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Father with baby in second marriage wonders if divorce is inevitable, wants advice


Your Question:
I am a father of a 6 month old beautiful baby boy. My wife and I have been having nothing but problems (mostly concerning her meddling family, incompatability, and lack of sharing in responsibilities) and I am concerned that divorce is on the horizon. I have yet to consult or hire an attorney. I have a 13 year old son to a previous marriage who sees his mom every other weekend.

Since our conflicts have become more and more heated, she is wanting to breastfeed more often. She had been feeding him on a one to one (bottle to breastfeeding) ratio but now, when I want to spend time with him, she says she has to nurse him. I have read a lot of your suggestions/advice and think that she may be doing this as part of the ratio you had spoken about in actual 'physical' custody (i.e. - establishing over a 50/50 split) for future reference. The benefits of breastfeeding are great I know but she was nursing less and less as time went on until we started to have problems.

Also, she knows that she could never afford the house with joint custody and would do all that she could to have me pay support/alimony. I love my baby and can't stand the thought of not seeing him on a daily basis. My first marriage ended with a painful divorce and eventual agreement but, as may be the case here, it was necessary. Thank you for any suggestions.

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My Answer:
Hi,

Well, it's a shame for both kids that a second home is being broken. I'll remind you to keep in mind that you have a new baby, the mother's hormones have been going crazy, and there is all sorts of stress going on with both of you.

You also wrote (not posted) that you've known your wife for five years and are married for three years. If the past few months of behavior has been uncharacteristic of her, then try to stick it out to see if she calms down. Suggest counseling, if you think she's receptive, to see if you can work on your marital issues.

You're the man of your home, so you can certainly control her meddling family, unless the mother consistently invites them to meddle. But if she'd rather they not meddle but doesn't have the strength to address it, then YOU can put your foot down at any time (politely) to eliminate their influence in your home.

All of that said, you can concurrently take steps to ensure you remain involved with your second child. If possible, work less and care for the child more. If possible, shift your hours so he's in daycare less (i.e., you'd have him while the mother works).

From this point forward, it'd probably be wise of you to document the daily caretaking. Go to my What You Must Have page and read my review of a product called OPTIMAL. It's a password-protected software that lets you keep journals, notes, and details on daily parenting issues (and it can generate reports when you need them). In your situation, it's better than a hand-written journal or an MS Excel spreadsheet because you don't want your wife to accidentally discover what you're doing.

The beauty of keeping such organized records via something like OPTIMAL is if you're in court a year from now. The mother will say something like, "Well, I did most of the caretaking, so I should be the primary caretaker." She'll have little evidence, other than her own memory, and it could easily become a he-said-she-said.

However, you can produce graphs and charts - produced by something like OPTIMAL - and say, "That's not quite true. Unlike the mother, I kept daily records of caretaking. On 72% of the days during the past year, I provided at least 5 hours of care for our child. On 79% of the days, the mother provided the same amount. Our overall involvement has always been equal. Continuity for the child means 50/50 joint custody would be best for our son."

Who sounds more convincing?

So, my advice for you is to do everything you can to salvage this marriage for the sake of your kids.

At the same time, document everything in the event that your efforts don't work or aren't met with equal devotion.

Good luck.

Eric





This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.


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