Separate houses? – apologies in advance for length of post
I’m new here, have been reading some of the posts for a while, and have taken great comfort in knowing I am not the only one with the type of feelings I have been experiencing.
I have been married to my DH, truly the love of my life, for two almost two years. We dated for three years before that (moved in together about six months before our wedding). I have a grown BS, 24, he has lived on his own since 19. DH has two girls, SD17 and SD20 who live with us full-time (they did not live with him when I met him and he told me they never would as their BM would never agree to it – but due to a series of events, they now live with us).
All was well in the beginning, although SD17 always said she “just wants to live with Dad by myself (not even have her sister with her!). Of course DH assured me that he would deal with her, and for the most part he has handled her very well so I agreed we would get married. Can’t let your kids tell you who you can have a relationship with. And while we were dating, she was fine towards me, even made me home-made presents on my birthday, that sort of thing. Once she realized DH and I were serious and it was heading to marriage, she started turning into the devil incarnate (coincidentally she was also 14 going on 15 by this point, at which point a lot of kids turn into the devil incarnate, right?). Well, after trying everything to keep the peace, provide a stable environment, SD17 has always acted out – trying drugs, surfing porn on the net (that was when she was 14!), non-stop lying, skipping school, missing curfew, sneaking boys in the house when we were not home, etc. Some of which, I know, is normal teen behaviour. (Although I think she may have some psychological issues – she pulls out all her eyelashes and also sneaks and hoards food in her room. When I asked BM about this – she said – yeah, she’s been doing that since she was 9. I had to ask again, as I thought I didn’t hear correctly. Has anybody ever thought to take her for help? Nope, but I did convince DH that she should at least be assessed, which basically got us nowhere as she just will not talk when with a counselor.)
Fast forward. SD20 now lives in an apartment (since May) with a room-mate, trying to decide if she wants to continue working and stay in the apartment, or come back to live with us and go back to school. She is a good kid, only minor complaints there is she is a bit childish in some ways, still calls DH “Daddy” and stands behind him and rubs his back, wanting to constantly know where he is (for example if we’re all in the kitchen, and then she goes into another room and if he’s not still in the kitchen when she comes back she asks “where’s Dad?” even if it’s been only 5 minutes, she has to go find him in the house), but I chalk that up to her living apart from him from age 6-18, other than a couple weekends a year and a few weeks in the summer and she’s maybe suffering from separation anxiety? We were surprised that she wanted to move out, and after she had moved out for a while, she finally told us she decided to move out because “only SD17 ever gets attention, it’s like I’m invisible”. Of course the attention was always focused on SD17 because barely a day went by that we didn’t have to address some type of inappropriate behaviour. However we had a sit-down meal at least 5 nights out of the week (schedules permitting) and truly talked to both SDs and were interested in what was going on in their lives.
Back in April, SD (she was then 16) tell us she’s pregnant – by a 19 year old druggie unemployed drop-out who lives with his Mom (who informs us he also suffers from depression) and who of course, she thinks is the most wonderful thing that ever walked the earth. (His mother buys cigarettes for him, which he takes to the school and cells individually until he gets enough cash to buy some weed and then goes to get high!). Sigh. Unfortunately I saw this coming a mile away, tried to get DH to talk to her when she started dating the 19 year old, but he doesn’t like to talk unless there’s “proof” that it’s needed so as not to ruin his relationship with his kids. I talked to her about birth control, as did BM, but to no avail, she “just didn’t think of it”. So, DH and I and BM decided that the best thing is for SD is to move with BM (a plane ride away) as she wants to continue the pregnancy but put the baby up for adoption. At least she doesn’t hate BM and it will be a better environment for her to continue her pregnancy. Since SD17 has nothing but absolute pure hatred for me (according to her, I put the “ho” in “home-wrecker” – even though I didn’t meet her Dad until 11 years after her parents split up!), ours had become a very tense household to say the least. SD20 once told us she is terrified of SD17 and that she dreams SD17 is coming after her with a butcher knife. (She is not violent, but will slam doors and throw objects around when she doesn’t get her own way – we had to actually take her bedroom door off the hinges for two weeks to try to break her of this.) So since early July pregnant SD17 has been living with her Mom a plane ride away. BM has called on numerous occasions, complaining that SD is sullen, treating her like dirt, won’t talk, etc. Apparently SD17 is just a miserable person, some people are like that.
Here is the problem. The baby is almost due. After the adoption goes through, she wants to come back to live with her Dad and I (well she doesn’t want to live with me, but wants a place to stay to be close to the 19 year old sperm donor so has no choice). Because things are so tense when she lives with us, and DH does not like to deal with issues in any way than “having a loving talk” to her, of course nothing ever changes, and her behaviour just continues as she knows she will never receive consequences. This of course, causes a lot of friction between DH and I. My own BS was not a picnic through his teen years, but never did he run the show, there were always consequences for inappropriate behaviour. When I try to talk to DH about her behaviour and perhaps letting her have some consequences he responds with “don’t’ tell me how to parent, I have my own way of doing things”. Definitely some guilt parenting going on, although he doesn’t shower them with material things, in his eyes SDs never do anything truly “wrong”. Myself, I have a huge issue with kids getting away with murder.
So, DH has told me that if SD17 comes back he will get a separate apartment for himself and SD17 until she finishes school because he cannot take the stress of she and I living under the same roof. I told him I am not supportive of that and that I believe it is wrong for so many reasons, the main one being that SD17 will feel she has come between us, which is what she has always wanted. He himself has referred to her as “that f’ing b***h” on numerous occasions (not in front of her, of course), and has said she’s like a cancer that’s always there eating away at you, but says he has an obligation to ensure she gets an education. He does not want to live in a house with any tension, and since he won’t deal with her, his solution is for us to live separately. He has even gone behind my back, though I have asked him not to discuss this with BM, and told her that he would get an apartment if SD comes back with us. So of course he has now painted himself into a corner.
I feel betrayed that he has discussed this with BM, and don’t know what to do. I told him that I would become very resentful if he moves out. He feels we can still have a marriage, it will be like when we lived in two separate houses when we were dating. What, we go backwards so you don’t have to deal with your out of control kid? I am so hurt, confused, angry, bewildered, I don’t even know what to think any more. In one way I don’t want to live in a house filled with tension either, but I also don’t want to live apart from DH. I asked him if would come to mediation with me and work out ground-rules for SD17 and an action plan for consequences that we can both live with, and he has grudgingly said he would go. We have an appointment next week. But he keeps saying “I have to do what I have to do”, like he’s just agreeing to go to the appointment to get me off his back, but he’s still going to get a separate place. I asked him, even if it means putting your marriage at risk? And he says “I don’t believe my marriage will be at risk”. He just does not take me seriously that I will be resentful if we live apart because of SD17.
I apologize for this huge vent, and hope it’s not too confusing to follow. I would appreciate any advice or words of wisdom you can offer.