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So Now We're Supposed to be a Blended Family?

qtpie013178's picture

Hello Steptalk   

I need to vent and see if my situation is a common occurrence.  I have been with DH since June 2016, and married April 2022.  Initially, DH brought SD16 around all the time, when she was 9 or 10.  We were all blending pretty well, but there were some signs of resentment from SD, at the time to DDs, especially the youngest.  At the beginning of the relationship, SD was 9, and DDs were 18, 6, and 4.  My oldest DD was preparing to leave for college, so she was not really a factor.  Of course, the two youngest DDs are usually with me.  There was a coparenting schedule with former husband, but it became erratic, and there is currently no visitation. 

As I mentioned, we were still blending pretty well, and the resentment from SD seemed minimal.  SD's BM seemed to be studiously ignoring my existence, and never made any attempt to meet me or extend any cordiality.  For example, she knew of me, but never bothered to say hello at custody exchanges, and specified to DH (boyfriend at the time), that SD was never to be left in my care, even on his time.  His custody agreement allows each parent autonomy on their time, but DH doesn't like to make waves, and I don't beg to babysit, so that was fine with me.  In addition, BM and MIL never got along while DH was with BM, but suddenly became friends after I came into the picture.  About six months in, BM suddenly wanted to meet me, but the mood was already frosty,  There was also a brief period that I think BM and MIL colluded to try to manipulate DH by not watching SD during his time, resulting in him having no babysitting option.  I stepped up, and me, SD, and DDs had a great day together while DH was working.  All of a sudden, BM's schedule opened back up, and she resumed keeping SD while DH worked, even on his time.   (MIL has always been kind to me and my children, and we have developed a very good relationship over the years.  I am unaware if BM and MIL still associate.) 

This trend continued, and SD called DH during her mom's time crying that since me and DDs came along, she felt ignored and that they never got enough time together.  After we started dating, I encouraged DH to exercise all of his visitation time, and adjust his work schedule to accommodate exercising the maximum time allowed.  DH routinely missed time due to BM withholding visitation, usually claiming SD did not feel well, but it seemed very suspicious. BM withholding SD continued until they learned he spent all time without SD with me and DDs.  Then the withholding reduced a lot.  SD also became more resentful towards DDs, especially the youngest, and tried to manipulate and convince middle DD to alienate youngest DD.  I observed this and called it out, DDs were able to repair their relationship before the alienation progressed too far.  Soon after, SD or BM did not want me or DDs present during DH's visitation time with SD, and I was strongly discouraged from parenting SD in any way.  It hurt at first, but me and DDs adjusted.  This continued for about three years, and I watched SD go from a bubbly All-American girl that was very girly and romantically interested in boys, to an extremely introverted young woman that seems uncomfortable in her own skin, and dresses like a Goth boy.

During the pandemic, BM initially gave DH an ultimatum, stop seeing me and DDs, or lose visitation with SD, the excuse was that I allowed DDs to continue in-person school when it was available.  DDs go to a small Catholic school with no pandemic fatalites, and high vaccination rates.  DH refused the ultimatum, but let BM decide visitation.  BM withheld SD for almost one year, then all of a sudden, let DH resume visitation.  DH quarantined with me and DDs, however we are both essential workers. (BM remarried 1-2 years after I met DH, and is usually unemployed, but sometimes works remotely part-time.) We both had to mask up and go to work daily.  Over the years, me and DDs accepted DH's absences, and we still became a beautifully blended family, without SD.  BM pulled SD from school when in-person classes resumed, further isolating her.  Well, I think DH finally got a clue, and is trying to make up for lost time, and takes every opportunity to bring SD around me and DDs.  The problem is, I was never allowed to be a positive influence during her childhood, and DH started trying to increase contact when she was 15, she just turned 16, and she is not the type of person that me and DDs would associate with normally, and she is still pretty self-centered.  We live apart, I own a home, and DH rents from a relative.  He is at my home 12/14 nights, and would stay at his own home whenever he had visitation with SD, regular, or extra time like time off of work or holidays.  My house is small, two bedrooms, and a den that is in use, with personal documents and belongings of me and oldest DD.  SD cannot be trusted not to intrude, she was never really given boundaries regarding other people's things and space until I came along and set boundaries regarding me and DDs.  DH wants to move into my home, which would mean my weekends alone with my DDs would now be weekends with DH and SD too.  I am delaying moving in together, and have told DH, that we need a bigger house first.  DH makes almost double my salary, but keeps his finances separate, and doesn't own a home.  The child support he pays for one child is about 75% of what I receive for two children, and he voluntarily covers all extras most of SDs expenses on BM's time too, "because that's his kid."  Even after all that, his take home pay almost doubles mine.  I bought my home when my salary was less than half of what it is now, supporting three kids. DH could have afforded a home many times over, but either doesn't want to buy alone, manages his salary poorly, or is siphoning money to BM and other relatives.  These are speculations, but the money isn't adding up.  DH's aversion to transparency is also making me think getting married was more about keeping me locked down than wanting to be married and "become one."  He became a big part of me and my children's lives early on, and he's become their main father figure. That's another post, though. She still displays selfishness, like trying to take over DDs things, refusing to stop playing their video game (She has several between her mom's and dad's homes), or using DD's things without permission.  DH does not correct this behavior, or attempts to and SD pouts or whines. DH is prone to give her grace, at the expense of DDs.  I had to step in about  6 months ago, and basically tell her to let my DD use her game console, and tell DH it was time for them to leave.  DH allowed BM free rein with SD, even when he disagreed, to keep the peace.  DH was guilty about divorcing BM, so DH did not set good boundaries for SD either.  SD has been allowed to immerse herself in violent games, general creepy stuff, and has an intermittent history of bullying other children, usually younger ones.  BM had to move homes one time due to SD picking on the wrong kid.  However, on at least two occasions, older siblings of the victims confronted SD, and then "she's the victim."  When she was 10 or 11, during BM's time, she bullied a kid aged between 4 and 6.  She bullied them once or twice, they told, and the siblings and neighbor kids started bullying SD in retaliation.  Another incident occurred on DH's time, totally different neighborhood, and different types of kids.  Each time, instead of disciplining her or recognizing she had a problem, BM and DH made excuses for her.  Also, I think she identifies as gay, and my daughters are 13, and 11.  I don't know where her boundaries lie, so I will not leave her alone with my daughters, just like I wouldn't leave stepsiblings of the opposite gender alone if there were concerns.  DH and I are moderate Christians, and have raised my children with those values,  SD is smart, beautiful, and can be kind, but she has some concerning behaviors, and I believe BM pulling her out of school prevents her adapting better socially, and allows the antisocial traits to grow.  (BM does not encourage or provide many opportunities for SD to have social contact.)

Well, the past 6-12 months, DH has really ramped up being at my home, even times he would normally stay at his home.  DH also tries to bring SD over as much as possible, and it's annoying to me and DDs. DH introduced the separation when he had SD, and me and DDs accepted it, and embrace our time alone together.  Also, when DH has SD, they rarely interact, and both immerse themselves in media entertainment, mainly separately, but sometimes together.  When DH has SD and I am around, I end up forced to parent her, especially if my bios are around, either due to conflict, or because I am always engaging with them or doing something with or for them and don't want to leave her out. I have already explained to DH that I am concerned that SD is a bad influence on my DDs, and that she is almost a legal adult, and that it is too late for me to parent her now.  I also suspect DH is gearing up to try to move SD in after she turns 18. After the child support stops, I expect BM to require money to continue housing SD, or just say she can't afford her and send her to DH. Since I was not allowed to help raise her, or see her frequently, she's almost a stranger to me and DDs, like a distant relative.  I am against her living with us, but would be more willing to accept it in a bigger home, as long as SD is respectful of house rules, and tries to have a good attitude. My DH recognizes the situation, and will basically defer to whatever I ask, apparently with the exception of transparent finances.  The financial piece isn't a dealbreaker for me, I make a decent salary, and he contributes to the home, pays for vacations, most of the extras, and helps with DDs as needed.  I already know dividing his meager estate will be a s***show, so I just carry a life insurance policy on him to cushion any tragedy for me and DDs, so I am not dependent on any inheritance. I have one very dear friend (a general pushover, married, with kids, never divorced) that feels it is my Christian obligation to embrace SD fully, because I married DH, regardless of the difficulty.  My other friends (married, divorced, never married, straight, gay) have mixed opinions, ranging from having nothing to do with SD, to trying to integrate her as long as it doesn't make things harder, or present any negative effects or harm for DDs and me.  Aside from the SD issue, we are pretty happy, little or no disagreements, and generally on the same page.  DH is very Conservative.  I was raised Ultra-Conservative, became very liberal in my youth, and settled into being Moderate-Conservative over my adulthood.  I have been  BM, wife, and have two exes, and through all of that, I always did my best to let their dads have equal input and encouraged my kids to embrace their dads' partners.  My questions are, has anyone else had this happen, being shut out of raising a kid, then expected to embrace or help influence them after the rearing is basically finished?  Also, I love my husband, but am I obligated to integrate a near-adult into an already stressful life after all of these years?


missgingersnap2021's picture

I made sure that for the past 2 years I made it VERY clear to DH I did not want SD living with us when she turned 18. Iived in fear that BM would want to pawn her off on DH the second she turned 18. Well He knew I meant what I said. He also knew we wouldnt last if that were to happen. She turned 18 in September and has been weaning herself off of coming here. I thank God all the time!!!

ESMOD's picture

It sounds like a difficult and complex situation.  I don't blame you for being a bit reluctant to face your SD moving in.. considering the ages of your kids.. and certainly the current size of your home.

I will have to say.. the financial secrecy by your DH is very troubling.  I mean.. while you were just dating.. fine.  He can keep it to himself.. but you are married (and this should have been layed open PRIOR to you tying the knot really).. he needs to be open as to his financial situation.. what kinds of obligations and limitations does he really have?  If CS and alimony are hamstringing him now?  when will those legally end?  Does he have gambling debts? student loans?  WHAT???

I would be very hesitant to stay married to someone not willing to be honest with me.  Because it is impacting you.  You live in a modest home that is plenty big for you and your two daughters.. but adding not only your DH.. but potentially your SD?  you know you need more space.. and if he can't afford to hold up his share of the purchase?  that's problematic.  

It seems that while you got a piece of paper.. you still are living your lives separate to a great extent.. I'm not sure if I might not suggest just continuing as you are now until your kids are off to school and out of the house.. thenyou and your DH can live together with NO kids period.. 

I wouldn't be thrilled that he let his EX steamroll him on any choices about his child.. they have obviously caused issues in her development too.

qtpie013178's picture

Thank you, this is very insightful.  I have even suggested he buy a house alone and contribute a fair amount.  If things ever go South, I could just move.  He really wants to buy a house together.  I feel that something has made him more vested in our relationship, but find it questionable since he's so secretive about money.  I was on the fence about marriage, but ultimately what made up my mind is that we both have concerns that our next of kin cannot be trusted in a tragedy, largely due to issues with greed and / or control.

Cover1W's picture

I put off marrying DH partly due to both finances and the SDs. He wasn't being straight with me about his situation even though we had purchased a home together already (he got things clear during the purchase but slid off managing his funds afterwards and ended up in a good pile of debt he didn't tell me about). And I needed to make sure he would accept my boundaries with the SDs. Mind you not parenting them but to be sure I wasn't going to be yelled at for not parenting them - hahaha joke was on me beause that tooks years to come out. It's ok now, but still OP - I do not advise marrying this guy.

CLove's picture

Definitely keep that house...

Until he is willing to be transparent with you, you need to have the safety of your own place.

qtpie013178's picture

I agree, I definitely feel like he wants to triangulate me sometimes, but I suspect I'm just being paranoid.  I also feel that he has trust issues.  He alienated the handymen that I had, and replaced them his friends and associates.  He agreed to be transparent about everything, but it hasn't happened yet.  Over time, my assets have increased some, and in a few years, I will have paid off my debts, and have about half equity in my house.

ESMOD's picture

I would figure out how you might rent your home out.. for income.. and then buy a home jointly... if it doesn't work out.. you find he is not a good financial or otherwise partner.. you at least have your home to fall back on.  I believe another poster here did something like that.

Cover1W's picture

wait - what happened?  I have service peeps I work with and I tell DH to never ever p*ss them off and leave discussions up to me because he can be a bit abrasive with "the hired help" - no he doesn't get it at all sometimes.  But he's not yet totally alienated them - that would be my EX husband. That is really suspicious. Did your handyman tell you what happened?  How one treats others can be very telling.

Kaylee's picture

Yeah he sounds like he is a bit of a control freak as well as his other issues.

HE alienated your handyman and replaced him with people of his own choosing (his friend/associate). That is one big giant red flag, right there!! 

Controlling, alienating, secretive about money, pushy. These are not attractive traits at all.....

qtpie013178's picture

The difficult traits are isolated, but still there sometimes. DH has a habit of trying to get chummy with the handyman, but it comes off as insincere and act like he knows everything. He will also watch them work. The handymen sometimes flirt.  The one he worked hardes to run off had been around for yeats, and was very accommodating, but I never let it cross the line.  He criticized their work too, but they did a pretty good job, and were consistent and available.

Kaylee's picture

I think this is the key here..... finances.

You say he's very secretive about money, and he's really started pushing to move in and bring his daughter.

My guess is that in spite of making a very good salary he's not good with money and is in the sh*t financially.... therefore his solution is to move in with YOU. 

I'd say no to that. If he wants to move in together EVENTUALLY, when all kids have left home, that's a goal he needs to work towards. And part of the deal is that he is transparent with his finances and pays half the deposit, mortgage etc for a new place.

JRI's picture

On Steptalk, people often ask, "Has he done the work?"  It means, has the father established an appropriate home for their child to visit (beds, frig, etc)?  Does he have a sane custody agreement that he follows?  Does he have a workable arrangement with BM?   I'd give your DH about a C- or D+ here.  And, the financial issue is a huge red flag.  Frankly, I'd have a trust issue with him since it sounds like you're a thrifty, financially stable person.

I know your question concerned blending teenage SD but I cant get past the DH issues.  I have the feeling he looks at you as the answer to his problems: employed, homeowner, capable mother.  I guess it's up to you to decide how to continue.  SD is part of your life now, one way or the other.  At the very least, she will be on the periphery of your life as long as you are with DH.  Worst case, she could still be a troubled, manipulative, financially dependent 61-year old, like my SD.

qtpie013178's picture

Dear God, let her not be in his pocket at 61!

Rags's picture

WTF is that?

DH needs to grab a big hand full of man sack from between his legs, roll up a copy of his Custody/Visitation/Support CO and beat the shit out of BM with it (figureatively of course) in front of a Judge each time she interferes in his time with his failed family progeny.  Contempt motion, after contempt motion, after contempt motion.  See how his PAS'd daughter likes seeing mommy get her ass chewed by the Judge on a regular basis.

This ball-less parent crap is fatal to not only the kids who are victims of it, it is fatal to the  ball-less  wonder's new relationship and the blended family as a whole.

As for expecting BM to require money from DH to keep housing SD after she turns 18.... Not only no but HELL no.  DH has paid BM to house, feed, and care for SD-18 for how many years?  When SD ages out from under the CS order, no more money should go to BM for anything. PERIOD! DOT!  

SD needs to figure out her own deal if BM will not continue to house her.  Daddy, can inject some $$ strait to SD ... in agreement with his wife.  No agreement, no $$.

At 18 and a HS graduate, SD can enlist in the military.  Which would be my mandate if I was her daddy.  

It has worked wonders for my SS-30.  He enlisted at 18, 10mos after HS graduation and has had a great career for nearly 12 years and counting.



simifan's picture

Transparency of finances should be a deal breaker. You are legally married. If either party has serious debt it could effect the other especially if there is a death or divorce.  

ndc's picture

I would not let DH and SD move in,  and I would not even consider giving up my home and buying a home with DH until there was complete financial transparency AND an agreement that SD would not be living there after she turned 18. You've been living apart for a while.  What has changed? I'd be very concerned, especially since your husband is so secretive about finances. 

CajunMom's picture

Stay in your home with your kids and let your DH stay in his rental. Nothing you've shared says this is a man worth giving up your precious peace and also your kids. I'm with the others. No transparency in finances? Where's the money going? This would be a deal breaker for me. So, yeah....stay in your home and begin watching his actions closely with the blinders off. Something tells me you are going to see this guy in a different light.


qtpie013178's picture

With current inflation, I suspect his rent may have gone up. I also know that MIL wants to profit from selling her house and moving into DH's rental while she looks for a place to retire with her fiancée, they have been together about a year, and he moved in with her, which struck me as odd.  Why didn't they keep his apartment to move into after she sold her house? Regardless, I don't have much but it's stable. One thing to note is that I do want to move to a bigger house in a better neighborhood, DH can easily qualify on his own, but it will be a stretch for me without him. I have specified the house mist be titled joint with right to survivorship, so that the surviving spouse inherits the house without it being divided as part of the estate.

Winterglow's picture

So his mother is looking for a short-term rental and he wants to facilitate that by moving in with you? Why should you have to bear this inconvenience?

I'm wondering if he hasn't lost his job and is looking to you to support him until he 'gets back on his feet'. In any case, it's clear he has a problem with money if he's burning through large sums and has nothing to show for it. 

Look, he's controlling, he is joined at the him with his daughter, he has an interfering and HC ex that he allows to dictate how he lives his life, he is cagey about money - how can you possibly trust someone like that?  There's no point in hoping that your SD will miraculously change if she's subjected to good influences - she has never been required to respect other people and their belongings in the past, your DH has never parented her, why would any of that change now? Besides, you don't have room for him and his daughter in your home.

Kaylee's picture

Yes, if you do end up buying a house together make sure everything is watertight legally.

It might cost you a bit in legal fees but it's worth it. I'd get a pre nup if I was you. Even though you're already married to him it's not too late (in NZ where I live,anyway).

You don't want to be liable for his debts....

As to the MIL wanting his apartment to live in - does she own it?  If she does, and wants to move back in, fair enough I guess.

But that doesn't mean his solution should be to move in with you. He can get a rental for himself and his daughter. In addition to everything else your house is too small for two extra people.

I get that you love him, he's your hubby etc. But be very careful and don't comprmise everything you've worked so hard for.

shamds's picture

You need to know that money is being put away for retirement/savings etc

if your husband is covering all non essentials for sd even when she's at her mums place, is this coming out of future savings/retirement?? If so, you will be cushioning the blow in retirement and therefore it is costing you money.

marriage is based on trust, there seems to be a lack of it if he won't be upfront about his paycheck and savings after cs/utilities obligations are paid off. 

Rags's picture

Gluttons for punishment who remain the financial tit for their X to suck off of are just stupid.

The same applies for those who do not effectively manage their support of children after they age out from under the CO.

We were the CP half of SS's blended family equaition.  Even with that I appreciate that the SpermClan ended CS on SS's 18th B-day.  WHat pissed me off about them was theri manipulative crap and crying poor mouth over having to pay a whopping $133/mo in CS for more than half of the 17 years there was a CS order in place.  

IMHO a prior breeder in a subsequenct marriage has to protect their marriage, their mate, and any of their joint children ... particularly from a toxic X and sadly even from a toxic failed family progeny from a prior relationship.