A Regretful Dad Penned An Essay About How Caring For His Daughter Ruined His Marriage But Moms Are Struggling To Sympathize

The pandemic upheaved everyone's lives, but this guy's breaking point was a pretty low bar to clear—and women aren't feeling much sympathy.

Man writing letter cottonbro studio / Pexels

Remember all those so-called "pandemic divorces" that ensued after the lockdowns of the pandemic's first phases? Do you ever wonder if some of those people might have regrets now that life has returned to some semblance of normalcy?

At least in the case of one man, the answer is absolutely "yes."

Writing in the Times of London as part of an article titled "Are you sure you want to split up? Read this before you divorce!" an anonymous dad described how COVID-19 lockdowns magnified small problems into untenable challenges he thought were grounds for divorce.


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Now, he regrets letting parenting duties push him to file for divorce.

Hindsight has left him full of regrets—a response that is vastly more common in men than women, as therapist Kevin Barry in the TikTok below reveals when he jokes that while 73% of women don't regret their divorces, men can't always say the same.



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So perhaps unsurprisingly, this regretfully divorced dad's tale has women all over the internet rolling their eyes. He lost his job when the pandemic hit while his wife did not, so much of the childcare duties fell to him. And it turned out to be more than he thought he could handle.

He says caring for his daughter during the pandemic revealed problems in his marriage.

"The situation soon laid bare the cracks of our marriage," the man writes of the situation he and his wife suddenly found themselves in. "My now ex-wife, Sara, is a teacher and suddenly she was required to work from our cramped flat. All-day [Microsoft] Teams classes with no break."

Since he is a musician and was immediately unemployed, he suddenly found himself "the main parent," a role he struggled with mightily, often finding himself "barging in" on his wife's classes to "ask what to give our daughter for lunch."

To cope, he would disappear at night to write music, a habit that soon turned into a different kind of creative project—as he put it to The Times, "soon I was secretly composing my new future."


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During lockdown he began looking at other women on dating apps and social media, dreaming of his post-divorce life after the pandemic. 

"Lockdown made the disparity between humdrum reality and the alluring alternatives online pretty stark," he writes. The beautiful women he saw on dating apps and the "funny and interesting people on social media" led him to make a pact with himself—"when the pandemic was over I would re-enter the world single and ready to live my best life."

What he saw on dating apps during lockdown led him to divorce his wife in the Spring of 2020, but the allure quickly faded.

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The dad enjoyed his new 'freedom' only briefly until his daughter's questions filled him with divorce regrets.

"I rented a flat and savored new freedoms for about a week," he writes. But that quickly changed as soon as he brought his young daughter to his new home for the first time. She was full of heartbreaking questions for him, chief among them, "'Why is this better than living with me?'" which he found "difficult to answer."

He's not alone here, either—studies show that an average 25% of men end up regretting their divorces. And according to a survey of divorced fathers, their regrets include two pitfalls sure to resonate with this father in particular—they wish they'd asked for more help with the demands, like child-rearing, that made them long for a different life; and they wish they'd gotten off social media so they wouldn't have been comparing their lives to others.

Many respondents to the survey also said they wish they'd gone to therapy first—a step this dad did take, and his therapist was definitely not on his side in the divorce. "Yes, I do regret giving up so easily," he writes now with the benefit of hindsight.

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The dad's divorce regrets have garnered little sympathy from moms and women since it has long been the case that women do more childcare than men.

His regretful experience may be a common one, but women online are finding it difficult to meet the dad's essay with anything more than an eye-roll.

Tweeting an excerpt of the dad's essay, author Amber Sparks marveled at how "men just really feel like any single tiny amount of adversity entitles them to give up on the people who love them and start over; for example, having to figure out what to feed your own daughter."

Sparks went on to point out the obvious missing context from the dad's essay—while he got to go be by himself writing music at night, his wife got no such break each day. "Moms were not 'disappearing to write' in the evenings during the pandemic, let me tell you from experience!" she tweeted. "His wife was obviously working all day then taking care of their kid all night, but HE is sad?"


Indeed a 2021 study by the Center for Global Development found that the already unequal childcare burden between women and men underwent a staggering increase during the pandemic. 

Aggregating data from all over the world compiled by organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank, the study found that women took on an additional 173 hours of childcare from March to October 2020. Men, on the other hand? Just 59. Those numbers got even starker in middle- and low-income countries, where women's burden skyrocketed to 217 additional hours, while men's went up by only 70. 

Of course, women feeling overburdened is far from new—as psychologist Sheryl Ziegler shared in the video below back in 2018, the fact that women do more childcare than men was already making moms worldwide feel like they were breaking long before the pandemic made the situation even worse.


And it seems women's frustration about this is even following this divorced dad into the dating pool. "Prospective partners are happy to sympathize if your ex was an addict or cheating," he writes, "but they have a lot more questions if they detect you simply couldn’t hack it." 

His regrets over his 2020 choices kind of bring new meaning to that old saying about hindsight, don't they?


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.