will he always put her first, can this relationship work?

hthrJune 29, 2009

My partner and I bought a house 2 months ago and then his ex partner became very ill and his 13 yr old daughter, who previously he had every other weekend (and some other times in holidays etc) had to come live with us full time. At this point the two of us had lived together for a week and a half. We couldn't get on as it was so unexpected and also I work full time from home and that was impossible in the space we had (we bought what we could afford - a 2 bedroom house with the 2nd room my study in the week and her bedroom on weekends). So he and SD went to live at her mums place (nearer her school too and with her cat) and I stayed here. It is now 5 weeks later and still in same situ. We have been arguing as, although I have now come to terms with the situ and want us to all live together here, I don't want to do so until I know that my life won't just be overrun by their relationship as it feels to me that there is no space in their relationship for me. Yes I guess I was stupid to buy a house with him but I could deal with it every other weekend. Basically it seems - for whatever reason, maybe some guilt, his life revolves totally round her - making her breakfast, running her bath, sometimes washing her hair, and she is nearly 14! She seems happy to spend all her time with her dad and vice versa but this would drive me crazy! Surely she should be more independent at this age? before we can all move into together I want to feel reassured her needs won't always come first. During this period of separation I have suggested to him can she go have a weekend with her grandparents or with a friend so we get some time together alone. This is met with angry responses like 'you're asking me to send her away', 'asking me to abandon my daughter' etc etc. Then we end up in a massive row and I feel like I am way down the line of importance. Is it reasonable if we do all move in together that one night a week we should get to ourselves to go out or something? His previous relationship with BM was v bad for as long as SD can remember so she has no experience of her parents going out for a night together EVER. Therefore she is used to be included in everything and everyone's focus of attention. And that is how she wants it. He agreed we could have one night a week together, then added 'if SD is ok about it'. So I feel she is calling the shots. I should add I get on fine with her and she likes me and we all 3 do stuff together a lot. Am I being unreasonable or is he? I want us to all move in together but I am scared that I will lose control of everything and her needs will always come first. Help! Advice please.

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I'm sorry.

"...before we can all move into together I want to feel reassured her needs won't always come first."

As a birth-parent I have to say her needs should and will always come first. Until she is 18.

She needs to be more independent, washing own hair, etc. But I'd bet the dad likes to feel needed. Making breakfast... hmmmm...

Honestly, it doesn't seem you have much to worry about. A kid is a kid. If you are going to be a partner to someone with a kid, you will need to be a parent-figure. Only you will know if that is something you can do or not. Stop blaming the kid for ruining your set-up. She was there first.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 9:43AM
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Thank you for your reply, I feel better. I had been on steptalk site and - as I have noticed many have commented on here - the response there was so negative it made me think I must be insane to even think about continuing my relationship. Also when I say 'her needs' - I mean that our relationship must come somewhere, not that he should neglect her. Thanks for saying I don't have much to worry about - that is what I really want to hear!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 10:32AM
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His ex is too ill to care for their child. I'm sure he's worried that his daughter may lose her mother and any parent would want to save the child from suffering... guys tend to want to fix things and he can't fix this. He really needs to get into counseling if he isn't already. My opinion on what he's doing is not about spending alone time so much as he is probably reacting to the situation altogether and if he doesn't deal with it (and help his daughter deal with it), then he will have bigger problems than you worrying about your alone time with him. His first priority is his daughter's well being and in my honest opinion, at this point with what's going on, it's selfish for you to worry about your relationship. If you really love him, you need to be supportive because he's going through a difficult time and hearing you suggest sending his daughter away (after all she's been through), even for a night, upsets him so. It could come across as insensitive at this time... it's bad enough he had to move out and is staying in the ex's house. He should not have had to do that, he should have had your support, not leave until you can deal with it. Now that you think you are ready to deal with it, you want him to move back (another change for her) and YOU'RE afraid YOU will lose control of the situation???

He's a fool if he moves back before you can accept that his daughter's well being is first and that he needs a supportive partner, not someone that is competing for his attention during a crisis in his life.

Sorry if my opinion offends anyone, but I can totally see how this girl's world is being turned upside down & dad has been thrust into having to deal with something unexpected.. and then girlfriend is worried how this is affecting HER.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 11:04AM
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ok.... I am so confused about everything and how I am feeling I have no idea if my reaction is right or wrong or whatever so I appreciate any feedback. In fact in a strange way your post makes me feel better, because I would rather it was the case that I have been wrong and acted badly (and try to put it right) than face the fact that he is unreasonable and this won't work out. Sorry if that sounds confusing - how come steptalk responses and those here are SO very different...

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 11:19AM
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He probably is being unreasonable. Washing a kid's hair at such an old age is unreasonable....but...

I tell my DD that we're both learning. She has never been a kid before, and I have never been a parent before. Sometimes we will make bad choices.

On another thread we were talking about the three "hats" we must wear.

1. Parent
2. Person
3. Partner

Two of the three are going to be neglected at any given point. If I am reading a story to my child (parent hat) my partner is not getting attention and neither am I, personally. If I am paying attention to my partner my parenting hat is on the shelf, as is my personal hat. If I am in a bath reading my book getting "me time" my partner and parent hats are neglected....


It's really really really really really hard to juggle three balls and not have something drop. And that's in a stable relationship with no real pressing issues.

IMO, you need to be supportive of him as a parent. That will let him relax enough to be comfortable with you as a co-parent, which will give him room to allow more partner time. You are both responsible for setting the boundaries that allow personal me-time.

Have you asked for any daughter-potential SM time? Have you taken the time to make her feel included and wanted and an important part of the family? Maybe dad needs some me-time and you can provide that by having girl-time. Then he'll be less on defensive mode and more willing to share. Kids are independent when they feel secure. Provide security for this little girl, and she will want to branch out. Take it away, and she will turn inward.

Honestly, you have the 4-6 hardest years in a child's life coming up. 14-20. I don't envy you. She will be the center of attention the whole time. Be prepared, go in with open eyes. Work on being a family, not on getting partner time only. Your man will thank you for it, and want partner time more if he feels his parent hat is being used responsibly.

And the reason the answers are different here is that we are different people here, with different experiences :)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 1:08PM
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I think you are making a mistake by trying to make relationship decisions in the middle of a crisis.

Your family is in crisis. You are upset and uncertain and need support and reassurance. I get that. Those feelings are perfectly normal and understandable.

But. Your BFs life has been turned upside down AND inside out. He needs support more than you do. His daughter's life has been turned upside down, inside out, topsy-turvy, flip-flopped. She needs more support than either of you, and as her only functioning parent, he HAS TO provide it. What I think is that right now, this soon into a crisis, you should be focused on supporting him in whatever way he needs, even if that is totally backing off and letting him deal with taking care of your daughter. (and 5 weeks is very fast to deal with a life-changing event; would you, say, end a friendship because 5 weeks after deciding to divorce, your best friend was still acting kind of b!tchy all the time?) I'm not saying neglect yourself, but look elsewhere than him for support that you need right now. Don't try to figure out if this will be a relationship-ender. I don't think that inside a crisis is a very good time to be making life-altering decisions (to the extent that you can avoid them, obviously). Nothing is the same as it used to be, but it isn't the same as it's going to be, either. It is just a big jumbled mess, and you are not going to have good information as to how it is all going to come out. Just help him get through this time, then when things are a bit more settled into whatever the new normal is going to be, you can look at how he parents and decide if it is something you want to live with.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 4:37PM
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thank you quirk, that was a really good post. You guys have all been so helpful. Thanks. I have been getting a lot of support from friends and my family so that has helped me enormously. Do you think in the mean time we should all move back in together? it is not really good living like this as we rarely see each other. Logistically we could make it work I think

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 5:14PM
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I agree on several points here.
I understand what you want. It is not unreasonable to ask for one day a week to have time alone with one's partner...i do it now with my own son and he's ours!
BUT, it's the timing that sucks in your situation. Its not the right time to ask for that now because mom is very ill, dad is needed, his DD is probably emotionally shaken and she needs the extra love you are seeing..the washign of the hair , the breakfast. Its all to reassure her that she has someone who cares about her and loves her and that she is not alone.
I can understand your feelings on her calling the shots, but i think he meant if sd is ok with it because of the situation at hand. i think down the years to come, i'm sure sd will want you guys out alone so she can be alone too with her friends or boyfriend...lol...
So the way i see it, you guys all get along, dont fret at this point about her being important more than you. You are both important for separate reasons. BUt this is a timeof crisis and what you need to do is support her and your bf in this time. Fret about things later, when the crisis passes and then keep your cool and arrange alone time wiht him and her....
I think this situation can work, you just need to let some time pass, and let adjustments begin and not demand too much at this point because i'm sorry to say, his daughter in a time of crisis will come first because she is 14, not an adult, no job and no way to be independant and know what is going on in this world. You are an adult and self sufficient , independant woman. You can stand on your own two feet, have a job....she is only 14. Is young and her mom is ill.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 7:57PM
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