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Advice - thoughts and experience of others

Stepaside-1987's picture

Just recently I found out 26 year old SD has a function at a counseling center she has been going to for the past 10 months that is asking for "Friends and Family" to attend.  I am assuming at this point that BM, SS and OSD will be there. Now it was presented to me as if it was  just invite for my DH  - not me.  I did not ask questions and just replied with Oh - Ok..  Why? I don't know maybe I just didnt want to seem jealous or unsupportive and start something after a long day of work.  I wanted to take some time to think... 24 hours later - I thought I would ask for some advice.  No matter how harsh it may be.

So I have decided I am not going to ask  DH any questions about the event and I thought about making plans for myself that day - I hate playing games and in a way I recognize I already am by not asking questions.  I am not going to lie to all of you -  part of me feels as if they are going to "play happy family" for the day.  BM has a reputation of being flirtatious so yes, there is a some jealousy that I have admitted to all of this.  If I made plans for myself that day and did not mention it to him and went and did my thing - am I being immature and insensitive?  I guess the message I want to send and I do recognize it is being passive aggressive is that I am not going to sit at home on the weekend while they play happy family.  I recognize hearing "family and friends" and not being out right asked if I had any plans that day bothered me.  I have never been excluded before by this SD - so maybe that is why I am bothered.  

I appreciate all advice whether it is hard on me or not.


lieutenant_dad's picture

I think it depends on what you want to do and how it affects you.

First and foremost - do you WANT to be involved? Does SD WANT you to be involved? No is a perfectly acceptable answer. You aren't her mother, and she isn't your daughter. Neither of you have an obligation to be familial.

If one or neither of you want to be involved, then I see no reason why you shouldn't go do something else for the day. That's not being passive aggressive - that's just how life works. When you don't have plans and you want to do something, you go do something.

Now, if you're planning to do this to snub your DH and his daughter, that's not a healthy approach. If you're doing it because you don't want to be involved or recognize your presence isn't wanted, then that's perfectly acceptable. Again, no reason to twiddle your thumbs at home.

As for the jealousy of the flirting XW, think about how it makes HER look to be flirting with her MARRIED XH at her daughter's family event in a MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY. Anyone who isn't blind is going to look at that and understand not only why they are divorced, but why DD is there to begin with. Basically, it says a lot more (negatively) about her than it does you or your DH.

Don't feel guilty for any of this. Disengagement is perfectlt acceptable, and sometimes the healthiest thing we can do. You're good.

Stepaside-1987's picture

Thank you so much!  I don't want to be sitting at home.  If she doesn't want me there - I get it but I am not going to just sit at home.  Thank you!!

hereiam's picture

I guess it just depends on what it is you really want to do. Do you want to accompany your husband or not? Had you outright been invited, would you go? Is it possible your husband was waiting for your reaction on whether to ask you to go or not? And since you didn't ask any questions or give much of a response, he assumes you don't want to go? Really, some communication is necessary.

Him being in the same place as BM is not necessarily playing "happy family". But if you are concerned about that, tell him that you would like to accompany him.

Personally, I would have the conversation with your husband. If you want to go with him, tell him. If you want to make other plans for yourself for that day, tell him.

Stepaside-1987's picture

Thank you!  It would have meant something to me if I had been asked and yes I would be there to support her as I have in other events.  I guess that is why I was hurt this time that I wasn't asked.  The way it was worded was "I was asked to go to..."  not we.  So, I guess that is why I thought not to ask or say I would like to go.  

I am going to take advantage of my free afternoon and do something that I enjoy that he may not.  

Your advice and thoughts have been helpful.  


Survivingstephell's picture

I woud be relieved to not be invited.  You didn't say if this was part of her job or part of her counceling exactly but if its a part of her counceling, then maybe she didn't want you there.  The councelor might also need to see the dynamics at work and the BM show.  I'd be sure to kiss DH with a memorable one, wink about things to do when he gets home and send him on his way with YOU and naked time on his mind.  You go have a great day taking care of yourself.  Be prepared for him to be in a worse mood then better mood so you aren't to dissappointed in him.  Hopefully the thought of you in the back of his mind will help him to cut out early and come home to you.  

Stepaside-1987's picture

HAHA!! I love your idea of a send-off.  The gathering isn't a private session - it is more like a celebration event for family and friends.  I will be doing something I enjoy that day and not feel guilty about it. 

2Tired4Drama's picture

On the one hand, you don't want to go where you are not welcome nor have been invited.  On the other, this SD has never excluded you before so I can understand why it is troublesome.  Especially when you add a pot-stirring flirtatious BM to the mix.  You assume that the other skids will be there but is it possible it will just be BM and your DH in attendance?  

Is it also possible that you were not necessarily excluded?  Maybe your DH just worded it as "I've been invited..." and was testing you out to see if you had any interest in going.  In a way, I can see that your DH may be between a rock and a hard place.  If he says you are invited, too, then he risks your response.  Either you can decline (and possibly upset SD) or if you accept then he may feel you are being pressured to go even if you don't want to, especially with his ex being there.  Like many men, he communicates in a way that he THINKS prevents conflict.  

Is your DH just going to attend the event at the counseling center?   If that's all it is, it's understandable that DH attends.  However, if anyone (BM perchance?) wants to plan additional activities such as dinner, etc. so they can all play happy family, then he should decline and get his butt home to you.    

Going to an event like this is not necessarily a big deal but only you can understand what undercurrents may be at play beyond the superficial calm waters of this issue.

Stepaside-1987's picture

Thank you for your insight as to what my DH may be thinking.  I don't know about any activities after - I am expecting it though - which is another reason why I will be doing something I enjoy that day.  The BM and I don't have any issues  - we basically stay out of each other's way and come together only for events that involve the Sgrandkids however, I admit I don't trust her and I don't like her flirtatious ways.  DH ignores her. 

notasm3's picture

It's all dependent on circumstances.  Is the adult skid a worthless POS or is this maybe a child who needs some extra help?

Stepaside-1987's picture

No she isn't.  My relationship with her is this - she stays to herself but events she has invited her Dad and I to she normally stays by my side at the events.  She never ignores me or is rude to me - she just does her own thing and I leave her be.  In the beginning at my DH request he asked me to ask her to lunch - I do so several times and several times she was "busy" so I took the hint and I leave her alone. She is your typical 26 year old - into friends and building her own life.  It is the other two ASDs that I disengaged from.  

Too old for this's picture

It is possible that SD thinks that you are invited and DH worded it badly? There is nothing to lose by asking him the details of the invitation.  If it was just him, you have your answer. If she said can you (plural) come, that is different.



Stepaside-1987's picture

It is very possible and I think you are right that I just ask him and say "Am I correct in assuming it is just an invite for you?" and take it from there.  That would be an end to any assumptions.  Thank you!

notarelative's picture

If this were a specifically invited counseling session (birth parents), I could understand your not being involved. But, a family and friends event is completely different. Your not going is a deliberate exclusion. And deliberate exclusions hurt.

I'd try to clarify the exact invitation with DH as suggested above. If the invitation is as DH presented, then DH needs a wake up call. Accepting a family and friends event invitation that excludes your wife is not acceptable. 



susanm's picture

It sounds like you are actually uncertain of the invitation.  Rather than guess, I think it would be smart to simply ask your DH and, if he does not know, have him ask his daughter.  The basic issue of whether you are invited or not does not need to be a question.  If you try to guess and guess wrong then that could cause unnecessary drama.  Find out for sure. 

Stepaside-1987's picture

Thank you - sometimes it helps to get the advice of others and everyone has given me great advice.  

Stepaside-1987's picture

I asked him last night and he seemed uncomfortable and said it was an event for family and friends and believes it will be him and the BM and possilby the siblings.  So - I have my answers and now I will plan a day around me :)  

Because he seemed uncomfortable I did not ask if there were dinner plans, etc afterward.  I just dropped it.

Rags's picture

If he was squirming then he there is something he  is hiding.  You should dig to find out what it is.

There should be no secrets between equity life partners IMHO.

Good luck.

2Tired4Drama's picture

and don't have any further concerns then do indeed plan to do your own thing for the day.  

However, my only caution is this - if your DH is "uncomfortable" talking about all this, then in my mind there may be more to it.  The fact he said "possibly" the siblings might mean he knows it's only just going to be him and BM in attendance and he does not want to admit this.  

IMO, he should be honest and upfront with you when it comes to any of his dealings with BM.  He should say, "SD only wanted her parents at this event so BM and I will be there to support her.  After the event is over, I have no intention of being around BM any longer than necessary and will be leaving to come home.   I won't be going to any lunches, dinners, etc. that involve her as I don't care to be around her.  I will politely decline and say that I have plans with you (my wife) and will be heading home."

So why can't he say that??

Stepaside-1987's picture

I am ok - I saw his face and I know something was troubling him.  And knowing my DH - that is what he will be telling me the morning of that he will be coming home straight after the event.  Maybe he didn't add to it because he knows my insecurities when it comes to the BM ( a flaw I have and I recognize that). NOW if I find out there is more to this and something was withheld from me - I will flip my lid until then I have to trust him.

Rags's picture

I would go.  Go for a make-over and spa day, hit your favorite clothing boutique and be radiant when you walk in on your DH's arm.

Cockroaches scurry for the dark corner when a light is thrown on.  Be the light. The roaches will scurry.  Be supportive, but be present.  Do not let these people marginalize  you or your marriage.

Stepaside-1987's picture

I wasn't invited however I like you idea of being radiant but I will be radiant when I send him off and when I get back home from whatever I plan for that day :)   I will be the bright light that day :)  

ldvilen's picture

And make sure he gives you the scoop when he gets back.  No reason for you to wonder or ruminate what they spoke about.  This is your DH, and partners share.  No problem with just one or just the other going to another event; however, he should be able to surmise for you.  You don't need a map or bullet points, but just like if DH went to an ol' high school reunion alone, you'd be curious and want to know how things went.

But one thing I'd mention to my DH is that if you are brought up for any reason in these sessions, other than just mentioning your name or relationship, in "family" therapy, that he ask that since you are not there to personally respond, that either ithe topic needs to be put aside for now or you be brought in the next session or so.  Your DH shouldn't have to be subjugated to story after story of what you and you and he did wrong, without you both being there to respond.  It is too easy in family therapy sessions for there to become an us vs. them mentality.  Nothing wrong at all with them apologizing for their own behavior, if they feel that way.  However, no one in family therapy should be apologizing for the actions of someone else, nor should they be acting like they are a spokesperson for someone else or somehow own the behavior of that other person.

Because, a parent is usually willing to take responsibility for anything a child complains about, right or wrong, truth or lie.  But, they shouldn't expect that of anyone else, and your perspective may be quite different, and as wel all know, a SM's perspective is usually very different from the rest of the initial family.

Stepaside-1987's picture

If I am brought up - it would really pi$$ me off because I have done my best to stay out of the way...but as we all know as a SM all we have to do is smile the wrong way and we are blamed for all of their misery.  This SD in particular I would be extremely shocked if that happened.  I plan on asking how it went - I have also made some plans for myself to learn something I have I always wanted to learn.  

ldvilen's picture

What someone in the initial family may see as intrusion, for example, is usually just SM acting like what she is--her husband's wife.  And, I know I for one, get sick of all of this advice out there about "Don't try to be the mom."  I've rarely tried to be my SKs' mom.  On the other hand, I almost always try to be my husband's wife.  Just because I cook and clean for these kids and believe I should get some sort of appreciation for that; or, I don't want SD reconfiguring my computer every time she comes over and I tell her such, it doesn't mean I'm trying to be the mom.  It means that I want my husband's children to feel comfortable in the home, for us to enjoy being together, and I want my husband and I to be seen as collective copartners and persons of authority in our own household.  Just because SS is taking a wooden spoon and pounding on one of my stainless-steel pans with it, and I tell him to knock it off, that doesn't mean I'm trying to be the mom.  It doesn't mean that I'm simply jealous of anyone, either.

MissTexas's picture

consult with the therapist, and then at some point in the future you might be brought in, once they complete the intake process? Just curious to know if that might be an option.

Idvilen, you are right. Nobody wants to be the "mom" to other people's kids, however, common decency with demonstrated respect would be nice. You would think you wouldn't have to have conversations about that, especially with so-called "grown" people.

The other thing that's unrealistic is these articles that say, "SK's were present LONG befoe you arrived on the scene, so you need to step aside and get over it. Allow the family time together. You need to realize you are the "new kid on the block". Don't rock the boat." etc. Really? What about what The Bible says about marriage? It doesn't say "Only FIRST marriages count as being a covenant." ANd it doesn't make reference to secondary marriages being inferior to the first, It says "MARRIAGE".

ldvilen's picture

I think another thing most non-steps don't get is that it is usually DH (and not necessarily SM) who doesn't want to spend time alone with his initial family.  I believe many (not all, of course, but many) SMs are like me, where I constantly reminded DH to contact his kids (Hell! I even continue to do it now, after all that has happened.) amongst many other reminders.  Even my own DH has stated several times that if it wasn't for me, he wouldn't have ANY relationship with his children.  I'm still the one who keeps pushing, largely because I can't stand asinine parenting.

Just recently my DH suggested he was probably going to be too tired to see his own grandson on the day he was born!!  What!?  I told him there is no way that is an acceptable excuse.  Like so many divorced dads with children, he has kind’a checked out and continues to do so.  Most divorced dads check out of their kids’ lives due to a manipulative, controlling ex- and, yes, laziness on their part rather than due to a meddling SM, as so many seem to like to think.   Divorced dads, just like SMs, tend to have far too many unrealistic expectations put on 'em.  Prior to divorce, dad was head of household, and now dad is pretty much legally, financially, literally and figuratively expected to pander to his ex-.  The children can be and too often are used as weapons.  Yet, if dad is remarried, people think SM is to blame?!  No, dad is just burned out and checked out because it was either that or lose his sanity. 

Also, people try to imply “kids were there first, so Pfft,” or just “kid’s first,” because they seem to think that the children and SM are competing and on some sort of level playing field.  They are not.  Children are children and husband and wife are husband and wife.  No one questions this in an initial relationship.  Don’t know why everyone suddenly seems to get so confused in a “second” marriage, and starts to think that SM is naturally in competition with everyone in the initial family.  SM got married to be a wife and not be a “mom.”  Pretty much every SM knows that it is in her best interest for herself and her DH and marriage, to try to get along with his children and even BM.  Usually what throws that whole chance off is manipulative, controlling BM and a lazy, enabling DH.

Stepaside-1987's picture

It isn't the initial consult.  It is an event for Family and Friends to attend - it is a celebration event.  

Thanks to the advice of others - I am planning my own day and I am signed up for a class on something that I have wanted to learn. I am going to send him off to the event with a smile and come home with a smile on my face from my event.  I will ask how his day went - did he have fun, etc. and not another question before the event.  Still have some hurt but I will get over it and the biggest message I am going to send is if I am exluded - don't expect me to sitting at home waiting, I am more than happy to use that time for my own interests.  

MissTexas's picture

I know it will be tough not thinking about it and what is going on, but just have YOUR TIME....

Stepaside-1987's picture

Very true and thank you I will.  I think he was a little surprised I was not just going to sit at home and wait.  Just judging by his reaction when I told him I had some plans that afternoon and I was not specific.

sammigirl's picture

Good for you.  I wouldn't even ask  just enjoy your time.  Don't ask, he will talk about it if he wants you to know.  Don't talk about it all, thus enhances you feelings.  Have a nice time to your own privacy.

I relate to all your feelings and understand.  I can assure you not knowing and letting it go is better for you.  I go thru this often, but it is getting much easier to let it go.  I even forget the mess within a few minutes after it is over now.

Survivingstephell's picture

When does this all happen?  I'm dying to know how this all plays out so please update us on this day.  


Stepaside-1987's picture

The event was actually a "group session" with one parent attending.  I did not ask a lot of questions before or after the event.  I was not expecting him to be home until later in the evening but was done before 3pm.  He called and said he was on his way home and I told him he would probably beat me home that I was out getting a manicure after a dance class that I attended.  He seemed surpised but didn't say much.  He asked if I would like to go out to dinner.  I didn't ask how his daughter was - I did not ask how the event went, etc.  I talked about current affairs and upcoming work trips we both have to take.  

Initially it bothered me but as the day went on - I got over it, enjoyed my dance class, manicure and I talked to one of my daughters (who always helps her mother see the light and laugh) and I talked with my grandchildren also

Thank you everyone!  Disengaging is getting easier and I am getting stronger.