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The Light at the End of the Tunnel: What Didn't Work

JRI's picture

I'm the veteran BM & SM of 5 who reads the posts & remembers my traumatic steplife.  I've shared what worked to get us to the end of the tunnel.  Here's what didn't work.

1.  Fluctuating Visitation Schedule.  I was naive.  My only experience with divorce visitation was a school friend who had to visit parental GPs for 2 hours each Sunday.  What a laugh! Two hours each Sunday!  DH wanted the SKs as much as possible & BM enthusiastically agreed.  Visitation evolved from every weekend (as soon as school was out until late Sunday night) to "if they aren't in school, they are here" + 2 weeknight visits.  The summers were overwhelming with all 5 kids + their friends.  I was not consulted about any of this scheduling & felt blindsided, like the SKs were being dumped on me.  In retrospect, this was a DH problem but it led me to resent BM & the SKs.  I said this was a DH problem but really, it was my own.  I should have set & held strong boundaries.  It would have meant a big fight but it would have been worth it.

2.  Mini-wife.  I think this began when BM left & DH & SD bonded at an emotional time.  Of course, she resented me.  She and I have a love/hate relationship to this day.

3.  DH was somewhat of a Disney Dad.  Altho quite vocal, DH seldom enforced boundaries with any of the 5 kids.  Four of the 5 seem unharmed by all this but SD suffers because she never learned that her actions have consequences.  If you don't pay your electric, they turn it off.  If you treat people poorly, they dont want to be around you.  Simple concepts, but she just doesnt get it.

4.  Financial support of BM way over & above.  I knew BM casually before I got together with DH & once heard her say, " I know how to get money out of him".  All I can say is, yes, she did.  She was a never-employed SAHM who played on his love & fear for his kids to get money, babysitting, a place to live & anything else she could.  It was emotional blackmail.  His own mother had left when he was 4 so he was ready to move heaven & earth to foster close mother-child relationships.  She seemed to have a different agenda.

Step-parents. I feel a solidarity with you.  Bless you all.


CLove's picture

Great what didnt works!

1. Visitation Schedules that will drive you (and the kiddos) crazy - when I first started my relationship with DH, he and BM were both dating different people, and so were VERY flexible. I made the mistake of dating a man who was separated-not-divorced. If someone had a date, then the other parent would take the kids. Then as things solidified more, it was TWO, yes, kid you not, Two days on/TWo days off. If they werent coming they were going,. And constantly "whos day is it today?" Thats with 2 girls.  NOW, with divorce all done, 1 kid aged out, its 1 teen and its been 5 days on/5 days off, with discussion of "hey isnt it easier to go week on/week off?" Duh. And Im the only one who keeps track of it all. With notes.


2. Mini-wife. Every now and then I recall how Feral Forger SD21 used to kind of be mini-wifeish. DH told me that prior to me being there she was excellent at "helping him out with chores". Upon further reflection as well asimperfect recollection from SD13 munchkin, it appears that DH actually elevated her to adult status and she was willing to help=more power in household=boss little sister around and make all the important decisions. Boy did she get upset when I came around. Stopped being so helpful, but still wanted to control her sister. She ignored all my requests for music when out, would talk to her father as if I wasnt in the room (even when he said thats cloves item you should ask her she is right there...and she would stomp off)

I did not know what the reality of things was until I came here.

3.Repercussions - YEP. HERE was a BIg problem. When 17 almost 18Feral Forger SD was caught stealing froma  JC pennys. No repercussions parents paid the fine. Cut to about 6 months ago, Feral Forger was caught stealing checks from her mother and credit cards as well as cash. No repercussions. She continues to lie, be rude, but her mother just takes it. Good its her problem now! LOLZ.

4. Financial support above and beyond. This happened in the beginning - BM would tell DH that the children would starve when at her place because she could not afford to feed them, all they had was water and ramen. He would drop off bags of groceries only to find out she would eat everything and they would still go hungry. He put a quick end to that. No extras for BM. She cannot guilt him anymore. Over the years she has definitely tried: "oh lets go half on a bed at my apartment, she is sleeping on the floor". NO. He did get a free bean bag that is large. He gave it to her...

The struggle is real!

SteppedOut's picture

...she ate all the food and left her kids go hungry...

OMG. My older son just turned 24 and I still would make sure he ate before me. Thankfully, I have never had to choose, but no way my kids are going hungry while I eat. That is horrific. 

As far as what didn't work for me? Step-life. I left and never looked back! 

Kes's picture

3 and 4 for me, but 3 was the one that bugged me most.   DH for many years had no boundaries with the SDs and they would get away with blue murder because he was so afraid of them not coming over.  He allowed them to treat me like shi1t on countless occasions and did not step up and slap them down.   I have learned over the years to be much more assertive myself, and he now has better boundary setting skills.  But the awful years still make me upset to think about them. 

JRI's picture

I still have PTSD from it.

lieutenant_dad's picture

#4 is the big one I deal with. BM can't keep her ish together, but courts don't seem to care because she can do "enough". That has turned into DH feeling the need to step in.

He did really well for a bit - didn't give her money, paid directly for things for the kids, and would sometimes just not buy the things BM requested for them. I still had an issue with DH paying for nearly everything the boys owned minus the random t-shirt, but I could (mostly) live with that.

Then he paid her electric bill this winter. Mind you, she was CHOOSING not to work because her new DH had said he didn't want her to. Great and dandy in theory, but bills have to be paid.

DH hid it from me, and nearly drove me to kick his ass out. The lying is what did it, and his excuse of "I didn't tell you because she was going to pay me back and I didn't want to deal with you being mad" sent me over the edge. Left for part of the weekend and laughed when BM texted him saying she didn't have the money. He sobered up real quick when she effed him over and nearly had me packing my sh*t to leave.

Now he doesn't get trusted with money, and I have told him my filter with BM is gone. The only reason I kept it was for the kids and him, and the kids know what kind of person their mother is. This was his last shot to not eff it up, and he has consistently since then not effed it up, or even hinted at effing it up. So, for now, my marriage is okay. This is his one really nasty habit that I thought he had broke, and it hurt like hell to realize he hadn't.

JRI's picture

Our BM was, I'm trying to find the right words,, absolutely shameless about guilting my DH for money.  He had such love for and fear for the kids that he almost always caved.  She'd send over the unpaid utility bills in the kids'  backpacks.  She'd get the SKs to ask for things, have them give him the sob story.  I plan to talk about her in a future blog.  It seemed like such a betrayal.  She would call him at work (pre cell phone days). This was just one of many things that cleared up once the SKs moved here full time.