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W/o starting WWIII

Posted by gerina (My Page) on
Mon, May 25, 09 at 12:11

How does one diplomatically bring up the touchy subject of "We need to discuss things before you make a decision that affects the entire household" to ones spouse or SO?

I am feeling like Poppinggrays with the kitten issue. Last month I had the same situation w/Adult SD bringing home a dog. I found out about it after work one evening as I walked through the door only to have some strange dog bark at me. DH told her she could have it, but he didn't consult me. I was irritated, but didn't say anything because he would have become defensive no matter how nicely I put it. I also know that he would have dug in more stubbornly and defended the right of DD to keep said dog. If he had told her it needed to go, then I would be the wicked SM. It was a no win situation for me. As an aside, he was furious when his other DD brought home several pets w/out asking him first.

Part two: I came home from work on Friday and I was informed that we will watch his other DD's (lives elsewhere w/SO) dog during July while she and SO are on vacation. My fault for not saying anything again, but if I had been asked it would have been fine w/me to babysit this dog.

The problem isn't the SK's or the animals, it's DH. When I moved in w/him, we weren't married, it was his home and one kid was still a minor and I felt that his relationship w/DD's was primary and those were boundaries that I needed to respect and understand.

We are now married and these kids are adults, so the dynamics are now different IMO - they are no longer the same family unit of dad and kids. The SK'd have their own separate adult lives and relationships (I'm guessing the eldest will get married in the not too distant future - now her primary relationship). They will never be our peers or that of any other family elder, but they are no longer young children. I don't think DH totally realizes these naturally evolving changes in his family. I don't expect him to ever disregard the needs of his DD's, but because they have their own lives, I feel that it is time our marriage becomes the primary relationship and it gets treated accordingly.

How does one express this w/out starting WWIII?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: W/o starting WWIII

"We are now married and these kids are adults, so the dynamics are now different IMO - they are no longer the same family unit of dad and kids. The SK'd have their own separate adult lives and relationships (I'm guessing the eldest will get married in the not too distant future - now her primary relationship). They will never be our peers or that of any other family elder, but they are no longer young children. I don't think DH totally realizes these naturally evolving changes in his family. I don't expect him to ever disregard the needs of his DD's, but because they have their own lives, I feel that it is time our marriage becomes the primary relationship and it gets treated accordingly."

Tell him that.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

I don't think discussing primary v. secondary is the best route. I think OP should say to DH, remember how you felt when DD brought pets in the house without asking -- well that is how I feel when it happens. Lets try to work this out. I agree -- any pets in the household should rquire advance permision of everyone in house. Your children are always your children.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Gerina - Your position is very reasonable, and your wishes are very understandable. And the way you've expressed the evolution of this pattern makes perfect sense. But you're right that it's time for this bad habit to change.

If you can express yourself calmly and reasonably, why are you afraid of starting WWIII?


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Sweeby

Sweeby,

There are a couple of reasons why I tread lightly on this subject. The first is that I tried to bring it up a few months back and he became defensive before I could even finish what I needed to say. The response I got to my "partial statement of issue" was that I got to rearrange the kitchen (which made it more functional since I do the cooking) the way I wanted. I think we all know it isn't the same thing, but to him it is. In earnest, he truly believes that he is giving me a say and my request for a change is seen as a complaint that he is doing something wrong. He gets defensive at some of the strangest things - things that would go unnoticed by most (he has admitted to this before).

The second reason is that I don't want to bring it up and have it attached to a specific event, such as you allowed the dog, you agreed to babysit the other dog, you almost let DD invite her BF's family to Easter dinner the evening before w/out asking me. I just don't think it's a good idea to that, but I don't know how to start the dialog w/out giving past examples. Honestly, I don't think hinting about it or coming up w/a hypothetical situation would help him make the connection. He's not dumb, but he's just not thinking like a woman thinks.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

I have a hard time understanding questions/problems like this and hardly see it as the difference between gender frames of thought. You live your life by your husband's permission/approval, never consulted and always disrespected. You are afraid to say anything because then you allow him to brow beat you into submission and silence. So what approach would you like people to manufacture for you?


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

I can not put myself in those shoes somehow...I would be at just a much a loss as to how to handle it. Because how do you open the lines of communication with someone who won't listen?
Marriage counseling is all I can come up with. Someone to help you facilitate openness and talking.
I just can't imagine not being able to talk to my dh about event he simplest things, for fear that he would shut me down before I even finished a sentence or thought.
He may not have started out that way, or maybe he has always been that way. Maybe he feels like he needs to defend his children, I don't know. But since you are married and not just a g/f then you should be able to have a conversation about it because you are supposed to be partners.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Thick-headed husbands are right up my alley!! If he won't listen, then show him what it feels like to be in your position. Start making a few decisions without consulting him. YOU are giving him all the power in your relationship. A bully will continue to bully until you stand up to them.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

IMHO people are people and not all of them act the way we want them to. This is more so when we meet as adults because past behavior is intrenched. In this instance I suggest that you focus your critique on the lack of dialogue on the decision making process. Keep all the other people out of the argument. It should not matter if the animal comes from the ex or his boss, he should discuss it with you before accepting to duty.

I do agree with your position. These are important decisions and they should be agreed upon together. But, he might be an inherently controlling person from childhood forward. Many other cultures assign males such leadership command and assign woman subordination. He maybe acting as he was raised and he may not readily accept your contentions. But approach the issue without the external ex-family dynamics involved. That will only murk up the discussion with emotions from you and him.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Okay guys. I don't consider myself to be brow beat nor bullied. DH is a good guy and does his best to make both his kids and me happy. A precedent was established a long time ago when it came to decision making regarding his kids. I was not BM nor wife and IMO really had no say. And, as most of us know, other people do not appreciate outsiders making decisions or even suggestion about how one should raise their kids - and this applies to more than just step families.

I can do whatever I want regarding the house - rearranging furniture, painting different colors, digging up the yard, whatever, inviting people over for a dinner...I never do these things w/out first saying, for example, "I was thinking about having a big summer BBQ on this date - you up to it?" He sees that I lave the latitude to do whatever I want, and that by giving my two cents about things that concern his kids, like whether or not they bring home a pet, I am overstepping my bounds and inserting myself into his relationship with them. He sees these as two separate issues, but I no longer do because they are adults and it is now our house.

So, when I tried to address things, instead of hearing what I said, he heard me to say, "I don't get to make any decision about what goes on in the house." - didn't say it, but that's how it was taken. That made him defensive and I suppose feel unappreciated. This is also why I do not want to cite specific examples because it makes the other person feel criticized. Also, it is useless trying to have a conversation with someone when they feel they need to defend themselves - they don't listen.

I was only hoping someone had a good suggestion of how to bring this up this subject out of the blue w/out ruffling feathers. g


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

write him a letter? would that help?


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Gerina-

I see where you're coming from and you certainly have a point... But in all reality it's probably not going to be the most convincing way to get your point across or initiate change by making the fact that you are now "official" (as in married) the main point. No offense, but that doesn't make a big difference in everyone's eyes and isn't the be-all-end-all to everyone... ESPECIALLY the grown SK's in a situation like that. Not that you're going to be addressing your concerns with them, but to the extent that your husband is their father his reaction might be very similar. Yes, the obligations a parent has toward their children CHANGE somewhat, and I agree with you that as a person sharing his house with him you absolutely should have AN EQUAL SAY (not necessarily veto power but AN EQUAL SAY) in decisions made about the house that effect everyone living in it. But just because you are now married and the SK's are over a certain age doesn't change the fundamental relationship of parent and offspring. It doesn't automatically give you MORE SAY, which would be wierd anyway b/c now that they are adults, it also stands to reason that you should have LESS SAY over them in particular. Not about what happens in your house, but in terms of any personal authority YOU might have over them. I think you automatically understand that and are mainly concerned about being clued in on what happens in your house ---which is totally understandable--- but you can see how pulling the "I'm the wife now" card isn't likely to get you anywhere with adult SK's or their father. So you need another tack...

I suggest putting it to your husband in the most brass-tacks, "fair's fair" way you can and try to reframe the situation hypothetically for him as though you're room-mates. The goal is for him to "get" the rules of fair play for anyone living together, married or unmarried, parent or child or spouse or in-law or whatever. The point is really about mutual consideration, SK's or no SK's. If you think about it more like "room-mates" it will make the situation more clear-cut and less emotionally-charged for all. Anytime more than one person lives in the same space, there is a certain amount of mutual consideration that must happen for things to stay harmonious. That goes both ways, though, so it would include not only your being consulted about things like a new dog in the house but also your consideration of the duties, attachments and extenuating circumstances that come with your DH being a father. As long as both of you are showing full consideration for each other's needs and circumstances, that is what matters and things will stay peaceful. It seems the conflict may be that he doesn't bring things regarding his daughters up for your approval because he's afraid you'll say no and then where would that leave him if it's something he really wants to do? A common enough dilemma... But if you can convince him that you will have the consideration of HIS needs as a father and not veto everything left and right, then he should feel the trust in you and see the need to be more respectful of YOUR needs.

I would say this: "Listen, we've got to talk about some rules for fair play. We share a house that we both contribute to. I have my needs and circumstances, and you have yours. We should try to be as respectful of those for each other as possible, and where there's disagreement we should discuss a compromise together. When you think about it, if we were room-mates and I brought a new dog in here all of a sudden without having mentioned it to you, you'd be irritated. Just be honest. All I'm suggesting is that at a minimum we show each other the same consideration as any two room-mates would. I know you're a father and will always want to make this home as nice and welcoming as possible for your children, and I love you for that. I want to do what I can to nourish that. But in return I think it's only fair that if it's a decision that is going to affect me, at the very least I am told about it with some advance notice and given a chance to express any feelings about it that I may have. I'm not going to "veto" you, that is not my right because we are equal partners with equal rights. But If I don't like it, I want the chance to express why and to work together with you on a fair solution. If the situation was reversed, wouldn't you? We can do this, and it can be cooperative and nice, and I know we can both fulfill our needs and obligations if we talk about it in a mutually considerate spirit."


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

could be famous guilt parenting that some men do.

no matter how you try to reason with them, they will do what they do. today you babysit dogs, tomorrow something else. I deal with it with my SO. he recently commented, aftre we visited his cousin, how annoying it is when people talk about their adult kids 24/7 and arrange their whole life around what adult kids want. i almost fell of the chair.LOL talking about annoying, that's all he does, talking about older DD 24/7! and does what she tells him to do. LOL


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Problem Solved

Sometimes things have a funny way of working out when you least expect it. DH and I just had a in-depth chat about a few things related to him and some changes he would like to make in his life and career. This was the perfect segue for the above topic, but instead of me saying anything, he just led right into it. He even summed up the biggest part of the family change for me. He stated that it is finally his time to put himself first and that includes our marriage. This by no means implies that his children come second or last to me, but more that they need to find their own way in this life just like the rest of us, and if they need help he will be there. So, I will cross my fingers that next time WE are asked to do something, it is WE that make the decision.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Thats sound great. I think sometimes the best you can do for adult kids is be someone to bounce things off, and suggest alternatives.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

gerina

I'm very glad you came to some sort of agreement about the situation. I'm a bit worried for you that DH told you it was time for HIM to come first. That is a very selfish comment. Any husband worth their weight should put their wives first and a wife should put her husband first, and yes, the children are supposed to follow after that order. I'm not saying it will always work that way, especially in blended families, but it's a good way to bond together and gain some balance. I pray that things get easier and more balanced for you and hubby.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Poppin, I do not agree with you. Comparing relationship with spouse and child is like comparing apples and oranges. I think people who have a need to say spouse first are not looking at the situation fairly.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

But Poppin, really, it would have been just as selfish of Gerina to tell her husband "No, you should be putting ME first". I think more selfishness is apparent and more conflicts are exacerbated by this "first" philosophy than whatever it is the philosophy is trying to help. Harmonious, loving, cooperative and mutually respectful relationships aren't ranked in terms of subordination. Hierarchies are useful for controlling a population (whether it's the workplace, the government or the kindergarten classroom) but that's just useful for rule compliance and keeping order, it has nothing to do with cooperation, consideration, real respect or real loving feelings. Fair give-and-take and being a kind, considerate, dutiful person do not have to mean anybody subordinates themselves to anyone else. Especially within a marriage of equal partners. It is entirely possible to get your needs and others' needs met without having to dictate to others what or whom you think "should" be most important to them. Everyone's important.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

serenity and kkny i am not sure i totally agree with what you are saying.

I think that even though everyone is important, i do not believe that adult chidlren (and parents) play the same role as spouses do in day after day interaction.

I do not believe that people have to ask their adult children (or their parents) a permission to bring pets in their own house but it is absolutelly necessary to ask your spouse, i do not think we need to consult wiht adult children about vacations or purchases or decorating our houses or spending free time, but we do have to consult with spouses. I make unilateral decisions all the time without discussing it wiht DD but I would not make such decisions without talking to a spouse or even a SO.

same with adult children. DD doesn't need to discuss wiht me if it is OK to have a huge party, but she absolutelly cannot invite 20 people without talking to her SO. She didn't ask me if i am OK with her keeping mice as pets, but she sure asked her SO.

of course I would never put a man ahead of my child when it comes to any major life altering decisions that could harm my child. But i absolutelly see no need to base my daily decisions on what is OK or not wiht adult children.

Luckily DD never had that need and never attempted to do so. As I would not expect her to put me first in her every day life.

I think that plenty of problems come out from lack of boundaries between parents and adult children. Step family or not.


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Spouse first?

I agree with the pet/party scenarios. I just dont see a need to say spouse first. It depends on situation. Hypothetically, if I had a lot of money, and D wanted it for grad school and DH wanted a boat, I can tell you where the money would go.

I think serentiy and saying that situations have to be assessed, not a blind spouse first -- which I think even saying it is insulting and the mark of a person insecure in a relationship.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

I can agree that whoever will be affected by your decisions should be consulted about those decisions as a matter of decency, courtesy and mutual respect. And again, there's not much of a difference in my book whether it's kids living with their parents (or parents living with their adult kids), or two spouses, or two room-mates. And I think it goes in all directions. If you're wanting to throw a party in that house, it's going to affect everyone in it. A child can have allergies to pets that need to be considered if their parent wanted to get a pet, as much as the opposite. A high school kid studying hard for his finals needs to be borne in mind if parents are planning a party just as much as the reverse. It may be that the kid has to arrange to study elsewhere for the night or the adults plan their party for the day after the kid's exams... no matter, as long as a way is found for all to get what they want/need.

Most situations can work this way if everyone has respect and consideration for each other. There are really very few situations where a rigid hierarchy has to be stated and one party HAS to be prioritized ABOVE the other because there are absolutely no alternatives. There are some, but not that many. And even in those few situations, people can say to one another: "okay, in the interest of fairness, you got your way this time b/c the situation made it have to be one or the other, so next time in such a situation I'll get my way." Sure, there are situations where a parent can say to a kid: "Sorry, but I'm the parent and you're the kid and that's just how it goes". Sometimes there is no choice BUT to say this to a kid. But one would hope that the reason is something important and purposeful and mutually beneficial (i.e. keeping a kid from imminent danger or saying no to something ridiculous) and not just to prove some point by the kid being constantly reminded that his needs and his existence are somehow less valid than somebody else's. Or to placate somebody else's insecure ego.

People have varying beliefs on these sorts of things and how parent-child and spouse-spouse relationships should work, and these beliefs aren't likely to change. Psychological studies have tended to show that certain personality traits are more fixed than others, along specific scales, and "authoritarianism" is one such scale. I'm using that term in the psychological definition, not necessarily the political one. In a nutshell, the world can be divided into people who believe in strict hierarchies and people who don't. Neither opinion is objectively "wrong", they are just two very different ways of approaching life and relationships. So all we can do is state our personal opinion on the subject and know that none of us are likely to change anyone else's mind too much about it.

For example, people high on the "authoritarianism" scale tend to see parents as "ranking above" their children... which on the surface sounds reasonable enough. After all, the parents created the kids, and raised them and provide for them. But where that way of seeing it ("ranking above") gets murky and wierd is when the kids become legal adults in their own right and no longer need their parents to provide for them and thus no longer need to subordinate themselves to their parents. And then one day, the parents start to become dependent on their kids, even sometimes moving into the kids' houses and having to subordinate themselves to their kids' lifestyles and needs. You see how wierd that is? It's only really a wierd thought when it's viewed through that lens of "who's first?" or "who's more important?" because it throws all previously stated notions of those questions out of whack and makes them seem ridiculous. There are responsibilities involved in taking care of children, there are responsibilities in taking care of parents, there are responsibilities in taking care of spouses, there are responsibilities in taking care of pets, and they don't always follow whatever schedule or hierarchy we may think we want to stick on them. What if your mother was paralyzed in a car wreck the night before your wedding? What if it was your adult kid? What if it was your spouse the night before your kid's graduation? What if they were all in the hospital at the same time, from the same wreck, and all needed you to tend to their needs? You see, life doesn't always follow our codes. We make the best decisions we can and try to do the most we can for those we love --because we love them and they are important to us-- and that is about as orderly as we can probably hope to have it...

Maybe the fairest thing to say is anyone who wants to have any kind of good, mutually supportive relationship with any other human being should be considerate of that other human being. And should cultivate qualities such as flexibility, adaptability, constructive problem-solving and learn the art of "win-win" negotiations. Then there's no need to assert "I'm first!" because it won't really matter.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

What is insulting is people taking my comments so grossly out of context and twisting my words to make them contradict their own lifestyles/belief systems. We are all not the same, nor will we all agree/disagree on everything. The insecure person(s) on this board are the one(s) who won't just leave their own advice and move on without tearing into other persons' advice.

Think of the whole situation this way... If the husband is honoring the wife, and the wife is honoring the husband, and both cherish and nurture the children (reguardless who they "belong" to biologically) then it makes the whole situation work smoothly. This is written word of God, I didn't just make this up on the fly. ( and funny, when put to the test it actually works!) BECAUSE everyone is selfish to some extent, things don't always go everyone's way which is precisely why there are forums for people to gripe,vent and seek advice. Geesh. Get a grip.

Gerina - my prayers are with you.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

What do you say on this subject to someone who doesn't believe in your God?


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

What I never understand when people bring God into this, is how does this apply to second marriages? Was my X supposed to be faithful and to stay married to me? Or does this "put spouse first" only apply to second marriages where neither party had any fault in divorce?


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Maybe it's his way of saying "I want you out". I would put my foot down and find out who is more important the daughter or you or the dog or you. I wouldn't stay with someone who backed the daughter instead of me.


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RE: W/o starting WWIIIyui

Forgot to add to the above post. My husband started treating me badly when his ex crooked her little finger and wanted him back. He admitted later he did that. I forced him to choose between his ex or me. He had to leave before he realized how much he loved and missed me.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

"If the husband is honoring the wife, and the wife is honoring the husband, and both cherish and nurture the children (reguardless who they "belong" to biologically) then it makes the whole situation work smoothly."

This is so true. I hadn't thought of it from a religious standpoint, but my philosophy is that there is a hierarchy in relationships.... Parents are equals... kids are not equal to parents. "respect your elders" and parents (step & bio) should be partners in raising the kids... and no kkny, people are supposed to be faithful and stay married when they decide to be in a marriage. That doesn't always happen, whether it's a first or fifth marriage.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

If the husband is honoring the wife, and the wife is honoring the husband, and both cherish and nurture the children (reguardless who they "belong" to biologically) then it makes the whole situation work smoothly. Well, sure that sounds incredibly reasonable doesn't it? But geri's situation (and mine, as both the kinda step-child and -parent actually) involve adult "children". As the step"child"it's a bit inappropriate, bordering on condescending and patronizing, to suggest that two adults should have a "cherish and nurture the child" type of relationship just because one is married to the other one's parent. Geri doesn't need to "cherish and nurture" her SDs (although her husband probably does)--- she needs to figure out how to relate to her SDs as adults and kinda/sorta equals while still respecting her husband's parent-child relationship with them. She is in a different, but not necessarily less difficult, situation, than SMs dealing with minor children. She has to treat her SDs (at least in some ways) as equals: adult to adult-- while still respecting that they are her husband's baby girls. It is not easy to know the appropriate balance.


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btw, geri

I also meant to say I'm glad it looks like thing are heading in the right direction. I almost responded to your post earlier but couldn't quite come up with the right words to suggest for your husband, which just led to "i see your problem with figuring out how to express yourself" rather than actual helpfulness in doing so.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

My point, Ima, is that when you marry someone who has already left a marriage, to bring god into how people should be treated seems a little unrealistic.

The problem with relying on power -- or hierarchy -- to drive or control relationships is that when the power no longer exists, the relationship will likely deteriorate. Whether the power is derived from money or phyical strengh or age over young ones -- if and when it goes, then the relationship will change. So many steps complain, as adults my stepchildren ignore dad and me. Sometimes it happens, but sometimes we make our own bed. Not that everyone would care.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

I want to add to my question above that although I am agnostic, I'm not at all hostile or close-minded to the idea that there is a "God" of some sort, or to those who believe in one. I just think it's a mistake to assume that everyone does, including members of the same blended family, when trying to make your argument. Not that you are not entitled to believe what you want, but it just may not be shared by those you're in the relationship(s) with and whom you're trying to get to see things your way. And just that for me personally, any God that I would choose to believe in would not phrase the concepts/principles of loving relationships in those particular terms.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

kkny, where in any of the comments I've made do I state there is a hierarchy? In my posts, I've clearly stated each spouse should honor eachother and put eachother first... Doesn't sound like a hierarchy to me, sounds like an equal partnership. You can be "married" to your kids, but you'll wreck your mariage when you continually choose your kids over your spouse. If your spouse is abusive or hateful to you or your children, that won't work either. As far as my God, I'm not assuming that anyone besides myself should or does believe in Him. I'm just stating the life I have chosen to follow. Does my mentioning the Lord threaten you?

quirk - Is there a law that a step parent should stop loving their step-kids after they are a certain age? Maybe IF gerina was putting in a little more nurture and cherish and a little less self, things would be different. She chose to be in that relationship and all that it brings, you can hate your SK's and live miserably with yourself or you can choose to love them and have some peace! Loving them doesn't mean you have to put up with their BS, either!

Of course the SK's should respect their elders.. doesn't always happen, but when the SP shows some nurturing to them, and forgets about how "uncomfortable" that child may be making their life (adult or not) they will probably find that things will go easier. The hardest times I've ever had in my relationship with my DH is when I was resentful, jealous or just being selfish about his kids, and that still happens from time to time! The whole thing works better when I'm not being that way...

Enough explanation for you?


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Poppin, you don't threaten me, nor do you intimidate me --

"The hardest times I've ever had in my relationship with my DH is when I was resentful, jealous or just being selfish about his kids, and that still happens from time to time!"

I am impressed that you can recognize and admit this and move on. Poppin, you didnt use the word hierarchal, but saying first, second, I think implies the same thing.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

"My point, Ima, is that when you marry someone who has already left a marriage, to bring god into how people should be treated seems a little unrealistic."

It's only unrealistic for those that have lost their faith. Just because one marriage ends, does not mean God should be excluded from one's life... or left out of future relationships.

"The problem with relying on power -- or hierarchy -- to drive or control relationships is that when the power no longer exists, the relationship will likely deteriorate. Whether the power is derived from money or phyical strengh or age over young ones -- if and when it goes, then the relationship will change. So many steps complain, as adults my stepchildren ignore dad and me. Sometimes it happens, but sometimes we make our own bed. Not that everyone would care."

I am 20 years older than my children. How is age going to go away? The hierarchy is not adults over young children... it's parent over child. I am a child of my parents and to this day, I would not talk to them in a disrespectful way or treat them as if I am their equal. They are my parents and I respect them as such... and my children, no matter how old they get, will never be my equal. We are all adults, but I am their parent... not their equal. I have 20 years of life experiences that they don't and my parents have 25 years on me... there is no such thing as being equal to your parents. There may become a time when you can converse as adults and have a more adult friendship relationship instead of parent/child, but that does not make them equal.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

But Ima, in all reality there DOES come a time when the kids are what you might call "equal" to the parents, and in some cases even in the position to make decisions for them. Not because they want to but by necessity. I'm talking about when one's parents get old and/or sick and need to be taken care of. I dealt with it to some extent when my dad got cancer, there were decisions I needed to make and things I needed to do for him that he could not fully do on his own nor could he be final arbiter on. My mom and uncles have been dealing with this for several years with my grandparents. there came a very distinct point in time where together they declared ---and only by necessity--- "WE'RE calling the shots now" with important decisions regarding their care and where and when they would do what.

I'm not saying this means it's silly to have respect for your parents and to listen to their advice and everything while they are still able-bodied and able-minded... I'm just saying that these very facts of nature and the aging process, etc. mean it just can't be as simple as "always defer to your parents no matter what". And not to sound petty or ominous about it, but there is also truth in the fact that in a very real way the whole "respect goes both ways" thing is sage advice, as grown kids are much more likely to be make prudent, loving, caring and less self-serving decisions for parents who have have made prudent, loving, caring and less self-serving decisions for them throughout their lives. So that's why to me the point isn't to focus on who is more deserving of the respect and concern but that the ***virtues themselves*** of respect and concern be learned by all and by example.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Serenity, I am fast approaching that day when my mother will have to accept she will have to move in with me. She will not be able to drive much longer. She always treated me and my siblings with respect, and she will continue to be treated that way by all of us. But there will likely come a time when my siblings and I will ahve to make more decisions for her.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

It can be a very wierd and difficult transition... but it does help to remember that it's part of a natural cycle, that can help you remember that what you're doing is loving/helping, even though it feels wierd to take control. I didn't have to deal with that too much with my Dad, just a little, but my mom & uncles have to do that big time with my grandparents because they are both extremely far-gone into senile dementia...

I also want to add that I don't think it's right or fair for grown kids to treat their dependent parents poorly even if they feel they were treated less than great. I still think there's a duty to do the right things no matter what... And sadly there will be kids who will treat their parents like crap no matter how great their parents were to them... I'm just saying that especially when it comes to the extras that mean so much (things like bringing flowers or treats to the nursing home instead of just popping in dutifully for five minutes... or finding the best nursing they can afford as opposed to just anyplace), it seems more likely to come from kids who feel like "they were always there for me and wanted the best for me, it's the least I can do for them in return..."


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My two cents

I'm off the subject of the original post, but that worked itself out for me anyway.

This is certainly an "understood rule" in my family, that of my DH's family, and it appears that it is the same in the families of most of my friends because we all have or had to care for aging or ill parents. It really simple - One is never going to be the peer of their family elders, even if that elder is ill and no longer capable of making decisions or caring for themselves.

Just because a family member is at a physical or mental disadvantage does not make you their peer. Serenity, I was the sole caregiver of my very sick mom for several years. I made many, many decisions for her because she was too depressed and ill to make them for herself. Never once did I consider myself to be her peer. If she had thought that I was disrespectful to her or treating her like she was the child (and she did behave that way many times), all she had to do was have me call her attorney and place somebody else, including the attorney, in the position to handle her affairs.

Never ever assume that just because your parents or grandparents or other family elder is no longer capable of self care that it makes you their equal. You will never be that, it's a matter of respect, integrity, maintaining their dignity, and I think it something that has been understood throughout generations.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

I guess the difference for me is that I don't think of being somebody's peer or equal as being disrespectful... Probably a lot of that comes from my mom who didn't have any problem with that. She's one of those moms who some people may have a problem with because she's a real *friend* to me (and I her) and a lot of people disagree with that style of parenting. But the upshot is we have no problems with one another, love each other very dearly, and would each do whatever we could for each other. If that's problematic in some people's eyes, that's their right to view it that way, but she and I have no issues. Definitely when I was living under her roof before I went off to college, I followed her rules and understood she was in charge. And she is still in charge about several things, namely when I ever have to ask her for anything I understand that because I am asking something of her, it's her prerogative to grant or deny my requests. When I visit her house I try to do things and put things, etc. how and where she wants them... I wouldn't tell her what to do or anything like that, but I do feel free to express my opinion about certain things and even lecture her on occasion (to quit smoking) or give her advice on things (i.e. diet and exercise) which I happen to know more about than she does. And vice versa, because there are many things she knows more about than I do, and she also has plenty of opinions about my life. That's fine, because we both know it comes out of caring and we both know we are free as independent adults to take or leave each other's opinions/advice.

But I guess the understanding between my mom and I is that now I am an adult in my own right, and we both embrace the positive sides of that which means we can have conversations more or less as "equals" or "peers" about adult issues. There is no need to revert to any statement of a hierarchy because neither one of us is disrespecting each other. That's because we naturally have mutual respect for each other. I respect who she is a s a person and as a mom and think she did a good job raising me; and she respects the woman I've become. I can see, though, where if either of us was disrespecting each other it may be instinctual to seek to clarify who is "on top" of a hierarchy. And in some cases I'm sure that one party or the other has to be reminded of where they stand, so to speak. A mom telling her grown son that he better remember to respect his mother when he rudely calls her a "b!tch", or a grown son telling his mother that her meddling in his marriage is disrespectful to he and his new wife. So I can see where there would be some occasions where people need to be reminded of certain boundaries that they shouldn't cross, due to the limits of their authority. But I guess in my thinking that comes more from when one party seeks to be MORE significant or dominant over a given situation than another, not when they view themselves as an equal adult. And primarily where one or both parties has not REALLY learned what respect actually means. In general I don't see too many problems erupt when people see themselves as equals, it's when one or more see themselves as *superior* that a problem starts. To me and my way of thinking "equal" is like "similar", which is akin to "like-minded", "friendly", "having things in common to connect over", and "in harmony". I can't think of anyone in my life whom I'd be offended by them viewing themselves as a peer to me. I don't find that inherently disrespectful... and I guess that's because my mom doesn't. If she did, I guess we'd have a problem, but instead we have a wonderful relationship. Another plus side to being "peers" with my mom is that I happen to find her one of the most fun and delightful people simply to spend time with. How many moms can brag that their kid actually finds them cool and loves spending time with them... not just for a hot meal but for wonderful conversation and most importantly some great laughs?


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

I guess if we are going to bring God into the picture, I would say we are all Gods children. Gerina, I think that we are comparing apples and oranges. No, I wouldnt treat my mother as you would treat a child, but she wouldnt treat me that way either (at this point in our lives).


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

I think the kind of relationship you have with your mother is just awesome, Serenity. That's how I parent my daughter too and I hope when she's an adult that we have that kind of relationship still.

I hope when I'm older she takes care of me because she wants too, not because she feels she has to or whatever.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

"Hypothetically, if I had a lot of money, and D wanted it for grad school and DH wanted a boat, I can tell you where the money would go."

well at the same time if spouse wanted or needed to go to grad school but DD wanted a boat my money would not go towards her boat.

of course blindly saying spouse first is stupid but in situation decsribed in this thread re pets yes spouse comes first.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Absolutely, unless we are talking about a seeing eye dog, everyone in the house should agree to it (although unlikely a kid would veto).


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who comes first

I am not authoritarian parent, in fact i was probably too lenient and too much of a friend to DD, maybe because I was very young when i had her. Yet i believe in healthy boundaries. DD does not run my or dad's life as we do not run hers, she does not act entitled and does not expect to stand number one in every decision we make.

But i have to say that too many adult chidlren do act as they have to run parents lives, critisize or interfer in parents' personal lives or choise of partners, etc and are entitled to monetary or some other entitlement. lack of boundaries only causes pain to everyone.

i cannot imagine DD telling me she does not like someone I am dating or someone dad is married to. as i would nto tell things like that to her. her life not mine.

I cannot imagine DD telling me or dad make sure that when you die I get XYZ. she is not entitled. this came to mind because a friend of mine, elderly lady, just told me that now when her husband is in a hospital her SKs told her make sure his will is updated and they get XYZ (money and his house) in case he dies after surgery. I cannot imagine DD saying that to anyone. In fact i know she never will.


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kkny

well it is different wiht minor children (re bringing pets home). I think we primarilly talking about adult children who have their own lives and who hopefully live seperatelly. parents do not need to ask them a permission to bring pets.


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RE: W/o starting WWIII

Absolutely, unless we are talking about a seeing eye dog, everyone in the house should agree to it (although unlikely a kid would veto).


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