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Mini-Wife Behavior and Other Stepfamily Problems Are Not Unique to the Good Ole' USA

Toxic Situation's picture

Apparently, it's not just on this side of the pond. In Germany, stepfamily problems are rampant.

(As for me, I live in a stepfamily situation with a mini-husband and it is really strange. On Father's Day, DW told SS15 to be good to me because I "bring home the bacon." SS said, "No, me! Me! I do!" Kid has never worked a day in his life, of course and all meals, toys, food and clothing are paid for by the others who he treats like crap. The kid goes nuts sometimes if I put my arm around my wife. (When he was younger, he used to claw at the bedroom door and whimper when the door was locked.) I really understand the idea that the mini-husband feels like he is the legitimate companion of his mother. She has done nothing to work against this situation. Up until a year so ago, they used to lay in bed and talk. In earlier years that also meant that she would stay in bed with him until he fell asleep. Every night.)

On The Stepmother Blog by Susanne Petermann (the blog is in German, I've translated the first few paragraphs and put them below), the author talks about what stepmothers experience in relationships where the stepdaughter is a mini-wife:

"There are stepmothers who feel strangely shut out when their husbands and their stepdaughters are together. They often feel ashamed of their thoughts and they wonder if they are exaggerating or being hysterical, because they get the feeling that what’s going on is more like what happens with a lover than with a child.

Have you ever felt this way? In my book, “You Have Absolutely Nothing To Say To Me,” I describe some of these “mini-wives” and the effects of this kind of father-daughter relationship on the new partnership. The “mini-wife syndrome” is a lot more common than people think. The mini-wives’ relationships with their fathers have nothing to do with sex (or sexual abuse).

If you have one of these mini-wives as a rival in your relationship, it is almost always because your partner hasn’t separated the father and partner roles from one another. Because he has allowed his daughter to be a resource person, a close intimate or support, she feels like she is her father’s legitimate companion. The result is that every other woman in Dad’s life is competition and must be jealously fought against. This is exactly what Teresa is experiencing."

(Then follows a letter from Teresa to the author, describing what it is like to live in a stepfamily situation with a mini-wife...)

The woman who writes this blog also says that anyone who says "you were the one who decided to marry your husband," and "you knew he had kids when you married him," and other such things is full of crap.


KinaTina357's picture

I don't know if I entirely agree with the last sentence. It's hard to marry a person you don't know. I understand some people live separate until they get married, but even then, how do you move in with a person and then act shocked about their step children and lifestyle?

Toxic Situation's picture

Well, some of that behavior happens over time. You didn't think they were capable of it, and some of it happens as they get older and they weren't doing it when they were smaller. When I first met SS15, I understood he was a feral child and that the adults had raised him as sort of a house pet, or another way of looking at it, he was a five year old in a ten year old body. But I couldn't have known.

It would have taken a foreknowledge and experience in stepfamilies to know this. This blog contains a lot of insight and help, but even then, it takes time on this blog reading and posting to come to an understanding of all this. Maybe someday someone will put together a "best of," or a kind of tutorial based on the experiences in this blog, but that would take a lot of work. But no one handed me a guide book to stepfamilies and I'm guessing that what is written about it is a lot of hype about how wonderful blended families are.

You should have seen it coming, as you mention in your comments reminds me of this story:

A man was in his cabin in the middle of a terrible snow storm when he heard a feeble scratching at his door. He opened it to see a half frozen rattle snake on his doorstep begging to be let in from the bitter cold. The man said to the snake, “I’m not going to let you in! You’re a rattle snake and you’re going to bite me!” “No I won’t,” hissed the snake. “Just bring me in and get me warm and I’ll be your friend for life.” Well, the man let the snake come in and even allowed it to rest upon his chest by the fire to get warm. When the snake was completely comfortable it bit the man on the neck. As he was dying, the man said, “but you promised you wouldn’t bite me and would be my friend for life.” The snake calmly replied... “but you knew I was a snake when you let me in.”

I think this story can apply to certain relationships, especially in relationships between adults. A lot of people, we knew they were snakes before we let them in. And they are going to do to us whatever it is that snakes do. But a small kid hasn't fully grown into these things, till later. If I had first walked into this situation when SS15 was 15 and not 10, I might have walked right back out.

Lit'l Bit's picture

In my experience I did not see the mini wife crap until my SD26 was an adult. Was he Disney dad, yep.. but SD didn't live with us until she was 18.

Yes, I know I will hear a lot of crap for this. It is what it is.

IN all honesty it was not always like this but the more I bring it to DH's attention the more he does it. Either that or I am more aware of it now than before. A few months ago I wrote about how he took her car to get 4 new tires. I stressed that I could care less if he paid for them or not but my point was that he tells me and our BD24 together.. to take care of our cars on our own. We get the "deer in the headlight" look just for asking a question about our cars.

BD and SD goes to Vegas a couple of weekends ago. BD drives SD car back from Vegas and notices that her "change oil" light is on. BD tells SD you should have had your oil changed before driving it to Vegas. SD said Daddee didn't have time to do it. BD said why do you have to ask Dad to do it. Just take it to the dealership or Jiffy Lube FFS. Cost lest than $30 bucks and takes no more than 20 min. So guess what Daddee did on his day off...yep took SD car to have the oil changed. WTF his problem...I just bought a new car and reached 3000 miles ima be a bioche and tell him to take my car for its first oil change on his next day off.

Toxic Situation's picture

You might be reacting to the "full of crap" statement. The author of that blog was coming from that there are things that people wouldn't say to birth parents that they seem to have no problem with saying to stepmothers.

What is your connection to stepfamily issues? What is your position in your family at this time and how do you handle stepfamily issues?

You have a rather direct style, taking people to task way of saying things, which is OK with me. I wouldn't want to be on a forum where everyone was in agreement all the time. The truth is sometimes somewhere in between. That being said, the disengaging advice has been on of the best things I've learned here. I also read other peoples' stories here and learn a lot.

Toxic Situation's picture

Thanks for the notes on the history of negative attitudes toward stepmothers. I hadn't known all of that, except for the evil stepmother fairy tales. I'm going to have a look at your blog.