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Ask the Divorced Guy!
by Dean Hughson
Title: Online chat ends up with me becoming a single dad
This probably one of the most bizarre e mails you will ever read but I
swear to god, that it is 100% true and accurate.
Two years ago my wife of ten years was pregnant with our third and last
child. I bought the family a computer, and she soon found a place where
expectant mothers gathered and chatted about their trials and
tribulations of pregnancy. Ironically Parents Place, at first she
confined herself to the expectant mothers chat room, and chatted only a
few hours every couple of days.
After our daughter was born my wife started jump around on the computer
and explore different “chat channels . Soon the curiosity became a
burning desire and she just had to start her own channel. She started
telling me in great detail about the personal lives of people neither of
us had ever really met, that lived thousands of miles away. But she
chatted with them, so she felt as if she knew them.
Gradually her computer usage increased to the point that my ISP was
calling me to explain that the term “unlimited usage did not include
being on line 16-18 hours per day, seven days a week!
Then really weird things started happening. The house was falling apart
because she couldn't clean and chat at the same time. Our three
children were being neglected and left unsupervised for hours at a time
while I was at work. Because she couldn't chat and watch the children
at the same time.
Within a six month period, my four year old son fell through a glass top
table severely lacerating several body parts, and requiring several
stitches. I was at work, his mother was, chatting. A few weeks later
he got tangled up in a drapery chord and nearly hung himself by the neck
trying to get out of it. Leaving large chord burns around his neck and
requiring medical attention. I was at work, his mother was, chatting. A short while later he opened his bedroom window, and fell
out of it busting his head wide open. I was at work, his mother was
“chatting . We actually had to be evaluated by HRS to ensure we were not
intentionally abusing the child!
Other things started to happen as well. I was also being neglected.
Right after dinner she would be right back on the computer and leave me
to care for the children until bedtime. I would beg her to come to bed
with me, only to hear, so and so just got in the room and I have not
chatted with them all week, I'll be in later. Later was usually 2 AM.
Then it gradually got to the point that when I walked into the room she
minimized her screen for fear that I might catch a glimpse of the
conversation. She would get phone calls at odd hours, and race to
answer the phone. She would say ,Oh hello then take the cordless phone
and walk out on the back porch so I could not overhear her
conversation. She had also stopped using the family e mail address, and
gotten her own personal e mail account that she and only she could
Just as my poor feeble brain was beginning to get the idea that
something was drastically wrong , she spilled her guts.
She calmly told me that she had met someone in her chat room. That she
was madly in love with him, and he her. Bear in mind they have never
met face to face. They have however chatted for hours and hours on both
the computer and telephone. They have exchanged passionate e mails, and
photographs. After a couple months of this cyber relationship, she was
dead sure this man she has never really met is her soul mate for life.
So sure in fact, that two weeks later she hugged her 16 month old
daughter, her 4 year old son, and her 7 year old son good-bye. Got on a
airplane, and moved cross country to live with her IRC Romeo. The
people in her chat channel applauded this bold move as being one of the
most romantic stories of the year on any chat channel. Reinforcing her
decision, and telling her, you go girl.
I have no idea what she had told her chat channel cronies about me, or
our relationship. The truth was, she was not leaving an abusive
relationship, or a domineering chauvinist pig. What she left was
someone that had loved and supported her through thick and thin,
emotionally, financially, and spiritually for almost 11 years. And
three small children who still do not understand why mommy is no longer
a part of their lives.
I am a wreck both emotionally and physically. I have been running
myself sick to care for a 16 month old daughter, a 4 year old son with
attention deficit disorder, and a 6 year old son that is gifted. On top
of this I work 45-50 hours a week to earn a living. To make a bad
situation worse two weeks after she moved out I got a phone bill from
BellSouth for $1,300. Almost all of which was her conversing with her
on line love. She has yet to find a job, and her new man says he can
not afford to do more than send me $100 a month until the bill is paid
off. Of course this is not acceptable to the phone company, and I have
yet to receive the first penny from them.
I feel that I am slowly sinking away into oblivion in ever sense of the
word. I have no family to turn to, my wife of ten years has deserted me
for someone she never even met before, my children can't begin to
understand the whole situation, and I can't either.
Can you please tell me what I should do about this mess that has become
my life!? I need answers to hard questions, and I seem to be unable to
find them on my own.
I am going to let you in on the best support group in the world for
single custodial dads, like yourself. This group, an on-line group, is made
up of guys like yourself. Information signing on to their discussion
list is at http://www.single-fathers.org/maillist.html
When you are victimized (you are a victim), you must give yourself some
time to heal up. Take it slow. You do not deserve what has happened to
you, nor should you feel that you should have known what is going on. It is
impossible to know when a spouse has decided to be unfaithful to the
relationship. Work on recovery. Rest, eat, sleep, exercise as well as you
can. Focus on taking care of yourself and your kids. If you and your kids
need some additional help find a therapist who can help you get through the
grief and chaos that is happening.
The most important thing you can do right now is contact an attorney and do
what it takes to protect your kids. Talk to the attorney about custody and
protective orders so that your kids are not endangered by your spouses
behavior when she comes back around to visit them in the future.
Dean Hughson, called the Dear Abby of Divorced Dads by the KC Star, is the founder of the DIVORCE HOMEPAGE. He has talked to thousands of people contemplating divorce, going through divorce, or the chaos afterwards and gives referrals and advice. He resides in Nevada, the state with the highest divorce rate in the US.
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