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New Stepmother seeking advice

Indie's picture

I have married for the first time recently. My husband has 2 grown children. I'm not sure there are any answers to what I can do...Truthfully, I don't really know if there's anything I can do to help the situation. I appreciate you and this site letting me vent. BUT if there are those of you willing to walk with me through this, it would be appreciated.

SS is 26, SD is 28. Both are married with families of their own. My husband and the EX divorced OVER 9 years ago. I was clearly not the reason for their divorce. I'm not a mother and never had the opportunity to have children of my own and in no way "insert" myself into that role or their lives. I'm over 50 and having biological children is not in our future. Over the past 6 years, (5 dating, 1 being married to their father), I have witnessed some very mean things they do to their father. Examples below:

1. SD invited her father to his first grandchild's birthday party. Only to call him 5 days before the party and uninvite him. The explanation was....."It's too stressful to have you and mom together." I wasn't invited and had no intention of going. So my attendance was clearly not the issue.

Since that time, there have been other events that he has been invited to and I haven't. At one event, she explained to him that "It is too stressful for her and that I stress her out." She didn't give him specifics on exactly what I had done. He and I discussed this and I asked his "permission" to ask her directly what I had done to cause her stress. I have since asked her.....she has stated that it is not me..."that it is the anxiety she has when her mom and dad are in close proximity. That I have been NOTHING but good to her family and she "loves" me." Now, her mother and father get along fine when they are together. No bickering, very civil and cordial to one another.

2. SS gets married. I'm invited to the wedding and the rehearsal dinner. We RSVP and we attend. We arrive in the town the night before the rehearsal dinner. My "fiancé" at that time, leaves me at hotel and goes to see his daughter, son in law and his granddaughter. He goes with my blessing. He arrives at their home and his daughter is upset with him because I didn't come with him to see them. (We had "heard" that his ex was in town and thought she might be staying his daughter's house before the wedding...that was the reason I didn't go see them). When he left, she told him that she wanted us to come back the morning after the wedding to visit with them so I could see her baby. Fast forward to the next night...the rehearsal....his daughter NEVER acknowledged that he was there. Son in law was courteous and spoke, daughter never did. The reception....Daughter never acknowledged or spoke to her dad or his family who had traveled 100's of miles to wedding. Prior to us leaving the reception, he went over and asked what time she thought she wanted us to come to her house the next morning. She informed him very rudely that her mom's friend was coming over to see the baby and after they left, she would call us. It's been 3 years and she's yet to make that phone call. We got into our car and my "fiancé" broke down to the point he couldn't drive. My heart broke for him. We left hotel the next morning and never heard from her. Side note: During this blessed event (SS wedding), my fiancé was never told where to be to get pictures taken. He happened to take his father over to the reception venue prior to the make sure his dad knew where to go after the wedding. While there, he saw ALL his EXes family members, his son, future daughter in law and his daughter, husband having pictures taken before the wedding. We have NO pictures of the wedding. Yet he paid MORE THAN HIS SHARE of the cost of that wedding. (EX and husband had spoken before wedding about their cost responsibility...SEE they can talk cordially. They had agreed to him paying for ALL the honeymoon expenses, transportation to/ from wedding to hotel to airport, etc. She would pay deposits, rehearsal caterer, etc and they would settle up after wedding. She knew what he spent on his "part" because they had numerous conversations during engagement period and months leading up to wedding. After wedding she presented him with a bill that was less than what he had already spent. He questioned that to me but never questioned her. His thoughts were if he had spent 8,000, Ex spent 5,000. She should pay him 1,500. HOWEVER...he didn't have the conversation with her. He simply paid 2,500 to her. His comment to me.....It's all about my son, his wife and their special day.

3. SS graduated from the basic training in December2012. We traveled to the graduation. I went on the trip but had no plans of going to the graduation. I had friends nearby and visited with them while the graduation was going on. My husband now(we married since my SS wedding) is standing the in lobby of the hotel following the graduation. Present were his EX, his daughter and daughter in law. My husband asks their thoughts on them going to grab a bite to eat. The EX states "well if she's going, I'm not going." The SHE in this case was me. I'm no where around and he wasn't implying that I go. My husband stated that every eye dropped to the ground and no one said a word. Background: He and I had agreed that this weekend was about his son graduating, his son's Great accomplishment and him spending time with his children. Just fyi...that morning in the hotel lobby, I was having breakfast...his ex came down (yes we all stayed in same hotel) with the SD and daughter in law. My husband spoke to them and I spoke as well. I then turned to the Ex and said in a very low calm voice, "____________ how are you doing this morning?" The ex stated, "Fine." I was not bitchy, no harshness in my voice. There was no harshness from her to me. It appeared to be a "pleasant" exchange.

I could go on and on of examples.....

My husband calls SS and SD, they very rarely return the call.

SD has moved (3 months ago) saying that she'd send her father her new address...Never has.

Son makes plans to see his dad....calls the day before and cancels.....This has happened MANY times.

SD made plans with her dad for breakfast...calls the night before saying she has STREP and feels horrible....Then turned around in the same conversation and said that she had to go because she and her husband were at the restaurant to eat dinner. I thought you had strep and felt horrible, SD?

Husband and I arrange with SD to visit her....SD calls and says her mom's coming that weekend and we'll have make it another time.... but she can't tell us when would be a good time... She'll get back with us...Yeah, still waiting on that phone call as well.

Where am I now with all of this?
Help me help my husband through this. He's a good Christian man. He loves his children and grandbabies and desires a relationship with them. He was married over 30 years. Wife wanted separation....he agreed thinking if he gave her space, went to counseling ..did everything he knew to do.... everything would be ok. It wasn't and he found himself divorced.

Help me understand exactly WHY I can't call them/ his Ex and let them have it:) I know why I can''s not about me. This has nothing to do with me. But they are hurting the man I love and care about. To me, that's personal

Anyway, until next time.....thanks for letting me vent.


Onewillfullstepmom's picture

I am very sorry that you and your DH are going though this, from everything I have read and experienced.... there is really nothing you can do except to be there for your man. If BM was the one who wanted the separation, then she made her bed and she needs to lie in it. You DO NOT have to skulk around and hide in the shadows. It sounds like the 2 of you have been very kind and considerate, however, sometimes this can come off as not caring instead of respect. You can't make his kids come around, they have to want the relationship. My guess is that BM has started PASing the kids (even though they are not kids) and while she has a hold on them, unless they realize it, you just have to keep trying to get in there faithfully and hope for the best. If you try to fight it out and let them have it, you will just be giving them the reasons they are looking for to continue distancing themselves.

I hope it gets better for you two, best of luck!

Bojangles's picture

I felt sick reading some of the scenarios you describe and I know just how angry and frustrated and hurt on his behalf you must feel. It's so terribly sad to watch someone being hurt by people he loves. But of course there is nothing you can do that would not make it a 100 times worse. All of this arose a long time before you were on the scene and it is not your responsibility to address it.

They say there are two sides to every story, his ex and children clearly believe they are justified in their behaviour towards your DH, and like many men he is inarticulate in these situations and unwilling or unable to have the conversation where he explains things from his side, tells them how he feels and confronts the behaviour. Whereas his ex has clearly garnered the empathy and loyalty of their children by giving her side of things in no uncertain terms. For whatever reason his ex bears a grudge, so regardless of whether DH and his ex APPEAR civil when they are together, there is a lot of underlying tension, so in that sense SD is justified in feeling that having you, DH and ex together is stressful.

Maybe his ex has told them that he made her feel miserable and unloved during their marriage and she had no choice but to leave him, maybe when she initiated separation she wanted him to do something spectacular to make things up and woo her and he never did. Maybe she felt he never loved her the way he loves you. Maybe although he loved his children he was one of those Dads that was not that involved as a parent so they didn't develop a close bond. Some men show their love through their provider role rather than through physical or emotional expression and sometimes the message just doesn't get through. You describe lots of scenarios where DH has been invited then uninvited, but are his children the only one's doing the inviting, does DH make any effort to initiate get togethers and invite them over. Or does he sit waiting for them to make the first move?

What is clear is that his children do not have empathy with their father. They are either partly or completely oblivious to the hurt they are inflicting, or mistakenly feel it is justified. There seems to be underlying resentment there which means that SD is actually more pleasant to you than she is to her father. Only your DH can confront it and change it, but at this point, given that he has already stayed silent through major snubs, he probably never will. It's kind of like having someone slap you in the face, but you don't protest or ask why they did that, you just carry on as though it didn't happen. Then they do it again, you ignore it again. Since you don't protest it looks like you accept that you deserved to be slapped, it's like a demonstration of your guilt.

DH's fear of what he might hear, and what might happen if he protests is currently greater than his hurt. He probably feels he could end up losing them altogether, although from what you describe he does not have much to lose at this point. You might want to watch the movie Last Chance Harvey, I think it will really resonate with your and his experiences.

furkidsforme's picture

If the adult SKids have told you that this isn't about YOU, it is about the stress they feel when their parents are in the same room together, than I think you should offer them the respect to believe that is true.

I don't want to come off as mean- but honestly, you paint a pretty sunny and perfect picture of your DH and I'm sure there is another side to that story somewhere.

Maybe the Skids endured more than you will ever know during the marriage, maybe seeing the parents together causes fall out that is too much for them later, maybe it is too painful. Maybe your DH has not told you everything in a truly honest way. There's three sides to every story- his side, her side, and the truth.

The point is, you are over 50 and married a man with adult children. Your expectations seem a little out of line that they would embrace you with loving arms and welcome you into the bosom of their family. It sounds like DH hasn't had a meaningful relationship with any of his kids for quite some time, and that's about him and his kids, not you. Maybe DH is great to you, maybe he wasn't so great to them, maybe they've been PAS'd, or maybe he's changed and they have not forgiven him.

It seems you are either:
#1- putting the blame of their cold relationship on yourself (I doubt you are that important to his Skids)
#2- thinking that your appearance in the family is so super special that now everyone should all love each other.

Neither make sense. This isn't yours to deal with.