealing from me. Her and I could not get along for anything. It became hell. And no matter what happened, the wife did nothing. It became the two of them against me. And things at work just keep getting worse. I was miserable, but I kept on trying to make things better. But it took its toll. Things really started to unravel. I was sleeping on the couch. Things were always tense. We would have periods where things would be good. We still loved each other. The wife started doing roller derby and other things to try to take care of herself. We were struggling across the board.

Skip ahead to 2017. My daughters mental health is a disaster. Shes uncontrollable. Refuses to go to school. Destroying phones, complete screaming fights. Cops showed up a few times. It was a nightmare. I focused solely on my son, trying to shelter him from the madness. Wife and I basically have no marriage left. We can't agree on anything. we still have moments, but its not looking good. Our daughter is taking a toll on us. Both of our attentions are solely on the kids. Daughter attempts suicide a few times, wife finally gets her treatment. Things start to improve a bit, but its still not great. That summer the town puts new water lines in and blocks the drainage to my home. We ended up having two floods in the basement, completely ruining everything. At least $10,000 worth of damage. Daughter has punched holes in the walls throughout the house and smashed windows. Pool is ruined due to broken filter pipes and not being able to afford to have someone come in to dig up the concrete the replace the lines. What was once a beautiful home is now a wreck. And the wife hates it here now and wants to move out of state to be with her family. It starts to become a theme that pops up fairly often. Too top it off, we later find out that when she was working at her last job, she messed up and ended up not paying any taxes. We ended up owing close to $10,000 to the feds and state.

Skip ahead to April 2019. After 11 years, I am suddenly and without warning laid off. No severance, just 1 of 36 people cut loose. My wife had been working part time as a bartender/ waitress and she was let go a few months before that. Suddenly we are both jobless and facing a TON of dept. I pull whats left of my 401k, Between that and unemployment we manage to get by. We do not live in an area that has a lot of job opportunities, and to be able to maintain the source of income we were used to I was looking at a commute of at least 2-3 hours daily. I slipped into a major depression. I felt so useless and just could not get out of it. And instead of supporting me, my wife ended up giving me a letter one evening telling me that she was planning to divorce me at the end of the year and take my kid out of state once our daughter left for college. She was miserable and couldn't stand living here any longer. Not that it was my fault because I was a great dad and sacrificed a lot for all of them, but she just needed to be back with her family. I was heartbroken. But I took it in stride the best I could and immediately began to work on me. I started working out, I spent more time cleaning around the house and cooking, and most importantly spending as much time with my son as I could. Even my relationship with my daughter improved. My wife noticed a change, and she seemed to have regrets about everything. We had a frank discussion and we agreed that if I kept working through my stuff, she'd work through her's with an end goal of all trying to move as a family in a year. It was hard for me to agree to, I've lived in this area my whole life. My parents live across the street. My father just overcame cancer and my mother isn't in the best of health either. My younger brother lives with them, but he is a mess. They've done a lot to help us out, and the idea of leaving them and having anything happen kills me. And I know how attached they both are to my son, I'd hate to take him away from them...but it was that, or lose my family. And I am a devoted dad, I spend every evening playing with my boy. Only seeing him on weekends or something like that would be the death of me, and I know he wouldn't be able to handle it either. He tells me everyday that I'm his best buddy. I'd do whatever I had to for him. And I do love my wife very much, and I hate that we ended up where we were and that she was so miserable.

Things were better. Everyone was getting along for the most part. No arguments. We spent more time together. She started a new job that paid well and that she really loved around June/ July. She seemed much happier. I was staying at home, driving her back and forth from work and taking care of the household stuff and the kids. I was trying really hard to be a better husband and dad. I ended up getting a job offer in October in a brand new field, and I was ecstatic. It was better hours and pay than I previously had, it was 5 minutes away from my wife's job, and my parents agreed to watch my son for the hour after school that we weren't there. Finally, for once, things were really working out. The wife and I started wearing our rings again. We still were not intimate, and struggled to tell each other we loved each other or kiss. It was awkward, and I did everything I could to try and make things right. I tried to tell her how much I loved her and how beautiful she was, but it just never seemed to get anywhere. I was at a loss, but we were together and we were having fun with the kids and watching shows and what not, so I assumed that it was just going to take time. I focused on my work and just hoped that things were going to work out. At the same time, she started working on her Master's degree...which I must say I am super proud of her for. When we met, she was a high school drop out. In the last 8 years, she managed to get her GED, Bachelors, and started working on her Masters. She's worked her butt off.

I ended up having to travel for training. I was gone every other week, Monday - Friday, starting at the end of January 2020. It was the first time in a long time she had kissed me and told me she loved me before I left. I hated being away from them. It was really tough. Yet it was rewarding for me. I was excelling in the training, my supervisors back at home were commending me, and the group I was traveling with became really close. My daughter met a really great guy who has been sort of living with us, and hes been a huge help around the home and has helped with her mental health a ton. She ended up in an alternate learning program and really excelled. She got accepted to a great college and won a bunch of scholarships. I couldn't be happier or more proud of my family. And my little guy! He's blown his teacher away with his reading ability and math skills. He became a total social butterfly and just blows my mind with how smart he is. It was like 2020 was going to be the year that everything came together for us. We finally had money, everyone seemed to be happy and healthy. We got a decent tax return and were able to get caught up on some bills. Things weren't perfect, but I finally had some hope!

Then this pandemic hit. The rest of my training was cancelled, and I was sent home and instructed to work from home doing what I could to support my co workers. My wife was still working from her office. So suddenly I am taking her to work, going back home, taking care of our son, teaching him, doing my job, and trying to maintain the house all while panicking that I may have come in contact with the illness while I was at training. At the same time, my daughter and her BF are basically just sleeping and eating all day. I start slipping into a depression and anxiety again, and become acutely aware that I am in desperate need of some affection. I'm feeling incredibly lonely. I'm having nightmares every-night, I start developing insomnia. I'm having a hard time getting anything done, and I am getting annoyed and angry over the slightest little thing. I know its happening, and I tried several times to talk to my wife about it to no avail. She just gets mad that I am not doing more around the house during the day and that I am falling asleep around 7 PM. Little does she realize that that's all I have been getting for sleep. I'll sleep from 7/8 to 11 PM and be up all night. I'm really struggling. I'm literally begging her to spend time with me, I need physical contact and support, and its not happening.

It all came to a head a few days ago, on our anniversary. She doesn't acknowledge it. I'm watching all her friends and family, and mine, wishing us Happy anniversary on social media and what not. She does not thank a single person. I do. So I ask her if we can maybe spend time together and watch a movie that night, that I really could use some time with her. She responds with she has homework. OK, I know she does, so it is what it is. So I wish her a happy anniversary and give her a kiss. She was working from home that day, so we both sort of did our work thing and didn't really say much more about it until that afternoon. We always go out for sushi for special occasions together. Its been our thing for years, and this was the first time that we couldn't go out to our favorite restaurant. We finally find a place that was about an hour drive away that does take out. My daughter agrees to watch our son, so we take a road trip to go get our anniversary dinner. The ride out is fine, we chat and laugh. But the ride home, I can't remember exactly what was said, but things get tense and I mention that I was really depressed at the state of our marriage and that I had hoped we would be in a better place by now. She agrees. I say that I have done everything you asked of me, but it seems like nothing is changing. She mentions that I only went to 3 counseling sessions before I had stopped. I told her I stopped because my counselor told me that I should leave, and that I was being treated unfairly. I stopped going because that was not what I wanted, and that I wanted to work on us and work through the past because I really did not want to put our son through the trauma of a divorce, and that I couldn't bear the thought of not seeing him everyday. My going to counseling wasn't going to help us. She was quiet for a moment and said that yeah maybe we do need couples counseling. I was upset, but I thought we were at least on the same page. We went home, had dinner, I spent some time with my son as she worked on her homework, after which she went to bed. That was that.

Today was my son's birthday. We both took the day off to spend as much time with him as we could. We were all up early so he could open his presents. I played with him while my wife worked on making his cupcakes, and when she finished I took over the kitchen and made everyone a huge breakfast/ brunch. After that we went outside and hung a pinata for him to smash and spent some time playing on his new trampoline. My parents, brother, and mother in law all stopped over and we had a social distanced little celebration in our driveway where he opened more gifts and we all just chatted and loved on the kid the best we could. The mail lady stopped and dropped off more gifts for him. He was having a blast. Things started to wind down, we all came back inside and he played with his new toys for a bit. The wife's family all did a zoom meeting and sang him happy birthday, after that we went out and got him Burger king, because he was adamant that that was what he wanted for his birthday dinner. We ate, we did cup cakes and sang. I took some photos of him and posted them online, to which the wife got mad because it had some clutter in the corner and she hated it. Which led to her expressing how much she hated this house and that we were supposed to have moved by now. I got little heated and responded with "if you hate everything about being here and me so much then you might as well just leave, I don't know what else I can do. I wish you could just be happy and appreciate what we do have and our family." Her response was "I do appreciate it, I just hate it here and I need to leave this state. Do you really want to do this now?" I responded that I really did not, and went and played video games with my son, daughter, and her boyfriend for a bit before my son had to go to bed. I got him cleaned up, helped him get his teeth brushed, and gave him a piggy back ride to his room like we do every night. I gave him a big hug and a kiss, wished him a happy birthday, and tucked him in so my wife could read him a story. I choked back some tears and came back out to the living room, poured a glass of whiskey, and thought about everything that had transpired over the last few weeks.

When she came back out, I could tell she was getting ready to go to bed. I apologized for the last few days, and being depressed the last few weeks and how its effected everyone. She responded, almost verbatim, with what she had said to me in the letter a year prior. She doesn't feel like I have been working towards moving, and that she is going to go and doesn't feel like i am part of that plan. I asked what about our son? I don't plan to leave if we aren't good and going together, and that she won't be able to take him out of state. She accused me as using him as a weapon to trap her here. I said, no, that wasn't the case, but I am not letting you take my son 8-9 hours away from me, from his school, and his friends. And that I really doubt him being closer to your relatives will make up for the fact that you took him away from his dad who has spent every night playing with him, teaching him, and cuddling him. Or to take him away from his grandma and Pa and uncle that have done more for our family than yours ever have. Its not fair to him or me. I am a good dad, and and good husband. I am a totally different person than I was 8 years ago. I sacrificed so much to try and give this family a decent life, even your daughter tells me things she won't tell you. None of this makes any sense. If I was cruel or abusive I'd get it, but I'm not. All I want is to make our family work. She responded that I could always move with them and find a job and apartment near them so I wouldn't be far away from my son. Which is true, I could, but why I would I uproot myself and leave my only means of support behind to go to a city where I know no one outside of her family, leaving the house and life I worked so hard to have behind. Nor do I have the financial means to do so. Nor does she. Even if I sold the house tomorrow, I'd be lucky if I saw $20-30,000 from the sale. She said she just doesn't see me working towards moving away, and that my focus is making things at the house more permanent rather then trying to leave. I told her that wasn't true, that I said I would move if we worked on us, but I didn't see that happen. A lot has happened and changed over the last year. I was still willing to move, as a family. It hurts me to leave my parents behind, but I have been in the area my entire life. A change of scenery wouldn't kill me, but I do not want to go if we are just going to end up separated or divorced.

We went back and forth like this for an hour or so. We ultimately agreed that we don't hate or hold any ill will towards each other, we love each other, and we could try couples counseling. But I think that we both have different endgames in mind for counseling. I want to reconcile and put the past behind us, while I believe she wants to use it more as a mediation tool to separate. She said that she has basically shut me out, and regardless that she is going to move, and its on me as to how that will look. Part of me feels like she is being really selfish and is putting her own needs ahead of our sons and that of the family. I do not want to have an ugly custody battle if it comes to that, but I am not letting her take my son to another state Nor do I really want to divorce. Things are not perfect, but a marriage takes work. And I don't believe it should be abandoned without trying everything and anything to fix that. To me, 8 years is a lot of time to just toss away. But I also can't spend my life not feeling loved. One moment she talks like reconciliation could be possible, the next its not. All I know is that I miss my wife, I miss feeling like I am wanted, and that I'll be damned if I am letting her just take my son and go without a fight.

If you're still with me at this point, I apologize for the incredibly long story. I cut a lot out, but I just had a lot that I needed to get off my chest. I really want to make things work. I hate that my wife is miserable, and I am all for moving with her if we can make this work. But should I really sacrifice what I have, and custody of my son, if we can't make it work?
Sounds like y’all have PTSD. If you’re living in NY, I can relate to your wife’s desire to leave the area. It sounds like she’s willing to take the chance to start a new, rather than live in a densely populated place plagued with illness etc.
It’s sounds to me that your absolutely not willing to move from your environment & she resents it.
In the same token, she’s given you an ultimatum and you’ve concluded you don’t want to move because of extended family
Either you move or you’re done
Ultimatums...that’s a tough one.
While your decision is not easy, she is giving you a choice. Stay together and venture starting over as a family in a new place or try a separation that leads to divorce. But if she goes without you, you’ll likely end up divorced and alone. Your son won’t understand why you stayed back. Your situation is complicated. However, your wife & family should be the priority & the same holds true for her. If moving is her goal, coming up with a systematic plan that doesn’t financially kill y’all is the best team work. Good luck 🍀
 
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