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In any miniwife/minispouse sitaution, there is incest.

Rags's picture

In any miniwife/minispouse sitaution, there is incest.  Either emotionally, physically, or both.

I'll toss this flaming turd over the wall and see what discussion results.


AgedOut's picture

I think the word 'incest' is what makes people knee jerk with a "NO!" because in all our minds that word is physically sexual and for many that's not what's going on. But if you pare it down and only focus on the emotional aspect, that word fits. 

I think it's a much deeper issue. The "why" matters. As it applies to the adults involved, is it an ego boost on the parent's part, an insecurity issue, a control issue, a sense of getting that win over the other bio parent?


I've never dealt with this so I'm eager to see what those of you who have think. 


Survivingstephell's picture

There was a situation on these forums a few years ago where it was implied.  She got away from him and divorced.  They weren't married long and things changed after they did get married.  I'm horrible with the names.  

CLove's picture

I recall that. It was pretty horrible.

Yesterdays's picture

Emotional incest likely. Because they are relying on the child for an adult mature emotional need to be met. A need that should be met by another adult. 

please_help's picture


BanksiaRose's picture

We, women are often told to rationalise ourselves out of our biggest asset - our gut instinct. It's there for a reason, it is an evolutionary response, meaning it contributed to the survival of our species and hence why it carried itself forward genetically. I'm talking in a more general way, not just about this specific situation. 

There's no woo in it either, it's just our brain processing a lot of visual, auditory and other input, matching it to the blueprints we already have in our brains and giving a very fast output. That's all. And we need to tune into it and listen, because its purpose is preservation in one way or another. 

If you sit down and carefully deconstruct your gut instinct after the event, you'll see that it makes perfect sense. 

I recommend reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, or at least the first section where he deconstructs an unfortunate event of sexual assault with the victim, and how her gut instinct, when ignored, did not save her from the assault, but when she finally listened to it, it actually saved her from murder. 

Merry's picture

Emotional incest, yes, at least in my case. SD had partner status after the divorce, and even adult status during DH's marriage to BM. SD competed for her father's attention with literally everyone, including her own brother, who she tried to mother.

I don't think it's a coincidence now that she no longer speaks to DH. He did not "obey" her every command after I insisted that he pick one of us as his full-time partner because I wasn't going to wait in line for spousal status. Essentially, she divorced him and decided to go no-contact. Not my problem. 

Kes's picture

I read a good book a year or two ago called "The Chosen Child Syndrome" by Patricia Love and Jo Robinson.  This doesn't relate especially to step families, but is a good study of the subject of enmeshment between parent and child, and how a parent can use a child as a proxy parent.  

MorningMia's picture

Interesting. There has been complete and ongoing enmeshment with BM and SD (now 30), while SS was treated as "the man of the house" back in the day. It's been clear that BM, who DH said always had issues with identity, never saw much or any difference between her and the skids, especially SD. The enmeshment and unorthodox roles at BM's house probably fed into SD attempting the mini-wife role a long time ago with DH, something he did not support. Pushing herself on him physically at ages 12 - 15 was very awkward and inappropriate. She was constantly trying to climb on him, hang on him, hold his hands. When that didn't work out, she turned to doing the same with male peers, which got her in all sorts of bad situations through high school and college.  

Rags's picture

I recall my first realization that this type of thing was a thing.  My college job was as an associate manufacturing engineer for an electronics manufacturing job shop.  

Most of the employees were older ladies.  They were very suited for the dexterous detail work of mounting very small components on circuit boards.  As a people person I very much enjoyed listening to their conversations while working.  Family and spouses were not infrequent discussion topics.

During a conversation one of the ladies commented something along the lines of "If that old bastard tried to kick one of my kids out, he would be gone and never come back."

It was outside of my experience for a spouse to discount their mate for kids and that kids were the source of affection and closeness for some adults/parents rather than the relationship between the adults in the family being key.  

Interestingly this couple had been married for decades and her kids were their kids. The kids were all adults.

It had never dawned on me that this was a thing.

Our parents had always been crystal clear that we would regret it if we ever put our parents in the position of having to choose between each other and one of us.  We would lose most unpleasantly.

BanksiaRose's picture

I don't know, I'm with these ladies in this case, Rags... Or maybe there was more to their conversations that gave you the heebie-jeebies. 

In my case, my mother always chose my father, and I wished she hadn't, since he was belting me into pulp after they've had an argument since I was 6, because she would often state that if he ever touched her, she'd leave, but I was ok, I guess. That only stopped when I was 19, a year before I left for a different country.

Rags's picture

I'M So sorry you had that childhood.  I was raised in a family and world where abuse, toxicity, and emotional/physical incest was not a commonly known thing.


Rags's picture

Where it exists and is hidden, I think that is even more damaging than were it is out and visible.  Those kids are seen as the problem because of the parental facade of deceny. that hides reality. 

For people blessed with winning the parent lottery, raised with stability, in family& friend communities where the stuff just does not happen the drama is often nearly completely unknown as a thing.  For those living an existence where it is not even known to exist, the epiphany  of realizing it is a mind blowing thing.  It was for me. It took aback to realize that my DW was a young teen mom.  In my life paradigm 16yo HS kids did not have kids.  When I asked DW on a date to go dancing, she got quiet and then told me she could not get in to clubs since she was only 18.  My mind was blank on that for a few seconds.   We then had the age conversation. She was 18, I was 29. Not a problem for me. Not even that she had a baby. I asked her out, I wanted to spend time with her. Her kid was just part of that stage of our learning each other.  She balked initially at my age. Her GMs, all three of them, were the ones who had no issue with it as they had all three married significantly older men.  They told her to be wary but to see how it went.  My ILs, were not real happy. 

We were both in school. She was in her first year of university out of HS, I was in the last semester of my in class every semester for 11yrs undergrad adventure.  When we did have a first date a few days later, we clicked and that was it for both of us.  My parents loved her and SS from their first meeting about 2mos after we started dating.  Though my parents are only 2yrs apart in age, they were young when they married.  19 & 17.  They had me when they were 21 & 19 so they also did not balk at DW being a mom as a teen.  Different circumstances, but similar ages in their beginning and young parent years.  Mom, dad, and me all basically grew up together.

In many ways, SS, DW and I also grew up togehter. Though I was 30 when we married, at 18 DW was definately more seasoned and mature in many ways than I was.  That is still the case.  She was living things that I had never even considered much less experienced. 


I had dated a few women who were single moms after my divorce . Though except for one, they were well into their 20s  or even 30s with kids in the near or actual double digit ages.  They had been young moms but that was before I met and dated them.  One of the several women I was dating when I met DW was a single mom with a hellion shit spawn.  She was about 8yrs younger than I was and her kid was about 6.  She stood me up for a date on the night DW and I went on our first date. So I called DW for a late pizza and movies at my place date.  That date lasted from Friday night until Monday AM. The rest is unfolding history.  SS was such a mellow, quet, pleasure of a toddler. The one who stood me up, had an intollerable kid.  I probably fell for SS as much as I did DW.


Rumplestiltskin's picture

Jesus, that's horrible. Physical abuse or actual incest is a whole other issue, though. Allowing you to be abused was a failure to do a parent's foremost job, protecting your children from harm. It's right up there with food, clothing, and shelter.

Although, emotional incest or borderline physical (using a child to meet your needs for physical affection, such as cosleeping past a certain age, excessive kissing and hugging, lap sitting, etc.) can also be damaging to a kid imo. If it goes beyond what is socially acceptable, and therefore either stops when the parent is in a relationship or causes problems with said relationship, it has the potential to screw up a kid mentally. A child should not feel they are in competition with their parent's sexual partner, whether that partner is the child's other parent or a step. If they do, it's a failure of their parent to establish boundaries. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks for talking about this. In reading posts here, it seems that this is a common problem, but one that is cringey to talk about.

Has anyone had a situation in which it is the SK who seeks emotional enmenshment, but not the parent? My dh has healthy enough boundaries though sometimes he'll allow himself to be drawn into dynamics that aren't healthy with SS and BM. But BM and SS have enmeshment issues, which I feel SS carries over to dh. SS has told his friends that he's  a "daddy's boy" which made his friends laugh, so he never said that outloud again. But even though he's definitely hetero, SS makes overtures to dh that seem to me to be overly intimate (though not physical). I've always been uneasy about SS's need for dh's attention, his jealousies, etc. I guess as long as dh holds the line, it will be fine. Dh has told SS that he needs to learn how to respect personal space (he used to shadow dh everywhere). SS also used to pretend to get scared on flights to get dh to sit with him instead of me. Dh used to indulge him, but in the last few years, SS has stopped doing that as much because he realized that he was painting himself into a corner. SS is always asking dh to take him on vacation somewhere, and dh was like 'but you get scared on flights.' SS stopped the being scared routine pretty quickly after that.

Anyway, it makes me feel so weird to be around that dynamic.

Rags's picture

Oh, I would be all over that shit like the stench that it is.  Neither daddy nor the spawn would tolerate SS being "daddy's boy" after I got done with them on a single incident.


I would remind them of that crap for a very long time just to make sure they both know that it was pathetic.

Parents that tolerate that kind of manipulative cutesy crap after the toddler stage are nauseating.


Old sm's picture

I've felt that DH was obsessed with SD when she was a child.  He was a true Disney dad. I once made a comment that if he was a pharoah in Ancient Egypt, he would've married her.  So yes, I would agree to the concept of emotional incest. Our own BD loves DH but even she thinks their relationship is over the top.  And I'm 100% confident there was no sexual abuse on his part; he just thinks SD can do no wrong and has always prioritized her. 

Things are better now that SD is married and has her own family.  They are still clingy but not so much anymore but that's mostly because she's the only one having kids and he wants to be super grandpa. 

What drives me insane now is that now that she's having kids, he thinks I should be just as in love with the grandkids as he is.  I'm not. I love the children but if DH was to leave me right now and I never see SD or the kids again, I'd be OK with it.  I'm not emotionally invested in SD at all bc of how bad things were when she was a child and that has pretty much affected how I feel about her children too.

Rags's picture

I am sure this is not an easy thing for you.  That your DH seems to maintain pressure on you to accept his failed family DD and the GSkids can't make it any easier.

Take care of you.

Give rose