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Kathope's picture

Hello all, I have been a SM for 9 years now. My husbad is a widower. His wife passed away in 2011 and he was in a previous relationship before we got together. I have 2 boys who are 19 and 20. He has a son who is 19 and twin girls who are on the verge of 18 come next month. We have had every discussion, every disagreement anyone could have in a blended family. 

My husband and I have been married for 2 years. We just bought a home and we moved from our long time home. He was a dad raising young children all alone. He was definately in survival mode when we met. His children were wild and did not have any rules so consequences were unheard of. I worked in education and have extensive knowledge on children and teens. I utilize all the information I have learned on my boys and I am always looking for new information that is benefical for any and all areas of child psychology and family issues.

That being said, I was never prepared for the ride I was embarking on. I have a SD and he is my dad. Hes been my dad since I was 8. It was a hard dynamic at times adjusting to that when I was younger but I saw the love my parents had so I changed how I viewed him. 

My husband has both his parents. They took the hands off approach with him and his siblings. He left home early and returned. Found his soul mate and they were married for 12 years. They shared the idea that children did not need rules or guidance. Then the unthinkable happend when the kids were 5 & 6. He was lost, his world was gone and he withdrew from everything. He realized after a couple moths that he had to get back to raising his children. 

We met a few years before we got together. We had the same friends yet I rarely saw him bc he was with his kids of course. When I arrived it was sweet and the kids were trying their best to get to know me. I was excited to get to know them. We have a lot of history now. Our situation has been dire, its hit the point of critical and it almost ended. Its been up and down for a while yet now we are going to counseling and we are going to church. God has really done miracles for us. 

Fast forward to today, through all that tumultuous past and we stil are having issues. I am here to vent and to let go. To get advice bc I feel defeated and its good to have comrodery when in the trenches of wicked step parent. 


JRI's picture

Welcome!  I feel for you with having 5 teenagers.  That's what we had, too.  Its a wild ride!   Vent away, I wish I had had Steptalk back then.  I'm glad you're in counseling, that was my savior.  Good luck!

Rags's picture

Just thinking about that makes me want to drink.... heavily.

3 of them raised in a free range parenting model marriage with few boundaries and likely no standards of behavior or standards of performance.  Then losing half what little parenting they were getting.

Not a place I would want to be as a SParent.

So, how many of the 5 are living at home with your and your DH?  No doubt the twins are, but how about the 20,19 &19 yos?

If I were you and DH, I think I would get all 5 of them out of the house upon their HS graduation. They can live on campus or in an apartment once they finish HS and either start University or get jobs.

We only had one (my SS-30) and for various reasons we lit the burning platform to get him to launch less than a year after he graduated from HS. He graduated at 17 so we gave him the summer after graduation until his 18th birthday on our dime. Then he had to either be a full time student, work full time, or 50/50 to live at home.  Nope, he was not interested in either school or work.  So, he worked for us as our live in beck and call laborer chore boy.  We worked that kid's butt off.  

We offered him the full meal deal mom and dad University ride anywhere he wanted to go (and could get into).  It is not a point of pride for me that he was self aware enought at that age to know he was not ready to focus and put in a successful effort.  He told us that and that it would be a waste of his time and our money.

So, 10mos after his HS graduation and 8mos after his 18th B-day he shipped off for USAF BMT.    He decised that working for us 7 days  a week for only room and board was not a great deal for him.

In April he will have his 12yr service anniversary in the USAF. He has 4 years left on his current commitment and indicates that he fully intends to serve at least 20 then retire.  

Each kid is different.   What is the status of each of the 5? That may influence the comments you get.

Take care of you.

Kathope's picture

Congrats on raising a strong man! Thats great that your SS knew he wasnt ready for college. The USAF is amazing! I have two cousins are joined last year and a cousin who just retired, Marines. I agree about the out at 18. If you had told me a few years ago  I would have objected, however, my idea then was that they would learn. They have not learned anythng in the whole 8 years I've been SM and attitudes are high, they have expectations of grandure and DH is clueless, leaving me on an island by myself.

My older son went to trade scool to be a master technician for BMW. He stayed with us for about a month while he got a job. We found an apartment thats 30 minutes away from his job and he moved out last week. He lived on his own for the course of the program with 3 other guys who went to the same school. My SS 19 ran away at 17, was into a lot of drugs, was obsessed with a girl in the neighborhood and ran away to Oklahoma. They ended up getting pregnant on that adventure. He now lives with his GF  in our home town with a few roommates and their 2 year old daughter. He really stepped up as young parent and provider. My other son 19 lives with his dad and SM and stepsisters. He is going to CC and works. Our SD's live at home with us. Its been difficult with one in particular. She is the one who makes plans and likes to take control of our house. She also baby talks when shes at home. Its very, very annoying. We have been working with her on that but DH lets it slide a lot. He is oblivious most of the time. She uses that voice to get what she wants from him which leads to us having disagreements. Its great.

A lot of that ferrel mentality has stayed with them. All the SKids feel that a parents role is love their child no matter what with no rules or expectaions. They can do as they please and it should be ok.They refuse to be accountable for their actions. Our SS is learing the hard way as will his sisters. Its sad. I tried to guide them but there was a lot of resistance from DH. A lot of the time I was the one in trouble for enforcing rules he created. It was a mess. We had times when things were good and equally when times were really bad. Over time it got a little better then one day after we were married it all came crashing down. I was the ultimate bad guy and DH enforced that with his kids. The D word was mentioned and I told him it was not an option. We were going to figure this out. It will be a year that we have been working on our problems. The change has been so vast and great that when I think about its unfathomable. We have grown as a family yet there has been didtance that has been growing with the SD. They were fine before and now they have a list that they hold on to with me. They ignore me, they talk back, they say they will do someting then don't. DH is still clueless and I have to tell him constantly, " Are your hearing this?!" He is just as bad as they are which explains alot. 

Needless to say, I am soooo very ready for them to leave. My only concern is when and if they visit. Will he ignore bad behavior, will he stand up for me or am I just going to do my own thing while they visit? I know I can't control the future and I should not worry about it yet, I had hopes for our future on how we would be as a family and today that expectation is far gone. I have worked hard and I have sacrificed and I am still in a boat rowing in circles with my SD's. I am hoping that when life hits them they will wake up.


la_dulce_vida's picture

So your twin stepdaughters live at home? They are rude and ignore you - talk back?


From now on, your DH is responsible for all things associated with them. You don't cook meals for them. You don't shuttle them anywhere. You don't do their laundry.

You focus on yourself. Let the little trio have their "club" in your house. You don't care about grades. You don't care about them following rules - it's all on daddy-kins. He will not be happy if you disengage.

And as long as he's allowing other woman (SDs) to carry his balls in their purses, I wouldn't be letting his anywhere near you.

It is highly effective to focus just on yourself, protect yourself, and let him suffer the consequences of his indulgent parenting. They want to be mini wives? They can cook and clean and grocery shop for him. They want to run things in your house and he lets them? I wouldn't want to be intimate with a guy who would allow that. I mean, how can you get turned on by a man who puts other women above you? Nope. Nope. Nope.

There really is a great deal of power in disengaging.

la_dulce_vida's picture

From one person in love with a widower to another, please strike the words "soul mate" from your vocabulary as it relates to his late wife.

If my Widower boyfriend told me his LW was his soulmate (or the love of his life), I would likely not stick around let alone consider marrying him. I don't believe in the idea of soulmates, in the first place. But using that terminology about his LW could imply that you're a placeholder or second best to her. Don't do that to yourself.

Teenagers are a PITA. Female teens are often horrible. Teen stepchildren can be assholes. Teen, female stepchildren of WIDOWERS can be from the pits of hell. Miniwives are exponentially worse if their mother is deceased.

I don't envy your situation, but the good news is that you've got all these butthead teens at around the same age, so if you can successfully launch them, this stage of your parenting life could be temporary.

BUT, you must have boundaries for how you will be treated. Do NOT allow shitty behavior towards you because "But, their mom is DEAD." No - they need therapy if they are acting shitty because their mom is dead.

You are his WIFE. You are owed respect in your own home. He is your husband, so your kids should also show him respect. Do not compromise on that. Not an inch.

They don't like the rules, they can get the *eff* out at 18 and graduated.

Your husband needs to get on YOUR side and create a unit of two. You are the person he made vows to. You are the person he'll grow old with. Kids are supposed to grow up and go make lives of their own, and come home to visit.


Kathope's picture

I appreciate everything you said, espically about the 'Soulmate" I should have put that in quotations. I did feel secondbest for a long time, however, that time has passed. I heard a lot of things from my husband and our friends about their marriage. It was far from idealic. That helped me move forward. The miniwife is still very much a factor to this day. I am so very ready for these SD's to move out. Thank you for your candor. 

la_dulce_vida's picture

Thankfully, my WBF hasn't ever said his late wife was his soulmate but he did go on and on about how THEY ("we") knew each other so well and how "relationships don't have to be this hard" when I would express my feelings, etc. Of course they had it easier being together 27 years. I had to tell him, "I'm not her and we're new. You can't expect to have the same ease and familiarity of a 27 year marriage after only a few months."

The truth is that people often remember the deceased and their history with that person with rose colored glasses. They loved each other and were married for 27 years when she passed. They also didn't have an idyllic marriage, but I think the blame lies chiefly with him. He's moody and I think he was much worse during his marriage than he is with me. He is a person who was born to be retired. So he's happier now that he's retired and she never got to see him when he's free from the obligation to work.

Mini wives are a problem. The squeaky wheel gets the oil when it comes to women. If his daughter(s) are creating issues, he has to stop feeling sorry for them because their mom died or they will manipulate him with that fact.

I would urge you to disengage. Let him take full responsibility for his offspring. If they are nasty to you or if they influence him in a way that a wife would, I would also let him know that is unacceptable and then lean back and focus on yourself and your children.

If he wants to let his daughters a higher priority than his wife, let him. He should not experience any wifely benefits from you while allowing other women to usurp your role.

Don't get mad. Don't cry. Don't give them any power. He can have ONE wife. He's supposed to raise his daughters to adulthood so they can start their own lives and find their own partners. They should not be allowed to have any say over his marriage to you.

When my partner's daughter needs daddy, I don't quibble. I let him run to her rescue. She will often take his help, but cuts her time with him short because she has social engagements with her friends. She kinda treats him like a doormat. If that's what he wants, that's fine. I have things to do and have fun when he's tied up with her. Naturally, he can't wait to get home to be with me. Wink

What exactly are the miniwives doing?

Kathope's picture

Its really just one. She is a lot like her mom and grandma, DH mom. She gets an idea in her head and plans it out without talking to anyone, then expects DH to drop eveything and do it. Miniwife wants to control evey aspesct of the house. DH and I have told her many times she is not allowed to make plans with herself any more but it still happens. She uses her baby voice to talk to her dad and keeps on him until he gives in. We talk about then we decide wether or not we are going to do it. We went camping early this month and not one of them talked to me the whole time. When I asked miniwife for help grabbing somethignfor me she ignored me. I asked her 3 times and she didnt say anything. Finally DH says ," HEY, did you hear what SM is saying?!" She says in her baby voice. " I didn't understand what she said." Then she does the famous side eye with attitude glacne. Like an exgirlf friend whos with thier old BF. I've been getting those looks for 8 years. My sister lives with us and the SD's run to her to vent anytime they dont get what they want. They have told her that its all me the grand puppet master controlling thier dad. It has reached the point of nonengagement her. So much so that when we go out they completely ignore me. I can say somthing and itslike Im not even there. I am the source of ALL their problems. 

I have myself withdrawn from any and all obligations when it comes to them. I have them making their own appointments, DH is going to have to get time off to drive them an hour and a half into town, I am slowly withdrawing dinner in the evenings, and I have been doing all the things that need to be done here at home. I dont want anything from them. I told our couenslor this and she said it was fine. DH thought I was reacting out of anger, however, it was far from that. Every day was a struggle, every day they missed something or "forgot" and it was just causing me undo stress.DH made a list of chores and daily routines which he did not enforce. He had them make detailed lists of each chore and told them to have someone check it. That happened 2 times. The chores were: one SD sweeps the living room, vacuum the rugs (bc dogs). The other sweeps the kitchen area, takes out trash and vacuums the rugs. Thats it. They had other things like being up before 10am on the weekends, cleaning their rooms and bathroom, going to bed at 9pm. That rarely happend. They have however improved to the bed time bc they have to be up at 5am to catch the bus. I told them I was not driving them to school if they missed it.

Im done. I am trying to work on myself at this point by letting things go. If something happens I have been walking away. These girls are incabable of learning.

CLove's picture

Glad you found us, although that means you are having a rough time of it.

I imagine there is some Daddy Guilt, in addition to the whole Angelicness of Saint Late Wife.

I would reccomend that you continue therapy, and perhaps have some just for YOU.

Read around here and you will definitely gain clarity.

Kathope's picture

I was thinking the same thing. I definatley need therapy for myself. The late wife did questionable things so she is far from sainthood. These kids would be in a totally different place if she was here. I would not have stayed if she was in the picture. I fell that it would have been worse with the miniwife and thier DH. They were an even bigger mess together. Its sad.

CLove's picture

Looks like youve already done some reading on mini-wife syndrome.

With your husband not having your back, it sounds like what happens with me - they bond over having a common enemy - us. With us being the bad guy, THEY dont have to. They can stay in friends mode forever with this dynamic being played out forever.

Disengagement is likely something else youve encountered. Im daily trying to step up with disengagment. Take it day by day.

The countdown is inevitable, and with distance, hopefully will come clarity. However dont count on them launching until about 21-22...or later.

Winterglow's picture

I would be sorely tempted to baby talk whenever you hear SD doing it. Say you thought it was the accepted way of expressing oneself and you didn't want her to feel alone...


I would then take your husband aside and ask him if he imagines they will be there to care for him when he's older and needs help. I would also let him know how much of a turn-off it is to see him cater to adults and be treated like a doormat. Has he no pride? Maybe also remind him who he is f*cking and if he wants that to continue he had better change his ideas.

Coachwife's picture

My DH became Widower in 2014. We met in 2015. I have 3 grown children that live on their own and I Baumé a stepmom to 4 of my DH' children. (2 from wife #1 and the youngest 2 from wife #2 who is deceased. Originally all 4 lived with us but the two oldest have moved out (with a lot of drama in between) Now SS12 and SD10 live with us and it's been ridiculously challenging especially with the SS (lying, throwing out food, stealing and innaproprate computer use) He can't stand me and it's tangible. It's causing so much drama and this last 3 months I've started disengaging (For survival actually, I didn't even know it was a thing!) I've started going out with friends,working a lot and joining small groups at church. Basically doing whatever I can to stay out of the house. I never saw all these things happening and I guess I was pretty naïve thinking we were going to turn into the Brady Bunch. Needless to say it's far from it I to joined here to keep my sanity and I found it so helpful to know that I'm not alone. DH's second wife was 10 years younger than DH, and I am going to be 58 this year. Having challenging SK's that are 10 & 12 is taking its toll. I dread the ne t few years as they are just about to be teens. My favourite word has always been "hope" but I have a funny feeling it's not going to be for long.

JRI's picture

None of us knew what to expect.  The sad thing is most of us went into it with the best intentions.

Coachwife's picture

I just signed up this week so I'm new too. It's good to have the support, and I appreciate your sharing what you have. Thanks to everyone who contributes here to walk alongside when it gets hard and lonely as a step parent. I was never prepared for the animosity that came with it. I'll gladly

be an ear if you ever need one!