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OT - Mini-Wife, Electra Syndrome/Bernfield Factor, etc.

Is_What_It_Is's picture

I'm not sure what to call it... but I have a full-blown case of it. It doesn't seem to fit nice and tidy in either of the terms, but there are several manifestations of each. This has recently become a topic of debate between Dh and I, all over his DD16. I've only been in the picture for the last 5 years and this has been going on since then, she is extremely possessive of her daddy, and at 16 still uses baby-talk and calls him "daddy".

In one moment she is acting like his little princess all smiles and giggles, the next moment she is telling him what to do as if she were his wife (or his mother). But lets not forget to mention other moments where she is flirtatious and physically clingy, putting her hands on him or trying to full-body hug him or rub his back - to which he immediately pulls away and tells her to stop. She will stop for the moment but always tries again at a later time - to which she gets the very same response of him pulling away and telling her to stop.

We have talked about the inappropriateness of it and he does see some of what is pointed out, but other behaviors are excused or (I think) he is just hoping to ignore it and it will go away. I know that he has told her to not touch him that way and I have heard him tell her to 'never say that again' when she has said something sexual - but she isn't stopping, she almost seems to ramp it up a level.

I feel like I am in constant competition with this child, I am competing to be recognized as his wife and partner AND to be THE woman of the house. I have come home many times and she has completely rearranged all the furniture and the kitchen too - then I move it back and tell her to leave it alone. She totally ignores me unless 'daddy' is around and then she becomes my biggest fan complete with the fake 'love you' and pretentious kiss on the cheek. It makes me cringe, like nails on a chalkboard.

Have any of you encountered this and what did you do about it? I feel so passive-aggressive about it - I know if I say anything to her about it then I will be the mean and jealous step-monster, but if I don't address it, this may continue indefinitely. And if she is this attached to daddy, she may NEVER move out. Sad

Icansorelate's picture

Too bad Sally is no longer here to advise. There might be a new member with some good insight, however.

Next time she rearranges your stuff- go in her room and rearrange her stuff. Use the same fakeness with your DH, about how you were trying to make her happy.

You will have to outsmart and outlast her- she is messing with you deliberatly.

Your DH is fine- he tells her to knock it off.

Evil3's picture

I went through a horrible case of mini-wife syndrome with my DH and SD27. They were the most disgusting, pathetic duo I had ever seen and being put as a distant second-rate citizen to SD was nothing less than soul-destroying. I did manage to turn things completely around, but it took quite a while (because of my DH refusing to see or do anything). My SD even went so far as acting seductive with DH, to requiring private Daddy/daughter dates on Father's Day and DH's birthday just to prove that she could divert him from everyone else. She always wore low cut tops and leg-baring outfits even on Saturdays just to strut and show off to DH how good she looked. DH was too afraid of losing her to say a word, so I think you're already one step ahead of me since your DH is willing to tell your SD to stop touching him inappropriately.

The intervention must come from your DH. It cannot come from you, because if it does, your SD will know that she's succeeding in getting under your skin. Your DH needs to be consistent and he may need to bring it up a level and start giving consequences. Your DH should also have a sit-down talk with her and set her straight on the difference in your roles. He should tell her in no uncertain terms that she is his DD while you are his wife. Being a DD does not diminish his love for her as she will always be his little girl, but she is under no circumstances, his spouse.

You can go ahead and lay down the law, but only to your DH. I put a name to it and told my DH that I am Queen Shit of Turd Island and that I now insist on being the wife and SD must be relegated back to position of DD. I put a stop to the private dates on special occasions and DH ended up having to exercise his boundaries. We made sure to go out on dates in front of SD and my DH made sure to say, "my wife" in front of SD.

I think your SD isn't knocking it off because she's not getting consequences for it. Or maybe your DH is relenting and not staying consistent. With both the consistency and consequences, the mini-wife syndrome shouldn't last too long. It often lasts forever and day because DHs are much too afraid of their poopsies, so they don't follow through and they relent to old ways. You can dethrone the queen, but it has to look to her like it's all DH. Good luck!

SugarSpice's picture

i had the same thing happen to me. when i was a child my father bought those big heart chocolates for my mother, and small hearts for his two daughters. we had the small ones and we knew why. our mother was fathers wife and she was the queen of the house and the first in his heart. we did not question that.

adult sd came to live with us when bm was getting a divorce from her second husband the one she left dh for. karma truck hit and her husband left for another woman. i felt sorry for sd.

dh always buys me something for valenetines so i suggested something to cheer young adult sd who was living with us by buying something nice for her for a gift. dh gave me a fragrance bath set, and then also bought one for sd.

bad move. after that sd thought her father was her boyfriend. dateless she would hang around weekends and drop hints to go out for a ride with her father in his sports car. finally she got in my face and said she was willing to fight for her fathers attention. it was totally sick.

SugarSpice's picture

territorialism is very common in adults skids. the skids had no problem sitting in my spot when it was time to eat. i usually place a plate in my spot to tag it.

SugarSpice's picture

this elektra complex is normal in intact families and goes away when the young woman starts dating boys her own age.

in step families, it takes it to a whole new level of unhealthy.

notasm3's picture

My college boyfriend and I were about to get engaged (just after graduation). We had the date set, and I was expecting a ring or something special for Christmas.

The BF bought me the same thing he bought his mother - an appliance. I did not marry him.

SugarSpice's picture

i had a similar situation. boyfriend bought christmas gifts for his mother and me. he bought me a bottle of perfum. nice but he bought his mother a sapphire and gold necklace that was hundreds of dollars. needless to say his mother was more important than me and we did not last long.

memyselfandi's picture

I had the mini wife thing go on for quite some time with my SD.

My husband bought me a star and told his daughter about it. Of course she had to have one too. One day she was in our bedroom and saw that I had the "star" paperwork framed. I could see the jealousy on her face.

My husband bought me red roses for Valentines Day and had them sent to my place of work. Of course he had to do the same for his daughter and had RED roses sent to her school. This was one of the biggest arguments we had in our marriage..him sending RED roses to his daughter, as I told him that I didn't care what color roses he sent her..just not RED. Send her pink, yellow..any other color but Red, but he just didn't get it. His daughter felt that if I got red roses, she had to have the same color. He saw nothing wrong with it, so I finally told him not to send me flowers on Valentine's Day anymore.

When we had the skids, she was attached at the hip to him. She'd follow him everywhere and even when he used the bathroom. As she got older, he told her to sit outside the room until he was finished. She'd ask him to help her pick out her clothes and wanted him to stay in the room as she got dressed. Again, as she got older, she still wanted him to sit in the room while she got dressed, yet he insisted on sitting outside until she was finished dressing.

She wanted him to sit in the bathroom while she took a shower and he always made sure the curtain was drawn. She wanted him to sit in the bathroom with her while she took a bath and again, as she got older, he sat outside the bathroom until she was finished dressing.

She'd sit at the kitchen table and would talk directly to him; completely excluding me from the conversation on purpose. When he got up in the morning, she'd get up; when he'd get up in the middle of the night, she'd get up too. If I got up with them, again, she'd completely exclude me from the conversation.

When he went outside, she'd follow him outside; we'd go to a restaurant and she'd have to sit by Daddy immediately with a smug look on her face. She couldn't have cared less if I sat in the car..

We'd go to a store and she'd walk way ahead with him. When I'd be with them in the store and they were ahead talking about something, if I'd walk closer, she'd say to him, "Never mind, I'll tell you later.."

The worst part was at night. She wanted our bedroom door left open, but of course I wanted it closed for privacy reasons. She'd get up in the middle of the night and walk right into our bedroom and stand next to our bed, "Daddy..I can't sleep, could you please come sit with me for a bit?" When she was younger, my husband would cuddle with her and then when she fell asleep, he'd come back to bed. There was a time when she used to thank me for letting her daddy lay with her for a bit; but as she got older, she didn't care what I thought and purposely continued to walk right into our bedroom, "Daddy..I can't sleep, could you come sit with me for a bit?". Used to make me livid, but my husband would get up, half asleep, and go sit on the side of her bed and rub her back until she was sleeping, and then come back to bed. Then when she'd wake up, she'd come right back into our bedroom and do the same thing again. This happened at least two to three times a night, sometimes the point that I just told my husband to put the blow up mattress next to her bed and just stay in there with her every night.

She knew she'd won that war!!

My husband always went up North with the kids for a week every Summer. After we were married, he'd spend a week up North with the kids and then a week with me at home. I didn't mind it as I thought the kids deserved a week alone with the him, even though my husband told me that we were a family and that I should join them. I went up one week and my SD was soo attached at the hip to my husband that we couldn't get a private word in edgewise.

When we were talking in the car, she'd interrupt us; just as she'd do when she was visiting us at home. If she wasn't interrupting us, she was making loud noises.

They had to have their "Date Night" also. Just her and him. He was HER dad and no matter how old she got..nobody was going to change that.

The bottom line is that every daughter loves her daddy to pieces. I'm a daddy's girl myself and after my mom passed away, there wasn't anyone that was going to take my mom's place. My mom was the love of my dad's life and he was never interested in dating, however, there was this younger woman that was hell bent on getting into my dad's heart. He told her that there was no way he would be interested in her; but she did her best to stay in his life friends (yet we all knew her intentions). She'd have my dad come over and fix all these things around her house, they'd go out to eat sometimes, she involved him with her family, etc. She had her own painting business and would have my dad come and help her. She took all these pictures of him and her together as though they were a couple and my dad had them posted all over his fridge.

I hated that..and I hated her!!

One day my dad was over at one of her rental properties doing some plumbing work (he was 78 at the time). She was there for a bit, but then just left him there alone and went to work. Who the heck leaves a 78 year old man alone at their house while they go to work anyway?? When she came back from work, she found my dad laying on the floor, unresponsive; as he had suffered from a stroke!!

So I get this call from this woman telling me what happened and I met her at the emergency room. When I got there, she told me that she could only stay for a bit, since she had to get home and get some sleep..she had to work early in the morning. I was livid!! First of all, I felt it was her fault that she'd left my dad alone while she went to work; and then to leave me there alone in the ER to deal with it by myself as they prepared my dad for Flight for Life down to Froedert??!

What a cowardly woman she was!!

Luckily, my dad survived and completely recovered from his stroke, but I never forgave her!!

She couldn't stay in the ER with me that night offering me some sort of comfort after being so irresponsible, yet she kept coming around, visiting my dad when I wasn't there; trying to compete with me when he was in rehab. I'd buy him a balloon bouquet, and she'd have to buy him a bigger one. She'd sent him these huge cards that I'd take down because they were confusing him. She'd visit and put them back up again. I bought him a plant for his room and she had to bring him a larger one.

I finally put a damper on her visiting him anymore as she was just a thorn in my families side. She kept calling and calling, until the Social Worker finally stopped me in the hallway and asked why she wasn't welcome. As I explained the situation to him, one of my remarks to him was, "She's like a puss dripping rash that just won't go away.."

Well, one of her family members worked there, unbeknownst to me. When my dad was finally recovered enough for more visitors, he told me to just let her come as she kept calling him on his room phone. Made me sooo angry!!

One day I was sitting in my dad's room visiting with him and her and her dad came walking in his room. As she waltzed in she said, "Here come the rashes.."

I soo wanted to punch her, but told my dad, "I'll be back.." and went outside. Couldn't stand the site of her!! When I came back half an hour later, I told her dad (who was a very nice man..this was not HIS fault..), "You've been such a good friend to my dad all these years and I appreciate you're coming to visit him. Thank you. Please feel free to visit him anytime."

Then I asked his daughter if I could talk to her in the hallway and let her know my feelings.

So I guess, to be honest to everyone posting here, if you can understand just a bit that every one of us is a bit of a Daddy's girl. I'd do anything for my dad and have done everything for my dad into his elderly years. Daughters can be very protective of our our dads have always been of us.

When my dad walked me down the aisle, both times he told my future husbands, "I'll walk her down the aisle, but I'll never give her away..she'll always be MY little girl"

One day when we were all sitting at the kitchen table, I told my SD, "I'm your dad's wife, but there's one thing I'll never be..his little girl. And I can bet that when the day comes that you get married, your dad is going to say the same thing to you that my dad said to me.."I'll walk you down the aisle..but I'm never giving you away..because you'll always be my little girl.."

Maybe I can be the one to shed some light on this difficult situation and fill Sally's shoes? They seem like pretty big shoes to fill but I'll sure try..:)

SugarSpice's picture

I-m so happy totally agree with moneyseemonkeydo.

too much closeness between dh and his dd is unhealthy. its really sick when the bond is still too close after the dd gets married.

CANYOUHELP's picture

Very inspirational Memyself and I....does shed light on both sides....You have to be a remarkable lady given all these experiences.

Rags's picture

Since daddy is ineffectual in enforcing behavioral standards it is time to for YOU to jerk a knot in SD's tail. Take her out for dinner, lay it all out on the table, inform her that she is no mystery and that she will stop her Lolita incestuous daddy crap immediately or she will no longer have access to either your home or her daddy.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

IMHO of course.