Don't know if I can go on like this anymore

goosie77September 21, 2010

Hi ladies, I'm new here, I have been looking for somewhere to voice my frustrations as a stepmother and stumbled across this place. Hope its OK that my first post here is a 'heavy' one.

I am having a very hard time with the whole stepmother gig lately. I willingly went into this relationship with my husband, knowing he had two children and a semi-unstable ex in the picture. When we met, I didn't want kids, and honestly, I didn't really like kids all that much anyways.

We started dating, and everything was wonderful. He waited about 7 months for me to meet the kids, and I wish he hadn't. In that 7 months, I got to know life with HIM and him alone, fall in love, etc. I wasn't able to really see what I was getting into until deep feelings had formed between us. And even when I did meet the kids, he didn't have them all that often, so I didn't get to see any of the 'negatives' of having them around.

We got engaged, and his ex flipped out. To the point where she went on 6 months of stress leave before and after our wedding. We had to warn her that if she showed up at our wedding, she'd be arrested. She decided to drag my husband to court, hired a lawyer and everything, trying to get full custody and move 1000 miles away. She lost, and we won everything we wanted, including joint custody and limiting her from going anywhere outside of the city with the kids, perfect.

Since all the drama has ensued, however, I find myself having an exceedingly difficult time with the kids. I wonder if I'm projecting my hatred for their mother onto the kids, I don't know. The older child is OK, though tends to be sullen and disobedient, but I do like him well enough, and treat him well. The youngest is a whiny spoiled extention of her mother, and she drives me up the wall. I tell myself to be patient, and keep in mind, this is a child, but I just can't bring myself to like her all that much. I am not mean to either kid, ever, but I just don't have any sort of bond with them, and really, I don't care either. I know I SHOULD care, but I don't.

It doesn't help that now, I'm thinking maybe it would be nice to have a child with my husband. He is onboard, and actually pressures me to 'make a decision' because he's never really had a family with his existing kids, and says he'd love to have a child with me. But I can't wrap my head around making a child with a man who has these 2 kids already... with HER.

I find this is consuming a lot of my thoughts, each and every day. I am truly unhappy, and growing angry and resentful inside, because of the kids. I don't know why my feelings are changing, from "the kids are no big deal" to me hating the weekends we have with them. I hate that their existance is ruining the life that I could have had otherwise. I hate that I have to think of them in planning my own future. I hate that I have to deal with their mother for the next 10 years or more until they're adults. I hate that I'm having these thoughts, but I just can't stop myself. I feel like a monster, having these thoughts of resenting the kids and feeling like they've ruined my life, the life I COULD have had, because its not their fault. I know all this, but I can't help it.

I love my husband so much, and wish we could have a happy life together and share all the things a husband and wife should. But I'm honestly starting to wonder if I should just move on, though it would kill me, because I can't deal with his kids.

Has anyone else ever felt this way? How did you come to terms with it, what did you do, are there any ways of me coping with this without ending my marriage?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome goosie. I don't know about the others, but yes, I sometimes I feel resentment. It can cost a lot of money that someone wouldn't normally be spending (attorney fees, spousal support), and consume a lot of time that you naturally want to spend with your husband (a big court case must have taken a huge amount of time, attention and money). I would hope that most step-parents don't normally begrudge time and attention spent directly for the children (child support and custodial periods), but it is very frustrating to feel that money and any free time is being sucked into a black hole of attorney costs, court preparation and such.

But, I think that ex-wives and/or step-kids often tend to be made into a scapegoat for other problems. I'm not saying that no problem exists but that they are rarely the cause of all problems. I wonder if there are some underlying minor disagreements between you and your husband which tend to flare up around issues involving his kids or his ex? They can be such a flash point, but any underlying issues will never go away even if they weren't there. For example, so many posters have husbands who constantly hand over money to irresponsible adult children. I think that even if the kids didn't exist, that kind of generous man would likely be the kind who was "loaning" money to his ne'er do well brother-in-law - the problem would still be there, just with a different face on it.

If you are currently feeling resentful when the kids are around, I think you need to step (ha! bad pun) back a bit. If they are with DH for a weekend, make plans with friends or at the spa for one day. I tend to feel a lot better if I get periodic breaks from being "step-mom" so that I can just be myself for a while, and everyone is better off when I'm more relaxed and happier rather than just slogging through the motions.

Have you been to counseling? That would be good too. I think sometimes there is this incredible pressure on step-mothers in particular, some of it self-imposed, to be absolutely perfect. Can you imagine a step-dad worrying that he treats his step-kids very nicely, pays attention to their lives, supports their activities... but perhaps his bond with them isn't strong enough? Half the bio-dads I know wouldn't worry about that! I think holding feelings of resentment inside is what tends to make it fester; talking to a counselor should help.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 9:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for your reply mattie.

The legal issues actually didn't cost us anything per se, as I took care of all the paperwork and counselled my husband on what to say and do in court, etc, and we still beat her inept lawyer. DH missed about 8 days of work though, and it was horribly stressful, as you can imagine. I don't begrudge my husband any of the time he spends with the kids, as I'm really independant so I enjoy having my own time if he's going out with them, or whatnot. But he often wants me there ALL.THE.TIME, because he wants us to be a family soooo desperately. I went out this past Sunday for 3 hours, and he got pretty upset that I wasn't spending time with him and the kids. I tend to make plans for a few hours on one of the days of our 'kids' weekend for myself, so I don't go crazy, but he hates it and just wants me THERE. But I find it so difficult.

I DO resent the money he has to pay for support though. It's a large sum of money, and we know the ex spends a portion of it on herself, going to concerts while his son wears rags. Luckily he doesn't have spousal support or alimony.

I haven't been to counselling to help me deal with the issues. I went to see a counsellor once, as my husband and I were having other issues, which are since resolved, but I didn't like the counsellor. Maybe I should try another one... its covered under my benefits through work.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 9:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"But he often wants me there ALL.THE.TIME, because he wants us to be a family soooo desperately." I was wondering if that were the case! Sometimes I think all men are idiots. No doubt he is blissfully picturing you all going out together as some happy family; meanwhile, you are incredibly stressed because you're not their mother, you can't speak up and correct them if they do something you feel inappropriate (I bet DH tells you you can though!), and you are basically tagging along like some kind of fourth wheel, trying to do some weird balancing act between wonderful wife and super step-mom. This situation is awkward for you and uncomfortable for your step-kids; only Dad remains in happy ignorance. (This is coming from experiences as a step-child on both sides and a step-mother.)

So here's my advice. Do something with one or both of your sKids without DH. It's really hard to bond with a step-parent if they are constantly with their spouse (your parent). Maybe tell DH that he can take one of the kids for a few hours of private Daddy time and thus you'll have the other during that time. Make your own plans and you get to be the adult in charge. I never had anything but a very superficial relationship with either of my step-parents until I spent time alone with them - it's just too hard for anyone to reveal their true personality while they are walking on eggshells in the shadow of their spouse, and they both came across as some kind of Stepford Step-parent until I spent time with them alone, and got to know who they really were.

In return, then you get a few hours of time by yourself. DH can't think you're not trying to get along with his kids because you just spent time with one. But you are not really used to being around kids that much yet and so you deserve a little break afterward. I really think that that would help to build a relationship with your sKids, and it's worth trying.

Try another counselor if it's covered. I know people who went through four or five before they found one they liked.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 10:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome! You will probably get some negative feedback from non-stepparents, but don't worry. What you're experiencing right now is very normal, and you are totally doing the right thing to be cognizant of your feelings and examining your choices at this early stage.

One question--how old are you? Is your "biological clock" an issue in terms of whether you will have children in this family? If you still have nice young eggs, then don't rush into it, even though at this stage of a marriage, our girl hormones are usually pressuring us big time, ha. You are so right that once you have a baby with your DH, this family (including BM) is your forever family, no matter what you decide about the marriage.

That said, stepfamily experts estimate that it takes an average of seven years for the relationship/love between stepparents and stepchildren to fully develop. And though your DH is understandably eager for you to adore his children just like he does (and perhaps BECAUSE he does), that is unrealistic for you AND for the kids.

There are some really good books out there about stepfamily building, if you don't feel that counseling is the way you want to go just now. And your DH might listen to "experts" over you.

One thing to get over right now is his idea that you should always be there when he has the kids. Here is one thing to try: remind him that the children are just getting to know you, and they need some "daddy time" where they don't feel like you are usurping their place. That will probably sit better with him than you saying "They are driving me NUTS and I need some time away from them!" Even though that is understandbly true.

Many stepmothers are in the same position as you, of having been active participants in the court battle. But that doesn't mean that you can't back off now some.

Really, Goosie, as starry eyed in love as we are in the beginning, the first few years of any marriage are something of a "trial period." Dealing with another woman plunked right in the middle of our marriage can be excruciatingly painful. How you and DH deal with it makes all the difference. If you feel supported and protected, it can bring you together rather than tearing you apart. So let your DH know what you need.

One more thing I would tell every person just beginning in a stepfamily, especially if they are thinking of bearing children into the family. Look to the future. Those strange children whom you don't know and who may have all sorts of characteristics that are alien to you will, if all goes well, become more and more "family" to you. They will start to pick up characteristics from YOU; though it is not biology, cultural inheritance can be powerful too. So don't worry if you don't feel bonded yet, and don't let your DH lay a guilt trip on you about it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 3:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you ulrike. I am 33, but DH just turned 40. I never, ever wanted children before (my own I mean). I am not really a 'kids' person per se. But a small part of me lately has been wondering what it would be like, which scares the hell out of me.

I've gone so far as to ask DH to not tell me what is going on with BM and her B.S. so I won't get angrier. But when she does something sh!tty, which is exceedingly common, he has nobody to vent to, so I hear it. I try to back off so I can try to focus on ME and not get drawn into drama, but it seems I can't. And then the kids come over, and he's trying to force his 'perfect family' ideal on me, and I hate it. I thought, eventually, I'd come to care about the kids, but it just isn't happening, and I can feel myself wanting to pull away more and more.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"The youngest is a whiny spoiled extention of her mother, and she drives me up the wall."

"But he often wants me there ALL.THE.TIME, because he wants us to be a family soooo desperately."

LOL. You're normal!!! You know what's worse than recognizing someone else's irritating behaviors in a child? Recognizing your own... As much as SD acting like her mom annoys me, realizing my DD has my same irritating habits is 2x more frustrating because I KNOW where she got them and as it is said, the things that irritate a person most about someone else are traits they wish they didn't have themselves.

So the self-indulgent narcissistic money-flaunting one-uppedness that SD displays (all handed down from BM!) are less irritating than the fingernail biting, zoning out, bullheadedness, cocky, know-it-all traits DD gets from me. :)

The only advice I can give you on this subject is to remember that they are little sponges and leave as much good stuff out as you can for them to suck up and make "theirs". It will happen, and you will like them more and more as a result.

On the second topic... DH and his "perfect instant family"... my DH always wants me to be with him and SD when she is here. I finally (after nearly 5 years) am saying "no, why don't the two of you go off without me, I'll meet you later and we'll _____________ as a family". I know as a SD myself that dads and kids need alone time even if SM is the best/most fun/interesting person around. Knowingly or unwittingly (I'll go with the latter) he is using you as a kind of buffer. Women, I think, inherently try to make things easier on everyone, which makes his job easier.

Make sure that by making it easier on him you aren't making it harder on you and the kids.

Big hugs, it's hard but it's worth it, IMO. I look at my SD and am amazed at how much she is like my DH even though she doesn't live with us.

Some might come down on me for saying this, but these kids are a perfect way to "test" DH's parenting skills and for the two of you to make sure you're on the same page with discipline, etc. Have you talked to DH about older Skid's sullenness and younger skid's whining? What does he say about it?

Because, believe me, stepparents and bio parents do not have the monopoly on arguing about what to do about kid's behavior. Bio parents have the same challenges with each other, even if they are married.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome, goosie.

The control your husband exerts over you concerns me.

*Nobody* should expect/demand anyone else to "be there all the time";
even the army gives people time off!

Keeping someone close at hand isolates that person, & isolation is one of the first things an abuser does;
are you still seeing your friends & family?

& even if you try your best & give up every bit of personal time, the day will come when you can't be there, & that will be seized as evidence that you aren't "on board", that you failed, that you never loved him, never accepted the kids, don't want to be a mother (one of my personal faves), etc.

& you'll be defending yourself, which is always a losing proposition.

& the pressure to have a child?

It sounds like you've been financially independent yourself, & that's a big problem for controlers;
they'll do anything in this world to break you down & make you dependent on them.

Once you have that child, you'll be completely tamed;
you'll need him financially & you won't dare rock the boat.

The fact that you've made at least two 180-degree turns in your views, even in your identity, since you got involved with this guy troubles me.

You were independent, &
you didn't want children.

Now your life is totally dependent on husband's needs & wishes & demands, & you have responsibility for 2 children & are considering a 3rd.

You hate the way you are living,
yet you keep on doing it.

If this guy loved you, he'd worry more about your happiness & much much much less about how what he can get out of you.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 5:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is understandably stressful especially if you do not have your own children. My SO's kids are grown and are somewhat out of the house, but I still find it stressful.

When DD22 comes to visit I am all excited but i am anxious before SDs' visits because it means messy house, SO cooking for them day and night 3 meals a day getting stressed, SDs canceling plans or not making plans and us sitting around pleasing them 24/7 or waiting for them to commit to activities, SO getting depressed, YSD taking my stuff and ruining it etc They are nice and I do like them but the whole experience is more stressful than happy. I can imagine how stressful the whole thing would be if they were here half the time...

I think you should give it time and hope for the best. I don't think you should be there with them all the time, it is unnecessary. Spend time with them and then go do your own stuff.

there is one thing in your post that I do not understand
"He is onboard, and actually pressures me to 'make a decision' because he's never really had a family with his existing kids, and says he'd love to have a child with me."

he does have a family with his existing children, they are a family (if he does not think of them as a family then it is very sad), he can have more kids with you but he still has a family with his kids. that's how I see it

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 6:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

good catch, parent of one.

Why was he not in the children's lives before you came along, & what does he expect to happen to them when he has another child?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 6:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sylvia, they have joint custody so dad is in kids lives, maybe i am missing something here....

My ex has 3 kids, he is involved dad with all of them but was NCP for our DD22 and she lived with me and had visitations with him.

I would be terrified if he told his wife that he never had family with existing DD and that's why he wanted more kids with her. even my crazy ex would not say such thing, I know he would not.

if my SO said he had no family with his existing kids, i would lose all respect for him. He still has family with them!

maybe OP meant something else...

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 6:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think the guy simply meant he would like to have the experience of having his child live with him full time. That's a normal, understandable desire. I doubt he meant his kids are not his family---just that it's not *ideal* and he is sad that he misses out on time with his kids half the time.

I know DH feels that way about SS---like he is missing half of his childhood. :(

I wouldn't rake the guy over the coals for wanting to have a child with his wife. It's not (IMO) that different from me, at some point, wanting to have a baby with my husband. I long to expeirence childbirth/labor/parenting WITH a partner. When I had DD, I was pregnant alone, delivered alone, etc. I wouldn't TRADE HER for the world--but still long for the more *typical* experience.

Does that make sense?

OP, I can 100% relate to you. My DH and I have been together for nearly seven years---lived together for four now--married for two. His son is 8 and lives with us half the time.

BM is unstable, crazy, drinker, etc. She, too, threatened to show up at our wedding---said she was going to throw diapers filled with pooop at me when I walked down the aisle.

Trust me---I understand! And I think the resentment directed at the kids is misdirected but understandable, nonetheless. I've had it myself!

I will second whoever said that you should try to spend time alone with your SKs. I find SS so much more fun to be around when DH is not around! LOL. It's just b/c SS relates to ME more like a parent then, and it changes the dynamic. It allows us to develop our own relationship. I think THAT has helped me more than anything, just spending lots of time with SS by myself; well, my DD (also 8) is with us, too.

I really would urge you and DH to get into SF counseling. Marriage alone is a lot of work--and when it's a SF situation, it's a lot more complicated and intricate than most can understand. Until you've lived it, you really just don't know. I would really try to find a counselor who specializes in blended families.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 8:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I do agree it is normal to want more children, of course it is. If we would be younger, we would certainly have more children, at least one more. I don't think anyone here is judging OP or her DH for wanting children..Did anyone say anything?

I just don't understand the comment not having a family with existing kids, it sounds unkind. What if DH and goosie have kids and it does not work out and they split, would he say he has no family with that kid too?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 10:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all.

First off, sylviatexas- my husband does not control me. He wants me there when the kids are there, full time, but I have mu own life, friends, family, and career. And that certainly isn't going to change, for ANY one. I did do a 180 on the kids thing, largely because what I had been doing before, in NOT dating men who had kids, wasn't working. I found a kind, loving and intelligent man and decided to give it a try, thinking maybe his kids would be a good thing because I didn't ever want my own child before, but perhaps his having kids would be a 'bonus' that would make my life better, in a sense, as I'd get to experience a family of sorts without making my own.

He has never outright SAID that he doesn't have a 'family' with his kids. However, as lovehadley pointed out, he would like to experience raising a child with a wife, within a marriage, fulltime etc. He has always been as involved in his kids' life as his ex has allowed him to be, which was very very minimally for a very long time. SS is 8 and my husband has never once spent a Christmas with his kids, because of her. Now we have legal joint custody so that will change, her days of manipulating the situation and using the kids to hurt him because he doesn't want to BE with her, are over. So really, having two children that you are prevented from seeing, who you can't spend time with, holidays with, have any say in raising, isn't much of a 'family' except literally. He would like to have a child with his wife, raise a child together, see the first steps, first words etc that he didn't get with his existing kids. The 'pressure' on me to make a decision comes largely with his age (40) and mine (33) - I don't want us to be much older, having a child, and neither does he.

Just trying to clarify. He is not an abuser, controller, nor a deadbeat dad. He loves his kids to death and cries when we have to send them home to their mother.

I just feel like a horrible person for not being able to just throw myself into this stepmom thing, and enjoy it. Both his brothers have stepkids, and them and their wives seem to have it so easy and be so happy. I can't do it, or at least, I haven't been able to. I owe it to him, and to the kids, but I can't get past my feelings of unhappiness and resentment at the very situation itself, even though I know in my mind that *I* put myself here. I'm just so conflicted.

I broached this topic last night with my husband, and he blew up. He was upset, saying that I told him that I could deal with it. And I did, a long time ago, before we got married. I thought I could, but its getting harder and harder. Today he is calmer and says he wants to talk tonight and that he loves me and wants to make everything work. I'm hoping our conversation goes well. He just doesn't see my point of view, as they are his kids, he loves them to death, so can't understand why I don't, or can't. He's never ever been with anyone with a child before me, so he doesn't get it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 8:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"He's never ever been with anyone with a child before me, so he doesn't get it."

It's very different if you're already a parent.

"I just feel like a horrible person for not being able to just throw myself into this stepmom thing, and enjoy it. Both his brothers have stepkids, and them and their wives seem to have it so easy and be so happy. "

Appearances can be deceiving. Don't feel like a horrible person, I think this is normal. Better to acknowledge how you really feel.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 10:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Goosie. As I mentioned in my first post, there are some posters here who have an agenda that isn't about being a stepparent; take their comments with a grain of salt if you can. (It can actually be helpful, because as a stepmother you'll face a certain amount of discrimination in real life--helps you see what you're up against.)

I'll say again, and hope it's helpful and not discouraging: what you are experiencing is absolutely classic! If anything, it's even predictable. Parents do have rose-colored glasses. It's so hard for them to see that their own feelings about their kids are singular to them. And those feelings are to an extent a good thing! No human infant would survive if parents didn't have blinders on to how annoying and demanding they are, ha!

My experience is that one of the biggest challenges for second wives of men with children is to overcome their new mate's defensiveness as regards the kids. This can be tremendously destructive to the new marriage, more than the intrusion of the ex-spouse, more than money, more than any antics the children pull as they test the new marriage (and most do). The first time a stepchild says something rude or hurtful to a new wife, or destroys an item of property, or pulls the wife's beloved dog's tail, and the father says NOTHING about it, or, worse, denies it happened, that marriage suffers a blow. And, perhaps more importantly, the child itself suffers the "gift" of too much power over adults that can warp his or her social development. So defensiveness is something that the new couple MUST overcome.

And why do I focus on second wives and not second spouses in general? I do think that for the most part our culture puts different expectations on women. For example, in your post you said "Both his brothers have stepkids, and them and their wives seem to have it so easy and be so happy." The kids are their wives' children, right? There just isn't that expectation that a man will immediately love the children and suddenly want to do all the parenting tasks. In addition, there's such a variety of maternal leanings in women. Some love to be around babies and take care of small children; others don't until their own hormones when they have a baby kick in and give them a hand, ha!

It sounds like your DH expected you to step right in and be his children's mother. You can acknowledge his disappointment while still gently letting him know that his expectations were missing the part where becoming a stepfamily is a process, and not a super fast one, and not always easy.

And one more thing. You are a newlywed. It is no doubt hard for you, even though you understand it, when your husband cries as the children leave. For a new spouse, spending time alone and focused with our beloved is so precious. So even though we understand on one level that they are sad their children are leaving, it can still feel tremendously rejecting to have them cry to be only with you. Don't know if that's an issue for you, but it was for me! And I had children too who were leaving.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 12:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"So even though we understand on one level that they are sad their children are leaving..."

It's also understandable if you are feeling relieved that the children are leaving! It doesn't make you a bad person!

I feel relieved when DD goes to her dad's house... like a giddy kid who just got let out for summer "I can eat popcorn for dinner and stay up all night watching adult TV!". Two days later I'm in her bedroom reassuring her stuffed animals that she'll be home soon and I miss her too, rabbit!

And my DH missed out on years of his daughter's everyday life. I know he misses that. I know her dad probably feels the same way. It's understandable to want another kid so that they can be there on a daily basis.

For those who ask "what if this marriage fails too"... well, don't we all just hope it won't. There are no guarantees, right? And you can't live your life as if it will end at any time.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

goosie, I cry pretty much hysterical every time DD leaves (I see her only 2-3 times a year now and it is not easy). My SO is not crying when DD leaves, I mean he is not excited but he is not devastated. But he knows why i cry because he is sad when his DDs leave. I think it is very understandable. maybe because we both have kids...

When SDs leave, he is extremelly sad, while i am not. I am not jumping happy up and down but I never cried. SD28 is crying every time, last time SO went to visit by himself (I was working)he said she cried so bad in airport that he was almost late for his flight.

What i am trying to say, it is silly to expect anyone else to feel the same way parents and kids feel towards each other.

You cannot be as attached to his kids as he is or wanting to spend every minute with his kids. When DD visits, there are plenty of things i want to do with just her, i don't need SO attached to my hip when she visits. Your DH needs to understand that you cannot possibly feel the same way, why woudl he even expect.

maybe it is man's thing. SO wants to do everything together when SDs visit. When DD visits I absolutelly want my own time with her.

I think maybe if you do have your own child with him, it is going to change because you would understand more about parenting.

As about having family with exisiting kids and building memories, they are still young, he still has time to compensate for years not being there. It is never too late. he can have kids with you but still create a family with his children. he missed holidays, well he has more holidays to look forward to.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 2:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I didn't mean to offend, goosie;
I've seen a lot, & I've been through a lot, & some of the phrases you used in your original post ring a lot of alarm bells.

"he blew up. He was upset, saying that I told him that I could deal with it. And I did, a long time ago, before we got married. I thought I could, but its getting harder and harder. Today he is calmer and says he wants to talk tonight and that he loves me and wants to make everything work."

You haven't been married very long, you're involved in someone else's very demanding & difficult scenario, & he blew up at you & put you on the defensive, & now you're feeling guilty because you can't leap tall buildings at a single bound.

The way I always heard, marriage is a two-way street;
you take each other on as partners & each of you has the other one's back.

I do not see that he has your back or even gets the concept.

& a blow-up followed by an apology, maybe even flowers or other gifts, & a renewed promise to make it better is part of the cycle.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 2:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks everyone so much again.

Ulrike- no, I don't take any issue with DH crying when the kids leave, as though I'm upset that he's alone with me, that has never crossed my mind, actually. I know he's crying at the 'loss' of his kids and his missing them, and not because he's stuck with me (haha). So that's not an issue. And honestly, silversword is right, I DO feel relieved when they leave, I feel like I can get back to ME again, focus on myself and my husband and not have to take care of these little people that aren't mine.

My husband has been through a lot of hurt- his parents divorced, his father left his children, he never had true family growing up as his mother kicked him out of the house, then was comitted to an asylum for a while, and his two brother reject him almost constantly due to jealousy (he's successful whereas his brothers struggle and are almost alcoholics). He got involved with his ex, he relied on her for stability I suppose, then she cheated while pregnant with their son. He's been through so much, and all he's ever wanted is family. That WORD alone means so much to me, he's said he's always dreamed of getting married (I am his first marriage) and how it would be, etc. I think he wants me to fit his 'mold' in a way, be a perfect wife, love his kids like he loves them, and create an ideal that he has never lived. But I don't fit well into molds, in fact I resist things and people's 'expectations' of me to a large degree. I know this about myself, yet I am conflicted about WHY I can't just accept these kids and make my husband happy and live happily ever after, like 'normal' people do. I want normal, and I'll never have 'normal' within the confines of this marriage, with stepkids, I don't think. And I hate that.

Thanks again for everyone's advice and perspectives. In a way I wish I had found this forum a loooooong time ago, so I could have known how difficult this all would possibly be. Maybe my life would be different now. Not that I have regrets about marrying my husband, who I love dearly, but I just wonder if this is what was best for me.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 3:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"WHY I can't just accept these kids and make my husband happy and live happily ever after, like 'normal' people do. I want normal, and I'll never have 'normal' within the confines of this marriage, with stepkids, I don't think. And I hate that."

Oh Goosie!!!

No one lives "happily ever after!!!!" There is no "normal". And if there is, usually someone ends up getting cancer or falling off a cliff.

You can't create anything for anyone. Feeling sorry for your DH won't help. My DH had a very hard childhood too. I can't fix that for him. I have had my trials, he can't fix that for me. What we can do is be sensitive toward one another and realize some things are more important than others. What are the triggers? How do we work around them?

If you give the kids time, eventually they will grow on you. Kids have a way of doing that. I would plan things with them that you can do without DH, just an hour or so... go out for a picnic, throw a ball, play a game. REALLY try to interact with them on their level. Then let DH take them out on his own so you can have "me time". Then plan a family outing/dinner/movie, something all of you can do together.

You did marry him. What to do now is work on strengthening relationships and setting boundaries. EVERY mother has to set boundaries. Even if it's just closing the bathroom door.

LMAO... anyone else pee with the door open for years? Afraid of the slightest whatever that would occur. Speed-peeing? And then the day that you felt comfortable closing the door, and the look on their little face? Mommy! you closed the door! And then the bedroom door, and then the "not right now, I'm reading/taking a bath/sitting on the floor counting to 10".

Goosie, I wonder all sorts of stuff. If I'm being a good mother. If I were a good mother if my kid would drive me this crazy. If I'm scarring her for life. WHY I couldn't make it work with my Ex because having a Sdad and SD are HARD (I know why, but I get a little irrational), that I blew my chance for a happy, nuclear family because I just don't want more kids... so now DD will be only child and I have scarred her for life.

Maybe she should be in a better school. Maybe I should have bought her that ________. Maybe I'm scarring her by not buying her a new bike until she actually learns to ride the old one. Maybe baby.

You know what matters? That you're willing to try. And only you know if that's true or not. I am willing to try from the bottom of my heart. Even though both my SD and DD drive me crazy. Even though DH and I have extremely conflicting views on how to raise them sometimes. Even though EX and I have conflicting views and we have three parents in the pot, and then my parents want to get involved too.

You sound very stable, and introspective. Just keep telling yourself the truth, and once you know it, tell your DH calmly. Remember parents are not always rational about their kids. I have had to eat more crow where DH is concerned, and when I do I make sure to do it in front of DD. And I've told her, hey, I defended your bad behavior, and that was wrong of me. Now I need to apologize to DH. And I do. So that she knows we are on the same page.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 3:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Silver, you made me cry! That was an EXCELLENT and encouraging post! Even for me who should be a pro at this SM thing by now!

I feel all those same things you do! I hate it for DH that he has never been able to "raise" either one of his kids. I hate it for DS that he's an only child. And I hate it for me that, as much as I wish, the relationship between DH, DS and I is never going to be the same as if DH were DS's bio-father. I even sometimes hate it that I don't have the stones that BM does to just kick out one "dad" and replace him with another and still sleep at night.

Goosie, I totally understand the "family" thing your DH is talking about. My DH has 2 kids by 2 different mothers; one was a college fling and one he actually married. The college fling got married and made the new guy be the "dad", even though DH was still involved. SD's mom divorced him when SD was 5. She is now 15. He was always very involved with her (up until 2 years ago), but he didn't get to raise her.

DH told me once that he would love to know what it feels like to have an "all-together" family. And I can understand that because he grew up with his "father" not being his biological father and having a baby brother who was the favorite (and still is) because he was the father's only bio-child.

We aren't planning to have more kids. I'm not sure I want to complicate another life with 3 half-siblings who live in 3 different states. I also don't know if I want to complicate OUR family situation even more. I don't want anyone to feel guilty or jealous or (pick your favorite step-family emotion).

But sometimes it seems so unfair to DH that he has never really been able to be the amazing father I know he on a full-time basis. It makes me so sad to think that he views fatherhood as nothing more than a detached family member. No matter how much he tries to be a part of his kids' lives, he's still nothing more to him than Christmas, birthday, and wedding gifts.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 5:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sometimes we just have to accept what we have (or don't have) and say serenity prayer.

As about not raising/raising kids, my SO stayed in bad marriage because he knew the best he could get would be joined custody and mom would bring a loser in SDs" lives (she did but luckily they weren't minors), so he waited until kids are grown but she left for TOM anyways.

But now he realizes that he wasted years of his life on keeping something what was not salvageable.

SD28 told me that their marriage was horrible as far as she can remember and when it ended she felt a relief. So neither of the kids really needed his sacrifice.

But who knows? Can't change the past. It is what it is. Who knows who is better off someone who settles for not raising his kids or who makes sacrifices so he can raise them full time? Who really knows what's better? and what is the point, we'll never know because we only have what we have, no "ifs"

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 6:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ashley: I even sometimes hate it that I don't have the stones that BM does to just kick out one "dad" and replace him with another and still sleep at night.

OMG. I have the same feeling. BM "replaced" DH and has another baby. They're not together now, but when they were and SD would say "my dad" and DH would say, "what" and SD would say "I mean my other dad"....heartbreak.

I CONSTANTLY worry if I am doing the right thing by DD. If DH is good influence. And then, really, I know that he is a good person, and wants to do right by DD and tries his hardest. And that even bio-parents make mistakes.

BUT BUT BUT.... I want perfection!!! Where's my "happily forever after???" LOL while I'm COL *crying out loud...

My heart breaks for your DH and for my DH. To never get the chance to raise their daughters. And my heart breaks for my DD's father, even though I felt at the time I had to get pretty far away in order to keep her and I from his insanity. I still feel for the guy.

And it is unfair. DH is nothing more than a pocketbook. BM makes sure SD knows if DH is not willing to support their extravagant lifestyle. Well, more extravagant than ours anyway... We lead a pretty simple life, but we have a lot more than many our age. We are very fortunate, and at least BM is not insane to the degree that the rest of you are dealing with. Our BM is a narcissistic wench who is all about image, but she feeds, clothes, and cares for SD very well.

God bless the woman :)... and keep her far away from me!!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 8:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can relate as well. I've been with my partner for 6 yrs and my SD's are now 12 and 14. Their BM resents me big time and it has not gotten any better over the years. If anything it got worse. Anyway, I used to get on fabulous with the skids, even though BM always tried to poison them against me. It never seemed to affect them much.
Now that they're a bit older, to my surprise, her poison has started to take hold a bit. This is a big setback for me and I hate to admit it but I do resent them at times because of it. But I don't have a struggle as to what to do about all this, stay or leave, or anything like that. I love my FDH, I love our life,I'm not going anywhere and I'll do my absolute best to keep a good relationship with the skids.

I like the suggestions of the other posters about how to work on getting to know/ bond with your skids.

Also, as others already said, it's ok to take some time for yourself when the skids are with you guys, this is something that your DH needs to learn to understand and accept. He can't have it all his way, you need to find a compromise. That is a fair demand isn't it? I've started to work on the weekends recently, not so much because we need the money, but more because I'm in a better mood if I get a break from it all. Sometimes the mood is tense, and to hang around each other can make me cranky. So for me to step out for half a day and get away is a good thing. When I'm in a better mood and I keep my battery charged, everybody benefits, right? My FDH does understand this though, which makes it easier. But that doesn't mean he's happy about it, he'd rather I'd be home, and the skids always ask what time I come home as well. So it's not that the situation is that awful that I need to get out, even in the best of circumstances a stepfamily is still challenging and I've learned to go with what works. I do a 4hr shift on Sat and Sun, it's a bonus that we have a bit more money, FDH spends some time alone with the skids, it's a good solution.

What also helps me is to keep the following in mind: I'm not their mother, I don't need to be their substitute mom when they're with us (as much as BM thinks I want to 'take over'). Just changing that mind set brings relief in itself for me. I'm still trying to be a good role model, a loving adult, a nice person to be around, etc etc and I certainly look after them when they're with us, but I don't need to 'play mom'. The parenting is up to FDH. This comes with advantages too, like allowing yourself to back off and not be over-involved, which is easier if you feel this resentment. I try and stay out of the disciplining part (bedtimes, reminding to brush teeth, putting on sunscreen, chewing food without putting everyone else off theirs ;-) cleaning their room or putting laundry in basket. All those things, I have a desire for it to be a certain way, DH and I talk about it when kids are not with us, but ultimately it's up to him and I've learned to butt out. And if something does annoy me, I'll try and keep a lid on it till we are alone to discuss it. Because of course I have a say in how we live as a 'family' under our roof, and it's up to FDH and me to come up with a plan we both can live with. But, FDH will be the one to enforce this with the girls, not my job.

At the end of the day I still get moody at times, and nobody's perfect, but if you decide to stay you have to try different things to make this work for you.

And keep coming here for ideas :-)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 1:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"When I'm in a better mood and I keep my battery charged, everybody benefits, right?"

Well said, Yabber. And you're right. I don't consider myself "stepmom" as much as I consider myself to be "auntie". Someone who cares, someone who will protect, someone who is trying to be a good example.

I told SD last time, because she was saying how hard it was to have divorced parents: "SD, my parents were divorced, and I'm divorced from DD's dad. I know how it feels to have a broken family and feel conflicted loyalties. I love your dad, and I love you, and I love our family and I am happy in our life, but for your sake I wish your mamma and daddy were still married."

She looked at me like spiders were crawling out of my nose, and said, "you do?" When I reiterated it, she looked at me and a huge weight fell off her shoulders. I could see it fall. Her whole face opened up. I had validated her needs, and her family.

Because it's true. I wish for her that her mama and dad were still married. I wish my mama and dad were still married. (I know they'd both be miserable, but the little girl in me? Well....) I wish I were still married to X.... (well, not really... But....)

But here we are. Like Lilo and Stitch... "this is our family, it's small, and it's broken, but we love each other".

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 10:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you again so much everyone.

DH and I talked again last night, and I told him pretty much everything I said on here, no holds barred, all or nothing. He said he was very hurt, especially when I admitted that I really don't like his daughter, and I have left him very confused, I suppose. He says its not fair to leave him 'hanging', hoping I can work on this and make peace with everything, hoping I don't wake up 6 months from now deciding I want out. I told him he's absolutely right, it's not fair, I wish I didn't feel this way, and I can't guarantee that I WON'T want to bail 6 months from now.

He said quite a few times that I just don't get it because I'm not a parent. That pissed me off. I told him HE doesn't get it because he IS. He can't see how I possibly couldn't adore his kids, he said "they're just innocent children, and good kids, how could you not like them"? I told him about my resentment, etc and how I'm likely directing some of my hatred for their mother onto them in a way. Which I know is not right or fair, but I just can't help it sometimes.

I want to be able to work this out, I really do. Several of you suggested me spending time with the kids, doing stuff with them without DH, and I may do that, see if it helps. I wouldn't mind that with SS, its SD that I realllly don't want to spend much time with. But in order to get past this, I'll force myself to do it.

I really appreciate every one of you for trying to help, and for not making me feel like a monster for just not finding this easy. Thank you all.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 12:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"When we met, I didn't want kids, and honestly, I didn't really like kids all that much anyways."

Did you tell him when you met that you didn't want kids, didn't like kids? If so, you can go back to that conversation for reference. He NEVER should have married a woman who didn't like kids if he had kids. You guys should have dated until the kids were adults, then married if that was what you still wanted to do. By token, you should have thought of this too.

You DON'T get it because you are NOT a parent. I totally agree!!

And, vice versa, as you said. Parents are blind to their own children. And protective. And rightfully so.

Directing hatred onto children based on their parents is W R O N G. It's abusive and it's never ok. That said, I know the feelings come up and I know they can be hard to manage. I experience them too, especially with my own DD when she comes back from her bio-dad's house....ohhhh.... it's hard! But you have to. There just is no other option. It's not the kids fault, and you are the adult. Sorry to be harsh, but that's how I feel. You are normal. You are not a monster. But you have to keep your emotions in check, or you need to remove yourself from the lives of these children.

How old are the kids?

It's understandable that you would be more comfortable with one or the other, but you should be able to find something you could share with each of them individually.

You do not have to cater to their bad habits though. One benefit to being one on one is that you can let them know your standards for behavior.

Example: SD is whiny, right? When she whines, look her in the eye and tell her, calmly, that you don't respond well to whining. It's the BEHAVIOR you don't like, not the child.... right???? I get silly sometimes... with DD.... because I can't stand whining. So I will say "aaaahhhhh.... whining makes me crrraaazzzyyyyy!!!!" (insert crazy face and hopping around) It makes me want to say "no movies, no popcorn... and I really want those things. Can you help me so I don't have to say no???"

Get down to their level, but keep your standards. Kids know that at Grandma's they don't jump on the couch, or at uncle's they don't wear shoes in the house, or or or...

Make a list of acceptable behavior/non acceptable behavior. Role play in your mind. Write down your responses if necessary.

Kids (and I know I will get raked over the coals for this one :).... Kids are like dogs. You have to train them. Like dogs, making them cower will not make them into the kind of friend you want around. They need absolutely to know that you are in charge, that you will treat them fair, and that you want to have fun with them. They are also remarkably adaptable and resilient.

Does SD like to paint nails? Perhaps you could buy a couple fun colors and have a nail painting party, just you two.

SD: "I don't liiikkkeee that color"
You: "oh my gosh! my whine-o-meter is being set off... I think I might explode, quick, hide behind the couch!"

You: "I'm sorry, did you say something? When people whine I have this problem with my hearing. Can you repeat yourself please?"

You: "If we're not having fun, let's stop. I don't like playing with someone when one of us isn't having fun. Is there something else we can do?" (and then when she doesn't want to stop, tell her that when she whines it's an indicator to you that she is unhappy, and does she want to try again?)

Of course, these are solutions for the under 8 set. I'm not much for older than that age because I haven't gotten there yet!!!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 2:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL, I always tell my two kids (bio DD(8) and SS(8) that I can't understand them because I don't speak Whinese.

Cracks them up AND usually gets rid of the whiny voice.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 10:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Goosie, I have very similar feelings. When I got into a relationship with my bf (we haven't gotten married yet, but we live together) I didn't want to have kids either, and I was actually happy that I get a pair of grown kids for "free"..:-))

Unfortunately their BM is totally crazy and the relationship with her is extremely tense as we are in the middle of a custody battle right now, which has been going on for almost 2 years now! I have been very much involved in the custody battle, giving my bf all the support, but it has been a lot of stress for me, especially to face all those BM lies, kids being brainwashed and telling everybody how they hate being with us, and all the problems caused by the fact that BM is refusing to co-parent. It very much affected my relationship towards kids. As well as the fact that even though we spend a lot of time and effort to help them, once they go back to BM they forget everything. Very frustrating.

My bf and I had a great time being together without kids, but once kids were over it became very stressful for me. My bf wanted me to be there with them all the time, to be a "happy family". And I honestly hated it. I started to think that I really do not deserve all this trouble, I was very unhappy. On top of it my biological clock went on, and seeing how little influence I have on his kids I started to want my own so we could really have a little happy family. My bf is a fantastic father, but unfortunately he doesn't want to have more kids.

Anyway I decided that I need to step back. I withdrew myself from all the custody battle, I keep myself away from BMs emails, conversations, anything what made me upset. It quite helps. I'll see how long this is going to last. I am counting years until kids are adults (only 6 more to go) and hopefully BM will be out of the picture. Though I have a feeling that it is too naive to hope for that.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 5:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My husbands kids were older when we married, so this isn't my area of knowledge, but I have been to sites where there are stepmothers saying quite frankly, that they don't "LIKE" there stepkids - and they are OK with it!

You didn't say you didn't like your stepkids, but it sounds more like the SITUATION is causing you stress, then this is transfered onto your feelings for the kids. This is understandable! Below is an article I found once, that might help you see that you are not alone.

Every "expert" I have heard says that the SM is not to be put into the position of being the "babysitter/caregiver/discipliner" or "buffer" between a father and his biological children. They are his children and he is responsible for them. Expecting you to help him fulfill an "ideal fantasy" he has of re-creating a 'happy/perfect' family is not fair to you. Taking time away for yourself sounds like a good idea. If you husband gets upset, that is his issue, not yours. Counseling does sound like a good idea.

Bringing a new child into this situation at this time might not be the wisest idea. After you and your husband have dealt with some unresolved issues, it would be a better time.

Others that have posted above sound wise and have a lot of good insight and good advice. Hope it has helped you feel not alone in your situation.

Take care and good luck.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry everyone, I didn't think anyone was still replying to this LOL

I am in noooooo way ready to even think about a child of my own, no worries there. The thought of it as a possibility (or not) crosses my mind regularly, but never to the point of wanting to make it happen, as there are so many other variables.

It is definitely a difficult situation, and I don't like it, even though I put myself here. I'm trying to get more involved with the kids, especially his son, as he has a lot of issues (reading issues, development issues). We spent some 'family time' together the 4 of us last weekend, and it was nice. His daughter was well behaved, and I found her more tolerable. I do like his son, I'm on the fence about his daughter, but I'm willing to work at it.

I am feeling more optimistic lately, now that I've voiced all my concerns to my husband. I know it wasn't wasy for him to hear how I feel, that I don't really like his daughter, and hate the situation, etc, and we fought about it and more for a week, but we're working together to make it work now.

It's not an ideal situation, by far. Its not the life I would have chosen for myself. But I'm going to try to put the work in to make it as good as I can.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 1:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Goosie, I feel your pain honey. When it is only my new husband, myself and my children, life is smooth. No problems at all. When my manipulative SS enters the picture, it is really, really hard. I have daydreamed of it just being us and SS staying with his mother, out of sight out of mind. He is 18 now and bascially comes in and out of the picture whenever he wants and his dad flows with it. I feel guilty for disliking him so much, I honestly do. Not for SS sake, he is horrid, but for my husbands sake. It hurts him so much. He still sees his son as the cute little chubby, curly haired boy he once new. I never knew that child. I only know what is here and now. A selfish, hurtful "adult". I'm afraid I cannot offer any sage advice. I am living a sad story myself right now...But I feel ya sister!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 3:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm at this point too, recently married and wife has 4 kids, they openly express that they don't like me... or even hate me (all teens). I known/dated this girl for about 2 years b4 getting married... the kids are recking my attitude, when the arguments start my pulse starts racing and I end up with panic attacks.

In the course of all this, I'm finding that my feelings for my wife have greatly diminished, In the begining, I couldnt believe that I found someone like her... and now I'm regretting my choices. the oldest 2 have moved out and will have nothing to do with me. I find this to be very hard on me.

I've been cordual, friendly, helpful and fair... I'm to the point that I'm ready to tell them the hate and dislike goes both ways. And I'm ready for some time away from my wife... I'm finding the relationship to not be worth the pain in the butt attitudes of the kids.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 2:36AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
To visit or not to visit
About three years ago, after many instances of being...
Marrying Widower with Adult Children
Somebody help me, please! I am about to marry a widower...
Too much?? advice please
Hi. I am a Mum of 2- one being a step child, I am 27...
If I could tell mothers of adult stepchildren anything, Part 2
It seems my five-year-old topic has reached its limit...
My husband hates my kids...should I leave him
My husband hates my kids, and they hate him back, which...
Sponsored Products
Up and Down Side Table
$175.99 | Dot & Bo
Leitmotiv Vino Wine Glass Chandelier Extra Large + 12 Replacement Glasses
&'Costa | Morpheo Wall Light
Grasshopper Floor Lamp - Blue Gray - Greta Grossman, Gubi
$875.00 | HORNE
Monica Oil Rubbed Bronze One-Light Drum Pendant with White Fabric Shade
$95.50 | Bellacor
New York Brown Convertible Chair Bed
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™