Upsetting situation with adult stepchildren

prostar2013January 21, 2013

I would like to ask for some feedback on my current situation. My partner and I have been together for two years and have been engaged for the past year. He is 51 and I am 40. I do not have any children of my own, but my fiance has four daughters aged 23 to 30 and three granddaughters. My partner has been divorced for almost 20 years, and raised the four girls on his own after his exwife chose to leave the family. As a result, my partner and his daughters have always had a very close relationship, one which I believe could be characterized as intense and almost peer-like in nature.

From the start of our relationship until about two months ago, his daughters seemed to like me and we all did things together (like camping and bar-b-qs). They had a few minor petty issues with me that they complained to their dad about � for example, after working 2 fifteen hour shifts in a row I seemed less perky at a family dinner than they would have liked and they thought I should try harder to "be a part" of them when I was around them instead of making excuses for my fatigue. They had no problem accepting the gifts and assistance in various forms that were offered by both their father and myself during this period, however. They also complained that they weren�t seeing their dad as much as they did before, even though their dad claims that he has seen more of them since I�ve been around than he did since they became adults. I feel that I�ve done as much as I could to invite them over to the house and arrange events at which we could all socialize together.

Two months ago their bio-mom�s mom told the daughters jokingly that I was "so nice" that she planned to leave her estate to me. (This grandma keeps in contact with my partner, and I�ve talked to her maybe three times in the past two years.) This situation set off a firestorm of complaints from the daughters � for example, when they came over, I was not always in the same room as them which made them uncomfortable in the house they grew up in � and they forbid either my partner or myself to have any contact with their bio-mom�s family. This situation led to so many calls from the daughters to my partner on a daily basis that my partner�s business began to suffer.

The daughters finally demanded a face to face meeting with me, which I agreed to at the start of January. At this meeting, the daughters explained to me that I wasn�t a good fit in their opinion for their family and unless I changed to meet their standards they would not accept the relationship I had with their father. I explained that while I hoped to maintain a good relationship with my partner and a civil relationship with them, I didn�t plan to take orders from them and if they wanted to improve their relationship with me they could start by treating me with respect.

The daughters responded to this meeting by telling their dad that they didn�t understand how he could love me if I didn�t love them "as a parent should". They have since cut off contact with their father, and today came by the house to pick up all of their things that we had stored here. They voluntarily turned in their house keys and explained that they were completely done with their father until he got rid of me.

My partner is obviously upset about this situation, but doesn�t want us to separate quite yet and feels that I have done nothing wrong, could not have done anything better in my relationship with them over the past two years, and am a very good fit for him. Instead, he feels we should try moving to a different house � one which his kids haven�t grown up in � and try to strengthen our relationship while rebuilding a relationship with his kids. My heart says this would be great, but my head says that this really is never going to be resolved and I am signing up for nothing but misery if I continue trying to please these adult children who don't seem to want to be pleased.

I�m so torn, and am wondering if anybody else has gone through this and could offer advice, or share any thoughts that might be helpful? Thank you in advance for your help.

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Why would you plan social events after working two 15hr shifts? Why not leave the get-togethers for times when you are up to socializing? By over extending yourself, you may have sent the 'message' (without meaning to) that you're not interested and/or flat out dislike family events. While you're dead tired and in dire need of personal relaxing, they're seeing a lady who is half a sleep in the chair and one that seemed bothered and antisocial towards what should be a fun event.

These ladies are adults. They have homes of their own. They can invite Dad and you over occassionally and host events (they do the work) and you have the option of accepting invite or declining due to heavy work schedule. When you do the inviting and hosting, plan it on weekends that actually will be relaxing and enjoyable to you.

I actually think a different home is a reasonable suggestion by your partner. The ladies childhood home? The oldest is 30. These ladies naturally view you as the outsider in this long held house. If partner is finacially able to sell his home and desires to set up a new environment, let him. New house, new start. Partner and you are planning on beginning a future as man and you really want to start it in a house where you're the outsider. Go house hunting. Let husband gather up the items in his present home that he no longer needs and/or the two of you plan on using. Give the items of personal maaning to the ladies and sell the rest. New home, new beginnings. Leave the sentimental strings behind you.

'The Meeting' was a bad idea. Too confrontational. And remember, respect goes two ways. These are not children, they're adults. They desire as much respect as adult children of your partner and you do the respect due you as partner's new mate. Don't blame them their father took so many phone calls his business suffered. He's an adult. He can pick up the phone once and announce 'not a good time'. Instead he chose to take all the calls...don't excuse his role in the issue.

At 40 I'm going to assume you have held your own home until recently when you moved in with your partner. Do you still own it? You might consider spending time in your past home while your partner makes some serious decisions. Not a choice of 'you or them', but a workable solution as to how to blend all his ladies into his life. He needs to sit his daughters down and they (Dad/daughters) are the ones who should have been having that 'meeting'. He needs to come to an understanding with his daughters. He does not need their permission to select a partner. He does not need to be available to them 24/7 (he and they are all adults now). He loves them and he loves you...nothing you do is going to change his love for them and nothing they do (hissy fits and turning in keys) is going to change his love for you.

And yes, my mother had a SO for 22yrs. She never married him, kept all assests and financials apart, and she kept her own home. She never gave up her house and basically spent time in both houses. My mother's SO's daughter went out of her way to be controling and a grown up spoiled hateful brat. My mother chose not to be controled by this daughter, nor to let this daughter control mom's relationship with SO.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 7:00AM
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Thanks for your response, justmetoo - it's helpful to consider my situation from a variety of perspectives, and your reply helped me to do that.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 8:08AM
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As a follow-up to my previous post - my partner was visited last night by several members of his family who informed him
that because I've been so terrible to the four daughters (the daughters have been bad mouthing me all over the place ), I am no longer welcome in these family members' homes. I have decided
not to lead my life being endlessly miserable with this family, so have ended my relationship with my fianc�.

Not to judge, but I think the previous response i received for my post was a bit smug & definitely atypical of the step parenting experience - being a step parent of adult children sucks, with no chance of parole.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 3:48PM
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I agree that being a step parent of adult children is a difficult process, much more difficult than I ever dreamed. It doesnt go away, and it does build up barriers between you and your partner. I struggle with those relationships daily and have finally come to a point that we choose to not let them destroy us, their father knows that if it causes me to leave, he will be alone -his kids wont be there for him at all. I even have one daughter that has told all other family members she wont stop until she runs me off - we have chosen to push her out of ours instead and not let her ruin our marriage. She will come around when she finally understands I am not going anywhere.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 12:07PM
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