You are here

The losing battle. Advice please!

Bamb's picture

Hello steptalk community, I have been lurking on this site for years and feeling so validated by similar experiences. A little background on my family: I have been married to my DH for one year, together for five. I have four bio kids (6-18) and one SD (21). When my DH and I first started dating SD was 16 and she was placed on the highest of pedestals. She did not react well to having a woman in her fathers life and she punished him for it. Skipping his parenting time, throwing hissy fits if we ate somewhere she liked without her and constant emotional manipulation. At this point I tried very hard to gain her friendship and went out of my way to buy her things, text her and do small favors for her. I kept my mouth shut during all of this behavior for two years and let him handle it. 

Everything changed when we moved in together, almost immediately. It was like she all of a sudden felt ownership in our new home and escalated her behavior. My husband of course never stood up to her or held her accountable for her behavior. One night I finally snapped and told her her behavior was unacceptable and she was going to stop treating her father with such disrespect. She turned on me and cried to her father that he always puts me first and she expected that on days she is there that he prioritize her instead of me. She called me names and I told her she needed to apologize before returning. We didn't hear from her for a year besides random texts to her father telling him I was a crappy person and he was a crappy father. This broke his heart and he obsessed over it. We went to couples counseling and worked through some of it, established new boundaries and he was taught about guilty father syndrome and how unhealthy their enmeshed relationship was. 
After that year he began counseling with her alone. She refused to go if I would be there. So they did it together and made some progress. We slowly have reintegrated the family and she is now an independent adult and a little more mature. We are friendly on a very surface level now and we see her every few months and I am happy with that amount. 
She will still randomly flip out on him and accuse him of being a horrible father but I don't stay quiet anymore and point out the manipulation directly to her. He doesn't see it unless I point it out and he would rather beg her forgiveness and sweep it under the rug. His default is to ignore her shitty behavior. What bothers me the most is that my kids are called out by him if they even look sideways at us! Anytime there is an issue with her or I bring up something it turns into a huge fight and it is always my problem, I'm never happy, bla bla bla.  Whenever she is around, it has to be all about her. My other kids are ignored even if it is their birthday celebration and she has to be the center of attention.  Always taking about memories of her and her dad before I was around (why do they do this???). He is sad when she leaves and I am always relieved because I don't feel comfortable around her. 

On to the current issue....we just found out she is moving down the street from us next week. I feel sick about it! I know he will become obsessed with seeing her as often as possible and want her over constantly. He is ecstatic she is moving so close. I feel like this may unravel our marriage. 
I don't know how to express how I feel or what should be reasonable boundaries and expectations anymore. I always feel guilty for my feelings....this is his child after all. He has said many times "my child will always be welcome in my home". And I get that, I do!!  But I'm filled with resentment. I've been in individual counseling as well for this and my counselor has also validated my feelings. Please help. What is reasonable?? How do I get past this? 

TwirlMS's picture

You have my sympathy.  My SD40 would move next door to us if she could.  
Fortunately she will never live anywhere near here because she can't afford it.   

When DH and I built this house together we both sold our houses we owned coming into the marriage and combined those proceeds into one dream retirement home an hour away from her.  That helped tremendously because the step adults could no longer feel possessive of our home in any way shape or form.   

My DH, as clueless as he is to SD manipulation, learned his lesson when he let her move in for a few months.  It caused our first ever fight.  I like my privacy and he knows it.  




Stepmom2020's picture

My dad and sm did this as well. Both lost their spouse, both had adult children. This worked really well for all of us.




Stepmom2020's picture

My dad and sm did this as well. Both lost their spouse, both had adult children. This worked really well for all of us.




Bamb's picture

This is a great idea. We are in the weird phase where we still have 3 of my kids at home so it is hard to draw boundaries that are the same for all kids. That would make it easier!

Texashley33's picture

my Husband's ex wife moved 4 minutes down the street from us. Now she drives by our house more for no reason but to be nosey, and her daughter rode her bike by the other day. It's like she will always be in our business! My Husband and SS17 both hate her, but I can't stand SS17 and wish he would move in with her. He is just as awful as she is..lies to our faces etc., but she is a drunk and lost custody. She has 2 daughters with her second ex husband and she rarely sees them unless she wants attention on the holidays. I wish she would go move by them and stalk them like she does me. She drove by my house last night as I was outside about to go for a jog. ..and im sick of having to check license plates, bc she stalks me so much. I have her license plate memorized now. It really is a pain having to go grocery shopping or jogging and seeing the ex wife glaring at you out of jealousy, while I'm with our 2 children and just trying to enjoy my life. 

Fedupmama's picture

BM moved a few blocks from us too. Occasionally see her driving. Makes me sick as well, encroaching on my territory. Can't wait to move to the country. 

Texashley33's picture

If BM could afford to live right next to us she would. Her parents help her get rent houses the neighborhood next to us. She was evicted from her last house. All she does is sue people and drink and party. SS17 told them all to quit calling and sending him gifts. Now she lives 4 minutes down the street after that happened. It's like she will never go away even though she dumped SS off any chance she could before she lost custody. 

tog redux's picture

It doesn't sound like he made any progress at all in therapy, just that the Earth spun around 5 times and she's a bit older now. He's still enmeshed with her and treating her like rainbows shoot out of her ass, and putting her ahead of you.  The fact that he gets "sad" when his adult daughter leaves to go home in the same town is all I need to know to see that he still has a very unhealthy relationship with her.

She should not be "welcome in his home" anytime if she can't behave appropriately when she's there. It's YOUR home too, so you get just as much say. And then he can't even discuss anything without blaming you.

Time for you and him to go to therapy this time.

Bamb's picture

He initially made some great progress in therapy but over the years it has gone out the window and he longs to have a closer relationship with her. Up until now we only see her a couple times a year, usually at birthdays or holidays. 

To be clear, at this time she hasn't necessarily been disrespectful while  in our home. What bothers me is she has to have all the attention. SHe has to constantly gush overy every memory she can think of from before I was in the picture. She and DH will sit and quietly talk to themselves in the other room while i'm slaving away in the kitchen, leaving me out. She always has to sit by him, stuff like that. 

She and I are pleasant to each other now, but don't talk too much. It has been over three years since she called me names and would text her father about me. They went to counseling after all that and she did apologize once to me (although forced to do it).

tog redux's picture

But - what you are describing IS disrespectful to you. From him and her. They exclude you with those memories and and talk sessions by themselves. 

JRI's picture

Is she working?  Going to school?  Have a boyfriend?  While I agree that her moving nearby is awful, how will that exactly work?  What Im saying is if she has a work or school schefule and a boyfriend, she might be too busy to be there much.  Is it an apartment or house?  Rental?

My mini-wife SD59 was/Is similar.  I have actually had to say the words, "knock before you walk in" and "Dont call after 9 pm or before 9 am", ie, things that other people seem to know.  Its a. boundary thing.  But back to your issue, I agree your DH might need a refresher at counseling.  I don't get it, as awful as my SD59 is, where no one wants to be around her, my DH83 sees the rainbows coming out of her rear end.  Ill never understand it.

Bamb's picture

She is working full time and moving in with friends and a boyfriend. So i have considered that we may not see her as often as I'm worried about. I can only hope! I know that my husband will be obsessed with having her so close though and he will want to invite her to everything and find reasons to go "help" her constantly. He has already told me he is so happy she's moving close and he plans to invite her over as often as possible. We got into a huge fight about it and he said "how can i restrict one child but not the rest". He brings up times my kids are bickering or rude and asks how it is different. I feel like our marriage is about to shift for the worse. I've told him before to have the relationship with her that he wants but don't expect me to have the same. And now he says that I've told him that and now that he has the opportunity, I try to block him. How can we ever be a family if I exclude one member? 

He accuses me of holding onto the resentment and past and being unable to move forward. And maybe I am? I don't even know anymore. Is it me? Am I unforgiving?

Winterglow's picture

If she's moving in with her boyfriend, things might not go the way your DH hopes. Firstly, if he's over there all the time "helping out" it will probably be construed as interfering. No male wants an older male invading his territory and giving advice all the time. Secondly, he's not going to be too happy if she spends too much time at your place and not at theirs. This might just work out for you :)  Fingers crossed anyway!

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

I can absolutely feel your pain, and it's an aweful place to be. I went through hell with SS14 behavior before she finally left and went to live with BM. Then had to deal with the resulting dad guilt. We also went to counseling and although SO has come to terms emotionally with her exit. I am not deluding myself that there will not be much more to come in terms of her circling back and sucking him back in. I anticipate this will be a life long pattern with her that I am helpless to change, because SO will always get sucked right in, set up and hurt when he doesn't give her what she wants.  I have accepted what I can control and have lowered my standards. I have completely separated myself from SD in everyway and do not even invest a second into anything regarding her. I do not empathize with him or devote any emotional energy into trying to help him after she has emotionally abused him. I have set boundaries with him and we have addressed in counseling that he needs to separate his issues with her from the rest of us and it will not be tolerated him taking out his frustrations on anyone in the household. Bottom line is my stance is I do not care and I don't want to hear about it!!! 

JRI's picture

You are very insightful to realize that your SD will be circling back to DH whenever she meets a bump in the road.  Every spat with a boyfriend, every divorce, every debt load, every job problem, every car issue.  If he's like my DH, he will be right on it.  Disengagement, boundaries and gray rock are the only help for the SM, not  cure but a help.

Bamb's picture

I also agree that this will be a never ending cycle. I deluded myself by thinking things would settle in naturally now that she is an adult. But it won't. Blood is thicker than water, right?

Movingonisbest's picture

I always feel guilty for my feelings....this is his child after all. He has said many times "my child will always be welcome in my home". And I get that, I do!! 

She's his daughter, just another human being. And sounds like a toxic one at that who is quite flawed. Don't feel guilty about not liking a shitty person. If he has said many times his child will always be welcome in his home you must not have ever corrected him. It is not just his home. But if he has repeated that statement, that means that he is setting a boundary with you, instead of setting a boundary with his daughter on how she will behave if she steps foot through the door of the home that the two of you occupy. 

He wouldn't be setting that kind of boundary with me. The first time he would have said it, I would have set his cowardly ass straight. I say cowardly because you are taking up for him, while he is throwing you under the bus. As a man, he is supposed to protect what is inside of the house, that includes you. If he can't do that, he doesn't deserve to have you. So my response to him would have been something like, the day you let any disrespectful human being step foot through our door, not only will I be turning that person around at the door, I will be sending your pathetic ass with him or her. 

tog redux's picture

Exactly. "Yes, she did murder 4 people in their sleep, but she's my DAUGHTER! And she's welcome here anytime!"

Unconditional love doesn't mean letting someone use and abuse you with no consequences. And lots of people distance from and even disown adult kids who who are toxic and hard to be around.

Bamb's picture

Thank you for your permission to not like shitty people!  I needed that reassurance as stupid as it sounds! LOL

I have given him the exact words you suggested about keeping disrespectful people out of OUR home. It has caused a huge fight each time. I have fought back hard for my peace. She has been respectful to me personally for the last few years. I just can't let go of the resentment or feel comfortable around her. 

The last time she accused DH of being a horrible father, it was over the summer, via text after he called her out for being rude. She responded by crying and saying he was a horrible father. She then said she thought all of us should go to counseling. He gave her our counselors number and told her to feel free to make an appointment. She said "Maybe, but i don't think it will work" She then ignored us for a month and then it all gets swept under the rug and we pretend it didn't happen. My DH always resorts to saying we need to go to counseling (the three of us) whenever I bring up an issue. He says he feels like he is in the middle. I have no desire to go to counseling with her. But I also can't get over my resentment. 

Thumper's picture

So my response to him would have been something like, the day you let any disrespectful human being step foot through our door, not only will I be turning that person around at the door, I will be sending your pathetic ass with him or her. 


THAT ^^^^^

Merry's picture

DH and I have been talking about moving closer to our kids (his adult kids and my adult kids, none together) when we retire. Right now it's an 800 mile trip so we don't see them a lot. He wanted to consider a community very close to SD. No go there, buddy. So we decided what would be a comfortable distance for each of us, what would be reasonable visiting frequency, how we'd handle "drop ins, babysitting requests, etc. Once we talked that through we agreed to have conversations with each of our kids to establish our boundaries.

And then we decided not to move at all. Yahoo At least until we've been retired for a few years together.

Anyway, you and DH should determine what your boundaries are, and remember that your needs are just as important as his. No coming and going at will, no leaving your house to go see her whenever she commands, etc. And then have that conversation with her too so that it's clear from the start. It's time she get on with her grownup life, and running back to Daddy every five minutes isn't helpful. If your DH won't agree to boundaries or have that conversation with her, then he's telling you that HER wants are more important than YOUR needs and he'd rather you be upset than her. That's not what a loving marriage looks like. .

Bamb's picture

I don't want to see her more than I already do. But I'm having a hard time defining what is reasonable given the relationship we have with her. The last thing I want is to come home after work and see her sitting on my couch! I think I'll go straight to my room! I am very private and feel I can't be myself around her.

I completely agree about talking through boundaries with him. He just insists there not be any boundaries around the relationship with any of the kids. He feels its his time to try and repar that relationship. My children live here full time and so he always throws that out there. That she is part of the family and should be no restrictions on her being here ( and should be none moving forward with any kids). He said my kids are always here, and his needs matter too. He plans to invite her over whenever we are hanging out or having dinner. 

CLove's picture

Mini-wife syndrom. You said you are a longtime lurker. Have you researched and read up on this?

Bamb's picture

Yes I sure have! I've also read the book Stepmonster which was helpful. She most definitely wants that role in his life. 

Bamb's picture

Thank you for all the feedback. I have been trying to respond individually but the website hasn't allowed me to post for some reason. I am going to try to answer questions now! 

MayCorine85's picture

So sorry your going through this... I have a similar situation, just on a smaller scale. I just think these DH feels so guilt for not being there 24/7 that they bend to these girls every need and emotion. I'm so over mine and get a lot of push back most times. I have been wanting to suggest therapy because of all this with me and him, but I told him SD need counseling to stay with us but after 2 months still nothing.... such a blind eye