Exhausted by the turmoil

SkylerBlue1January 20, 2013

I have 5 children that do not get along with, nor do they like my husband (their SF). 3 of them are teenage girls, and this in itself is difficult, but they are extremely good kids overall...exceptional students, athletes, parents and teachers compliment them. Etc., but obviously they are not perfect.. There have been times where they have talked back to both of us, been very hard on the furniture, left their clothes lying around, whined and complained, talked too loud, clogged the toilet, eaten dessert without permission, taken our toiletries or towels out of our bathroom..all normal kid things in my opinion. He is basically irritated if they are in the room. My husband is extremely disciplinary, authoritative, orderly, and has never left discipline to me despite my requests. He accuses me of being overly permissive. I disagree, however, I certainly have a less rigid expectation. We have been married for 6 years, but the past year has been almost unbearable between our fights, and the drama with he kids. He has called them little clowns, morons, and when he doesn't like their behavior, he says angrily "are you stupid?", and mutters things under his breath like, "i'd like to break some necks around here". I am angry and sad, and he will not agree to family counseling as he says it's my problem and the kids problem. Wth a slow build of anger, one night I really lost my temper and pushed him. he left for 3 nights, and told me to call him when the kids and I got our acts together. He came back, we agreed to work on things, and I worked to be more structured and orderly in the household, but it always ends up back at square 1... I do not parent in his authoritative style, nor do I require enough from the children in his opinion. There is no laughter or tenderness ever between he and the older 3, and they are now angry with me. I work full time, and I'm exhausted by all of this. My ex has told the kids that my husband is a very bad man, and they shouldn't listen to him. I am trying to mediate and have had discussions about our issues with both the kids and my husband, but I feel as though we are just going around in circles, and I want to get off this vicious circle. Any suggestions?

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Many problems here...but one thing jumped out at me:

"..and has never left discipline to me despite my requests"

These are YOUR kids not his. You and you alone should bear the responsibility for discipline....I think most experts agree on that.

Teen girls can be a nightmare (I am in the middle of one..ugh!), for him to expect perfect little children is totally unrealistic. It sounds like your kids are good kids that act like typical teens...he needs to back off, and only YOU can start to make that happen.

My GF of five years and I completely leave discipline of our kids (she has full custody of her 13 year old boy, I have 50% custody of my 12 yr old boy and 15 yr old girl) to the bio parent. You should seriously think about changing his role in the household. If he can't deal with it, then you obviously have bigger problems....

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:25PM
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To be honest, I think you are doing your children a grave injustice staying with this man. If he insists on imposing his discipline on your kids despite your requests, calling them names and muttering threats and he and they hate each other, then I tend to agree with your ex hat he is a bad man. (Just because he's your ex doesn't mean he's always wrong :-).)
Can your ex take care of your children? Sounds like everyone needs a break. If not, you need to have a serious talk with your husband and let him know that either the attitude goes, or you do. Nothing is worth subjecting your children to this kind of tension (or yourself for that matter).

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 11:32PM
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I'm sorry. I'm sure you're worn out. Home must feel like a battlefield.

This situation is damaging your children and you. If your husband were willing to go to counseling and give resolving these issues a good shot, then it might be worth sticking it out.

But he isn't. So you have to make the best decision for yourself and your children. Remaining in this destructive environment isn't it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 1:24AM
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Thank you for your replies. Obviously, the complexity of a family situation is not easily described in a couple paragraphs. I failed to mention that when we are alone, we are very compatible, and he is almost like a different person..caring, thoughtful, and relaxed. There are many times that I have stated that we should have just long-term dated, and not married. He has done so much for me, so I would prefer not to just throw in the towel. He helped me through a difficult and scary time with my ex, where I had a restraining order, and w managing chaos. My ex is much better at this point, but financially incapable of caring for my children, nor would I ever want him to have them more than his Wed/e/o weekend schedule. My younger boys are fine w SD at this point, and I DON't want to put them through another divorce. My husband has agreed to stop the name calling, although he did do it one time since that agreement. I discipline the children, too, however, it seems impossible for my husband to stop co-disciplining. I guess i will keep trying.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 11:16AM
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"..that we should have just long-term dated, and not married."

That is exactly what my GF and and I have decided to do, at least until the kids are out of the house. We both felt not "blending" families was best for everyone involved, it keeps all the step-parent type drama to a minimum (it is more expensive to live that way, but well worth it in my opinion).

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 11:37AM
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I understand your reasons, as long as you understand that as your older children age out and achieve independence they may be alienated from you.

You are making a hard choice, but your children may feel you have chosen your husband "over them" resulting in a lot of pain and anger. Certainly there will be a residue of some kind.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 12:00PM
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Well, hindsight is 20/20. When you are in love, you sometimes fail to recognize the difficulties that may lie ahead when blending a family. I read somewhere that families don't blend, they collide. Of course, i thought I we would be the exception, and I must live with the choice I made, and try to make the best of the situation. Yes, readinglady, there certainly will be some residue, and I am not naive to that fact. I do, however, try to do as much as I can one on one with my children, express my love and affection for them everyday, attend as many of their events as possible, and have even started vacationing with them on my own. I encouraged my husband to do the same with his college-aged and twenty-something children. Even his children recognize his military style shortcomings that make it difficult for him to have relaxed rules even in a vacation setting. I think part of the problem lies in the fact that even when he is trying to be a part of my children's lives and be convsational with them, the girls have reached somewhat of that 'point of no return',and do not respond with much warmth, but rather wariness and mistrust. I believe they could also benefit from counseling, but they, too are resistant as they say that the counselor I took them to when we were going through the divorce did nothing, and their dad says counseling is for crazy people and weak people. Thanks again for the comments...even though I am not ready to leave at this point, I find the advice insightful and in some ways comforting.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 1:03PM
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If they do the things I read about then they are not under anyone's control and I don't blame the SF at all. I could not live like that, I would leave. You may be used to it but most people are not. I had 2 sons and never had the scenes you described. They never yelled at me even as teens. As a matter of fact none of my family or friends have a house hold like that.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 8:17PM
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I'm an SM and I'm not involved in the discipline of my stepkids (girls 14 and 16). This is not so hard because we don't see them all that often anymore. Having said that; I do have certain expectations in our household and because they are met I can sit back and leave it to my FDH. If I wasn't happy with the discipline (or lack thereof) I'd probably have a hard time keeping it zipped.

The main issue is to agree between the 2 of you on the rules in the house. I think your husband does have a say on what is and isn't acceptable in your household. Once you agree on a set of rules it is then up to you to follow through with the discipline part and up to him to step back and allow you to do so. And when something doesn't go to plan (you don't follow through with something or he interferes anyway) try to discuss that later on when it's just the 2 of you, not straight away in the heat of the moment. It is not going to happen overnight and you will both need to allow sufficient time to get used to this way of doing things.

I'm a pretty strict person myself; I have high expectations for myself and others. However I did see the need to compromise and come to an agreement that we could both live with. I actually made a list of the things that bothered me most and we sat down to discuss. Some of the things I had to promise to let go of, in exchange for FDH promising to step up in others. It was a good way for us to get on the same page and nowadays we don't need a list anymore because we've learned to communicate better and we have both changed.
At the time I didn't think my FDH would step up so I found it hard not to put my two bob in, but once I gave him a chance he definitely did get a whole lot better. Hope that helps, good luck to you!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 1:18AM
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I can understand where your husband is coming from, as I am on the other side of this equation also. Sounds like a miserable situation for him also. I think it would be really helpful for him if he could "detach". I did that for awhile and it helped the situation between me and my husband. Unfortunately my stepson is very troubled and the situation with him has degenerated. Try googling "stepparent detachement" and see if you can find information on detachment to give to him. Please try to make every effort to get your kids to respect you and your husband at all times, no matter what. We can usually handle being hated, but we cannot handle disrespect of you or us.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 12:31AM
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Thank you for the information. I did google 'detachment', which also led me to many other helpful articles. i believe that the situation we are in is less about our disciplinary differences, and more about the names he has called my children and the explosive rages he has come to when angered. Tonight, I was irritable after taking 3 of the kids to the grocery store, and I snapped at my 14 year old daughter when I got home. She had not been at the grocery store, and had nothing to do with my mood, but got the brunt of my own anger. My husband became angered at the yelling between us, and started yelling at them and then shouted that my children are a bunch of selfish and self-absorbed people. My 14 year old was in tears, and she is the one who internalizes everything, and the one who acts like he doesn't exist. When I tried to talk to her, she finally broke down crying and told me she thought I had changed, she hated her life with us, and couldn't wait until she turned 18 and would be out. She said I used to be fun-loving, and now I was moody, angry, always worried about if the house is clean, and don't laugh or have fun with them anymore. I cant decide where the line is between teen angst and plain truth. She also expressed how much she feels he has always hated her, never been pleased with one thing she has done, and how much it hurts when he yells hurtful things. I don't know how to overcome all of the pain that is already here, the things they have been told by him that can never be taken back, and the bad memories that have been created these past 6 years. Even creating rules we can both live with may mot be enough to fix this. Additionally, they have very few rules at their father's home (he lives with his parents), and is emotionally unstable, constantly telling the kids how much he still loves and misses me (9 years after parting). He also has told them that my husband tore our family apart, which is untrue, but not helping my children with their attitude toward my husband. I have a very stressful executive position, and my home life is a mess. I realize that even though my husband and children will reject professional help, I myself need it desperately. Perhaps I will be given some techniques to remedy the situation, one step at a time. Thank you for all of your comments.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 12:46AM
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I can undestand both sides of this equation being a step mother and still having a teenager myself. If you want to parent your children on your own, are you listening to your husbands feelings about his issues with the kids then handling it? Or are you being passive an letting it slip by thinking he'll just have to get over it? We parent our own kids but if something bothers him about my daughter, I address it and validate his feelings talking with my daughter explaining the situation. In return I do not get the same respect. If his son does something that is unacceptable he does not address it if he does not find it to bother him completely disregarding my feelings. You all live in the same house and there has to be guidelines set and peoples emotions validated. Do your kids benefit from you two not getting along? Meaning are you spending more one on one time with them? Not all kids do, but a lot of kids use games to get the attention they feel belongs to them because you are there mother an no one should take that from them. You have to look at this for yourself. Kids are our responsibility until they are independent enough as teenagers to start showing responsibility they will be expected to portray after they leave your home so as my husbands and my counselor put it, 'Kids grow up and move away, Your spouse is supposed to be for life'. You've made it this far so try come to a workable understanding between both of you and both of you need to uphold that agreement. Sounds to me like all the feelings an emotions aren't identified by both parties causing a lot to be said out of pure frustration an pain which just deepens the problem

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 9:29PM
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Even creating rules we can both live with may mot be enough to fix this.

I wish we could help but I think only you can answer that question because everyone's situation is different. We never got to that point where the situation had deteriorated that badly. For us it worked to agree on the rules and both of us learned to compromise.

Counseling sounds like a good idea, but unfortunately you're the only one considering this. You might learn to cope with the situation better but that doesn't change anything for your kids or your DH. You have to decide what is most important here; it doesn't look like the situation will get better soon so what matters most? And where do your responsibilities lie?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 1:46AM
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