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spoiled, grown step children; an annoying ex-wife; and a rejecting sister-in-law: ring any bells?

secondwife64's picture

Hi. I'm new to this site and this is my first post. I was just wondering if anyone else shares my experience. My struggles can be put into three categories. (1) grown step children who are spoiled and compete with me; (2) ex-wife who lives in the same town and can't let go of what she believes is her hold on my husband and his family; and (3) a sister-in-law who has made it clear she prefers the ex-wife to me.

My life seems to move from any one of these three problems at any time, and sometimes all three happen at once. For example, my husband's mother just died and the ex-wife inserted herself quite conspicuously into the funeral. The sister-in-law asked her to speak as part of the eulogy, and the ex-wife took the opportunity to say, basically, that she was the real daughter-in-law. She got up, introduced herself and said, "I was married to Mary's son for many years, and we had three wonderful children together. Even though Mary is no longer my mother by law, she is my mother in spirit." Those were pretty close to her exact words, which she stated in front of the whole congregation. I couldn't believe my ears. It sent a shock through my whole body. This woman then pranced around the dinner in the church basement afterwords, and even went to the intimate family gathering at a local wine bar after the dinner. I thought it would never end.

The sister-in-law, as I said, makes it clear she prefers the ex-wife to me ( I mean, she invited the ex to speak at the funeral), and thought all of this was just great; and the sister also invites the ex to other family functions, where she (the sister) then ignores me, and needless to say the day of the funeral she ignored me totally---she said not one word to me, even hello. This kind of rejection on full display is very painful to me. As for the step children, at the funeral, as my husband stood beside me and we talked to friends together, the eldest daughter literally hung on her father--wrapping both her arms around his arm and just hanging there. This daughter is 36 years old. She behaves like a spoiled child, and that is just one example. She also is great at manipulating her dad.

Anyway all three of my struggles happened on one day, and it was really too much for me. That night I had what I thought was a mental breakdown, but I've come to understand that it was a panic attack. I didn't sleep at all and for two days and I was in a fog for about a week after that. I had to make an appointment with a therapist in order to sort it all out. I feel better now, but I know this stuff is just gonna happen again, and I don't know what to do. By the way, I had no role in raising the stepkids---they were all in their 20s when I met my husband. It appears that their mother has taught them well how to be totally self-absorbed and thoughtless.

If anyone could help me with advice or sharing of stories, it would be so helpful to me!


LizzieP's picture

I am not officially signed up on here but I have had basically the same experience.
I have a SIL who rejected me and DH as soon as we got married (after being very chummy with us)
and decided she was best friends with the ex. WTF! She told DH to divorce her many times
before we met.
This woman proceeded to bad mouth us to DH's sisters and other family and friends. The fall-out
was incredible. His other two sisters ignored me at Christmas (BM was coming of course) so we left.
My poor DH feels like life-long relationships and his reputation in his hometown were permanently damaged. And for what?
DH is convinced she is jealous, as she has been divorced for 15 years and can't find
a new DH.
DH's kids are late teens, and troublesome (wreck cars, pregnancy, arrested for drugs, truancy) that
started again, once we got married. BM is passive and lazy so the kids ran roughshod. DH has been
good at setting boundaries and letting them take the consequences of their acts.
Anyway, I get it about the "taking turns." We'd have flak from SIL, then from BM (the woman is oppositional
even when you are trying to help her), and then one of the kids would get in trouble.
We just moved 1200 miles and it really has helped. Kids have actually straightened out quite a bit.
Just know you are not alone...or crazy.

BMJen's picture

I'm sure he has to see this. I'm sure if something happend to my MIL BM would show up to the funeral....they did know each other for better than 20 years now. I don't think anyone in the family would ask her to speak, they would realize how rude this is to DH's current wife. With that said, if BM and MIL were the best of friends, truley loved one another, etc, I could understand and would hope for BM to speak if that is something she wanted and felt the need to do. But the speech you described is ridiculous. That's not saying goodbye to a loved one, that's reminding you that are you the "second wife" pun intended!

DH would never allow, his 14 or 20 year old to be disrespectful to me. Neither should your DH. This seems to be the theme in alot of marraiges, and I still can't belive it would be okay with any man for his, especially his grown, kids to be rude and disrespectful to his wife.

Have you ever sat DH down and told him all of these things and how it all makes you feel?

I'm sorry you had to go through something so hard during this time. You should be able to mourne your MIL without having to worry about BM's actions.

hangingin's picture

so that we can better get an idea of how your husband stands in this. How long have you been married? And how long had he been divorced from the EX before you got together? And how does he react to how the skids, sis,and EX treat you? Does he "protect" you, speak up on your behalf? Or do you feel like you are out there ON YOUR OWN?

ssecondwife64's picture

That info is in my bio, but I'll repeat it here, I've been with my husband for 15 years. We met in 1994, began living together a couple years after that, then finally married in 2005. When I met my husband in 1994 he had been divorced since 1990--the same year as my divorce. The ex married in the late 1990s--can't remember the exact year--but she has been married to her second husband for a long time, and I guess thats another thing that is so puzzling to me; how she seems to want to have things both ways.

The ex does not intervene that much in our lives, but it's more that my sister-in-law invites her to everything and gossips with her about me and my husband. Then, when the ex has the opportunity, she inserts the knife--she is very very good at that, and does it in a way that other people may not notice unless hthey are highly perceptive and/or paying atention. The ex also gets part of my husband's retirement and she has a hard time covering up her delight in that. In addition, she actually thought she would be the beneficiary in the event of my husband's death. My husband is 18 years older than me. We have a good relationship, and I feel we are soulmates (I'm a bit of an old soul and have always liked older men for their many good qualities, primary of which is that they have lived long enough to not sweat the small stuff. (I wish I could be more that way!) He even said that the ex's speech at the funeral said more about her than anyone else, and really, that's probably true.

When the sister and the ex do these things, my husband doesn't seem to get how hurtful it is to me, but when I explain it he does begin to see. Deaths and funerals are hard though, because if you talk about your own feelings it can come of as self-absorbed and callous and uncaring for his grief an loss.

Believe it or not, another family member died last week, and this time he told the sister flat out to leave his ex out of the service. He further stated to the sister that he did not like what happened at the mothers funeral, and it was uncomfortable for me. It so made my day when he did that. So yeah, my husband sees it, but he's a bit obtuse in matters of the heart. I just have to be patient to point things out and it matters a great deal HOW I explain myself. Like just about everyone, he responds better to measured, logical argument than emotional or teary-eyed complaints, but when your emotions are high, that can be a challenge!

As for the kids, their behavior is not open hostility. They can be nice to me sometimes, and other times they can be quite rude. Sometimes I think they just don't have good social graces, or, dare I say, much class. My one son (age 24--I'm 44) finds them to be loud and rather obnoxious, and the 2 daughters drink a lot and do drugs---so that kind of lifestyle brings out mood swings. The biggest trouble with the stepkids is that I never know what I'm gonna get: rude or nice. It's a total crapshoot everyime I see them, so I walk on eggshells a lot hoping things go well. The biggest stepkid problem by far is the oldest daughter who is very needy, borrows money all the time and, as I say, litterally hangs on her father. My husband caves into her and has a real blind spot for her, I think because he feels guilty for the divorce, and the stepdaughter really knows ho to work that guilt. It seems not to occer to my husband that the money he gives her may be going to the purchase of drugs.

Since my husband talked to the sister about how he didn't like the funeral and what happened, the sister has chosen to take it out on me in passive-aggressive ways. She simply will not speak to me at all, and anytime there is a gathering, when she sees the ex, she gives her a big hug and acts like they have been friends for life (which they haven't. This "friendship" mysteriously started when we got married in 2005.) The sister will not even acknowledge my presence in the room, and they ex just loves that.

Thanks so much for your responses. It really means a lot to me!

Sia's picture

thing. My inlaws are, well, awful people. Maybe not awful, but they don't treat others well at all! I can relate to that. My oldest SD19 is an adult, and has a child of her own that she will not allow DH or I to see. So, I can sort of relate to the adult skids thing too. I think everyone on this site can relate in one way or another. Wink Big hugs to you and WELCOME!

hangingin's picture

I know of what you speak... My husband dosen't "get it" sometimes too! I have come to the conclusion it's a "man thing" (no offense to the guys out there!) Smile And yes, when it comes to "his kids" he does tend to have a blind spot too. I basically raised my 2 skids along with our BS, but it's always BEEN and will continue to BE DADDY, that they go straight to... for money, ect.... never mind everything I have done and SACRFICED for them. Sooo, my advice to you is to BE YOURSELF! Whenever the skids come over to YOUR HOME, DO NOT LET THEM MAKE YOU FEEL OUT OF PLACE IN YOUR OWN HOME. Eventually they will "get it" and stop making you feel like a second class citizen. And as for the sister in law, your HD said it HIMSELF, DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. It's HER PROBLEM, not yours. She cannot divide you and your HD unless YOU LET HER! Your HD has already set her straight on how it will be, so go ahead and DO YOUR THING, like SHE DOSEN'T EXIST. Live your life for you and your HD, DO NOT worry about how his family likes or dislikes you, what matters is HOW MUCH HD LOVES YOU, isn't that all that REALLY MATTERS? As long as you feel the security and love of your HD,who cares how the rest act?
Just this past weekend, my HD, me and the grown skids went to an out of town wedding that SS was in, and during the course of the weekend, my HD paid for some fast food for SS, SD, her fiance, and various other GROWN FRIENDS of theirs, well, on the way home we also stopped for breakfast where I just happened to pipe up with "since WE PAID for you last night, you all can pay for OURS THIS MORNING",SD DID NOT LIKE THAT A BIT, but I looked at her squarely in the face and told her what I wanted. And they paid for it. So, take a stand! ignore all the crap flung at you and enjoy your life, HD, and your son!! because he sounds like he is a very nice young man who knows how to separate the flowers from the manure!!


CandyLou's picture

oh hangingin did you really speak up like that!! I admire you so much!! I would never have the guts to say that! Mind you I haven't seen my adult skids for over 6 months, but my BF pays for everything! They bring whoever they want to dinner and he happily pays for everyone and I just can't stand their selfishness. I wish my BF would speak up , but he never would.
So good for you!

hopefloats22's picture

Hi there,

I'm not officially signed up here either, but wanted to say hang in there. I've had similar experiences to several comments.
My husband and I live in the same town as his ex. My MIL was all chummy chummy with me until shortly after our marriage too.
Once we got married and my husband and I started to decide how we wanted things to be for us, we had to set some boundaries with family.
The twice weekly phone calls to the in-laws to talk to the at the time 2 and 4 year olds (my SD's) along with daily visits (they live in the same town too) needed for us to stop. As you can imagine, they weren't too happy with that. Because of our boundaries, they tried to push their weight around, ended up throwing a bit fit on Christmas and have since gotten really chummy with the ex-wife. Now the grandparents pick up the kids at school and the grandparents attend school functions when their BM has custody. The ex is totally oblivious to the right of first refusal, withholds school information from us, and would rather take the girls to their grandparents for two hours if she has to work instead of dropping them off to their father early on custody exchange nights.

During this say two year time period what I found interesting was my MIL would have pictures of the ex in her house and displayed prominately where my husband and I could see them during visits. When my husband confronted her on it, she just blew it off, as well, "she's the girls mother..." When I first met this woman, she had nothing but bad things to say about the ex, now she acts like the ex is perfect, my husband and her should be back together and the ex can do no wrong.

Speaking of other examples, at our BS baptism (we have one child together), my FIL made the comment to my mother that if my H would have put as much effort into his first marriage as he has in his second he would still be married. I WAS FLOORED. Why even bring up such a thing. To add to that, the in-laws went home after the church service, and returned to our after party practically in sweats! My MIL walked in all look-at-me, the party can start now....WLF!

We're all really lucky here in the sense that our husbands, once we express our feelings to them, can stand up for our "side" if you will. Also, always remember that you don't need the SIL, MIL, etc. acknowledgment or recognition of your marriage. The fact that your husband has a "first wife" and you're the "second wife" and people (i.e. SIL) can't move on to acknowledge the second wife, doesn't mean you don't exsist. In some ways you sort of have to stand up for yourself and fight for your place YOU’RE the one who's the CURRENT WIFE, not the DIVORCED WIFE. Remember the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Frustrated_StepMom's picture

I'm in the same boat as you, secondwife64. My husband had only one child with his ex, and she is the most spoiled thing I have ever seen. We have her every other weekend, but when the girl can't get her way with daddy, she goes crying to her mom... and she tells how awful her father is. She is also quite ungrateful... I don't spoil her like her father and mother do, but I do give her treats here and there... she doesn't say thanks or when we come to visit her, she doesn't say hi to me. I take this as disrespect, but when I bring it up to my husband, he tells me that she's just a kid and kids do that. I'm sorry, but I wasn't raised like that. When I didn't say thank you or show appreciation to people who gave me things, I would get punished.

And don't get me started on the ex wife. I cannot stand that woman... I bite my tongue when she's around for the sake of my husband, but I refuse to be friends with her. She is constantly blaming my husband for ridiculous things and tries to control him like she did when they were married. One time, she accused us of taking their daughter out to eat fast food all the time (everyone noticed that the daughter is getting a little chubby for her age), but her father is a chef, so why would we waste money on that awful fast food when he can just cook at home? Not to mention, every time I see the ex wife and the daughter, they are almost always munching on fast food.

The only thing I can't relate with you is the fact that I actually get along with my in-laws. My mother and father in law absolutely hated my husband's ex wife and are apparently happy with me. The only exception with my in laws is my husband's oldest sister... she thinks I'm a little too young for her brother.

Anyway... it's very hard being a second wife. I had always sympathized with the first wives... but now I know second wives don't have it easy either

donnahjean's picture

I wish those of you still dealing with this greater capacity to handles things than I did. When I married my husband, he had two step daughters from his first marriage. I had three minor children from my first marriage. My husband was not close to his step daughters, and said that they were going to recede into his past. They would not speak to me and, he said he saw this and would address it, but later said this wasn't the case. I was told we were not creating a blended family anyway and so I had hoped these things wouldn't matter. One daughter made a point of calling our house and putting me down to him. He often compared me unfavorably to the other, whom he seemed to feel was perfect. When my own daughter had such issues and struggles, it was difficult for me to live with a man who supposedly saw himself as father to her, looking at her in a negative light to his daughter who could do no wrong. I hated that I came to resent his step daughters so much. Despite several years together, I felt and was in fact told by my husband that his former family mattered more to him that I did. I regarded him as the most important person in my life, and I wanted to put the marriage first, but I was hurt always being reminded that others were more valued. I'm sure I didn't handle all of this in the healthiest ways, and I did seek counseling and was even on medication for my nerves and depression. I wanted to matter to my husband more than anyone else did. Having come from a history of abandonment by my father, this was really more than I could take. I divorced him several months ago, but I suppose I will always love him. If I thought there was a way for us to successfully deal with these conflicts, I would try to reconcile. I would be very reluctant to enter a step situation with daughters again, since I found this situation so threatening. To those of you still in the midst of it, be very careful of lines drawn in the sand. I am writing this in part to help heal the sorrow in my heart for the loss of a husband I loved, but also in hopes that anyone who reads it will somehow benefit. This was certainly not the only problem in our marriage. I felt I could have dealt with anything so long as I was first in his heart. Divorcing him to make the pain stop has not stopped the pain.

shorty50's picture

I know this is an old thread but so much of it is my life. Sad My husband and I dated 4 years and have married 6 years. His only child, DD was a freshman in college when her parents divorced. From what I hear, it shouldn't have been a surprise, the parents fought all the time.

Fast forward-DD is getting married. She has always put her mother before her father. I thought that he would finally get to do something special by walking her down the aisle but no, DD is having BOTH parents walk her down the aisle. She knows that I don't like her mother, with good reason. I saw a comment that she made to her fiance'(gotta love these social networks)about putting us and her mother in a 2 bedroom suite because she knows it would bug me. With a smiley face.

I'm the one who sends her gifts for occasions, she never acknowledges them. My husband gets mad and says don't send her anything for her birthday or Christmas, but I'm not like that. I suppose I should be since we were visiting her a while back and I saw lots of the things I'd bought her in a pile in the dining room. She said that was her thrift shop pile.

I really don't want to go to this wedding, if I go, it will be for my husband and not the DD.