Adult Stepchildren

dkc123November 12, 2012

I need some advice and I am not sure where to turn. I married my husband 14 months ago after dating for 2 years. He has three sons, ages 21,20 and 17, will be 18 in a month and a very manipulative ex-wife. They have been divorced 10 years and she has never remarried or even had a serious relationship. the middle son is living with us, goes to college part time and does not have a job. He had back surgery 9 months ago and has been cleared to go to work, but claims other medical ailments prevent him from getting a normal everyday job.

The problem lies in the manipulation the ex-wife does, with the help of the 20 year old son living with us. When my husband and I first married, and for the year prior to getting married, I stressed to him the importance of preparing his sons for our marriage and my moving in with him, as he had been divorced for quite some time and has his home set up as a bachelor's pad for the boys to frequent at their leisure. I also have children and in the preparation of the changes, we actually did not live together the first 4 months of our marriage, I slowly and gradually moved in with him to stay. When I did move in, I was told to set the house up as I wanted, establish house rules and he would support me. I cleaned the house, set house rules to accommodate the schedules of everyone living in the home. The biggest problem to start with was the lack of consideration of others, it was like a free for all, no boundaries whatsoever. Of course the son who lives here and the youngest son, who has a key to the house so he can come and go as he pleases, revolted. I asked my husband numerous times to have the boys sit down with the two of us, together, and talk with them, come to some understandings, let them know that no one was the enemy, we were trying to make this a home and not a brothel. This never happened, instead, the boys told him "We know this isn't you dad, this is what She wants" and he says, "Well yea, but I agree with her." I feel like that just put the monkey solely on my back and makes me the evil stepmother. We had some issues during the courtship, and in this time, I have found out that he talked badly about me to the boys, which I am sure as tainted their view as well.

Top all that with the fact that the 20 year old son who lives with us, runs and tells his mother everything that happens in our home, along with whining about how things don't go his way or "fit his needs" and she in turn feels she has the right to text and even write a letter telling us the appropriate way to run our household to accommodate her son. I have a big problem with this, and even wrote a letter back in answer to her, but I didn't mail it because my husband feels she will hurt the kids. I want to send it, I feel I have he right to defend my home, but i don't want him upset with me The mother does manipulate my husband and use the boys against him to get what she wants, but I feel the boys are old enough to understand and the divorce was long ago, she needs to be stopped. My husband refuses to do anything, or to even treat his sons as the adults they are. My ex-husband did the same with my children, only to more harsh degrees, and I did what needed to be done to keep him from using me to hurt my kids, now if he hurts them, he does it directly and has to deal with them on a personal level.

I need help in understanding what is the best thing to do, how do I get through this and not be a part of the children being hurt? I am their step mother in a technical sense, but they do not want me in the house with their father, much less as a mother figure, that has been made very clear. Please help me ti understand what to do next.......

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These are not little children, nor are they really all grown up ready to be on their own as 'adults'. Sure, age wise might say they are, but reality shows the boys have been allowed (encouraged?) to more or less have things the way they like. I imagine living with Dad and/or dividing their time between Mom's home and Dad's home has been pretty much extremely enjoyable for the boys. Best of both worlds per a teens view: man cave with Dad and Mom herself never personally moving on...the boys have not had to adjust.

No, they don't want or need you as a 'mother figure'. They have a mother. Nope, they aren't taking well to a lady now living in Dad's man cave either...pfff, here comes this lady raining on their parade.

Dad has made numerous blunders. "Well yeah", pretty much sealed evil as forever being a part of stepmother for you. But it also clearly states that your husband is not perhaps entirely in agreement with you and the changes you desire and are attempting to make. More, he's willing to let you make some changes to please you...but he was pretty much happy the way his home was before you decided their should be expectations and rules.

Buying a new home overall for husband and you to start out in and create 'your' home (you/DH) would have perhaps been better and easier for all. A house the boys are not as familar with and don't think of as 'their' house and you the outsider crashing their man cave. Is it too late to consider buying a house and starting the newly married couple home afresh?

And no, sending a letter to Mom is bad idea. It will amount to striking a match and tossing another log onto her already burning fire. Don't give her more fuel. Husband needs to discuss whatever with Mom, and husband needs to be the one doing the communicating with her. If he's not willing to tell Mom that he's capable of running his own home, you've got another whole new problem. Whatever for whatever reason is between them needs to be dealt with between them. If he can't stand up to her, he either does not want to or is afraid to. He's got to learn (or grow the b*lls) to defend himself and stand as a man in control of his own can't do that for him.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 2:04PM
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Ugh, good luck! Sorry, I feel for you- truely. Go and get your own home together and get out of "his" home ASAP. I promise you it will never be your home. Been there and it never gets better. You must both have equal say and start out as a united front and stay that way. He already poo-pooed your concerns/complaints to his kids, so they know you are not on the same page and he will not back you up. That said make a pact with your DH that neither one of you will "parent" each others kids. Be there, be a friend if your able, protect them if they are in immediate danger but trust me here... I highly suggest counseling for you and couples therapy with someone very experienced working with stepfamilies.

And no do not send the letter, no good will come of it. Write all you want too, sometimes you just have to get it out. Then burn it. And put as much distance as possible between the ex and you. Honestly these kids are grown, you should t have to deal with her and whatever her issues are- that's your husbands problem.

I'll add more later on phone now but if you want a good preview of what you are in for read some of my old posts (they go back years but many have had the same experiences) and if you do nothing else get your own home together to start your life together on an equal footing.

My husband and I made it through but if you read my history you'll be surprised we are still together. I finally took drastic measures, and I sure wouldn't recommend doing it the way we did. Learn from our mistakes. The folks on this board are a wealth of good advice. Sometimes we can be harsh and tell it like it is-and I got my butt chewed out a few times but I deserved it and I needed it. And it took years but I finally learned to take care of me.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 10:00PM
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Hi dkc123,
I'm sorry this is what your dealing with and it's probably nothing like you had hoped for your new marriage. I'm not sure I agree with the moving idea, as others have mentioned, because the challenges here seem to have more to do with relationships and if you still haven't resolved the conflict. It seems like you've tried everything you know to do without any positive results. Will your husband go to see a counselor with you? It would seem like you two need to put up a united front. But to get you both on the same page may require some professional counseling. I work for Focus on the Family and we offer a one time free counseling session over the phone with licensed therapists. If you think you may want to call just to get some initial advice or to get a referral to a good counselor in your can call 1-855-771-4357. I really hope you and your husband can work through this.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 6:36PM
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If you knew for sure that this situation would never change, would you stay in the marriage? At 70 will you be sorry you wasted your life and your peace of mind and happiness?

Don't expect it to change, it won't. If you stay I would take the advice of buying a new home and make it yours, no keys to anyone besides your husband and you.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:00PM
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I agree, don't send the letter. And don't read any letters of texts or anything else from the ex. If your husband wants to read them, fine. But don't let him tell you what they say. I mean, really, why do you care how someone else wants you to manage your home?
Obviously, your husband was tired of having just a man cave for a home. I do understand your husband giving his sons keys to the house, but I don't agree with it, if they don't live there. If they don't live there, they need to knock before they come in. Period.
These aren't "children". They're adults, treat them as such. Expect appropriate behavior from them. When they behave in a childish way, say something like, " oh, I thought you were more mature than that..."
You defend your home with behaviors, not by firing words around like rockets.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 6:25AM
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1. Turf issues. Best to start afresh esp with the house issues. It is tough to walk into someone's world and implement a change. Of course, they resist.
2. your H and you should and must be on the SAME page regarding household's rules.
3. Older kids living in the house. What are the limitations? when do they must move out?
4. It looks like you both did not discuss how to run the HH when you first decide to get married.

These issues, unsolved, will lead to resentment from both sides and consequently, divorce.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 12:49AM
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I am so glad to have found this forum. I felt like such a freak dealing with my adult stepson, who I don't like at all and is a complete jerk at age 24. I have been married to his father for 7 years and his son has lived with us off and on the whole time. In the beginning I tried very hard to be a friend to my stepson, and made it very clear that I was not interested in being a replacement mom. This kid has not grown up at all since he was 16 (now 24) and is still a complete thorn in my side and is the only negative part of my marriage. It is also one area that I can't talk openly about to my husband anymore. He still defends bad behavior and would rather blame his ex for ruining their son than deal with him. It makes me crazy and whenever he visits/lives at home at his convenience, like when he's broke, my annoyance is very difficult to mask. I like the advice of one of the writers on the "I hate my stepchild" forum who said:
"I remember that they are not my children, and I have no responsibility for raising them...I am polite but detached. It has brought peace to our household".
This is my new goal polite and detached. I would; however, like my home to be my home and not his hotel!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 8:23PM
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dck, I feel for your dilemma. You mentioned you also had children. Are they living in the house w/you and your husband? How's that working?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 1:23AM
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love it NO-MOM......I have recently done the same,,,,I wanted to be a partner in helping my BF/Partner to overcome some issues he was having with his two youngest grown children who are manipulative. I realized it caused more grief than it was worth. I realized I MUST for my own sanity and peace to sit back, stay involved in my activities of crafts, craft shows, etc, where I find joy, peace and great contentment.

Though it has not brought total house peace, it certainly has tempered the storms that often brew....

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:49AM
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I agree with LJFSYD! I made the mistake of involving myself with my SK's life and listening to all the woes my DH was experiencing as a parent. It was wasted energy. They aren't my kids and they don't want my advise (neither the SK or the DH) and I don't bother any more and believe me, it has made my life easier!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:53AM
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