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Guilty father syndrome ruining our relationship

CrisS23's picture

Hello. I am currently in a relationship with a man that us older than me and has 2 children. They are 21 (the girl) and 23(almost 24) the boy. 
Just to set the scene a bit.. when starting our relationship he was the one that insisted he wanted to be with me and he divorced his ex wife and moved out of an unhappy marriage. He bought a house and after a while I moved in with him. The start of our life together was ok, visits from his kids regularly, going on trips etc

Almost 3 years ago we bought a house together. Shorly after that his son moved in. This came as a total susprize to me since he had not mentioned this to me at all before buying the house and he acted quite agressive when I tried to get clarification about this. Long story short, he is here 5 days a week for the past almost 3 years and is basically living like he is the guest of honor. There are no rules, no chores, no responsibility of any kind. He has a job and can be easily self sustaining, yet he contributes with nothing to the household (not even helping to prepare food, clean his own room). His father is indulging this behavior and after approaching him many times and arguing about it, his final answer is "he doesn't want to change anything or push his son into being more independent, he wants him to live here". 
Again, after massive fights, today he admitted that he feels guilty for leaving the children and that he owes them, thus he needs to bow down at their every need. 
I need to emphasize that I am at my whits end. The fact that I have been living the last almost 3 years with another adult in our house has ruined our relationship. We do not have any more privacy, few days alone, can't even talk freely about issues, and worse of all, there has been a lot of times when I have cleaned after his almost adult kids because they or he didn't. I feel I am not respected, my wishes are not taken into consideration, he is obsessively controling everythinga and asking them to come over all the time when we have a bit of time alone.. I feel hurt and mistreated. 
What should I do? 

SteppedOut's picture

Leave him and sell the house... he can buy you out if he prefers - but do not take a loss and make sure you get fair market. In most places home values have increased. 

CrisS23's picture

He said that he is willing to buy me out but that I don't have to move out if I don't want to.. but at least that he owns the house and can do what he wants. 
that.. does not help

Rags's picture

You didnt marry his adult children. You married him.  Time to split the blanket and leave he and his shallow and polluted gene pool to their own devices.

Move on with your life.

Take care of you.

And whatever you choose, do not pollute your own gene pool with this failed father, failed, man, and failed husband.

Winterglow's picture

Like Rags said, you didn't marry his son. 


I'd be pretty livid  not only because he made the decision to move his son in without even consulting you but also because he expects you to finance and facilitate his son's lifestyle. I'd be out of there and have the house on the market before he decides to move his daughter in too. 

CrisS23's picture

That is exactly why I am also pissed and what is bothering me on a deeper level: the fact that he did not discuss it with me. We have had countless and endless discussions about this and he admited that he made a mistake, but also states that we should have never bought the house together. 
Also he said that he assumed it would not be a problem, considering I was very open to seeing his kids and spending time with them.. but visits a few days a week is different than one of them moving in. 
He has this obsession only with his son mostly, because he has a hard time as a kid. He was diagnosed with some kind of personality thing, that he was very shy, never looked people in the eyes etc and is blaming this over protective instinct on that. But again.. that was more than 10 years ago, in the meantime he got on track, he has a hight paying job in IT in a big international company and he most likely has more money that I have. But still.. his father considers that his son shouldn't pay anything, shouldn't do anything etc 

This is indeed a kind of "mental disorder" he has developed into and he regrets that he has neglected them when he moved out and for more than 1 year when we loved together (stating he invited them over only when it suited him and so on). So he admits being selfish and that this is like an obsession sparked by ego.. but I don't know if he is open to counseling in any way. 

Kes's picture

Not consulting you about having his son move into your joint house was inexcusable.  It shows how little respect he has for you as his life partner.  

CrisS23's picture

This is indeed my main issue, which I come back to every single time when we argue about it. It is hard for me to get over it. 
He admited his mistake, but at the same time he is blinded by guilt and obsessed with his father ego that NOW he needs to provide for his kids (that's a bit late considering that now they are adults). 
He has also been away from home a lot during his life, he has had jobs were lots of travelling was involved, so I think the guilt is coming out of that too... but it is a bit late for "quick fixes" now. 

Winterglow's picture

You should not even by trying to get over it. HE needs to fix the situation. You realize that his son will probably never move out, don't you? Is that how you envisage your marriage? There's one too many people there ...

As for hm buying you out so he can do what he likes with the house - HE'S ALREADY DOING THAT! He clearly doesn't understand the meaning of the word "marriage" nor of the word "partnership". Or if he does, he's making a mockery of it.

Life is too short to share it with unwanted squatters.

CrisS23's picture

Yup.. I know he will never move out. That is also what I directly told him. If he always gets everything he wants on a silver plate, then why should he want to move? 
Still nothing happened. 
I honestly think he has a mental blockage, but I cannot handle this anymore right now.. and I am not the person to solve mental struggles. 

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

Maybe you should have a serious talk with him. That his lack of parenting is causing you to not like his kids and in turn pushing you away from wanting to be in this relationship.

You would probably be less annoyed if when SKs were around they acted like the adults they are and doing things like cleaning up after themselves.

CrisS23's picture

I have had this talk with him the last almost 3 years. 
First I started with "we don't have any privacy anymore", when that didn't work I took the child approach saying that his son will not know how to live alone because he doesn't know how to do anything.. etc etc and that I want him to start doing things around the house. He starts doing that 1-2 weeks then it stops again. It's a useless ongoing battle.

tog redux's picture

What is wrong with these people that they can't see the big picture? This kind of parenting will ultimately make his kid's life WORSE, not better. SS needs to learn to be independent so he will gain confidence and a sense of self-worth. Your DH is crippling him emotionally.

To me, this is just so selfish. DH would rather cripple his kid and ruin his marriage than deal with any kind of bad feelings. So cowardly.

CrisS23's picture

This is exactly what I told him. That by doing this he is making his child useless and he will never learn to survive on his own. 
I also told him that he is selfish for doing this. 
The answers I get are:" he knows how to take care of himself" and "i am not ready to let him go". 
... it's.. yea.. useless

tog redux's picture

I would have zero respect for him. He's using his kid to meet his own needs, at the kid's expense. Yuck.

Winterglow's picture

" he knows how to take care of himself"

"OK, let's have a demonstration then. On Saturday, I expect him to clean his room, do his laundry, clean all the windows and cook dinner for us (after having bought the groceries for it, of course) and clean up afterwards (this includes the washing up)."

Then sit back and try not to smirk on Saturday ...

CrisS23's picture

Most of the time he is away in the weekend, is going to see his mother and comes back Sunday. Cause that is also what pisses me off that when we do the cleaning he's not there. I asked my bf that his son pays the cleaning lady then. Still negotiating until he gets a final answer from his job that his contract will be full time. It's simply impossible to negotiate anything. 
and during the week he does nothing. 

Winterglow's picture

Doesn't he have a life? Or does he spend all of his time with his parents when he's not working? 

CrisS23's picture

He doesn't have a life. He is this computer geek that only plays online video games. He is dependent on his parents for everything because he has never done anything on his own and it was all served to him. 
His father says that he has "social" issues, in the sense that someone once diagnosed him as not being very much outgoing and a bit "late" in social development. But then again.. every behaviour that is different gets diagnosed in this country. 
He is simply a computer geek. 

weightedworld's picture

Why in high heaven are either one of you lifting a finger in his room to clean? He is a grown man.. he is not a child.. cleaning up his messes are only enabling him to continue. Let it lay, if he wants to live in squaller, so be it. He will catch the drift soon enough. 

Why would he wish to live or do anything different.. sounds to me like you are all making it far too easy for him. 

CrisS23's picture

This is also what I am stressing. I have and will not lift a finger or get anywhere close to the room he is staying in. I have made that promise to everyone a long time ago. 
His father goes there and cleans or pays his daughter to clean the whole house and then all that responsibility is gone. 
And that is all fine, but I still think the son should pay for it, not his father. 

Jojo4124's picture

Believe someone when they show/tell yiu who they are. He disrespected you. That's not a mistake but his heart toward you. It won't change. You will do a lot of talking/arguing over time as he will disrespect you again. Some ppl give 3 chances. I gave 300 chances. Now I only give one. You have disrespect in your heart toward me then bye bye, no questions asked.

He admitted spoiling the kids over guilt. This is his life mission. Did he say he wants to change this (like go to counseling and get rid of the guilt and child enabling? If not then he is telling you this is who he is n how things are.

Now you decide to stay in this or not, if it is something you can live with or not.

I have no idea how some lucky ppl on here were able to state boundaries and demand change...and got it, or part of it. I saw over 8 months that my stbx was not interested in changing the enmeshment, enabling, and emotional incest, and more!

Of course after I left this last time he promised to change. Ha. Right. He might try but in his case...the enmeshment etc is sooo entrenched that it would take YEARS to totally disengage. He would have to cut off the toxic kids n ex wife. He just didnt want to. I said, finally, no this isn't for me then.

How can you know if your dh will change? I really don't know. 

Miss T's picture

" ... able to state boundaries and demand change...and got it ... "

Pure luck. I entered steplife completely unaware of the pitfalls. Fortunately DH has no daughters and only 1 son who launched (after a lot of marital turmoil). I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn and practice a decently-paying profession that has given me independence and influence over my circumstances. I happen to have a certain  force of personality. I don't take much credit for any of those. They're all pure luck.

" ...How can you know if your dh will change? ... "

You can't. You just give it your best shot.This site is valuable because you can learn from others what your best shot might be. Whether your DH is amenable to making the needed adjustments is pure stupid luck. I wish you a lot of it.

CrisS23's picture

We managed to discuss some of this and I highlighted what I see wrong in his behavior and that this is also going to affect his kids on the long run. Also in his previous marriage he has been a lot away from home so apparently all of a sudden he also feels guilty about that now. 
He said he realizez that he was unresonable many times and is sorry for that, just that his son is a very sensitive subject for him cause "he had it hard when he was a kid" (he was/is not very social in general and prefers to play computer games all day). But his son has evolved since then and is now on a trial for a full time job so the situation is definitely not the same. 
In the end he said he has to talk to his ex wife and make a plan on how to motivate their son to move out, since she is as blind as him in this matter it seems.

Winterglow's picture

This is beginning to make me really angry - WTF does he need to discuss with his ex-wife?! Their son is an ADULT, FFS! He doesn't need to find ways to motivate him to move out - he just needs to grow a pair and TELL him! 

CajunMom's picture

I've read all your responses and it's clear your SO knows he made a mistake buying a house with you. It's clear he has zero respect for you by moving in an adult SK without your input. It's clear he's not going to change his stance. With all that have two choices. Continue to live in a miserable existence or let him buy you out and move on in life. And no way in HELL would I stay in that home, even if he buys you out. He wants that so you can continue to be his and his adult son's maid.

Life is short. While most of us in the high conflict step world must tolerate some BS, this is way too much. I'm a very private person with strong way would I live like that. Best to you. You really tried but you deserve so much more.

CrisS23's picture

We have had a talk on Friday and he admited to being unresonable because his son is a very sensitive subject for him since "he has had it hard when he was a kid" (he is and was not too sociable and apparently someone at some point diagnosed him with some kind of social problems - but that was long long ago). Since then he has evolved, is in a trial for a new job in a big international company working in IT and again.. he's an adult. So the circumstances are different. 
He said that he admits making mistakes towards me and that he has not always been the best bf (from this point of view) just that he feels so bad that he has been away from his kids a long time, that he doesn't know any better. (He has always had jobs where he travelled a lot and apparently now regrets that too). He said what I am stating is totally ok and that he will make a plan with his ex wife (which is at the same level of denial as he is) on how to move out their son and make him independent. He promised this would happen this week. 
idk what to say.. I appreciate the honesty and the action.. but I am still fed up with him being here still.. 

Merry's picture

My DH will forever be a guilty father. Says he was not a present father. I dunno, I didn't know him then. He's got a pretty good relationship with his kids now. But that ongoing guilt sure impacted me, until I had to call a halt to it. I just couldn't live inside that crazy.

When does compensating for guilt end? Never. There is never enough time or money or attention to assuage the guilt or make up for real or imagined wrongs. Your DH simply must deal with his own guilt to be able to move forward. The help of a good therapist will get him going, if he's willing to do that.

In my case, DH loved me enough to see the impact HIS guilt was having on me--time, money, attention. He got a handle on it and we rarely have difficulties now. And he still sees his therapist now and then. She played a big role in saving our marriage, and DH did the hard work required.

If your DH won't commit to your marriage and to YOUR happiness because of his overwhelming and never ending guilt, then you don't really have much of a marriage anyway. I know I couldn't tolerate a lifetime of living with a needy step and a guilty dad.

CrisS23's picture

Thank you for sharing your experience! It really helps to be able to compare. And it seems mine is in the same situation as yours. When he talks about his kids he almost cries every single time (and he usually is quite a bad ass and tough person). He also states that he has been absent while the kids were growing up and that is also contributing to how he feels. 
But you are right, none of this is my fault and I would also not be able to live with a constant guilty feeling parent. It is annoying to see and especially to experience the whole son living here thing. 
He admitted this Friday that his guilt is unresonable and that he need to work things out with himself, but he refused seeing a therapist. He says he prefers to talk to me. 
wel I'm not sure I want this. I hage talked to one of my friends which is a life coach to maybe help him. I will start slowly pushing him towards her.

Movingonisbest's picture

CrisS23, I don't believe your bf just had a change of heart and all of a sudden became this extremely guilty father. I think he figured once the two you purchased a home together you would be locked in. What a jerk. You have to do what you feel is best for you, but personally I would leave him and never look back.

CrisS23's picture

Honestly, when I was pissed off at the situation, I also accused him of this. He said that it is not true, just that he made the wrong assumption. He saw that me and the kids are getting along and he thought that I would not have any issues with him staying here a few days a week. Just that those few days a week turned into 5 and that.. I can't handle.  

Misstepped's picture

People saying to leave are right, even if it's only for a short time. He needs a taste of what it's like without you. I did this and only had to leave for one wknd. It hit DH hard that it would just be him on his own, or him and his kids on his own....until his kids don't want to be spending all their time with dad anymore, the it's just him. Alone. The funny thing is these men actually have fantasy's of a happy family and when their wife leaves it ruins that fantasy too. Strange but when they have you, they focus on the poor hard done by kids too much, but when they start to lose you they start to focus on you because the kids aren't ever going anywhere anyway!
It's been a few months and my DHs behaviour has changed. We had a very good chat after I said I was 100% ready to never return home, and for once he listened. He no longer makes everything about his poor kids, he no longer has time off and makes sure every minute is spent with his kids making it up to them and indulging them and their BMx he has stopped extending stays without discussing it with me first. We now make decisions together about everything including matters involving his kids and his ex. Our relationship and life is and always will be far from perfect, and we still have bad days, but it's much better.

The thing with leaving even short term is that you have to be at a point where you are mentally prepared to stay gone. If he adjusts his behaviour then great, if he doesn't well you were already okay with moving on anyway. 

weightedworld's picture

The only issue with this is your last statement, "The thing with leaving even short term is that you have to be at a point where you are mentally prepared to stay gone." 

Why is it that you have to 100% check out, mentally prepare, financially prepare, ect. ect. ect. all these preparations to be gone before they will listen.. 

My give a damn is gone by now. Sorry for your luck. If I have to be broken for you to get my message.. repeatively. Screw off.

CrisS23's picture

We had a talk about it this Friday and he stated he realizes that he has been unresonable about this and that he will make a plan with his ex to get the kid moving on with his own life. I'm waiting for that to happen this week. 
I was 100% prepared to leave. I even had one of my friends prepare the guest room for me if the talk on Friday would go wrong. So again.. I could do thay if nothing changes. 
The talk seemed to have effect and he seemed to realize that I was about to leave. I also told him while looking him straight in the eyes and he was very silent. He said he doesn't want this to happen and that he will get ahold of his feelings and try and be realistic. He also suggested that we talk about this from now on more, since he felt the conversation has helped him and us. 
What can I say.. let's see; I guess. 

stepmomwhoisdone's picture

My heart goes out to you. It's time to leave & move on to better. This is no way to live. I left my husband who I loved very much becaude of his guilty dad issues with both of his daughters who are teenagers. Your story is helping me by showing me that it doesn't get better with age. So thank you for that. I am sending you strength. After 12 years together I never thought I could do it but I did. There are days I miss him & even them & the good times but there are more days that I don't regret it all. Choose YOU. ❤️

CrisS23's picture

Thank you for sharing your experience! I really believe that actual cases that are similar to mine help me more. 
I have had a the 1st serious and resonable discussion with him this Friday and he said he realizes that he has been unresonable in a lot of circumstances. 
He said he will come with a plan for building the path of him moving out, together with his ex wife this week. I am waiting to see what happens. I already had the arrangement to leave if things don't go good on Friday.. but well.. now at least he commited to something.. let's see. 

thinker's picture

I had a similar issue, but we are married and have a toddler together so it is harder to leave, though it's becoming more palatable as our relationship has worsened lately.  DH "told" me his adult son (already graduated college, has a job) is moving in with us for some undefined period of time this winter and he will be working remotely from our home so he can enjoy where we live.  I let that sit for 24 hours of total anxiety, then I told DH that I am not okay with him moving in another adult roommate, even if that other adult is DH's son.  He was not happy and started to debate all my reasons for not wanting his son to move in, then he pulled the classic "why do you hate my child" card, and I got sucked in for a moment then said that I don't have to justify myself or explain the reasons why I don't want another adult living with us.  I did this because I've read many stories like yours about adult skids moving in and I knew I needed to shut it down this time and forever. He said he'd take action on it. His kid still almost moved in with us after a week long vacation at our house, and I again had to shut it down.  DH completely blamed me for it - rather than a united front, he told his kid I would not welcome him into our home.  So he's not living with us, but how will I feel the next time I have to see his kids?  Horrible? Hated?  For the first time in my life I've accepted that not everyone has to like me.  This situation really highlighted what a failure DH is as a husband to me.  Different outcome, but not good.  My advice to you is to move on, make sure that he buys you out of the house for a fair price and use a lawyer to help you with that transaction, and NEVER date someone with kids again.  

CrisS23's picture

I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I think that what he did was completely immature and unresonable. He should have never blamed you in front of his kid. Situations like this should be discussed in between the couple and not involving the children in any way.. I have never discussed anything ever in front of his kids. Even if they pissed me off.. he also never did. At least here we're on the same page. 
I still hope his kid can kind of get over it and things will get better for you, but I still believe you should tell him how this whole situation made you feel. 

I have discussed with him last week about this again (for the 1st time in a resonable and calm tone) and told him all the things I see wrong in this situation.. and he said he will make a plan on how to proceed from here together with his ex wife and how to get him towards moving out. I don't trust anything until it happens.. so let's see. 
Otherwise I will leave. I was already prepared to anyway if the talk on Friday last week would have gone wrong. 

weightedworld's picture

The question I ask myself is; is it necessary to continue with this tug of war with my own feelings and peace of mind with having to resort to I'm leaving or you are leaving to get the simpliest of what I want? 

Imagine what life would be like without the constant pull. The lack of drama, worry, antipication, follow through, no follow through... 

Your half way out, you've made up your mind, now you just have to follow through youself FOR yourself. 

It's tougher than hell but it seems like you literally have one foot already out the door and a plan of action, maybe it's time you take your opportunity before that extra room is no longer available. 

futurobrillante99's picture

Yes. You're husband really let you down. I'm so sorry. He clearly doesn't understand how marriage and parenting are two different commitments. He made verbal promises to you but he's putting his son above you. No bueno.

thinker's picture

We didn't talk in front of the SKID either.  He talked to his kid, then he talked to me, then he talked to his kid.  I don't know what was really said between them other than when I asked for clarification that "he took care of it," he told me "[SS] knows he's not welcome in 'your' home"...

Anyway, I hope things work out okay for you!  

CrisS23's picture

Ah ok.. so it was this back and forth communication thing. Yea.. it's still messed up. I'm sorry this happened to you and I really hope the kid will not blame you too much... in the end..

Rags's picture

Since none of us  has any way of knowing more at the point of a decision than what we knew when we made that decision the fully committed guilt driven parent is just a moron.   Guilt is a backwards looking choice, and yes it is a choice, to prioritize something in the past that cannot be changed.  However, anyone can change how they do things going forward.

Guilt over the past is never a justifiable reason for making the next phase of life worse.  Which is what your DH is doing.  He is using his guilt to power the continual screwing  up of his son.  The sensitive topic is not the son. The sensitive topic is that your DH is ruining your life, his life, and the Skid's life with his choice to live a life of guilt.

Good luck fixing this one.  Odds are, he is beyond salvage. And I am not talking about the kid.