Stepdaughter destroying marriage

MIStepMomJune 16, 2003

Well it has taken me 3 1/2 years but I think I have finally figured out that my stepdaughter is trying to destroy my marriage. I posted the problems we were having in my November 12th e-mail. Since she has moved back in, the problems have grown to a point that I am just not sure I can take any more. This weekend her sabotage became so apparant that I couldn't believe I didn't see it before. The sad part is that her Dad still does not see what she is doing. He is so blind to her manipulation that he is letting it drive a wedge so big between us that I am not sure that I have the energy to try to pull it out.

Here is a summary of events, sorry if this ends up being too long. SD moved back in with us in April. I tried to tell my husband that I didn't think I could take having her in the house again and he accused me of not having any compassion when it came to his daughter. I was stunned. After everything I have done for this girl since I came into their life in 1999, I just couldn't believe he would say that to me. We let her move back in, but made her sign an agreement which outlined all our expectations and the consequences if she didn't follow them. Well, she has only lived up to 1 of them and it is just excuse after excuse. She has $2000 in credit card debt that we have been receiving harassing phone calls about since February. She has made 1 $80 payment on the one card and no payments on the rest. She gets a job and quits because she doesn't like it or some other lame excuse. What it really boils down to is that she doesn't want to work. She just wants to sleep till noon and then play with her friends the rest of the day and night. She is sleeping in what was made into a family room when she left (it always was a family room, but was made into a bedroom just for her) and it is a constant pigsty. Her bathroom hasn't been cleaned since she came back either. Clothes laying everywhere, dirty underwear, you name it. She hasn't done laundry in 3 weeks. She has used the same bath towel during this time which she leaves on the floor and walks all over and then uses to dry her body the next time she takes a shower. The dog lays on it as well. She told her Dad yesterday (of course when I wasn't home) that I won't let her do laundry. So my husband asked me why I won't let her do laundry. I told him I had no idea what she was talking about that she was always gone before I came home from work and never home before midnight. I didn't understand why she couldn't do it during the day because I was at work. She hasn't worked all week, so you tell me why. He proceeded to tell me that I just needed to loosen up and stop trying to impose my rules on his daughter because she was raised differently than my boys and it wasn't fair to her. I tried to tell him that all I asked her to do was basic stuff like: keep her room and bathroom clean, clean up after herself in the kitchen and to work like the rest of us do so that she could pay off her bills. He just kept saying that I was treating her unfairly compared to my boys. Well, I think you get the picture. We have a family vacation planned for next week. We leave Friday the 20th for a week on the beach in North Carolina. Thank God SD is not coming.

I am seriously thinking about giving him an ultimatum when we come home, either she follows the rules, moves out or I am moving out. This may backfire on me, but my boys will be with their Dad for 3 weeks when we come back, so I need to do this while they are gone so that they do not have to witness it.

I love my husband so much, it just kills me to be at odds with him on this. He is such a good man is so many other ways, but when it comes to his daughter, he just looses it. I think I have gone above and beyond for this girl and all I get is a stab in the back. He needs to wake up and take off the rose colored glasses because I just don't think I can live like this anymore.

My husband has been out of town the last couple of weeks, so that has made it even harder to resolve anything. My face is breaking out, I have headaches almost all the time, I burst out crying at the least little thing and I can't sleep. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for listening, I so just needed to vent.

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How old is she?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2003 at 4:58PM
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I would suggest that you call a "family meeting" and have your husband, the SD and yourself all in one room at the same time to hash out the issues.
Otherwise, she will say anything she wants to about you to him and you have no way to defend yourself.

Also, your DH is definitely caught in the middle. It's not fair to him to have her talking in one ear one day and you talking in the other ear the next. Let him see what she says to you when you are all in one room together. She will probably change her story, but at least he will hear it out of her mouth.

The biggest problem is that he is out of town so much. So he doesn't have to deal with the day to day "stuff" and see how she behaves DAILY. He just gets the condensed version when he's home and by then it's too late to do anything about any issues in a timely manner.

Maybe you should go on vacation by yourself and let him be by himself with her for the week. Then he may see what a lazy slob she really is.

Just a thought-

    Bookmark   June 16, 2003 at 5:51PM
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Sorry you are going through such a difficult time. It seems as though SD is deeply troubled. I feel bad for her. She obviously can't get it together and your husband certainly isn't helping her. She is playing on his guilt. Frankly, she reminds me of myself when I was her age. I knew my Father couldn't "deal" and had a sizeable amount of guilt resting on his shoulders... All I had to do was make him feel bad and I would get what I wanted. And knowing at the same time that it would put my father and step-mother at odds, sure made it seem like the icing on the cake! If it wasn't for my strong and dedicated Bio-Mom I wouldn't have turned out as well as I did!! I wonder if SD feels she has had enough of her Father's love and attention. It seem he is always traveling....and I wonder how much of SD's inadequacies can be attributed to the fact that she has lacked the support she needed from her BIO-Parents. It seems to me that she has been like this for a lot longer...and this is just what is to be expected based on how she has been raised throughout. I don't want to insult your husband and say he has not been a good Father... but I just get the impression that you're the only one who can see through all the skeletons in the closet and see what SD really needs. I thank my lucky stars that my fiance and I are TL's...tough lovers... and that the policy in the house is listen to the rules or be punished. It's so important to have an agreement on these things. Have you had rational talks with your husband about this? Or has it all been beligerant discussions?
My advice to you is to try and have a rational discussion without the counseling if you really is a big help and this situation certainly calls for it. Or just a third party not connected...give me a call if you want... I'll help. I just feel terrible when I read this thread...because your husband isn't there all the time. You're the one keeping things afloat in that house while he is away. SD is there doing her stuff when he is on these business trips...yet you have no say and are challenged when you decide not to wash her clothes. It really is unfair. If he was home more often, then maybe he could rule the roost...but you're the one left to handle it...ya know what I mean? I don't blame you for wanting to give your husband an ultimatum, but I would try to work it out as much as you can....and if not, then you can threaten your ultimatum. Just aggravates me....first and foremost, it's your house and your husband's house-you're the adults... Just because he is her father, does not mean that he decides what she gets to do in that house. You need to put your foot down... If you don't want to do her wash, don't....and defend it until you're blue in the face... Defend what you believe in...because you're the one who has a clue.... the only one with a brain here who sees what's really happening.
My ex step-brother (that sounds depressing)still doesn't have a life. He did exactly what SD is doing...He played on his Father's his debt paid off...and was bought a freakin Corvette which he cracked up twice. He rang up a 3000 dollar phonebill which he was told he had to pay off, but guess who paid it? He crapped out of three colleges, withdrawing from each semester. He is now 32, lives in his uncle's basement, doesn't work and still collects monthly funds from Daddy.
Now I am just rambling, but here's what to do:
State your point of view. Let it be known how you feel about it. Let him know that you love him and are committed to this relationship (compliment his fathering, even if you hate him right now and think he's the worst father in the world...I've found EVERY divorced man to be soooo sensitive about that) and that you just don't agree with this method of handling SD, that it's not helping anyone. Ask him how he feels about it.... If he tells you that he is going to do it the way he wants to, then you need to tell him, that's fine, but you disagree with it, and as an equal partner of this marriage and house, you will approach it in a different way. You probably need to agree to disagree...At the very least you should talk about your views and come to some sort of understanding...that will make it better. You feel a different way, and don't want to feel that you shouldn't....and you don't want to be forced into treating her the way he is...You just want to be you and do what you think is best....and there's no saying that you can't have it be that way. You just need to talk about it...In the end, if the understanding of the difference of opinion doesn't help you, then you can start to consider separating or giving your ultimatum... Or having SD wacked...which is not an option, but I'm sure it feels good to read it.. hahaha..
I hope I helped...if not, my intentions were good!
Keep on truckin!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2003 at 6:20PM
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Oh MIStepmom! I am so sorry to hear how horribly it's going. You've been to hell and back with this girl and I think you kind of expected it all to blow when she moved back in. The fact is that she is successfully manipulating her dad, but you see right through her games -- and that makes you the enemy in her eyes!

I hate to be gloom-and-doom, but I think that nothing will change as long as your husband refuses to see things clearly and allows her to be a bum, taking advantage of him and everyone else around her. I've always held the belief that bio-parents sometimes have a tough time seeing their own kids as they really are and recognizing a problem, even when it's glaringly obvious to everyone else. I also believe that sometimes they get so protective of their "babies" that when we call attention to their kids' flaws and problems, they become even more protective and closed off to hearing the painful truth.

Have the two of you done any counseling? Sometimes that can truly help open their eyes to reality, and equip both of you with a positive means of handling the situation.

He needs to understand that he is doing his daughter a disservice by allowing her to live as she is -- without going to school, working or helping around the house. He's enabling her to be worthless and lazy. He's also doing damage to your marriage in the process. Perhaps a counselor with experience in step-families can help. Maybe you can see someone by yourself for a while, and then have him join you in counseling.

I'd hate to see you give up now. But I think we've all been in your shoes from time to time -- thinking that you just can't possibly go on another day! You know, before I married my husband, I read something that said it can take from 5-7 years for things to settle down in a new step-family and for everyone to figure out just what their roles are. I thought "yeah, right ... how can it be that hard" ... and it turns out they were right!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2003 at 6:49PM
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BritBritMay - SD will be 19 on the 24th of this month.

Keli - we have had the "family meetings". She completely changes her tune and apologizes for any wrong dueing and promises to change, but it is all an act. I have been through this with her since I have known her. I also feel bad for my husband that he can't see through her games, but I guess I always thought that you would believe your spouse right? I was so hurt when he basically called me a lyer and said that I was being mean to his daughter. I just kept saying that all I wanted her to do was keep her room and bathroom clean, work 40 hours in order to pay her bills. I don't understand why that is so much to ask of a 19 year old. He just kept saying that she wasn't raised like I raised my boys and that I can't expect the same things out of her. I still don't get it, what am I asking that is so out of line? I have thought about the counseling thing. I have used it before and it was a big help, so I think I will look into it. I don't know that I can get DH to go, his ex got him to go when they were married and he said all the person did was try to tell him that he was the problem and not the ex and he stopped going. When he told me that, I sided with him, because I know how much of a psycho the ex is, but now I am wondering about it. I have talked to people I work with and all of you just to find out if I am the one with the problem and so far, I haven't had anyone tell me that it is me. Believe me, I am not trying to toot my own horn, but what this is telling me is that I may just have to learn to live with it or decide that I can't and leave. I really don't want to leave, I love this man very much and it is just killing me that he has put me 2nd to a daughter that should be out on her own, but chooses not to because it is too hard.

Last week DH called the ex and ask her if she had talked to SD. She hadn't and he proceeded to fill her in on the problems we were having. The only thing he told me that she said was "Rome wasn't built in a day, so don't expect her to change overnight". I am not asking for overnight, it has been 3 1/2 years!!! Of course the ex can say these things as she sits in her 1 bedroom apt with her fiance that she won't marry until the alimony runs out. I keep telling DH, to tell SD she has to move out and she will just have to go live with biomom. He won't do it because I think he is still playing that game of trying to be the "chosen" parent. Of course, his ex doesn't care, she would rather not have the SD live with her, why should she have the burden of a slob in her house, her fiance wouldn't put up with it either.

Jennifer - SD has done her own laundry since she was 14. She was trying to imply that I wouldn't let her use the washer and dryer. That is ridiculous, the only think I will not let her do is leave her clothes in the machines and then leave the house. I have 4 people's laundry to do and I am not home all day so evenings and weekends are the only time I have. She asked me when she moved back in what day she could do laundry and I told her anytime during the day or any evening as long as she checked with me first and I also reminded her not to leave her things in the machines. Didn't work right out of the gate.

Then to beat all, my SS came home on vacation from the airforce and stayed with us 4 of the 10 days. The rest of the time he was with other relatives or friends. No problem with this. He made such a big deal about spending time with his Dad, but no matter what we were doing, if someone else called and wanted him to go out with them, he went. Of course, he was always there for the free meal, which due to my work schedule, we always ate out. SD was always there a meal time as well. I even hosted a party for all the family so they could visit with him. We had about 25 people. The weather was rainy in the morning but thankfully cleared up so the kids could all play outside around 2:00PM. The party went pretty well. The next morning after he left to have breakfast with a friend (this we didn't know because he left before we got up and then never made it back to say good bye to either his father or me before we went to work) I changed the sheets on the bed because he was sleeping in my son's room and they were coming back from their Dad's that evening. To my surprise, I find an empty condom wrapper in the covers. I was furious. He became friendly with a friend of his sisters while he was in town. My husband called him and asked him about it and he said they did not screw in that bed that the wrapper fell out of his pocket. His Dad believed him, me - not a chance. He has pulled this stunt before when he lived with us.

Oh well, as you can see life as a stepmother has not been a very good experience. I talked to my sister-in-law and she said that she had alot or problems with her step daughter who is not 26 year old. She said she has since apologized for how badly she treated her and they are not the best of friends. I can only hope for such a happy ending, but believe me, I am not holding my breath.

Thanks for all the advice, I will keep you updated.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2003 at 7:18PM
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Ok, now that I have read my post above again, I realize that I left out a few things.

SD also told my husband that I will not talk to her. I of course came back with, she hasn't been home for me to talk to, so how can she say that? A few minutes ago, one of her friends called to ask if SD could spend the night at her house, I admit, I flew off the handle and said "I don't give a sh** what SD does". I then called my husband and told him so that he could hear it straight from me and then I sat down and cried.

Again, when I got home tonight, she wasn't home, her room is a mess, I finally went down and collected the garbage since tomorrow is garbage day and it was beginning to stink. No laundry was done either.

Jennifer - thanks for all the great advice. If you go back and read my post dated November 12th, you will get an idea of what I have been going through. SD and I got along good until she turned 18. We had our normal parent/child differrences, but in general, I was very happy to have a "daughter" since I have 2 boys. Since then it has truly been he**. I believe she feels abandoned by her mother and to a certain extent, her father. I have tried to fill in the gap, but I have just become the scape goat and whipping post.

I am just tired of crying my eyes out over the damage this girl has and is causing my marriage. I know that my husband is responsible for some of that and I am not going to say that I haven't flown off the handle and said things that I shouldn't have, but I don't know how much more I can take. I left my first husband after 16 years of marriage because of emotion and verbal abuse and his drug abuse. When DH and I met, it was like GOD was finally smiling down on me. I really thought we were sole mates and DH said he felt the same way. He had a bad 19 year marriage. We both felt like we had must have done something right to find each other and be so happy.

I admit I went into this marriage thinking that being a stepmom was going to be no different than being a Mom. Boy I was so wrong!!!!!

Once again, thanks for all your advice so far.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2003 at 9:23PM
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You need counseling ... family intervention kind, because the wheels are about to fall of completely.

He's not helping her, he's crippling her. A 19-year old is quite capable of doing her launbdry, keeping her room clean, and getting a job to pay her own bills. Letting her skip paying bills and live like a pig is NOT GOOD PARENTING!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2003 at 10:33AM
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IMO 19 and 26 year olds are no longer kids and should not be treated as such. You have an adult living with you. There is no way this behavior would be acceptable from a stanger, so why should it be tolerated from a family member?

Frankly, I think this is your husbands problem, but since you picked him :) I guess it is your problem too. As such, I think you need to sit down with him and hammer the house rules out. I don't think your SD should be any part of those decisions or negotiations. Her only choice should be whether she wants to stay and abide by them or if she wants to head off on her own and make her own rules, in her own house, paid for with her own money. I'm sure you will have to make some compromises, but they should be compromises with your husband not extorsion from a spoiled SD.

The second thing I think you really need to hammer out with your husband is expectations for his children and their behavior. It is a parents/stepparents responsibility to help their children make solid decisions and grow up to be good adults in society. If the children choose not to follow that type of path, it is morally reprehensible to help them down the wrong one. It sounds like that is exactly what your husband is doing. If your SD wants to live as a dirty bum, that is her choice and there isn't much you can do about it. Obviously no parent wants that for their child, but that is exactly what your husband is helping her to become whether he knows it or not. He is doing a great disservice to her by insulating her from the consequences of her actions.

This is probably asking for a fight, but maybe that is what is needed at this point....someone fighting for your marriage and for the welfare of your stepdaughter. I'd sit down and make a list of the basic things you feel are necessary for a happy and productive life and then opposite of that list the skills and knowledge you need to get there. Take an honest look at that list and find what SD needs to learn still. Someone should have done that 5 years ago, but better late than never. Use the remaining time under your roof to model those behaviors and skills and incorporate them into the house rules.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2003 at 10:39AM
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You go Bill! Right on.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2003 at 5:07PM
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I so much agree with the advice you've gotten. We have this problem, with younger kids though, all of the time. There's this weird mentality somehow that doing nothing, being unproductive, is better and makes people happier. But it just isn't so. The happiest adults and kids are productive and responsible- we're so proud of our accomplishments and even our efforts that bring little tanglible result. The explanation that finally sunk in with our kids (well, at least in theory) is that we had a dog that we raised badly- let her pull on the leash, didn't take her out on a schedule, she bolted when she went out, etc- bascially we didn't give her structure and discipline. She was depressed, chewed at herself and was lethargic. She was so ill-behaved that we didn't want to walk her or take her places with us and she got more and more lonely and depressed, got very sick and died young. Then we got another dog that had attentive training, consistent rewards, clear limits, lots of opportunity to work- fetch this, bring me that. She was so much healthier and happier and was more affectionate (and I think proud of herself). The kids understood that. And it seems that your husband kind of knows it already. It sounds as though he works alot- and I would be willing to bet that he takes a great deal of pride in that and that he would want his daughter to have that same feeling of pride.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 9:20AM
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peggyo - you are correct, my husband does have alot of pride in his work and I know that he wants the same for his daughter, but he is treating her like she is a 16 year old. His heart is in the right place, but the timing is all wrong. She has now been out of work 1 1/2 weeks and as far as I know has made no real effort to look for a job. So we are struggling through this and I will continue to require her to act like the 19 year old adult that she says she is. Someday, I hope she can acknowledge, even if it is just to herself, that I really was trying to help her.

Thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 10:43AM
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Is there someone who could intervene? An adult cousin, aunt, uncle, older sibling?

My brother just turned 20 on Monday and when my parents are at their wits' end with him, they have me talk to him a bit. It seems to help. He is very ambitious, talented young man who does work hard, but he can be cranky (go figure, he was still a teenager until Monday, lol) and sometimes rude to my parents, who are doing a lot to help him realize his dreams.

They have me talk to him because 1) I am not at my wits' end with him, 2) I am not the parents, 3) he trusts me and knows I won't run and tell them everything that was said and 4) I can give him a gentle reminder of what they expect in return for their help and that he should be grateful to have their help (they couldn't afford to send me to college when it was my turn, I had to work two, sometimes three crappy retail jobs to get through). In return, I also kind of remind my parents to bear with him because this is a challenging time in life and that sometimes twenty year olds are shall we say, a bit self-absorbed??? I remind them that I was the same way when I was his age and now look how close we are.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 11:48AM
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I thought I would give you all an update on this situation. With some parental encouragement from her father (and her brother), SD has joined the Air Force. She was sworn in on July 21st. She has a ship date for basic training of March 2004. There is a chance she could leave in October, but we won't know that until later this week or next. This was such a relief for me and her father as well. They had a long talk after we returned from vacation and she admitted that she did know what she wanted to do with her life. Her brother is also in the Air Force and has been talking to her about this for several months. He even admits that it was the only thing that straightened him out. Her father did not make her join, he suggested it and she said that she would give it some thought. She told us 2 days later of her decision. She realizes she really messed up but doesn't know how to fix it. So right now we are in a waiting mode. Her father has said that if she cannot go until March, then she will have to move in with her mother. So we have been trying to repair the damage to our marriage caused by all this stress. We didn't have any kids at the house from July 11th until July 20th. My boys were at camp and SD was with her mother. What a great time we had. We made dinner together and thanks to the Barefoot Contessa, we made a wonderful dinner from scratch for some friends. Tequila Lime Chicken, Margaritas, Pagatuck Corn Pudding and for dessert - Key Lime Pie. We had so much fun shopping for the ingredients and then preparing the food.

Thanks to all of you for all your advice and most of all for letting me vent about this.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2003 at 12:17PM
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I am so happy for you. I think she made the right choice and the military will force to her to grow up, where her own parents did not. This is definitely an opportunity for her to change her life for the better.

And CONGRATULATIONS on you and hubby "finding each other" again and doing some serious bonding! Ain't life grand? :-)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2003 at 1:39PM
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Whoa! Congrats! Not only is she helping to improve herself, she is helping all of us. Ya can't ask for much more than that.

BTW - no fair posting about food - some of us are reading this from work you know! :)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2003 at 1:40PM
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Ditto, Bill. That Tequila Lime Chicken sounds like a winner. Hip Hip Hooray for Food TV!

Again, MIStepmom -- Yeah! I bet you feel as if the weight of the world has just been removed from your shoulders. You did it -- the odds are against us in second marriages, but you beat them!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2003 at 7:50PM
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That's incredible!! I'm so happy for you. I have a cousin in the turned her life around! It's nice to see that SD has taken responsibility for her actions.. I'm sure it felt good to hear her admit she messed up. I'm glad you and your husband were able to connect again. Where can I get the recipe for this wonderful Chicken? It's 10am and I'm already hungry for dinner!!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2003 at 10:05AM
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The Tequila Lime Chicken recipe came from the Barefoot Contessa's 2nd cookbook. I can't remember the name, but she is on the front. Great recipies and easy to make. You can also catch her cooking show on Saturday and Sunday mornings on the Food Channel. We are going to try the spaghetti and meat balls this week. Made Guacamoli (sp?) last night, fabulous!!! I think all this cooking is going to get me a new set of pots and pans, yeah!!! We also need a good set of knives, but unless that tree in the backyard starts growing money, this will take some time. With all this great food, I am going to have to start a new diet and exercise plan!!!! Thanks everyone!!!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2003 at 10:24AM
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Your step daughter is not destroying your marriage, your husband is. If I were you and if it is not your home..I would grab some savings and pack my bags. If your husband doesn't fix the problem, he doesn't care about you.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2003 at 6:40PM
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Jonesy -
If you would take the time to READ THE WHOLE thread before replying, you would ses that the situation has been resolved.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2003 at 11:41AM
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I've not seen the Barefoot Contessa, but I can tell you that Lowrey's makes some great marinades in a bottle. They make a Tequila Lime that we put our chicken in overnight and grill, it is WONDERFUL! (I know this is really not "step-family" business, but...) For something even quicker: Applebee's has a really good Tequila Lime Chicken (also called Fiesta Lime Chicken at some locations).

    Bookmark   August 2, 2003 at 11:56AM
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sorry about that..

    Bookmark   August 2, 2003 at 4:16PM
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I'm in roughly the same situation as you are except I'm SD with a lazy 23-year old who refuses to be weaned. The only thing that keeps me from blowing up is the fact that anything I do, will just drive a wedge between my wife and I, and strengthen the bond between the BM and SD. Sad, but true. Because it is now viewed as I'm attacking an "innocent" 23-year old child.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 11:52AM
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Abbytashi - The original thread is four years old, so I'd suggest you start a new one.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 3:07PM
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