32

I feel awful about this, but I can't keep my silence about it anymore.

I'm a 25 year old man. I am a piano teacher and have a lot of entrepreneurial/artistic dreams and goals.

I met a girl about two years ago, in the spring of 2013. We began dating seriously and I moved in with her in the June/July of 2013. Before this I had been living with my parents.

Beginning that winter, of 2013/2014, I began to lose interest in the relationship. I didn't find her mentally stimulating anymore, and I had been introduced to the concept of polyamory when I read a book on the subject. It was world changing. I had been unknowingly searching for that philosophy for years, and I so completely identified with it that I couldn't believe I had been living any other way.

However, I've always had a weakness with feelings of irrational guilt and obligation, and it's always been pretty easy for people to sway me to do what they want if they have those things on their side, and in this situation I felt extremely guilty and obligated to her. I didn't want to be with her anymore for a variety of reasons, but I felt awful and didn't break up with her like I should have. I also felt financially afraid to strike out truly on my own. I had been living with my parents before this. I also felt like I would be abandoning her to financially rely on her (awful) family. Lots of guilt.

I didn't do anything about it at all for literally months as I waffled about what to do, and eventually told her about the polyamory. She is pretty much the definition of a completely monogamous person, so she was completely horrified by the idea and not open to it at all. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, since I ultimately didn't want any relationship with her, polyamorous or otherwise.

We sometimes argued about the polyamory, but I continued to not act on it and not break up with her, feeling paralyzed by my various feelings. Time passed, and finally, this last September of 2014, I tried to break up with her. It was a huge ordeal, and despite the fact that I don't want a relationship with her and don't really like her, I'm still in love with and attached to her. It was very difficult for both of us, but in the end, her frightening statements about attempting suicide if I left (she's attempted before in her life, before I met her) were what ultimately kept me there. I also of course felt afraid and in emotional pain and guilty, etc etc.

About a month after this whole ordeal, we found out she was pregnant. She had been using birth control pills our entire relationship, and I really don't know what on earth happened. It ultimately doesn't matter.

She is completely anti-abortion, and she desperately wanted to keep the baby. Again, in the flurry of guilt and obligation I agreed to marry her (she had been hinting and pushing since at least the 6 month mark), and we got married in November of 2014.

She's now 7 months pregnant with a boy. Our relationship continued as normal (you know, considering the circumstances) and on the surface appears strong.

I however have never been more miserably unhappy. I was deeply unhappy even before the pregnancy, but now I'm basically a zombie. I trudge through my daily life, and have that intense feeling of heaviness and tightness in my chest, all of the time. I never really wanted to be a father. I always have placed more personal importance on projects and accomplishments and friendships than romance. I want to be important and powerful and change the world. I can't imagine a more miserable life than to be a monogamous family man. I realize that some people achieve great happiness with that life, but I simply don't feel that's who I am. My now wife has always been lovingly but overbearingly suffocating, and my ambitions and other friendships have all completely stagnated in the two years I've been with her. I hate the lack of freedom, I hate the sense that all my time is spoken for, I hate every second of my life. I want out intensely.

I don't know what to do. I'm so completely lost. Would my son be better off with a father who doesn't want to be around but is putting on a smiling face, or a father who was divorced early on? How do I handle my situation? What's the right thing to do? Am I defective? Am I a bad person?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Acire, Brian Robbins, user11394, DA01, Rory Alsop Apr 11 '15 at 9:15

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Please keep your comments or answer related to the parenting part. The question is about what would be better for the son, and the parenting implications of each choice, not about what should be the right choice for @Lost. – DainDwarf Apr 8 '15 at 9:51
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    You're not defective (some people aren't interested in monogamy or parenting), but you have let this situation develop to a point where you really have no "good" options left. Have you sought therapy (either individual or couples, preferably both) so you can talk through some of your emotions and dilemmas? – Acire Apr 8 '15 at 12:52
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    Do you not want to be a father at all, or do you just mean you don't want to be husband and a father? How do you feel about the idea of being a single father with shared custody? – user11394 Apr 8 '15 at 15:52
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    Just wanted to add my own experience to support what's been said already; my mother is gay but my mother and farther made a go at it anyway. Needless to say they did not get along and when my dad finally left when I was 8 the backlash did some serious damage to my brother and I. If he'd left right at the beginning, we wouldn't have been subjected to fights, alcoholism, legal battles and seriously misdirected resentment and anger. – CLockeWork Apr 9 '15 at 11:46
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    She had been using birth control pills our entire relationship, and I really don't know what on earth happened. It ultimately doesn't matter. - What if she stopped using the pills to "trap" you in the relationship (which in fact is what happened)? It totally matters then. Being a good parent means having a good working relationship at the very least with your co-parent, and it seems as though both of you are nowhere near that yet. – Telastyn Apr 9 '15 at 16:06

14 Answers 14

64

When we are confronted with a situation in our lives where what we believe doesn't match up to how we're living, we have two choices: Change our beliefs or change our actions.

I think I know that tightness in your chest, and when I've experienced it, it's when what I am is not what I want to be.

Other posters have suggested the latter. Get out for sure, only a matter of when. I disagree with that. I encourage you to reevaluate your situation and examine your beliefs.

Even if being "important and powerful and chang[ing] the world" are noble aims, plenty of important, powerful, and impactful men have had a wife and children. In fact, depending on how you and your wife operate as a couple, she can help you achieve your goals. Sometimes I feel like I don't work on that side project because I have my wife in the house, but when I get a weekend alone I end up screwing around and not doing anything. But when she got serious about finances and helped me to do the same, it helped to encourage me to go and find new work that led me to a career advancement. She makes me better, when we work together. I see the same thing in my parents: My dad consults while my mom handles the home's finances. They make each other better, and while I don't know for sure, I'm guessing they'd both say that having children made them better as well.

Here's the thing about marriage: it can be hard, and it takes work. Very few people will be united without conflict. But if both of you are willing to make it work, you can make it work. Wise counsel can help here. My wife and I went through a book called "Lifelong Love Affair" with some friends, and that was really good.

Based on your story, it would seem like you haven't communicated your non-polyamorous hopes and dreams very well. If she seems suffocating, she should know that, but in her defense your interest in other women would definitely create trust issues. These are the sorts of things that need to be worked out.

All of this is to say that the best thing for your son is for you to learn how to be content in your circumstances. If you can learn how to not just live with but truly love your wife, if you can change the things that you're putting your hope in, then you can give your son the greatest gift you can: A loving, content, and attentive father.

If you walk out, it doesn't guarantee that you will become important, powerful, or even happy. If you stay and fight for what you have already attained, it's a pretty safe bet that a little boy will think of you as the most important and powerful person in his life.

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    +1 Although this isn't a popular notion nowadays I do sincerely think you're right. Well written answer. – David Mulder Apr 8 '15 at 14:53
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    WRT staying together & parenting, while it is good to have both parents - It is a choice between stay and work vs divorce and move on... make sure the result isn't a toxic environment. ... If the OP becomes angry at "the situation" and can't overcome how much "poly and power he had to sacrifice..." - then even if it looks good "on the surface", there will be issues that affect everyone - most importantly the kid. – WernerCD Apr 8 '15 at 16:49
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    While this answer takes the high road, my thoughts are for the wife. She deserves to be free; she deserves the opportunity to be loved, truly loved, by someone, not merely to be half of a couple wherein the husband is just trying to stay afloat in a suffocating situation that he himself helped to create. It's pathological for both of them. The child can still be happy with both parents apart, especially if the mom is in a stable, loving relationship with someone who loves them both back. – anongoodnurse Apr 8 '15 at 21:48
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    @anon: being free and loved is not a right that must be given, it's something you have to work for. Based on what the OP said, she made a lot of bad choices too by forcing a relationship that was obviously not working, so she too has to face the consequences of her choices. – Thomas Bonini Apr 9 '15 at 7:04
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    @AndreasBonini - True enough. – anongoodnurse Apr 10 '15 at 0:57
55

I'm going to focus on this one thing that you said, because it's one of the only things you said about what you want, as opposed to all the stuff you are experiencing that you don't want:

I want to be important and powerful and change the world.

Well, I have good news and bad news about that. First the bad news. I'm going to be brutally honest here. You have not been able to extract yourself from a relationship that you didn't want to be in. You let yourself get manipulated into first continuing it, then escalating it with the marriage. If you weren't able to extract yourself from this stifling relationship, how do you expect that you would be able to get out of the next stifling relationship (maybe a controlling boss, for example), on your way to importance and power and world-changing? I'm not seeing it. This sounds like fantasy to me rather than a realistic vision of your future. Like I said, I'm being brutally honest about what it looks like, objectively, from the outside. I'm not trying to be vicious and kick you when you're down.

Let's get back to

I want to be important and powerful and change the world.

There is one way that you really have the capacity to do that. For your son, nobody is in a position to be more important, more powerful, and more able to change his world than you will be. There is no "project" more interesting than watching a human being develop and facilitating that development.

Yes, it's hard. And rife with drudgery. And you're missing out on the carefree life of polyamory and blah blah blah. Not to step on your dreams too hard, but realize that most startups fail. When you finally get one that is working, yes, that can be satisfying. But even then you have drudgery and endless hassles around keeping that going. It's highly unpredictable. I don't see you avoiding the pitfall of connecting with a partner who becomes highly manipulative and controlling, for example--since you have currently done that in your personal life.

When your dreams are just dreams, you imagine them to be everything you hope they will be. When you start to try to make them reality, reality generally stomps all over them. I'm not saying it's impossible that you would go on to be extremely successful, important, and rich. But I am saying that it's pretty likely that you are comparing your current unhappy situation (the known quantity) to a dream life of successful entrepreneurship, respect, and power (the unknown quantity that your imagination can dress up any way it wants to because it has no reality to keep it honest).

If you change your attitude and focus, though, I think there is a very reasonable possibility that you could turn the "Son Project" into a raging success. Entrepreneurship is highly unpredictable because there are so many factors involved that are out of your control (great idea, but at the wrong time due to no fault of your own...or great idea at the right time, but at critical juncture a supplier, who you thought you had every reason to trust, completely drops the ball and you're out of business...or great idea at the right time with good suppliers and you hired a brother or a friend who entered into an exclusive contract with a buyer that shouldn't have been exclusive that ends up torpedoing the whole business (yes, that one is from real life experience)).

By contrast, at least in the beginning, almost everything about parenting is under your control. Even though kids are unpredictable and you have no idea what his personality is going to be like, you still have all the leeway in the world to respond and adapt to that.

Here's one idea that you could approach this with. Up to now, you've pretty much sucked at being independent and entrepreneurial. Be honest and admit that. Here's a project, though, that will give you a chance to prove yourself. You are going to try to raise a self-actualized human. You are going to try to do this even though you have failed at being one of these yourself, and you were raised by people who failed to do it.

Prove to yourself that you can do this, and you will know that you can do anything.

You are much more likely to change the world for the better by raising one son well than with ten failed startups. Really ponder this one--look at the problems you see in the world, and ask yourself how many of them would immediately disappear if everyone had awesome parents. It will shock you.

It will be extremely difficult to make this mental transition. Again, therapy. Right now your wife is not really a reliable partner (even that could change over time, though), and a therapist can help you negotiate reorienting your goals here, serve as a sounding board, etc. Think of a therapist as a business consultant.

I know this idea of mentally re-characterizing parenting as an entrepreneurial challenge may sound a bit silly. But consider the fact that much of the pain you are experiencing is psychological. This idea is an attempt at a psychological hack--focusing the energy and creativity and power you think you would have in starting a business on becoming a spectacular father.

So, yeah, there's my suggestion--you think you can become a powerful, important world changer. Let's see you prove it with this one task. Give it, say, five years. Reevaluate at that point. If, at that point, you can say that you've done a spectacular job at it, branch out and start working on a startup as well. Everything you learn from doing any job well will apply in some way to entrepreneurship.

You are suffering right now because you are letting things happen to you, and you feel trapped and not in control. So I'm suggesting that you start with this one thing. Take control of it. Show yourself how to be in control, and see the rewards of doing it. It's a crappy situation, I think we all agree on that. But it's also, potentially, a profoundly life altering opportunity. In my mind, there is little to lose in at least trying to figure out if you can make it into one.

I sincerely wish you the best of luck. And, I know it's hard, but try to drop society's incredibly upside-down perspective on this. There's not a single f***ing thing in this world that's better than a great parent (also nothing harder). It's the highest thing anyone ever achieves.

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    Wow wow wow. The best answer here. – rpax Apr 8 '15 at 15:07
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    While I think you make a lot of really good points, I'm not sure that focusing on this one thing makes for the best answer. It definitely does not sound like this is the only reason the OP wants out, and convincing him that he wants to be a father isn't quite the same thing as it being a good idea to raise a child with a woman he doesn't want to be in a relationship with. – Cascabel Apr 8 '15 at 19:53
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    what a great answer, truly. – Chasester Apr 8 '15 at 20:12
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    @Jefromi - I think this answer probably gets closer to reality than the others. The original question actually struck me as coming from a selfish child focused on himself, but, as msouth points out, his dreams were not really all that realistic, esp. given his inability to make a decision to take control of his own life. His son is more important than those things he might not get to do in his life and he needs to accept that. – Kryten Apr 8 '15 at 20:51
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    @Kryten I agree that it could be close to reality. But again, placing the son first is not necessarily the same thing as staying in the relationship. For example, it might be far better for a child to have two separate parents than to live with parents who clearly don't want to be together and are constantly unhappy because of it. I just think it's worth acknowledging that point, even if it's plausible or even likely that the 100% of the issues are due to the prospect of being a parent. – Cascabel Apr 8 '15 at 21:04
25

You are going to be a father soon. My response will be limited to that.

It's pretty clear that you probably won't find happiness in your marriage, so the question might be, for the sake of your child, when would be the best time to leave the relationship?

If you want a chance to bond with the child and experience the child's infancy, it would be best if you stayed around for a while after the baby is born. How long depends on you, but I'm not talking weeks here.

There are lots of reasons to stay that directly influence your child. Your wife will need physical and emotional support at the time of the infant's birth and afterwards, not the trauma of being left to do this alone or with her (awful) family. If she doesn't receive it, it could interfere with her own bonding with your child, and this (innocent) baby deserves the best start in life that they can get.

The birth of a child is the birth of a parent. You ought to be there for your "birth". You owe it to him to give him a chance to become the love of your life. Your child's first smile, laugh, and step may affect your view of them for the better. Remember, you created this child.

Go to prenatal classes with your wife. Learn what you need to know about being a new dad, too. There are classes for that. Helping her is helping your child. Help with the cleaning, cooking, shopping. Change diapers and rock your baby. Sing to them, read to them. Let yourself love them.

I suggest you start seeing a therapist now. You have a lot of issues to work out, not the least of which is when to end the marriage you are suffocating in. Maybe you can even explore your wishes for yourself in life. Being a healthy, happy person will help you to be a better dad.

I hope you find the incredible happiness that comes with being a parent.

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    Exactly this. At minimum, staying long enough to help with the hard part is necessary in my book. A year or so, at the very minimum. After that, it's up to you to figure out. – Joe Apr 8 '15 at 14:17
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    I believe this to be the best answer. I was in this same situation, and now 11 years in I'm getting out of it. This weekend, to be exact. 11 years was at least 6 years too long. Give it time, but get control of the situation and get out (my parents broke up when I was 2, a good age). If she's kept you from leaving as long as you have, she'll probably still be trying to do the same 35 years from now. During whatever time you decide to stay, work on your career. It will be hard to change the world as a piano teacher, and it's hard to be an entrepreneur without relevant experience. – JackArbiter Apr 9 '15 at 15:04
18

Although my situation was different, I felt much the same way as you do five years ago. I ended up leaving my wife, but instead of feeling relieved and/or happier it made me feel worse. To make a long story short I ended up being diagnosed with depression and went on medication to help with that. It ended up improving my outlook on things significantly. Depression for me was an unexplainable feeling but I felt like I needed to pin it on something when that wasn't the cause.

While this may not necessarily be your problem, it is something to consider. There is no shame in seeking help for that if it is the problem. I'm glad I did before I did irreparable damage to my relationship.

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    It's really awesome of you to share this. Thank you. – msouth Apr 8 '15 at 15:14
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    There are a few signs that the OP may have depression; people tend to severely misdiagnose and underestimate mental ilnesses. This is great advice :) Although I'm affraid that the way the OP described himself, he will not even be able to see a professional about his (maybe) condition. – Luaan Apr 9 '15 at 7:49
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Would my son be better off with a father who doesn't want to be around but is putting on a smiling face, or a father who was divorced early on? How do I handle my situation?

Whether you like it or not your situation is about to change dramatically, and my advice would be to hold out until well after the arrival of your son before you do something irreversible. When your son arrives you might actually want to be around.

When I had my first child it gave me an enormous sense of purpose (and importance?) that I didn't know was absent. I was perfectly happy before having children, and having them made me even happier.

OK, your situation is different - you're unhappy in your relationship - but you have no idea how you will respond to becoming a father. Once you've experienced it you'll be better equipped to make decisions about how you see the future panning out. It may change your perception of everything.

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    This is a great point, which I think some other answers get somewhat close to, but you've brought it out really well. If he actually ends up liking parenting he is absolutely going to want to have the option of trying to keep the marriage together, which he won't have if he takes preemptive steps now. – msouth Apr 9 '15 at 3:04
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Since it is a question&answer board about parenting, I would only answer (vaguely) the parenting part. But do keep in mind that it is only my personal opinion.

For the child, the question would be, what would be better for him:

  • You break up now,
  • You break up in a couple of months, or years,
  • You stay together.

I would say, but have no numbers, studies or source to point it out, that it would be better if you do not stay together and forced to be a standard father. That probably would be bad for the emotional development of the child. Even if you try to seem like a good standard monogamous father, the fact that you do not want to be it will effect your child.

You could either be a father to him for half the time, only a week-end every two weeks, or not at all, depending on what everyone wants in this family (and judgement of the divorce).

However, the emotional state of your wife is also important. 7 months pregnant must be really hard (I have not seen it, so I don't know well how it is for her), and either breaking up now or saying you will break up soon would probably be devastating for her, from what you tell us about your relationship together.

I am the step dad of a 4 years old daughter whose parents broke up when she was 1year old. She seems perfectly happy to have her mother and me half of the time, and her dad half of the time. I do not think early break up is bad for the child. Broken family tends to become the norm anyway, nowadays.

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    +1. A parent who resents their child isn't going to be able to be a good parent -- even if they are physically present, the frustration and resentment of being stuck in an undesired family unit will infect and damage the overall relationship. – Acire Apr 8 '15 at 12:48
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    -1 for "I do not think early break up is bad for the child.". First of all people who have gone through a single divorce are very likely to go through later divorces as well. You're somewhat right that according to research most damage is done when parents divorce with children aged 4-16, however that in no way means that it will not damage the children (although some research suggests otherwise the large majority of research still suggests that for example single parent families do result in more problems, even if only for financial reasons). Honestly, even two comments are not (cont.) – David Mulder Apr 8 '15 at 14:59
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    enough to fully discuss this, but just because a lot of families are broken and in general people are reporting lower happiness values nowadays in the past is no reason to just accept that as a given without fighting it. Either way, read up on some of the actual research, I was looking for a nice meta study, but couldn't find any and all overviews of research were strongly anti-broken marriage and would probably be perceived as biased by pro-divorce people, so in the end I can only advice you to read the journals themselves. – David Mulder Apr 8 '15 at 15:00
11

Regardless of what happens between you and your wife, you need to come to terms with the fact that your obligation to your son is now one of the most central realities of your life. The fact that he is now in the world is directly related to your actions and choices, and you need to take responsibility for those as an adult. You may feel tricked and trapped into parenthood but (a) that isn't your son's fault and (b) it didn't happen without a lot of dishonesty and passivity on your side.

Being a parent doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your hopes and dreams --plenty of people make it happen, even while caring for a child. But you owe it to him and yourself to start making active choices and taking responsibility for them. It isn't your wife or son who trapped you in this life, it's you yourself, and the sooner you quit blaming them, the better.

10

I see many worthwhile and insightful thoughts here. I want to add a success story I hope you'll identify with.

I am also a musician and have a story which bears other similarities to yours--such as speculating how unexpected this was and not being ready to settle down.

Thirteen years ago I learned a child was on his way and also didn't want this responsibility. I lamented everything from the loss of freedom to inadvertently destroying the psyche of an unwanted child. I was caring and supportive throughout her pregnancy but couldn't find the enthusiasm she enjoyed. I struggled to reconcile many things I perceived as being taken from me by the baby, his mother, and the universe at large.

Understanding the gravity of what hung in the balance didn't help ease my decision, it only augmented my guilt.

Laid off three months before my son was born--before I even knew he was a he--all I could see was how this would bring financial ruin to me and hardship to my child. Under-employed for his first six months, I now realize I had the best paternity leave of anyone I know.

Like you, I had friends assuring me I'd had more choice in the matter than I wanted to admit--both before and after the situation developed. Others here are elucidating hard truths, some of which you'd rather not read. Here's an encouraging thought to break that pattern:

My effort to try and make things work paid off better than I could have imagined. That's a cliched concept but no exaggeration.

It was hard. Guilt from feeling I don't deserve the adoration of this child. Stress and sleep deprivation over his all-night fever. A three-year-old determined to abstain from green beans. Those hard moments pass. The love of a child who knows he's loved back does NOT pass. Ever.

Twelve years ago a child was born who--like every other--had no say in the matter. Helpless on who'd provide food and comfort. No power over who'd teach him to to wipe his butt or to tie his shoes or to play video games or that monsters aren't real.

Against my own desire, I threw myself all-in. I'm gonna be a dad, so I'm gonna try. And if I can become half the dad I've got, my kid will probably be okay. That was neither the first turning point nor the last, but an important one.

My son is now twelve and a half, and he's my best friend. Sometimes he picks up his toy guitar to mock me. He plays a little, but most of the time he's less interested in being mini-me. No matter one's stance on 'nature vs. nurture,' he is his own person but looks and acts a LOT like I do.

Every stage brings both new challenges and new wonderment. We tease each other over fumbled words and tied tongues. We make each other laugh ganging up on his mother when she says something goofy. We annoy one another with odd habits.

We walk the dog and straddle the street, passing the football the entire way. Talking about everything. Talking about nothing. Sometimes not talking at all.

Things are still hard. Money gets tight, work hours grow long, he has homework. Dishes get dirty and weeds grow in the yard--next to the dog poo. I buy fewer amplifiers and more Tupperware. That's life.

But I am the hero of a charming, intelligent and genuine young man. I own immeasurable satisfaction in having helped shape that. And even if 'nature vs. nurture' is entirely nature, I've been a witness to it--a participant in it--every step of the way.

Someday he'll have other heroes, and he'll rather spend time with someone else than with me. But I'll know until my deathbed the incisively hilarious comment he made with the word 'parenthetical' is because I taught him the word's definition. I'll always know I gave him his first job--pulling weeds to earn a bionicle--in addition to having taught him right from wrong and how to frag zombies. I take more pride in watching the young man he's becoming than any of the crap I do at work, any of the songs I write, no matter how nice the lawn looks.

I once wanted nothing more than to be a rock star. But I've already changed the world...I've shared my son with it.

In twelve short years he's given me far more than I've given him. Most of what I expected to sacrifice was my negative exaggeration. Even if my dismal forecasts had come to pass, I wouldn't change a bit.

Twelve years ago I made a reluctant but steadfast decision to support an unborn child. It was far and away the best choice I ever made.

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    +1 - It's always good to hear the perspective of one who has truly been there. – anongoodnurse Apr 10 '15 at 0:54
8

I would recommend approaching the problem, not running from it.

You said one thing that stood out to me amidst everything else:

...I don't want a relationship with her and don't really like her, I'm still in love with and attached to her.

This strikes me as a very complicated internal state. While there is a tendency to say "get out of a situation you find toxic," a phrasing like this suggests to me that you might end up taking the toxic bit along with you. This could potentially make the situation even worse.

Whether through therapy or on your own, I would recommend exploring what both of you feel marriage "means." There is almost a 100% chance that there is disagreement on this because you're human. We almost never perfectly agree on anything. What entities are involved in this definition? Is there a religious institution that has some say in its meaning, or is its meaning entirely defined by you two as individuals?

Having that "meaning" behind marriage would be an important start, especially for a polyamorous individual married to a monoamorous one. Especially given that polyamoury is still new enough on the scene that each individual has a lot of say in his or her definition of it. From a poly perspective, marriage has a tendency to look like a whole lot of "don't do this" and "don't do that," because those are really visible from that perspective. However, it is a whole lot more than that, if you let it be. Find your definition, and make sure it has some good points to it.

Do put yourself in her shoes. If she has been suicidal over the thought of you leaving, then her life literally hangs on a slip of paper - the marriage certificate holding you in place. That's a tough position to be in. Resolving this situation most likely does not involve spreading outward, it involves reaching inward. Give her something to stand on, so that she can stop being so dependent. Then, the paper may loosen and let you free... or you may find that she's suddenly a whole lot more joyful in your life and want to stick around. Either way, building her up is the best course of action.

Polyamoury has a cloying side that leads towards a irresponsable "I can do whatever I want attitude" which is in direct opposition to marriage. Those who engage in polyamoury respectfully and responsibly recognize that the mere act of falling in love with a new person has an impact on one's existing lovers. It's a non-zero effect, and will always be non-zero no matter how hard one wishes otherwise. One can only get away with claiming "I can do whatever I want" if one strives to only want what is best for the group you are part of. Anywhere below that mystically perfect state of being, you will still have to restrain yourself for the sake of your lovers, poly or not.

This situation is not actually all that different from marriage. The wording and approaches are different, so you and your spouse will certainly need to discuss them, but there is at least one way to dovetail the approaches together along the lines of:

"I am polyamorous. I am not interested in putting hard lines of 'I will not love Alice' or 'I will not love Barbara' into my life because they feel unnatural. However, I recognize that we are now bonded, and your desires should now be a part of mine. I will strive not to fall in love with anyone unless our united-selfs-in-marriage agree it is a good direction. This is not a guarantee that it wont happen without Our approval. I am imperfect, and we never fully control our own destiny. However, I will strive. If it happens, then we will address it knowing we have done the best we possibly can to strengthen Our relationship to overcome it, or join it, or even some option inbetween that We can't even see yet. The journey is still young."

To tie it back to parenting, your child does not need a ultra-complicated environment with a shattered-shell of a mother whose husband left, or an entrapped father who is always looking at what could have been. Trying to resolve the issues between you guys, rather than running from them, increases the likelyhood the child will grow up in a healthy environment. It also increases the chances that your wife will get to have a healthy marriage. It also increases the chances that, if you do decide leaving is the right decision, you will get to do so guilt free.

Attempts to resolve the issue, successful or unsuccessful, benefit all parties involved. If they work, great, everyone is now happy. If they fail, everyone can honestly say they tried their best to make it work.

5

You will never find a partner who is absolutely perfect in every way. We are all human. You and your wife have been together for a number of years and surely there is a strong bond there, whether you realise it or not. We need to learn to accept others' imperfections.

I honestly think it's best to sit down and talk this over with her, probably with the help of a mediator or counsellor. Whatever decision you choose, you owe it to your wife and son to be honest. Don't live a lie.

Currently you are in a situation where you are with someone who loves you, and you claim you also love. You have known each other for a long time, and have brought a new life into this world together. She is not perfect and neither are you. There are things you want to do but can't, and now that there is a child involved, there will be even more things you will want to do but can't. Such is the life of all parents.

That is your current situation. If you leave her, all bets are off. You may never find someone who loves you and you love in return, and by then it will be too late.

I think your opinion may change once you meet your son. I hope he will be a catalyst in your life to better yourself and be a good father and husband.

But there is one thing I'm absolutely positive about: whatever you decide to do, don't leave her alone with a newborn with no support. You should stick with her and support her emotionally, financially, and with caring for your son for at least the first 12 to 18 months. Even if after discussing this with her if she tells you to leave, you should insist. I understand you never intended for her to get pregnant and were under the impression she was taking birth control, but this is of no relevance any more. We all know birth control pills don't have 100% success rates, and you decided to take the risk. Things happen, often out of our control, and we must deal with the consequences and act responsibly. This is one of those situation and you have an obligation to your wife and son.

Also I think it would be a good idea to speak with a professional who may be able to diagnose possible depression. It's a real thing that's nothing to be ashamed of, and there are very effective medical treatments that will make a world of difference. You need to approach this whole problem with a clear head.

4

I don't believe anybody envies your position. Personally I believe that no matter what choice you decide on, there isn't a wrong or right decision per se. It is unfortunate that things were allowed to progress as far as they did, threatening with suicide to prevent a break-up should really only finalize the ending of a relationship, but getting into that will just be getting off topic.

To address the parenting aspect of your question, think of your parents and how your upbringing was:

  • If you imagine your father feeling the same way, would you have preferred he lived his life and enjoyed happiness?
  • If you imagine your mother being with a man who doesn't truly love her, would you want her to have happiness?

Opting out:

Until the coming of age, a child will not truly comprehend the moral dilemmas a parent has. You may not be your child's best friend growing up, but with age they may come to understand your decisions.

The key is communication. Divorce is becoming a more & more common practice and your child will likely have friends he or she can relate to.

My advice - from what you've said here - would be to do what you want to do. If you don't want to be a father, or play a fatherly role you don't necessarily need to. You may be required to provide financial aid however, and you should do that if you do indeed decide to opt out.

Assuming you do stay together, it seems like these feelings of yours are very concrete & have been around for quite some time, meaning they're not going to change themselves and not without a lot of work.

One can only truly love a person if they love themselves. Do you think you're going to love yourself, achieve your dreams or find true happiness in your current circumstances?

If not, why not pursue your dreams. Only you will truly know what you want in this situation. Nobody can give you a right or wrong answer.

Go with your gut instinct and stick with your decision.

1

First of all, you are not a bad person. Looking for guidance here was a small but important step. When we are faced with tough decisions, it is good and recommended to look for assistance. With this in mind, you certainly should look for a therapist, to keep getting assistance.

I am definitely not even close to be an expert in parenting, but I felt like I could give you a bit of help as well. I wanted to emphasize that there is no right or wrong answer for your question. Instead, you should read all answers given here, and see what you can learn from each. At this point, there is nothing better to hear some different opinions, to help you think about your situation.

Most importantly, don't make any rushed decisions! Take your time. This is an important moment in your life, be sure to think it through. My advice would be for you to avoid (for now) taking any brutal decision that would be hard to undo. We all change our minds during life - maybe, who knows, you won't hate being a father that much. Or maybe, you will indeed hate it, but the key is: you don't really know for sure.

Nevertheless, your kid is coming. You should at least see what it's like; marriage with a child is a lot different than marriage without one. Besides, even though you didn't want it, it happened. You shouldn't leave right now; if you do, it will be even harder for your wife, and that will affect your son as well. Again, do not take any rushed decisions.

Now, regarding a few things you said:

I always have placed more personal importance on projects and accomplishments and friendships than romance. I want to be important and powerful and change the world.

Being a married father doesn't mean you can't work on other projects or accomplishments. It means it will be harder, but not impossible. By the way, I also want to be important and powerful and change the world - but I still didn't decide how exactly I want to change the world. Have you? You could think of your current situation as a challenge, or a first step for becoming powerful and able to change the world. I'm sure you will be pivotal for your child's world, at least.

I can't imagine a more miserable life than to be a monogamous family man.

Well, I can. I don't want to be rude with this - just wanted to make you think better about this statement. I know you have been going through a hard time, but I'm sure there are MANY fathers in the world that also didn't want to be monogamous family men, but are now EXTREMELY happy with it. Again, I emphasize, don't make any rushed decisions, wait and see what it's like.

Give yourself time to take decisions. It's better when you divide a big decision in small ones. This lowers your chances of making a big terrible choice. Don't do anything that will be hard to undo - not at this point. Your child will come in two months. In the meantime, give your wife support and get ready.

Don't misundertand though - taking time is different than just delaying decisions further and further. You're not to delay your decisions, otherwise you will continue being a zombie, as you said. Taking time means to slowly regain control of your life, instead of doing it all at once - I will say it once again: don't take rushed decisions. Go step by step.

Good luck, you will be fine.

0

"I don't want to be a father" is a more common notion than you might expect. Your post looks like it goes a little further than that since the lifestyle you dream of could very well happen while also being a father. Whether or not you are being a father along side your wife.

I don't think you should lean on the advise of people on the internet to tell you whether or not you should definitively divorce your wife. But do consider our stories and how we have all changed after becoming parents.

To begin though, I would say you are absolutely not a bad person or defective just because of this feeling. You have a strive in your life. A motivation. We should all be so lucky to know what we want. I get the feeling of being locked down. That suffocation and the dread that every day will be a repeat of this one and there's no way out. But as many here have said, this is all a matter of how you choose to direct your life, which must be done with communication to your family. Not just now, but after your son is born. You may be vilified, or you may be an inspiration. How you act determines this.

But you may find that when your son is born, you find amusement in such strange ways that you might forget about some of the things you thought you wanted before. Being a music teacher, you may even be inspired by some of the insipid child focused shows and songs and out of humor end up creating the next big block sing song, small potatoes, or other musical short that I swear started as a joke. Possibly from others who were sick of hearing the same old things in their kids' entertainment.

As he grows, even if you are not there, you will probably find yourself wanting to only be with him. Biologically, it seems to be axiomatic. We love our kids. They are consistently both the greatest torture and the greatest delights in our lives. If you choose to stay, you might feel the burn of common life. I do every day. But I feel the burn to be with my girls and play nightmare demon hunters in a pink dollhouse with them much more. They are little clones of us. They will love watching silence of the lambs with you if you get excited about it, and you will love watching doc mcstuffins with them because they love it, even if the show makes you want to burn a cable network down. They make the plight of normality a separation that can be shrugged. They make monotony wonderful. They make the dream of playing on stage in front of a million fans seem like a ridiculous joke. They make everything better.

I say it all like this because I, like you, didn't want to be a father.

Your wife may have a different definition of what a family is. I know mine does. So you're both at a pivotal point in your relationship. Does she outwardly express that she expects you to live a common life? Or would she join you if you said you wanted to move to Alaska and fish for crabs 2 months out of the year and hang out making music the rest of the time? She might not be into the whole polyamorous thing but most people aren't, even if they say they are. If you left her to find others who are attracted to this lifestyle you may well find it, but you might also realize your life is no more fulfilled. If you are both unhappy, and you both feel there's nothing you can do. Then you are probably not doing your son any good by staying together. It's most probable you would be splitting up eventually if you indeed feel like you don't love your wife. Or that she doesn't like you, or who you have become in the marriage. But you might just be confused. You're young. Irrational choices are very common in young people. So instead of calculating marital failure off a slump, maybe you should change your scenario a bit. Move. Get a different job, or quit all together and spend all of your spare time trying to do what you want to do. Ask your wife if she wants something else too. Maybe she's just as afraid of the common definition of parenthood. Maybe she wants to live in the forest. But talk it out. I'm guessing she would feel better no matter what your decision is if she truly understood why you turned into a zombie. The journey to un-zombie you may be an adventure in itself. Maybe a good adventure is what you need to realize the day to day life is either not all that bad, or imperative to escape.

Officially I say don't give up so easily. Raising kids is no easy thing, to be sure. But the fear fades quickly when you see how they grow, learn, excel, fail, communicate, paint, laugh, eat, sleep... and everything else in between. I fear a life without them now. And I, like you, didn't want to be a father.

-3

Man, I've been frustrated with my life due to some bad decisions I made in moments of weakness, but this puts me to shame!

This seems like a very manipulative woman you're with, and the relationship is not healthy for you. She threatened to kill herself if you left, and you said that she got pregnant when she was on the pill? Did it ever occur to you that she got pregnant on purpose to keep you from leaving? You don't even know if this child is yours.

" and my ambitions and other friendships have all completely stagnated in the two years I've been with her. I hate the lack of freedom, I hate the sense that all my time is spoken for"

I'm not supposed to ask for clarification, but this sounds like she's stopping you from having friends and from having free time.

First thing is that you need to get out of this relationship for your own mental health. It'll be tough financially, not the least of which might be divorce settlements or child support payments, but you let yourself get manipulated into this, so you'll just have to deal with that.

Next, there's the child. I'd talk to a lawyer if I were you, and I'd get a paternity test first, and then look into possibly taking custody of the child from her, because she seems unstable. The best thing for the child is to have two loving, stable, competent parents, and neither you nor she qualify as competent, so you should look into foster families.

  • 4
    Look into foster families for stability? This is just about the least helpful suggestion I can imagine. Please have a look at the site tour and visit the help center for guidance on how to use this site. – anongoodnurse Apr 9 '15 at 2:25
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    She is pretty much the definition of a completely monogamous person, so she was completely horrified by the idea [of polygamy] and not open to it at all. I think its strange to offer the idea that the child is someone else's given by the situation. Also - my parents were using the pill when I was conceived, it is by no means a 100% child prevention tool, and should be used in addition to other methods, not relied on solely. – DoubleDouble Apr 9 '15 at 16:02
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    @anongoodnurse well, excuse me for giving an answer that you disagree with. A woman who threatens to kill herself to keep a guy from leaving is not stable. You are obviously prejudice against foster families, but please excercise the responsibility of not letting your prejudice affect your advice/ – anotherguy Apr 10 '15 at 3:44
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    @DoubleDouble I think you're being naive. Given this woman's manipulative nature, it is possible that the child is not his, and he has a right to make sure. – anotherguy Apr 10 '15 at 3:47
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    I just think its weird to jump from "Uses guilt" to "cheats", especially since he offers an out for multiple relationships. If he finds himself with that level of distrust though, he should definitely check and break up. – DoubleDouble Apr 13 '15 at 16:18

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