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mt dh and i need your help

Cocoa's picture

let me preface this question with a little background that my dh wants to make sure you all know: his ex is a shitty parent, has placed her abusive boyfriend and his kids above her own time and time again. he's beaten her, has drug convictions and has a recent domestic violence that was dropped (i search every so often to see what this "man" in bringing into that household). when my dh and i first married we saw an attorney (thinking about trying to obtain custody) and when the attorney told us he'd need $10k retainer and that the ex would get free legal, i decided that i couldn't spend the rest of my life and money fighting for his kids. my kids are grown and out of the house and my focus is on saving for retirement and enjoying my golden years. so, i've told him that if anything happens to his ex or if the kids are taken away from him, i'm on board with helping him raise them, but i can't actively pursue custody. my dh didn't like it but decided to stay with me. it's terrible that he was forced to make this choice, i know. but at the time the kids lived in another state with their bm and i truly didn't realize how fucked up their situation was - until they moved back to our state 6 months after we married (how convenient that bm decided that dh needed to be a part of his kids' lives AFTER he finds a wife, huh?) this is when the trouble began (of course). so NO, i didn't realize what i was getting into. i thought they're divorce was similar to mine, i thought ALL divorces were similar to mine. relatively drama-free, limited contact between ex spouses, etc... we all know how wrong this thinking is NOW.

anyway, i've struggled ALOT in this marriage with how much contact they've had (there's always some kind of drama going on and mil is right in the middle of everything - but THAT's a WHOLE OTHER STORY). and we've struggled between doing what's good for the boys and being able to draw boundaries around his ex (and mil). my dh hasn't stepped up alot and he says it's because of how i react to things, which i agree, sometimes i freak. but i've offerred a couple times to free him up to do his thing and he's NEVER taken me up on it. i've forgiven myself when my mil told me that he wouldn't try to get custody of the boys whether i was in the picture or not, and i know this is true. he's actually never been a better father until i came on the scene, he even admits this. but no, i'm not proud at the way i've acted. i've ranged from jealousy, insecurity, anger, rage to feeling guilty, and always feel powerless.

i'd be remiss if i didn't mention my dh and i having trust issues, also. i'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail with this, but it is also significant in some of my reactions, and i think it's also a whole other story.

any kind of parenting my dh has tried to do with the boys, his ex has fought. when ss17 first started high school dh took an active role, ss was doing good for the first time in his life, was putting forthe effort, feeling good about himself and then he had a science project that had deadlines and then bm had to have ss17 go with her to another state to see her family during a critical weekend. ss17 didn't want to go, wanted to complete his project, dh begged her to let him stay with us, but it wasn't happening. it was important to her that ss17 see her family and promised she'd help him finish his project over the weekend. you can guess, it didn't happen and ss failed. yeah, i don't do well when dh has to have all this contact with bm, but i was dealing with it, ss was doing well, and i was even becoming involved. but dh was deflated and gave up. ss17 is now in an alternative school and we don't really know how he's doing. i'm praying he passes. dh now has ss17 working with him at his part-time job and ss17 was supposed to start full time Monday and you guessed simply must have ss17 accompany her to see her family again, even if it meant ss may lose his job. he can always get another job she says (are YOU going to get him another job, bitch??). dh managed to salvage his job, but i seriously doubt she'll put in the effort when they return to help make sure he does well. jobs and school are meaningless to her.

at bm's request, dh got ss11 involved in boy scouts (bm was supposed to help pay fees - yeah, right), but dh and ss11 were bonding, having fun (yeah i hated that every time he picked ss up that bm would come out to car to have a little chat with dh - but AGAIN, i was dealing, being a little involved, although i had to watch expenditures cause you can spend ALOT of money in boy scouts) and bm's bf's kids (and even ss17) started making fun of ss11 being in uniform so bad that he BEGGED his dad to drop out.

dh HAS reported bm to children's services and i doubt they even investigated ANYTHING.

anyway, our current problem that we'd like your feedback on:

dh and i are having a disagreement regarding ss11. i'm trying to encourage dh to be more involved with ss11's school work (he's already failed a year due to absenteeism) and he wants to sign him up for karate (or some other activity that costs $$). now, you'd think with the past history we've had we would have given up by now, and now, writing all this out, i'm kinda leaning this way. but i think we BOTH feel guilty and don't want to wait till ss11 is old enough to work to get involved again. we both feel ss11 had potential that his mom hasn't squashed (yet). i feel if we're going to get involved again with crazy-train bm, we should concentrate on school. dh wants another activity, something that will boost ss11's self-esteem and create a happy memory rather than the grudge work of school. i feel bm (and/or her family/boyfriend/ss17) is probably going to screw it up anyway, so why spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars when education in my eyes is a NEED and extra curriculars are WANTS? by the way, we are planning a trip to vegas this summer. not the smartest move on our part considering we need a new furnace! but, again, i feel like i've done my job and if we can afford to go, we should go and get away for awhile. dh was/is just as involved in planning this trip as i was and hung ho for it, but now he says if we can go to vegas, he should be able to use his money to buy his son an activity rather than buckling down when we get home and get a furnace (we heated with electric heat all last winter and it was expensive). i say he pays his child support - even when he was unemployed didn't go for a reduction, and extra money should be diverted to our NEEDS (yeah vegas kinda killed that assumption). and honestly, i wouldn't have as big a problem with an activity if bm was willing to contribute, but dh doesn't even want to ask her - she'll tell him no anyway.

i'm sorry this was sooooo long, but dh wanted you to have the whole story and he'll be reading your responses, too. this is MUCH cheaper than counseling and you all are living the step-life. i find it even more valuable. thank you.