You are here

Why the difference?

Rags's picture

Why are men with failed family spawn harder to be married to than women with failed family spawn?

Or is there a difference?

It may just be the sheer volume of SMs here Vs SDads.

My own reasonably come StepDad/Blended Fam DH experience may also be filtering much of the drama.




ESMOD's picture

I think it is for a few reasons.

1.  Women are viewed as mothers.. primary caregivers... and their identity of being a mother is so wrapped up that they hold incredible ownership over their kids and that title.. while men associate their identities more with what they DO for a living.. vs who they gave birth to?

2.  The courts because of that mother bias as caregiver are often much more likely to favor the mother in custody proceedings.. putting the man in a more noncustodial role.. the part time parent.. which puts them at a disadvantage and at the mercy of their Ex'es motherly ego.

Society also tends to put the "stepping in" male as someone taking care of someone else's kids... as a positive.. while a woman who has any whiff of taking over another woman's offspring is viewed poorly.


Mominit's picture

I think traditional roles place societal pressures.  BM and DH split pretty amicably at first.  But then people started telling her that she could get more (more custody, more money, more control).  And since there's a lot of precedent out there of BM's winning she got a bit greedy and territorial.  In truth I don't think she really even wanted them 50/50.  But she felt it was an expectation and if she didn't have custody everyone would wonder why. So she fought, they ended up with 50/50 (which is what they'd agreed on at the beginning), and the relationship was ruined.  Court and fighting defined their relationship for so long that it made everyone around it miserable.

In my case, my ex and I split, did the EOWE agreement and that was pretty much it.  He's old fashioned enough that I don't think it even occurred to either of us that he'd want or get 50/50.  He didn't really enjoy them when they were tiny, so I was the primary care giver.  By the time they were old enough to be really interesting to him it was long set that he was an EOWE parent.  I do believe that if he'd had a GF or wife to back him up he might have been talked into fighting for 50/50.  Thankfully we had it all settled between ourselves before new people got involved.

Last thought - not all men had strong parental role models.  If they don't know how to be a good parent, then not only do you have resentful ex's in the picture, you also have poorly behaved children.  And if you're in a BM-centric state/country you have the looming threat of losing your children at any time.  It's a bit of a time bomb.

Thankfully there's men like you and my husband who know how to raise strong children and support their wives!  Some step families work out just fine.

Rags's picture

of my first marriage. Blessedly, I did not sully my gene pool with her so once the divorce was final there was very little further interface.

She wanted the divorce, we agreed to a single attorney uncontested divorce, she presented the settlement/property distribution which I agreed with.  

Then.... her night shift Neo-Natal ICU 100% divorced coworker crew and my then STBXML got in her head and she went totally toxic.  Ultimately, we divorced using a single attorney and under the original property settlement. Though it was painful for her to get back to the original agreement.  She had a bunch of baggage she did not want made public, so..... she had a choice. Abide by the earlier agrement or.... her parents, etc... would know it all.

She didn't want that happening.

Things seem to start reasonably then get contentious in a hurry.  For some reason.

When the splitting couple has children, it is even worse.

Apparently anyway.

ESMOD's picture

Sometimes people initially just "want out".. and her initial offer may have been in her mind/hindsight.. less than she really may have been entitled to.

I wanted a divorce from my Ex and was very generous in many ways because I wanted out.. and I wanted out because he was a dbag most of our marriage.. and cheated on me.. so while I asked and proferred the settlement.. it was his fault really.. now.. I did not go back and pull the attorney thing.. in the grand scheme of things.. hiim getting 40 or 50K more than he should have.. I just did not want to deal with court and all the other BS.. and we didn't have kids... and I was a more steady wage earner than him.. it didn't seem like a practical fight to pick.

So.. the initial from your POV reasonable.. maybe was just her wanting it over.. but the more she thought about it.. she saw the settlement as less than fair.. (with prompting from her buddy)

Rags's picture

When she got a second attorney is when it got tense.   The settlement she proposed and I agreed to was that she got the CD she cashed to cover the closing costs on the home we purchased 3mos before she moved out.  

I had the bank cut her a Cashier's Check, closed all of the joint accounts, and changed banks.

Over the next few months she got more and more morose and confrontational. She was the one who wanted the divorce, she was pregnant by her geriatric Fortune 500 executive sugar/baby daddy when she moved out.

This kept up until we were in front of the Judge for the hearing.  She and our joint attorney requested that I not be there, I was there none the less.  The Judge asked who I was. I was the only one in the gallery. XW and the attorney were the only other people besides the Judge and Court Reporter who were in the court room.   The Judge asked me to join the front of the court room.

Something was definately afoot that would likely have not turned out well for me if I had not attended the hearing.

She got snarky with the Judge, the Judge did not like that at all.


AlmostGone834's picture

Here's a good link :

She makes many great points but some takeaways I found from the article were:

- According to researchers including Mavis Hetherington and Constance Ahrons, after a divorce women experience more resentment and anger, and experience it for longer, than do men, who are more likely to nurture fantasiesof reconciliation and work for "smooth sailing" with an ex-spouse.

- Stepfathers, on the other hand, have a wider berth to step back and let things develop on their own with their stepkids. As one man with a stepson told me, "I wanted my wife to be a mother to my son. I even thought it should come to her 'naturally' somehow. But I didn't feel the pressure to be that to my stepsons. They already had a dad and I was clear about that.

- Divorced and re-partnered or remarried fathers often feel fearful of incurring the anger of their ex-wives ("If she gets mad, I might never see my kids again") and of alienating their children if they say "no" or hold the kids to a high standard of behavior





Losingit321's picture

I agree.  I think my husband expected me to naturally just adore his child that was dumped on us a week after we got married.  And I do believe his ex did this on purpose.. shame on her but that's for another time.  I think society expects us to just love and take care of children that aren't ours.  Which floors me because when I was raising my son I would have NEVER expected anyone to pick up any slack..... relationship/married or not.  I viewed myself as the parent and he had a dad.  Maybe not the best but he still had one.  It's a lot of pressure.  One time his non working ex wife said "she knew what she was getting into" when I had to leave work and pick up the sick kid at school.  Now mind you the mom doesn't work .... and I really resented that.  I had to sit and tell my DH that this kid has 2 living parents.  You need to figure it out

0o00o000o00o0's picture

Part of the answer is that there are generally way more (unrealistic) expectations towards stepmothers than stepfather.

SeeYouNever's picture

I think men are less likely to seek out advice like this, much more likely to complain to their friends in real life.

And stepdads are heros if they just show up and have a job. The expectations for a stepdad are the same as for a regular dad. Stepmom and BM expectations are vastly different

I also don't think many men identify themselves as a "stepdad" like that's not a huge part of their identity the way anything to do with relationships and motherhood are for women.

Someoneelse's picture

Women have the "Evil stepmom" stereotype to deal with.

They also have the "mom" role to try to either ignore and deal with people talking about how "poor step kids" have to deal with a woman who "should" play the "mom" role, and BM hates it and tries to make your life hell because you aren't doing enough.

Or they TRY to fill the "mom role" and NEVER live up to it, but then get told they are "trying to take the mother's place" and BM hates it and makes your life hell, because you're "trying to replace her".

As a SM you also have ANOTHER situation of SDs... they are different than SSs in the way that "Daddy's little girls" can do no wrong, ESPECIALLY if you get guilty feeling dad's trying to make up for "tearing the family apart" by "not doing enough" because they got out of an unhappy situation.

In intact families, Dads are TRRADITIONALLY (I emphasize "traditionally"because it's not always the case) are background characters in the home, they "bring home the bacon" and that's acceptable (in society). So if a STEP father takes this role, he's seen as a HERO, someone who married the single mom and is now taking on a father's role... there isn't much of a "shoe to fill"... the societal bar is set low for men, always...

I mean none of this as an attack on men, it's just the way society is, it sucks, and needs to change, but how do you change society as a whole?

Jojo4124's picture

There are real stigmas in society that are still "shameful".  Fathers can be non-custodial parents and this is considered 'ok'. If a mother becomes non-custodial, she is seen (especially by other women) she must be mentally ill or abusive or criminal, certainly no mother would just give custody to dad so she could move for a career opportunity. Women shame women.

Step dads vs step moms... I am just supposing, I could be wrong, but step moms deal with a lot more than step dads do

Step dad's dont seem to have to battle with bio dads as much as step moms/bio moms. Women really are momma bears when it comes to their children and throw some narcissism/mental disorder/lack of moral codes in there and step mom deals with a side of bio mom that maybe step mom's hubby doesnt see in his ex wife. Women from childhood have a special communication and competition and shame system...usually men are not crushed with a look or a word, but girls/women are cruel to eachother....whereas men might go throw a few punches, shake hands, and shoot some hoops. Men are not usually viscious emotionally to other men. So, right there step dad's do not have to deal with the emotional turmoil from his step kid's bio dad. And bio dad's don't usually use their kids to manipulate their ex like women do, in order to mess with step mom's head (oh look, I can still get my exhusband to pay attention to me...intended to barb step mom).

In general, I think step dad's dodge the emotional hells and deal with setting up boundaries with step kids more. Step moms have so many expectations (they put on themselves too)... and their new husband may expect them to be mommy to their kids...or they might exclude new wife, which causes her to feel like she doesn't know a part of her husband. Maybe step dads are better at handling these kinds of things, or maybe men feel bad about reaching out for support...but I wonder if men are able to not take bio parent insults to heart like women do?  Step dads seem to be able to set boundaries with their step kids...whereas step moms often are not allowed to disciplin or set up boundaries that are respected...and yet step moms are still expected to clean up after sick step children, and take care of them...the bio dad does not usually take on the 'mom' roles after he gets divorced. Many times a divorced man with children remarries partly so his wife will be there to do the dirty work like wash the kids clothing, clean the toothpaste off the bathroom counter, etc. Women are still expected to be housewives, honestly. Step dads dont have those expectations. Just my thoughts, I could be wrong, just speaking from my experience and what I have seen...   

Rags, you were able to emphasize boundaries and rules with your step son, and you are blessed with a wife who teamed up with you, and your efforts turned out well, that is awesome :)  As a woman, I can not IMAGINE suggesting to my now ex that his kids needed to be our beck and call slaves til they saw the light. (which is genious!) Not his precious 23yo duggie dependents!

I DO believe if step parent and bio parent are rational people and want the best for the children (and are not using the children to fill some hole inside of themselves that they really should get therapy for) then they will team up (which I think is key that the couple is a team first) and have un-movable boundaries that the kids will either fall in line with or go live elsewhere. 

Rags, I am thankful that you are in this forum as an example of what spouse team work can accomplish Smile

Rags's picture

Full disclosure, my DW was more the driver of being joint parents and also more of the driver of the live in beck-n-call boy/chore bitch burning platform strategy to get SS to grow up and launch after HS.

It was hard for her to get him to launch, she would have far preferred for him to just stay home.  But... she knew from her own teen experience that he needed to engage in  his life and not mark time holding down our sofa.

Some of the residuals of all of that is that she is not ready to take down Christmas yet.  Because he was home for for the first time in 5yrs for the Holidays.  I have the boxes staged for all the decorations, once she says go, I will start getting it all taken down and put away.  He is a good kid, granted he is a 30yo kid, but he is a good kid. We miss him and enjoy our relationship as a family very much.

HappyEOW's picture

it is the ex wives/BMs that make it more difficult. It may be fair to say that women take longer to move on and begin new relationships. If that woman happens to be a toxic, angry, narcissistic mess then that makes the problem for the man and his new wife even worse. HCBMs never get over the fact that men dared to leave them and have moved on to a more loving and caring woman. In my case, the HCBM is still raging mad that my husband left her. After 7 years she cannot stop complaining about it and she hates me with an unwavering passion. Sure she's never said more than a single hello to me and I sure did not break up her marriage but she doesn't care. I'm a home wrecker in her eyes and she will still spread the lie to everyone. My ex husband, an abuser, while a major butthole, doesn't really interfere or badmouth my husband and me, at least not to our kids. It's sad to say but it's harder to be married to a man with children because of his ex and her toxicity. It's so much easier to be happy and get along but some women cannot and we have to, sadly, deal with them. Some of us get lucky because they alienate themselves and their toxic teen/adult children and that makes our life a hell of a lot better!!