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5 stepkids, losing my mind.

ZoeNorth's picture

Hi.  I'm new here, and don't even know where to start.  I'm losing my mind.  Sorry if this post ends up long, but I need to vent, and figure out how to change my situation (or myself) so that I can not end up divorced.  And I need to figure out how to write all of this without feeling like a piece of shit.

I fell in love with my DH 17 years ago when he had one child with his ex.  Back then we were both partiers and made stupid decisions, etc.  Anyway, he somehow ended up getting his ex pregnant again.  So, he left me and went back to her.  6 months later, we tried again, and again he went back to her.  I wised up and moved on, no further contact for 13 years. 

When we finally reconnected, he now has 5 kids with this woman but they are getting divorced, and we still have a deep love for each other.  I've never tried so hard not to love someone, but in the end I couldn't live without him.  We have worked through almost all of our issues caused by our past, and I know that he would do anything for me if I asked.  Everything is perfect when the kids aren't around, and anyway, I will learn to love his kids (we thought).  Fast forward about 3 years and we have been married now for a year.  His two oldest boys (17 and 22) live with us, and there is a possibility of the youngest two (SS10 and SD13) coming to live with us pretty soon as well.  Add to this that any child who chooses to live with us is immediately disowned by their BM, who is the worst kind of person I've ever met.  Like I actually liked her in the beginning, but after seeing what she has done to all of her children (not to mention my DH), I have to admit that she should not be allowed anywhere near these kids.  So, it's best for the kids to be with us for a LOT of reasons, and we are fighting to make that happen.

Meanwhile, I hate them.  I mean, not them, they are good people.  I just hate having to live with them.  I cannot think of one single thing I like about having them in the same home as me.  I live in my bedroom with the door closed, which usually just means that everyone hangs out in my bedroom, and if I leave and go somewhere else, they follow me.  And my husband resents how much time I spend in my room, but I don't want to hurt these kids further by having them see how much I hate having to breath the same air as them.  They've already been rejected by one mother figure, and now by me as well.

Last year, we only had one kid here and he was in school full time.  That was okay, I started to feel comfortable with the routine of only having to deal with him at suppertime, and then only locked in my room in the evenings.  But this year he is only in school 3 hours per day, and suddenly he's Mr Popular, so he rarely comes home alone either.  And at 17 he just gets mad and acts like a jerk anytime we disagree with him on anything.  And this year the 22 year old has moved back home too, and he just doesn't think he should have to have rules, or work.  I get about as much respect from him as a roommate.  Like I get that I'm the new guy in the family, but this is literally MY house, and he lives in it!  And if the younger two end up here also...  the 13 year old girl is severely messed up, and the 10 year old boy is ok, but extremely spoiled, as well as acts like a 4 year old, including does not know how to use utensils, so he still eats with his hands, and still cannot read.  If by some miracle we end up with the 15 year old boy as well, we will have to get fire insurance on the house.  He is violent and vile.

If it continues to be only the two oldest living here, well, it's only a couple more years before I might have some kind of life that is at least occasionally about me and maybe even sometimes goes according to plan.  I'm not sure how my marriage will survive being in a holding pattern until these two leave the nest, but I have faith that it can.  But if we end up with the younger children, I sincerely think I might have to leave.  I love my husband, and he is a reasonably wonderful (if guilty) father, but I cannot stand the constant neediness, disrespect of the home and everything in it, messiness, complaining, entitlement, and NOISE of children.  I just don't understand where the payoff is for these creatures, other than knowing you've passed on your genes, which I clearly did not.

To add a little information about myself, I previously lived alone, and I was never one to play music or leave the TV on, I LOVE silence.  I am an extreme introvert as well, I LOVE being alone.  I was raised by very strict parents, and was expected to be fully independent by 18, a huge difference from these kids.  I also have some health issues that make it hard for me to bounce back once I get exhausted, and I think I've been exhausted for pretty well our entire year of marriage.  But I do love this man and don't want to lose him, I just cannot seem to figure out how not to hate living with his kids.  And I honestly think that it's getting worse, instead of better.  I survived the whole summer just holding out for september when things would go back to routine like last year, and then they did not, and I'm feeling hopeless. 

Is there any hope for us?  

Siemprematahari's picture

This man left you several times to go back with an EX that he created not 1 but 5 children with. After the first two kids he didn't see what a shitty mother she was?? So he continued and had more kids with her? This man doesn't parent or have boundaries for his kids to respect you in YOUR house but he's a great guy??

I just cannot seem to figure out how not to hate living with his kids. 

There is no way in getting around not hating living with his kids unless he makes some drastic changes in his and their behavior. This is your life if you continue in this relationship with no assistance on how to remedy it. These kids will never launch and your guilty H will enable this for as long as possible.

You are subjecting yourself to these toxic dynamics for a man that didn't choose you not once but twice. Re-evaluate your marriage and ask yourself if you want to live forever this way with this man.

hereiam's picture

Five stepkids. Oh good Lord, no man is worth that.

This man is just a bad habit that you needed to break a long time ago.

Aunt Agatha's picture

Have him rent a place for his hellions (no way would a 22 year old disrespectful man live in my house) and him to live until they all launch.

You are being used.  He needs to 100% deal with this mess.  You for your health and sanity need to get these people out of your life.

Also not sure what you see in this guy.  Are you sure it’s not a youthful fantasy of what this man might have been that you are in love with?  Because I don’t see a single good thing here from your post.

You deserve better.

ZoeNorth's picture

Haha, wow.  The thing is I don't hate his kids because of their behavior, for the most part if I have an issue with behavior, it is addressed and resolved.  I just hate that there are multiple people with all of their own needs and quirks and sounds and smells, all inside my house!  I mean, I'm pretty sure they could be perfect model citizens, and I'd still hate it.  All of my issues with DH are normal things that we are working on and making progress, and I'm content to continue working on them, it's just that working on issues with SIX people is EXHAUSTING!  

Siemprematahari, his past choices have not been ignored, but have been dealt with.  He does parent and have boundaries, but for the kids that live with their mother currently, it's pretty hard to parent when she only lets him have contact via phone for 15 minutes per week, and then visitation only over spring break and summer holidays (they live in a different province).  And for the kids that live here, I remember when I was their age, and totally understand their behavior.  They are normal (for this generation anyway) teenager/young adults.  My issues are not with him as a parent.  And the kids will launch, because they will be forced to, and he IS onboard with me on that.  The 22 year old is now (as of last month) expected to pay rent and help with the cooking if he expects to stay here, for example.  

Hereiam, your response made me laugh.  Ain't that the truth?  If only I'd known sooner!  But now that I'm here...  

DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

I’m confused, you say you are married but you also say they are getting divorced. Are you legally married? Also, you say it is your house, but is it yours or yours and your husbands? If it is yours, you could do as aunt Agatha suggested and that they rent for a while whilst he sorts his situation out. It appears to be increasingly common these days for couples to live apart for a while, and there is certainly no shame in it.  It does however also depend on how it impacts on finances, but they are his kids at the end of the day. Is there any legislation about bio mums paying cs in your country I’m not how it works where you are. 

You may wish to discuss with your husband again that you need alone time in your room if that’s what gets you through this. People even need to hide from their own bio kids sometimes lol.  I’m currently helping my rude bio son pack for university. My stepson didn’t finish his degree, and came back after one year, which possibly contributed to the demise of my marriage. It certainly didn’t help the situation anyway.  I am now getting divorced.

Good luck.

Aniki's picture

he somehow ended up getting his ex pregnant again

Hon, there is no "somehow". They had sex. Agan and again and again and again. THIS is why they have 5 children together. The two of you have split up more than once and he keeps going back to her. So those two have ALSO split up more than once and keep gravitating back together. 

It sounds to me like he is simply going from her to you to her to you... He has two women who keep taking him back. Whose to a divorce will stop him from continueing to have sex with BM?? 

You can do better than this flip-flopper.

ZoeNorth's picture

They are not yet legally divorced, but have been 100% separated and he has been 100% with me for the past 2 years.  We had a little civil ceremony last year, and will get the paperwork done when the courts catch up with us.  Currently, we are in a house that we moved into together, but that I bought with my money and only under my name.  I wanted to be sure that if he ever decided to flip flop again, I would lose nothing out of the deal... except that I can't actually afford to keep this place by myself.  But I could sell it if I had to, and it's still quite a bit cheaper (and bigger) than the place I was in before we moved.  We do not currently have the finances to support an additional home, although we are thinking about adding onto this one to give me a "Zoe-only" space. 

I do trust that he is never going back to her, and have as much trust as I would in any human being not to leave again.  I get that our situation sounds like a bad start, and it was, but we are both fully committed to this and to figuring out how to make this work.  Honestly the ONLY issue I am having no luck resolving is the kids.  I just resent them being here all of the time, and don't know how to a) live with that, or b) stop resenting them.  

SteppedOut's picture

The "only" issue you can't resolve is FIVE kids. That's a pretty big "only". Especially when more keep moving in. 

Kiwi_koala's picture

My boyfriend had five children when I met him. We were just friends but then he went back to his ex and added one more. I took a long time to decide if I wanted to be with him because there are so many kids. Honestly it's even worse than I imagined and I'm usually fairly good at seeing multiple sides to a situation. Nothing will ever make you feel better unless they're all out of your house. I told my boyfriend I'm not living with his children half time or full time. I wouldn't interfere with their relationship or expect him to stop seeing them, but I did draw a line in the Sand and said I'm not living with or taking care of them. Your husband is going to hold out hope that eventually it will work itself out and you'll feel better about the kids. Be honest and tell him it's too much for you. He can either accept that or he can leave.

ZoeNorth's picture

I also keep holding out hope that it will work itself out.  I mean, within a couple of years, we should be down to only 2 anyway, and those 2 will be teenagers and hopefully pretty self-sufficient.  But getting through those couple of years is looking pretty stressful. 

I did have a very clear talk with him today that aside from dinner and sleeping, I intend to pretty well live in the addition or somewhere other than the house with everyone.  He said he can deal with that, although he thinks it will hurt the kids feelings.  I said if that hurts their feelings, they will have to figure out as a family how to deal with it.  I will be much nicer to them when we are all together if I don't have to be around them all day every day.  Meanwhile, it isn't built yet.

DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

Please do not give this man access to your money. Would a you only room work? Or is this going to be one more room for his kids to move into?

ZoeNorth's picture

So far, he has access to nothing, not even my laptop or cell phone, while I have access to everything of his, not because I want it, but because he wants me to have it for trust-building purposes.  Also, he makes more money than I do, and he gives me money every month to make my own ends meet, so I have the property/house, and some RRSP's, but that's it.  

A room (we're talking about an entire addition/studio, not just a small room) with a lock on the door would work fine.  I'm pretty good at enforcing boundaries once I decide where to set them.  It's knowing where is fair for everyone that I have a hard time with.

Rags's picture

You know that they say about hope........ and which hand fills up first.

You had a civil ceremony... which makes him a bigamist.  He is not divorced. He cannot be married in any way, shape, or form to anyone other than his wife until the divorce is final.

Combine the fact that he is a bigamist to the fact that he "left" you at least three times to re-breed with his wife, a sequence of events that supposedly "wizened" you up.  Apparently wisdom is fleeting after 13 years of faded memories for you and the breeding of 5 spawn with his wife that he spawned in his seesaw relationships between his wife and you.

Please, reconnect with wisdom and purge the perpetrator of the bigamist seesaw breeding fest that has ruined at least 6 people's lives.... probably more like 8 peoples lives counting you and him.  For him that is Karma.



Steptalker2's picture

I think in your heart you knew you were always plan B. Get out now and love you not him. Choose you and your life. He and his kids will consume you. Date him and have him come to you, not the other way around.

ZoeNorth's picture

Well, you guys have certainly given me a lot to think about.  "It might be best for them to be with their father but it’s NOT best for them to be with you. Not good for them not good for you." is really striking a chord with me. 

I personally disagree with the bigamist comments though.  On paper, if paper is what is important to you (it's not to me), he only has one wife, her.  He has been trying to divorce her for years now, and if our court systems worked better in this country, it would be done.  My best friend's divorce took TEN YEARS!  I was not willing to wait for the courts to decide my life, I think that's crazy.  Spiritually, if spirituality is what's important to you (it is to me) he has only one wife, me. 

I'm trying to sift through the negativity towards my marriage and this man who I love so much and who treats me so amazingly well now in the present.  He has 100% realized that his obligation to his children does not need to include her, and he does not need to continue to put up with her abuse for them.  Have you ever been in an abusive relationship?  I have.  The guilt and shame and fear makes it very hard to walk away.  Add to that the fact that she hurts their kids, but the court won't let him take them away from her, it makes twisted sense that he stayed for so long.   Yes, he made some shitty choices (some of which were nearly 20 years ago!  If I had all of my shitty 20 year old choices held against me now...), and so did I, but this is where we are now, in a loving and committed relationship.  I'm honestly shocked that so many of you seem to be so against him personally, my friends and family all really love him, and I think he's a pretty amazing husband.  

I really appreciate the responses that didn't just assume that my situation was ridiculous.  Thank you for those.  I will take your words to heart and think about your advice.  I'm a little overwhelmed by the amount of responses that just straight out think there is no hope for us, and assumed that my husband is still treating me like the consolation prize due to his choices 20 years ago.  I came here for was advice on how to deal with being such an introvert and having so many people in and out of my house.  Don't deal with them is what I'm hearing.  I will see if I can figure out a way to do that without ruining the rest of my beautiful life.  Thank you for your responses.

Rags's picture

You are in a very complex and difficult situation.  The history is important.  That is why you are getting the comments you are getting.  Any relationship has some challenges that have to be addressed and overcome.  This one is so loaded with overwhelming history of repeated crappy decisions by your SO and tolerance and historical enabling on your part.  Yes, the initial bad decisions by SO may have started 20+ years ago. Those are not necessarily the decisions that people are concerned about.  It is the multiple decades of repetition of those poor decisions that are alarming.  More alarming is that apparently you are ignoring those experiences.  People are worried for you.

Many comments are not what  you want to hear. However, you need to hear them, deeply consider them, and go into this fully aware of the history and likely outcomes.

Take care of you.

ZoeNorth's picture

Thank you for explaining.  Perhaps I'm in a better mood, but this sounded so much less harsh phrased this way.  I assure you, I am not ignoring our past.  We have worked very hard on ourselves and on this relationship to move past those experiences and ensure we do not continue to make those poor choices.  We are dedicated to continuing to do so.  We got into this relationship with our eyes wide open about the issues that our past choices have caused, and the difficulties that we have faced because of it.  The only thing I was completely unprepared for was that I would not simply adjust to having children in my house.  I figured I would learn to love them eventually, and to be honest, I didn't think it would take that long.  That is not what happened.  My husband is completely understanding and supportive of whatever solution I can come up with to make this better for me, but I'm not sure we can afford different houses, so an addition to this house may be the best we can do.  In every way other than the kids, my life is so much better with him.  He is supportive and inspiring and nurturing and ...  well, all of the other things I would want in a husband.  He even cooks and cleans.

The kids are damaged by their past as well, and the older ones living here are doing their best to heal and grow as well, but they still see me as a person who does not make sense to them because I am so different from what they are used to.  And the younger ones still live with their mom where there is much drinking and drugs and no rules whatsoever, so when they come here for holidays, it takes them half of the visit to readjust to our rules.  Then things are fine for the remaining 2 or 3 weeks, and they leave again.  I also have a really hard time with them being here all day every day for 5 or 6 weeks with no school or structured schedule (which is something I need), and then just as I'm getting used to having them around and they are finally starting to behave nicely, they are gone again. 

The issues are the kids, which are consequences of his past choices, yes, but no amount of personal growth, healing, or change will cause them to go away.  They are here.  I gave the past history so that people wouldn't ask me what I was thinking getting together with a man with 5 kids in the first place!  Ha ha.  I did not realize that everyone would focus on how extra stupid that was, instead of providing insight into how to deal with the stepkids, which was what I came here for initially.  

Sorry for this rant, I totally see your point that our history sounds terrible but honestly, my husband is not the issue I need help with.  Just the kids.  Or myself, with the kids.  Wink

Rags's picture

The issue is that kids never go away.  And your SO's history of not putting you first, repeatedly, for decades compounds the challenges.  He put his wife and his children before you, over and over and over again.  

There is no way to be confident that he will put you and the relationship with you first.  Can you live the rest of your life with that uncertainty and the likelihood that you will rarely if ever be his priority?  That is the question.

In just about any situation on STalk the question is usually regarding the kids but rarely is the issue the kids. The issue is invariably issues with the partner.  It is pretty clear that is the case in your situation.  If your partner can put you and the relationship first you may have a chance at a durable relationship.  That is a big if.

Good luck and never forget to take care of yourself in this likely toxic stew.

DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

Divorces only take a very very long time If both parties can’t be bothered to do the paperwork. 

It seems to me a lot of people on this site are always second guessing themselves (including myself). We have to take a leap of faith sometimes and trust our gut instincts, head over heart. Which can be heartbreaking but necessary.