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TOPIC: Kids leave, wife depressed

Kids leave, wife depressed 1 month 3 weeks ago #110026

  • Earljam
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I’m a step-dad. My wife has joint custody of the kids (daughters aged 8 and 13. She/we get the kids three days a week, sometimes four. When the kids are here, my wife is so happy. But when they leave, she often goes into sadness or full on depression. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon now and she’s still asleep (the kids left yesterday). I ask her about it gently but she denies any kind of sadness but it’s so obvious it’s there. Kids leave, life just stops. And yes, selfishly, it makes me feel so inconsequential. I used to be her everything. Now I feel so alone and she won’t admit there’s an issue. Kids here yesterday and all was well, jubilant. Not here today and I’m sitting alone on a Saturday while she sleeps the day away. Says she has a migraine and maybe so, but happens A lot when kids leave. A pattern. I could be more understanding and helpful to her if she would just admit it. She has always had issues admitting her pain or hurt and she DOES admit that. I love her. I feel like I don’t do it for her anymore. Lonely. Sad. Help.

What can I read, learn, etc. to understand what’s going on? Very painful. I know she hurts. I comfort her but she won’t admit to being down. She so clearly is. I know I am. Advice?


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Last Edit: by Earljam.

Kids leave, wife depressed 1 month 3 weeks ago #110027


this maybe something called empty nest syndrome:


i have a custody agreement. I see my kids a lot less compared to her. i do feel down right after they have left. but feel better when i keep myself occupied, and feel much better as I count down the days to next seeing them. my ex said she can not go on with not seeing kids for more than 3 nights in a row lol.

but your wife sleeping all day is very odd. maybe you can arrange days out with her, see if shes interested, when kids are not around. if this depression and sleeping all day has gone on for long periods, she may need professional help.
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Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or trained professional. I am not in a position to give legal advice. Please consult a qualified professional for legal advice.

Kids leave, wife depressed 1 month 3 weeks ago #110068

  • actd
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I agree she needs a distraction, perhaps arrange a night out for the day the kids leave to see if that helps, and if so, then see if you can find some activity that you can both do together on a regular basis.

I think she may need professional help, but it's persuading her that will be the difficult part.

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Kids leave, wife depressed 1 month 3 weeks ago #110074

Hello Earljam,
I'm sorry to read about your situation. It reads to me like you both need someone to talk with and share about the challenges you and your partner face each time her children go away. Have you thought about contacting a charity like Relate or Care For The Family? Relate can offer counselling for couples, and CFTF has great information on step families and other parenting issues. They can be easily found on the internet.
Also on a more practical and at home level, is there anyway that you and your wife, along with her girls, make a plan for your wife to do something nice with you when they have gone away? For example making sure that the two of you arrange a movie night together, or if you venture out - a meal together? Just something to distract your wife from missing her children. I appreciate that it is not easy for you as you love your wife and wish to spend some quality time with her. Please don't give up on her - you're doing a positive thing by sharing the situation and asking for help.
Perhaps gently suggest that you both go and see her GP so she can explain how she feels physically when the children go away. Does she have any interests apart from yourself and the children - could you both learn a new, fun skill together? Encourage your wife to look forward to each day - to take things one step at a time. Just give her plenty of hugs and let her know you are always there to confide in. It may take time, but hang on in there. Kind Regards,
Fegans Parent Support Volunteer

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Kids leave, wife depressed 1 month 2 weeks ago #110098

Speaking through experience things get easier, in time. I have experience of missing my kids when going through separation in 2015 and taking them back to their Mum always brought great sadness.

Keeping busy, having a supportive partner, planning activity for the second they leave can all help. I find if you plan things for when the kids leave, it stops the early onset of negative feelings and gets you out together being busy and positive. A nice long walk talking about things outdoors is a huge help.

Stay positive and time heals things.
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