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Disengaging & Relationship Breakdown

ThatGirl's picture

Druzilla's blog about disengaging and the breakdown of the relationship between her DH and skids prompted me to post this blog. Druzilla noticed that he and his kids seem to have less of a relationship now that she has quit prompting him. I've been noticing the same happening at our house. An example would be this Thanksgiving. My family was coming to our house this time (Mom, her BF and daughter, Grandma, Aunt, Uncle, Cousins, my grown sons). He only has one child left that we have 50/50 and every other holiday. It was our turn to have him at our house, which is fine because he's gone to my family gatherings before. Oldest SD, her SO, and baby live next door to us and we have a fantastic relationship, they were also invited.

I did not say a word about the two middle skids (SS20 and SD18). We do not have a good relationship, due to all the lying, cheating, stealing, drugs, arrests, etc. We already had a very full house and were trying to figure out extra seating. They don't know any of my family, since they PAS'd out on us a few years ago. In all honesty, I'd prefer not to have them in our home, but would have survived it if he wanted to invite them.

If I had not been disengaged, I would have prompted him to call and find out if they had plans, given them the option of coming even tho it would be mostly my family. I feel like he should have done that on his own, so I never inquired. I left it alone and didn't say a word, waiting for him to bring it up. They do their texting back and forth, but I'm never clued into the discussions. I'm waiting for him to spring it on me at the last minute that they will be coming (that's how these things usually go). He did hint that they may "show up," but never offered any more than that.

Turkey dinner came and went without their presence. That night after everyone had left and I was finishing up the cleaning, I notice him texting with a sad look on his face. I asked what was wrong, and he said SS20 was upset about not being invited. I find out that they had no prior conversation about Thanksgiving. I let him have it (damn dinner wine! LOL). Duh, of course he's upset! None of you know how to communicate. My kids would be crushed if a holiday came and went without a word from me. Likewise, I'd be upset if a holiday passed without hearing from my mother. But that doesn't happen, because we all COMMUNICATE! You don't know how to communicate with your children.

He said he didn't invite them because he didn't think I wanted them there. No, I don't want them here, but they are your children and I'll deal with it. As the parent, he should have called and let them know what was happening. He could have invited them, or told them it was going to be my family and we can do our own dinner another time, or found out that they already had plans with their mother. Anything. But he chose nothing.

On the other hand, if spending the holiday with their father was so important, why didn't they call him to find out what we were doing? They are both adults now, they should accept some responsibility. I absolutely hate people who'll sit around and complain, "You never call," when the phone works both ways.

It is not my job to tell him to call his children. It's also not my job to remind him to call his father (which he didn't do, either). Before I disengaged, I'd remind him to call for birthdays, holidays, if we were going camping or doing something fun. I don't do that anymore and his relationships have suffered. That was not my fault and I will not accept responsibility for this. But I feel a bit guilty, anyhow Sad


ThatGirl's picture

That's not totally it, tho, because he does remember these dates, he just has a hard time planning ahead and acting on them.

As for my XH? Yep, I totally removed his "external memory cache" when I left him. That man doesn't have a clue! He even put down the wrong dates for marriage kids birthdays on his divorce paperwork. I'm surprised he knew his mailing address Wink

ThatGirl's picture

I think resentment from prior turmoil in my particular step situation has left me with the attitude that his family is his job, not mine.

This is exactly how I feel. I have no desire to push him to do things for people who have caused so much turmoil in our lives. If he wants to do it on his own, that's fine.

skylarksms's picture

I think in MANY relationships, be it traditional families or blended families, the alpha female is the one who takes the primary role in nuturing and building relationships. Guys have a hard time doing that because they have never had to.

I know in my experience, once my great-grandmother died, we only have family reunions once every 4 years. Before it was once EVERY year.

I believe that this is also why PAS is almost exclusively caused by the BM.

Doubletakex3's picture

I apologize in advance for the gross stereotype but guys have a hard time communicating. (Not all guys, of course, I work with some men who are great communicators and others that over communicate). Just yesterday, FDH came home from work and rehashed a difficult but necessary discussion he had with a business associate. He was so proud of himself for having the discussion. He even said, "Aren't you proud of me?" It was clear to me that broaching the subject and dealing with the conflict was a HUGE deal to him. I work in a very adversarial field and have half a dozen direct reports; difficult discussion are a daily occurence for me. I just don't think many men know how to effectively communicate, address or resolve conflict at all. It's much easier to let us deal with it and when we won't/don't they clam up.

hismineandours's picture

I get your point Draco-but who forgets Thanksgiving? The guy obviously didnt forget it was Thanksgiving just did not know how to communicate with either his children or his wife about the holiday so chose to do nothing.

I know that so well as it is what my dh does. I know that my dh had NO communication with ss13 nor his parents on Thanksgiving, nor has he for almost 2 months. That is not an issue of forgetting-he'd just rather avoid the whole mess as he doesnt want to deal with it.

I could also so see my dh saying-"well i knew you didnt want him here"-which never stopped him the 4 years we were doing eowe visitation nor the 7 years of primary custody so it's silly to act like that thought is stopping him now.

I think it is ridicoulous that us women somehow get stuck with the role of facilitating relationships between our skids and our dh's. When half the time the skids hate us and we get blamed for everything anyway.

ThatGirl's picture

Exactly, he didn't forget, but didn't want to deal with it. He knew that we were a full house, that they wouldn't be comfortable around my family, that I'd be uncomfortable having them in our home, and he didn't want to tell SD18 that she absolutely cannot bring her sleezy BF. In truth, he probably didn't want them here just as much as I didn't. So he avoided the issue altogether. He burried his head in the sand, then was upset that doing so hurt his kids' feelings.

Of course the skids will see this as all my fault, but I'm used to that.

cant win for losin's picture

Not only did he not forget, and not only did he not want to deal with it, he also didnt take responsibilty for the outcome.
His response to his spouse "i didnt think you wanted them here" is a typical cop out answer.

The adult and mature thing to do would say to your wife, "hey i was thinking of inviting the kids, are you comfortable with that?"

Passing the buck, thats what these men like to do. Blended families are not traditional families. You cannot treat it as such, or expect it to run as such! So yes maybe wife number one was the "planner" for the family and events, cause it was ONE family. But in the second marriage/ blended family you need to plan for your own family, and then cross reference and mesh those plans together, IF you can.

DaizyDuke's picture

The best (well worst) part of that whole non-communication mess with your DH is that YOU will be the one blamed by the skids for not inviting them. You're actually getting blamed by DH too with his, "I didn't think you wanted them here" comment.

So frustrating!

Vichychoisse's picture

My DH has this disease, but I am pretty sure it's not intentional avoidance. He's just not wired that way. A friend of mine (who worked in a mailroom) had a motto that "straight men do not know their postal codes", and I think this not only applies to remembering dates and such, but planning in advance. And in some cases, even understanding what is socially expected or appreciated (Thank You cards and RSVPing are prime examples).

He makes valiant attempts to combat this by having important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) set in his google calendar, with reminders well in advance. BM makes sure he plans in advance for skid things. I, personally, am attempting to explain the virtues of planning, things like looking in the fridge/cupboards BEFORE he leaves for the grocery store instead of texting me a million times, "do we have any X left?". :?

stepfamilyfriend's picture

Don't feel bad. I think it's a very common phenomenon. I remind DH of birthdays and events. Not just "remind" but gently "nudge" him to do something about it. Maybe they just get used to not having to be the ones to basically nurture these relationships, so they don't even know how to do it...I don't know. It may just take time.