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Help! I'm imploding over mixed emotions!!!

htd_sh's picture

So we broke out into WAR over the past two weeks if you haven't read any of my posts. (We, meaning DH and I, DH and BM, and then BM involved the kids---refer to previous posts for back story). Moral of it: BM was being manipulative (as always), I was being a little controlling to defend DH, myself, and my house, and DH was being a pushover to maintain peace.

So I sound like a jerk, but DH has been a little bit of a pushover (all the time really, but especially when it came to trying to keep the situation drama free- not possible, ever i'm convinced). Well, apparently this war finally smacked him in the face and he found his backbone. He had conversations with BM, with the kids, and with me and declared his decisions as final- so he thought. Anyways, we finally had our dicussion last night. He laid out a plan for child support & visitation (none of this is court ordered, against my preference).

His plan: child support will be paid on the 1st of the month give or take 2 days. The method in which it is paid (cash, check, money order, bank transfer) is decided between DH and BM. Any deviation from that plan (additional money wanted, money wanted outside of the designated window, BM asking DH to buy shoes, clothes, gas, food, bills etc that should be purchased with child support) MUST be discussed with me prior to a decision being made and I reserve the right to say yes or no. When i first heard it, I was okay with it because i'm trying to "loosen my control issues", which i will admit to having in every aspect of my life. they're not severe by any means- but theyre there. 

Another problem/topic: BM holds children from DH when she doesn't get her way. DH sees this as empty threats because she hasn't followed through with it in a few years (before i was involved) but i have been involved when the threats were made and DH got really upset by them. When we discussed it, I 100% define this as bullying- DH disagreed, he called it "a manipulative act"- (yeah duh obviously but its also bullying) I've said in previous posts that i no longer feel like its my right to TELL him he HAS to go get a CO for visitation. My thoughts: IF (when, really) it happens again.. if the relationship between DH and I is affected (arguing, hostility, him being miserable around me), then i will speak up and explain that this manipulative behavior is now affecting ME and i'm not settling for that. OR should i speak up now? 

I won't discuss the entire conversation be it could go on forever and there were a LOT of topics discussed, but I felt okay with everything afterward.

After our 2.75 hour conversation last night, we left things on good terms.. made dinner together and *made up*. I wake up this morning and i feel fine as i see DH getting ready to leave for work- say goodbye and i go about my day. Fast forward to my car ride to work--> my heart starts to sink. Did I give too much or not take enough? Now i'm dwelling. I want to crawl into a ball and cry by myself. Am i defending myself appropriately or was i trying too hard to be "therapeutic" and didn't come off assertive enough. What did I do wrong or right during that conversation.

I don't know if these are valid thoughts or am i still just digesting everything or is it me allowing DH to have a little more control and i'm coping with that change or am i crazy and it was actually a good, fair compromise? Right or Wrong, they are my feelings and they need acknowledged.. at this point i dont know how to express them because i don't even know what i'm feeling. scared, alone, insecure, vulnerable, upset, but at the same time... i feel so much more confident in my marriage and our committment to each other. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

I'm afraid i'm going to go home today and still feel this way and right now i want to be alone, in a ball, under the blankets, crying. If i go home like that, DH is obviously going to be concerned to want to know what's going on and i dont think i'm ready to tell him because i dont think i've processed what i feel right now. If i don't know how i feel, how can i explain it to someone else? or do i just pour it all on him as soon as he asks?

Send help. Send love. Send Strength. I need it right now!

htd_sh's picture

My past includes a long history of abuse resulting in pretty bad PTSD and a hypervigilant fight or flight response. I think thats where some of my control issues come from- i want to control things so i'm not vulnerable. Which i'm working through professionally, but right now I.AM.SINKING. like the titanic.

fairyo's picture

I'll send a (hug) but what you really need right now is some therapy and support. I know the feelings you described- because I was on this roller coaster too.

Things are fine, things are great, things are ok, are they really ok, what if they're not ok? What if it's me? What if it's him? What if it's us? I'm doing ok, am I doing ok? I think I am, but why do I feel I'm not? Why doesn't he feel this this? Does he feel like like this? What does he feel? What do I feel?

You need to get right off this roller coater now and put your feet on solid ground- and do it as quickly as you can- leave the crazy circus you didn't make behind...

Without a CO your life will always be like this- and it doesn't sound like they're in a hurry to get one. Why? Because they are ok with it as they are- so stop giving DH mixed messages and get out of there!!

notasm3's picture

I hope you can find some peace.  But your DH is an IDIOT if he ever gives her cash.  That will bite him in the ass long-term.  That kind of BM will not hesitate to lie and claim it was never given.

A friend's DH paid his ex's very large house payment for two years in lieu of CS - much more money than CS.   She then turned around and sued him for non-payment of CS and won.  Never underestimate what an avaricious bitch will do.

TwoOfUs's picture

I second this - 

OF COURSE you have anxiety. Your DH is doing something (not getting a CO) that is incredibly, inexcusably risky to YOU and your family/household. And he's not willing to change it. He's assuming and expecting you to just "trust him" I suppose (which also includes "trusting" his ex...)

This is not acceptable...and I don't think you're going to quit having anxiety until it's properly dealt with, in writing...until your DH and his ex have an official, legal agreement. 

Good fences make good neighbors and all. His lazily refusing to get a CO is what's causing all the drama, tension, and anxiety...and yes, it affects you, too. He has no right to do this to you. 

STaround's picture

Not trying to be difficult, but

1.  He needs a court order.  

2.  I would prefer he pay through state system, but NOT in cash.

3.  As to what CS should cover, I agree, food, gas should be in CS.   Clothes and shoes more difficult.  Mom should provide basics.  If kid wants more, Dad should think about.  I think both spouses,  you and DH, should have discretionary income, and he should decide if wants to use his spending money on his kids. 

tog redux's picture

Control is usually about anxiety (as you know), so when you stop trying to control how DH handles BM, you will feel anxious. Just sit with it and deal with it in healthy ways. (You may have to learn healthy ways).

The issue of BM withholding kids is also not your problem, either, so don't let that affect you. I'm am guilty of having a hard time when DH is upset (co-dependent trait) and I have to learn to just sit with it and not try to fix it. If your DH is upset by BM threatening to withhold, let him deal with it as he sees fit. Let him be upset and give him space.  If it goes on for days, then address the mood, not the issue of BM withholding.

I hope that makes sense. Let him deal with it his way, and if it bites him in the butt, that's on him.

Aniki's picture

I agree with Fairyo - please seek counseling/therapy for yourself. {{{hugs}}}

I also maintain that DH giving BM cash is a YUGE NO. There is no record of payment and that is BAD.

As for:
BM asking DH to buy shoes, clothes, gas, food, bills etc that should be purchased with child support) MUST be discussed with me prior to a decision being made and I reserve the right to say yes or no.

This will likely cause resentment down the road. "You don't care about my kids" or "I'm doing it for my kids, not you". Something along those lines. As long as your DH is able to pay HIS share of the bills, what he does with his money is his decision - bad or good. If he wants to save it, invest it, lose at poker, buy a timeshare in Irkutsk, or throw it at BM. YOU having any say over him giving money to BM for the benefit of his children will be an issue.

Ispofacto's picture

This.  Just calmly separate everything now, and let him do what he wants.  He will see real quick how much you were supplementing his income.

If he has to check with you, the fighting will be non-stop and destroy your relationship.


dysfunctionally_blended's picture

It is great that you are discussing your boundaries. But you need to personally get to a place of peace or it just won't work.

With step life - it is ever evolving.  Custody orders, support. As kids begin to age, things change.  Add in a HCBM and it feels like that change happens every day. Just as you settle down something pops up to throw you off and the cycle starts again.

With me, that peace came through the realization that I don't have to change with it. Actually I don't need to be involved with it at all. Not my kids, not my ex wife and not my problem.

What involved me was the affect it would have on my day to day. And even at this point in time the only discussion ever had about skids or HCBM is if the change will have any impact at all on myself. Other than that don't care.

Now with that said - we do have a rock solid CO and CS order which alleviates a lot of the problems you are experiencing.

For example - skid has a function. The parents work it out. It is never assumed that I would or should be included. I may hear my SO grumble about how the situation is being handled but at no point in time does either think I will participate. For me there is no need, there are 2 of them. And it isn't worth the hassle I would get if I were or wanted to be involved.

On the flip side there is a schedule change and my SO may not be available to handle that change. Before he responds he will ASK me if I can help him out. If I can or want to, sure. If not then he has to decline or make other arrangements. It is never assumed that I would pick up the slack so to speak. Most times he doesn't even ask me if he cannot personally take care of it. He has just gotten used to the fact that I don't HAVE to help out and will just decline without asking. 

Now for background sake - I used to be involved. We had this notion that it was necessary as we were a family unit. And at every turn HCBM would cause an issue, then pass blame and shout from the rooftop that it was my fault. Which would in turn begin an argument between myself and SO. Repeat over and over again.  It got to the point that I was done. I wanted out. And nearly walked, very nearly. Then one day I realized, why am I allowing such an insignificant person to dictate my relationship? What can I change about myself? And what is important to me? 

That is when I found my own peace. I decided my relationship was most important and I had been allowing someone to step in the middle of that. 

Today I am completely disengaged. Not long ago my SO mentioned that I don't acknowledge HCBM. That I walked right past her and he felt I should be more respectful, for skids sake. At first I was taken aback. Then I realized I was not doing it purposefully. I actually never saw her or gave a second look! She was so far down on my radar that it was like passing a stranger. And I told him that. I actually said "Sorry didn't even realize she walked past. But honestly it would be disrespectful for YOU to not give a simple hello, or your kids. But she isn't anything to me. Not my ex, not my mother and definitely not my friend. Do you say hello to every stranger you pass by?"  Silence.

After a few minutes he replied, "Never thought of it that way."  

What all this means in a nutshell is - find your own peace. What works for you. Put your relationship first. Set your own goals. And let your DH handle all the crazy that he brings to the table. Just because you are a family doesn't mean it is your responsibility to handle everything. Letting go can actually be a good thing.


htd_sh's picture

If you don't mind my asking... What is your relationship like with the skid(s)? How long have you and SO been together? How long did it take you to reach that peaceful disengaging role? How many stepparent years of experience do you have? Because after reading your post, all I can say is... I want to grow up to be you.

dysfunctionally_blended's picture

We have been together for 6 years. My relationship with skids is...hard to describe. They have been PAS'd for as long as I can remember. To skids I am 'that lady my dad shares his life with'. To HCBM, I am the home wrecker, even though I wasn't around until years after the divorce. But that gives you some insight into the mental stability of it all.

The hard question is how long it took me to get to this place. Honestly all this time! Like I said it is ever evolving. And my peace evolves with it. There are times I find myself mentally enmeshed, but I quickly shake out of it. I know going down thay path won't have a desirable outcome. So I choose, each day, not to go down it. Sometimes that means upsetting my SO but when that happens I explain my position and he understands.

It isn't easy being disengaged while having a family unit. Both adults need to be on the same page for it to work. And the biological adult needs to actually parent, and well. Here we don't live by Disney standards. Our philosophy is, if you don't like it then don't participate within our family.

I guess the easiest way to explain it is we don't run scared. If skids are angry, oh well. If HCBM is angry, oh well. We live for our relationship and our goals. Everyone is welcome to come along for the ride, respectfully. Or welcome to go, respectfully. 


htd_sh's picture

makes me a little more confident to be able to disengage in future. I've been at this about 1.5 years and we married last summer. i think i find it so difficult to disengage because my goal is to disengage with BM and not with skids. but i forsee myself TOTALLY disengaging from everyone and i think its so hard because the skids are so young (5&7). i just feel like is it really appropriate to disengage from skids that young? and they never did anything to me intentionally. things that they said to me were fed to them by BM, but i still feel some blame toward them and lately after the drama, i just wanna scream and i feel like i blame them for being there because they're the reason i deal with this. Obviously, thats not true... but i'm just taking out my frustrations on everyone!

futurobrillante99's picture

If you are affected financially by his payment of child support, then you have every right to expect him to NOT pay it in CASH ever. A CASH payment without a receipt is a payment that doesn't exist and he can be liable for it later.

If your finances are completely separate, let the dumb-ass do whatever he wants, but to not expect you to cover his shortfalls.

I think your compromise was good EXCEPT for which form of payment he makes.

htd_sh's picture

we have joint finances. The rationale why it isn't my decision on how it's made is because in our state.. child support cannot be filed rectroactively. Currently, there is no court ordered child support, so technically DH doesn't have to give BM anything. If she were to file for CS in February and the hearing was in May, he would be responsible to pay child support starting in February. So right now, if he gives her cash its just a gift, but everything he gives her is a gift because there is nothing court ordered and the courts cannot mandate retroactive payments. 

Any opinions? I'm trying to get a variety of opinions!

TwoOfUs's picture

Ah - that makes more sense. If there are no retroactive payments, then it doesn't really matter how it's handled...and it is fine to leave it between the two of them. There's no future risk to you in this situation (are you very, very sure this is correct?) 

The only issue I would have is if your DH is taking on debt or failing to fully fund his retirement while giving skids and BM extras. His first responsibility is to his own financial well-being....not extras for another household (yes...even if that household is where his kids live). That puts the future burden for his retirement and debt payoff on you and your household...which isn't fair to you. 

I'd still want a CO for visitation. Otherwise, the kids may feel abandoned by dad whether or not that's what he intends. Also, that would prevent BM from withholding or else she'd be in contempt. 

htd_sh's picture

thats why i feel like i need to agree to any extras.. because that affects where our money goes. 

He views it as "if we have the money and she doesnt, we need to pick up shoes for him if he really needs them." I get that however we will ALWAYS have it and she will NEVER have it.. we have a savings account, she does not... she overdrafts her checking account on a regular basis! Truly, I don't mind taking the kids to buy shoes or a tshirt or whatever every once in a while.. just not every.single.time, every.single.month.

Monkeysee's picture

I agree with everyone that they need a CO, and you absolutely need to take care of yourself girl. Talk to a counsellor, take up meditation, go to the gym. Anything that helps ground you & make you feel centred so you stop doubting yourself so much.

The unfortunate thing about the CO is you can’t force him to do this, and you can’t do it for him. This is where disengagement will be your friend. This is also where I think it’s smart for you to at least partially separate finances. If your DH gets smacked in the face with CS arrears due to this informal arrangement (which is likely, happens all the time), you need to protect yourself so that you don’t go down with him.

I’ve found disengagement to be the absolute BEST thing I’ve done in & for my relationship. I do plenty of things to help DH out when it comes to the boys, and lots of things I do because I love them & I want to.

But I’m not their parent. I’ll state my opinion then leave it to that. If DH takes it, cool. If he doesn’t, it’s not my problem. They aren’t my kids, and any fallout from their parenting decisions is on him & BM, not me.

The one thing I don’t tolerate (and none of us should) is being put last after BM. Helllllls no!! I’ve always said that it BM gets upset by something he’s decided, then that’s her issue to deal with. I’m the wife, I’m the priority or I’m out. It’s my line in the sand, and DH knows to respect it.

I totally get you on the control thing, but a lot of steplife is like that. We have such little control in the things happening around us, which is why healthy disengagement is so, so, SO important. Really do your best to let go of the things you can’t control, and focus on what you can.

You’re doing great though, keep posting & keep working on yourself. You WILL get there one way or another Smile

htd_sh's picture

Thank you so much for your response!

In our state, he cannot be put into arrears for anything right now because there is no child support case. If she were to file a case, then he would be responsible for that. So if she files in February and the hearing isn't until May, he's only held responsible for February moving forward. She cannot retroactively file to get money for the past year or two or anything like that.

I feel like i really need to start working toward disengagment and focus on myself and disengaging from the situation. I cannot allow myself to be soo affected by it. 

futurobrillante99's picture

You can only really control YOU, so if that means you make changes to how YOUR money is handled or how much of it ends up going to pay his share of the bills or his child support, then you CAN change that to make yourself happy.

Do what you need to do to insulate yourself from this stressful mess, then sit back and relax.

Want2's picture

OP do you have your own income? I’m thinking it would be difficult to truly disengage if your finances remain shared but not sure if you can separate them without your own.

htd_sh's picture

I do. My income is actually a little bit higher than his. I make significantly more per hour, but he works a lot more than me.

I agree 100%!!! All i can do is disengage from things other than finances... and 90% of drama in our situation involves finances!

I am not going to separate finances yet.. but when the next issue arises, that will be my firm request (sounds better than demand, but truly it'll be a demand). I know i will come out on top and probably be able to disengage better however if anything ever happened... we're hitched and marital assets are marital assets and they get split. (dont know how this works in other states, but here... everything acquired during the marriage- other than a gift or inheritance- is a marital asset including money, cars, home equity, everything). i'm the better saver so that would bite me right in booty!

htd_sh's picture

i just had the most logical thought of the past two weeks... 

marital assets are going to get split anyways if god forbid we got a divorce.

So theres really nothing to lose with separating finances have i been so blind before this?

Monkeysee's picture

There you go! This is why this site is so helpful, I have learned SO much from the people here. Separating finances will force him to see exactly how much he’s giving her with these little extras. He probably has no idea how much you’re supplementing him, but it’s not your job to pay for those things so it makes sense you get upset with it & he doesn’t. Keep at it girl!

Rags's picture

Love and strength on the way.

As for help.... second guessing can be painful  and certainly suboptimizing to any effort.

My wife is a chronic second guesser. I am not. 

I operate under the premise that flawed implementation outperforms delayed perfection every time. So, I assess and address with whatever information is available at the time(usually very limited) and then I adjust as new information becomes available and as events unfold.

Repeating discussions and doing nothing different is also a frustrating process.  It sounds to me that DH has a problem with this.  On the payment methodology element of your discussion, it appears that there was really no change.  I disagree with your comment regarding the need for a CO.  DH, for whatever reason, balks at building a box about the manipulative BM which is tantimount to facilitating her behavior.  Keep the pressure on to get a Visitation/Support CO and direct payroll withholding of CS.  It really does limit the manipulative crap from either the NCP or CP side.  The NCP can't not pay, the CP can't rationally bitch about the schedule of receipt of the CS money each month.

So, rather than second guessing on what sounds like was a very productive discussion, give yourself a break, review your concerns against the new tragectory and adjust when necessary.

Deep breaths.

Take care of you.

htd_sh's picture


i ALWAYS love your posts. I want you to be my constant motivational support hahaha