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18 month baby - confused and guilty
I began a relationship with another woman whilst my wife was pregnant. Four weeks after my beautiful daughter was born I moved out of the family home. The guilt was crippling – I’d never cheated before and I still struggle to understand what happened.
The last 18 months have been characterised by me flip flopping between my girlfriend and then trying to make things work with my wife.
I have a terrible confusion and guilt about what I’ve done and what I really want  - I think deep down I want to be with my girlfriend but have tired to make it work with my wife for the sake of my daughter. I think deep down I want a life with my girlfriend but I so badly want to see my daughter as much as possible and be given an opportunity to be the best Dad I can be given the circumstances.  All my family and friends keep heaping pressure on me to make things work with the wife for the sake of my daughter and because it’s the “right thing to do” and what kind of man can say he loves his daughter and then does that etc… I’ve lost pretty much all my friendship group over this too. Every time I flip flop away from the wife has been characterised then by a number of weeks where I don’t see my daughter for ages because my wife’s so angry and upset  – hence then the connection in my mind to then go back and try and make things work with the wife at least for the opportunity to see my daughter. I appreciate this isn’t a particularly healthy state of affairs but its now my life.
I’ve not been allowed any unsupervised time with my daughter (she’s still breast feeding) so haven’t had for her any overnights. In the last few weeks my wife has started back at work – so now she does leave my daughter at my mother-in-laws house for 2 days a week for up to 9 hours a day. So I am thinking now that it is demonstrably obvious I should be allowed to spend a day with her alone and that I should be asking for this?
Because of my guilt and the fact I caused this separation I’ve tried to not push things too much with my wife in terms of seeing my daughter. Our solicitors did draw up an informal agreement where I was supposed to be seeing my daughter for a couple of hours mid week and a couple of hours at the weekend (always under my wife’s supervision). But now my wife has started back at work, she’s tired and because she hasn’t seen our daughter as much because she’s been in work – she’s now renegaded on those midweek visits for me under the guise she’s tired or that our daughter is being clingy and has missed her.
Because of my guilt and the fact I’ve hurt my wife so much I don’t want to rock the boat – but I’m getting more and more down and frustrated at how little time I see my daughter.
I really want to be able to spend some time when it s just me and her – so I suppose the question is how much do I push this with my wife? What is reasonable for an 18 month old – I assume overnights are still out of the question given the breast feeding situation????
I think if I knew properly that I’d established regular and increasing contact with my daughter I’d be able to properly leave my wife and concentrate on being a good dad and my new relationship – rather than making things worse for everyone with my constant flip flopping. 
And advice on what I should be doing on any of these matters – especially how I should go about getting more time/access would be greatly appreciated.
Do you think you'd feel the way you do if there wasn't a child in the mix? I suspect not. But there is, and there's a huge weight of expectation from family and friends, and yourself, to do the 'right thing' for the sake of your child. I wonder what the 'right thing' would be if you stayed with your wife and raised your child in a hostile home?

The truth is that the right thing is making sure your child grows up with you in her life as much as possible. That might be from a different place to where her mum lives, but it's up to you to make it work. Folk might disapprove of your choices, or judge you, but all that matters right now is that you love your child and want to be in her life.

First up - You need to be really honest with yourself about what you want. If your future isn't with your wife, and she can't be reasonable with access (and so far it sounds like she's not being), you have to be prepared to pursue it through the courts if need be. Get legal advice as soon as you can.

Just as important, though, is dealing with the emotions you're experiencing. It's easy to forget 'you' when you're carrying so much guilt and negative feelings for yourself. But don't let your current situation define you. If you were a decent guy before, he's still there. Acknowledge and confront what you feel. Talk it out with someone you can trust. In time, the rights and wrongs of the decisions you've made will become less significant for everyone.
Thank you - that's something I've certainly been struggling with and need to remind myself of. I think I'm getting towards that place now slowly...
Good advice from Hootsmon. My thoughts are - sometimes people get back together after an affair and then it ends up breaking up again anyway - partly because of trust issues and hurt feelings, and partly because you may still be flip flopping mentally and missing your girlfriend and your wife would pick up on this.

I think it's a tough one. If you want to be a full time Dad and stay with your wife and make a go of it - and she actually wants you back - then it would need a lot of counselling to rebuild the trust and you'd have to absolutely make the decision that that is what you are doing, and not flip flop. You have torn emotions at the moment so it's hard to think clearly.

I believe the most common time for a man to have an affair is when his wife is pregnant - it's a weird thing you can't pin down. Plenty of marriages have got past that. But only you know your circumstances. How long have you been seeing your girl-friend? Months? Years? How long have you been with your wife and what were the issues - was everything fine but a bit boring or did you just have a really bad relationship all along?

These are the kind of questions that will help you make decisions. In your situation you will flip flop. I know someone who went back to his wife because he wanted to be a full time Dad. His wife then threw him out. But then they sorted it out and although it wasn't fireworks they settled into a comfortable married life and both loved their child.

I think what you might need to be prepared for though is your wife may never accept you having your daughter when you live with the woman you left her for and although you could get contact through the courts you wouldn't get overnights until she was 2 most likely - you could have masses of hassle for years to come with the child in the middle (which is probably why friends and family are advising you the way they are).

That may depend on the kind of person your wife is. Is she a reasonable person or a high conflict bitchy type? Some people eventually accept it and are ok with themselves and don't feel threatened by it in the long run.

You aren't going to be able to make these decisions without flip flopping when you are in a relationship with your girlfriend - that is part of this situation. One way might be to just have some time on your own - not go back to your wife, not see your girlfriend - go away for a few days - have long walks, that kind of thing. And then you'll be out of the emotional presence/loop of everything.

But you would probably worry your girlfriend wouldn't wait for you if you said you needed some "space" to think about things. Which kind of makes a decision anyway as someone else makes it. I take it you don't have any other children.

Long term your wife will probably remarry and your daughter will have a stepdad and two homes. Sorry I'm not being much help here!

Another thought - can you talk to your wife?
Let go of the guilt. These things happen. Your ex is not judge and jury inflicting punishment by way of contact denial for as long as she sees fit.

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