help me stop obsessing!

sulostNovember 30, 2011

I have posted before about my adult step daughter. My husband told me yesterday that she wanted to know when he was coming to visit (4 hour drive each way) for the holiday and bringing gifts. He hadn't planned on making the trip again, since he was just there a month ago and we are driving to Florida to visit my mother for Christmas. I haven't seen her for something like 4 years. My husband had asked if he could join them for Thanksgiving, but his daughter planned to go visit the brother/sister-in-laws, so he couldn't see them then. The last time he was there for his grandson's birthday, she was disrespectful and snappish with him because he wanted to get a drink from a paper cup instead of a glass from the cupboard. (The girl is pretty controlling.) So yesterday she sent him an email and told him that his grandson needed a new bed (he's 4) because the other one only takes a double bed sized mattress and it's too big for his room. She wants one that's a single bed with drawers under it. Oh, and a mattress, too. I told my husb that I had no problem with him going to visit; he could do that whenever he wished, but my opinion on the bed was that it seemed "enable-y" to buy things that are necessities of life. It would seem more appropriate as the grandpa, that he get toys or something special for a gift. But, I said, "do what you feel comfortable with." At this point, I am really bugged about it. When the grandson was born we bought a crib that she picked out, which was about $500. We outfitted it with mattress, sheets, bumper--the whole deal. This was supposed to be converted into a youth bed when he was old enough, but now she says it isn't going to be what she wants. She also said that her mother could go in on it with him (I checked and it will likely be $650 or so for bed/mattress.) I am just so tired of feeling taken advantage of and yet I keep thinking that no one is really taking advantage of ME--it's just my husband, and if he is OK with it, I should just bow out. It just keeps bothering me, though. I'd like for these situations to stop nagging away at me. Any thoughts??

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In her e-mail, did SD suggest that your DH may want to contribute to the gift of a bed for her son, or did she pretty much direct him to buy the bed? I'm not sure where that sense of entitlement would come from unless she's unreasonable, or they'd discussed it before.

What is the past history of gift-exchanging in the family, and is there anything going on right now in SD's financial life that would preclude her from just buying her son a bed herself?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 5:04PM
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Find a hobby?

Seriously, if Dh wants to use his money and buy a bed for his grandson, so what? I will assume that the GS is like normal 4 yr olds would would be thrilled if Gpa tossed in a toy or two too. If Dh does not feel the bed is an appropriate gift, feels it's too expensive, blah blah blah, he's under no obligation to purchase it. If Gpa is not forking over the money out of his own self income, then tell Gpa you don't intend to pay for it out of your self money and/or your joint money. It is just more than what you are comfortable giving as a gift but would love to help him pick out a few toys if he needs suggestions.

I'll assume Sd's BM is not willing to fork out for the cost of the entire bed either as the offer was 1/2 and 1/2 on that end. I will also assume that this grown SD is quite use to having her parents 'jump' when she says jump and 'buy' when she says 'buy'. One can not particularly blame the Sd for the attitude as I'm will guess it was something both parents enabled her to develop.

Perhaps is Gpa is going to Florida he can shop online and have a few gifts delivered to his daughter's house for the grandson. or buy them in your area and mail them. He was just there, just offered to come again a week ago and he's a big boy now. He has made other plans for Christmas and he's should feel no need to cancel them. I'll ask though, did Dh know he was going to Florida this Christmas, or did you make the plans and then inform him?

Don't let the SD get to you. There is no need to do so. You have not seen her in years. Except for asking if Dh had a good visit when he does go, don't trouble your self for asking for details. Seriously, why did your Dh come home and tattle about the glass/drink? If you want to keep SD out of your head, don't have such discussions. Who cares what glass he drank out of and as to why it was such a big deal to come home and repeat to you is beyond me.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 5:06PM
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Su, Does SD send DH cards or gifts and remember him at Fathers Day and his birthday and Christmas? To me that would make a big difference as to buy an expensive gift for GS. If she has little money, but is good at thinking of DH, and you have the extra resources , I d be OK with it....

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 6:24PM
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I too am confused why you're husband mentioned the glass thing but it seems like he is kind of trying to hook you back into the drama. Irregardless of what her motivations are-stay out of it. You will just come out looking like the baddie even if DH agrees with you now.

Just tell him to gift her whatever he feels is best and you are sure it will be wonderful..stop obsessing, even if she is taking advantage your Dh and her mother have no one to blame but themselves and getting stressed about it does no good. Trust me I could write the book on this stuff. Your DH is the only one that can change the dynamics of their relationship and he may not want too.

Enjoy planning your trip to see your mother and focus on your shopping and leave him to it :0)

There are great books about detaching but I would recommend "codependant no more" an oldie but a goodie.


    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 10:50PM
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Thank you to everyone who replied. I had completely forgotten about him sharing the story with me about the paper cup. We have made arrangements many times for him to knock that off and he just keeps doing it. So much so, that it slips past my radar and I get hooked right in. The stepdaughter is the primary bread winner in her family and her husband is a special needs teacher/alcoholic-in-recovery/patsy type of character that lets her run the show and isn't ambitious at all. I suspect that their combined income is about $80,000, but of course, there are student loans, credit cards and the usual expenses. They don't manage their money well, let's just say that. As far as the vacation, we both agreed on it. I never make decisions and inform him of it, don't operate that way. The email basically said "here is what we need: a bed, a new set of tires for my car, a metal Tonka truck." And no, she doesn't think of him for birthday, holidays and so on. She is a profoundly self-absorbed person and has no idea that everyone isn't required to pitch in to run her family. Her husband asked for a set of skis for his birthday and thought that everyone in the extended family could contribute to this gift. I was really appalled at the nerve of him, but again, not my business. Meanwhile, I earn 1/3 of the money my husband does, pay out 85% of it to bills and get scolded when I don't contribute more and spend money on myself. Perhaps that's where some of the obsessing comes from.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 9:59PM
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I asked about the Florida trip only because you had posted in Sept that Dh was not going to participate with your family anymore...but if you both talked the Florida thing over and he agreed to go, then he's wrong to now break his word and not go. It would explain why the email and his changing his mind now thinking of going to his daughter's house is making you so riled. Your disappointed (and rightly so) that DH is backing down on what the two of you discussed and agreed to.

He made a committment and now he's backing out of it. Going to the Sd's is more about HIM than your SD though. She's just the easy target to blame. While she may be the most self absorbed obnoxious person ever, truth is he is allowing her to control him. That's on him, not on her. He is also the one dumping his daughter at your feet by repeating all the SD tales... she's living in your head because he repeatedly puts her there and stirs it up. Again, that's on him, not on her. You have not actually seen or talked to her in years. Can you begin to separate the two of them in your mind? If you can begin to focus on WHY she's in your head, perhaps you can begin to get her the heck out of it.

--"get scolded when I don't contribute more and spend money on myself".--

Perhaps it's time to sit down with Dh , talk family budget and downsize some of the household finances. Have you and DH tried marriage counseling? 85 % of your income towards 'bills' and then scolded for not contributing more and/or spending a few bucks on yourself? Again, this is not SD's doings, it is a DH issue.

It may be easier to begin to 'let go' of the SD obsessing if you and Dh begin to focus on where the actual issues lay.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 6:58AM
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"Meanwhile, I earn 1/3 of the money my husband does, pay out 85% of it to bills and get scolded when I don't contribute more and spend money on myself. Perhaps that's where some of the obsessing comes from"

Ding-Ding-Ding! Huge issue. Huger than the rest of it imo.
I used to have a similar situation to the extreme in my marriage. He makes 3-4x what I make so he contributes 75%-80 % of household expenses of the home we live in, I get groceries, utilities, life/health ins and it works for us this way, but you HAVE to make this more equal-for you financially.

Each of you should have close to equal spending money for yourselves. If he wants to support his kids or go fly kites with his -fine. Same goes for you.

Susie Orman has some great approaches to dividing household expenses for couples where incomes are not equal and lets face it most aren't. And just because you do not make as much most certainly doesn't mean you don't contribute as much. No one person should have to carry the entire burden unless its a mutual decision for example a parent staying home with young children, or while the other is in college, etc.

I got lots of resistance when I re-negotiated the terms of our financial state-whoa, it got ugly. But so worth it. I know I'll be ok now if sometihng were to happen to DH, or if we were not together and that is priceless.

I just this week informed kids & s-kids that we would only be spending approx $50 on xmas gifts for the kids-money is tight this year-so,(what a witch!) Now if DH chooses to spend his discretionary funds on more that's absolutely fine with me, because mine is going to the travel fund :0)

as we get older we have less $ to spend and they need to know holidays are about family and not what you get. We'll make sure the little ones get spoiled for Christmas but they are getting multiple gift sessions from four sets of GP's they make out like bandits.

Best of luck to you!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 2:34AM
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I really have no thoughts on how to stop obsessing unless you seperate your bank accounts and after bills are paid, he can do what he pleases with the money.
However I do want to say this: I don't think it's odd for a grandparent to buy a bed and mattress instead of toys. If that is what is needed, then the bed is certainly more 'needed' than any toy grandpa can buy. I am certain the situation is different but I will add my story. I have asked my parents to help me with things at times that were expensive but necessary. I don't know if they want to help unless I ask and they don't know I need help unless I tell them. My parents have bought a bed for my Dd and a carseat for my son. Now I did offer to pay them back on both and they declined. My in law's bought my son a car seat also for our second car but not because we asked. We had intentions to buy it and they just swooped in at the register and paid. When I objected they said, we want to help. We would rather buy things that you need than things you don't want or already have. Unless dad is objecting, I can't see why it would be a problem. Except she is obviously disrespectful and wants what she wants when she wants it.. But on the other hand, with this being his daughter, he wants to do for her. Where with this not being your daughter, one that you see as being snobby, unreasonable, demanding, disrespectful, you have a problem with it because you would rather spend your money on a homeless person that will appreciate it bc the daughter is going to say, well he owes me any way.
Am I right?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 8:09PM
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Thanks for posting, I'm in kind of a similar situation where I'm stepdad to a stepson I have a great deal of difficulty with. My wife handles all our finances-- I just hand her over my money. But lately we've been having huge problems over this stepson, and I resent the large amounts of money she spends on him, enabling him, it seems to me (I feel, tho, that if she wants to do that, it's her son, and she's entitled). I'm not even sure if she spends her own inherited money on him, or if it comes out of my money. Over the years, I've made little contribution to my own savings for old age, as I continue to support my wife. So I've been to a trusted therapist who told me that I need to be much more grown up about my own money, and to take control of that money so that everything is transparent, and fairly shared. And "fairly shared" doesn't mean that you have to put up money to support a stepchild you don't like (in my case, this kid has always treated me badly and continues to do so.) I'm seeing that marriage is about equal sharing of money, emotions and needs. And if your husband's needs don't match yours, then there needs to be some very clear discussion around that. I myself am scared of how my wife will react if I tell her that I don't want to have any of my money spent on this kid, and that I want my money to go to charity and not her kid, when I die. Her other son I like very much, and have no problem leaving him anything, or giving him anything. So, for me, it's about honoring myself and my own feelings of resentment, because, as the therapist told me, if you let these feelings go unspoken because you're scared of how the other person will react, the feelings just fester, and will do their damaging work anyhow. So better to be clear and up front about them. I also see that a stepfamily is NOT one big happy family as my wife would like us to be, and I can't go on pretending we're what we're not, and succumbing to what's beginning to feel like emotional blackmail. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 9:00AM
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--"My wife handles all our finances-- I just hand her over my money. But lately we've been having huge problems over this stepson, and I resent the large amounts of money she spends on him, enabling him, it seems to me (I feel, tho, that if she wants to do that, it's her son, and she's entitled). I'm not even sure if she spends her own inherited money on him, or if it comes out of my money. Over the years, I've made little contribution to my own savings for old age, as I continue to support my wife. "--

Earl, follow your therapist instructions and have a long sit down with your wife. Yes, what ever she does with her own money (in this case any money she got from inheriting for example) is hers to do with what she pleases...but why in the world do you hand over your pay with no questions asked? Not contributing to your own retirement? What happens if wife walks out the door today?

Do you even have any idea what your bills are? What it is costing to run your household based only on usual household cost of electric, heating, groceries, mortgage, blah blah? Any idea what wife spends a month over and about the necessities? Any idea what those extras even consist of?

You've put yourself into a poor situation. Not only leaving room for resentments to build, but to be left homeless and broke at the slightest turn of unexpected events. If wife gets 'mad' when you calmly sit down to discuss household finances and the mine, yours, ours tell her you'd be happy to set up an appointment not only with a therapist and go with her but also with a financial specialist who can protect both of yours' investments.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 9:25AM
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