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Boundaries w/ SD23

sunnyside's picture


I feel like I have no say in my own home. I am a 47 yr old college instructor. We have been married 2-1/2 yrs. DH has a SD23 who is married and has a 2 year old baby. The first 7 months of our marriege she lived with us while her husband was deployed. Her husband returned and the baby was born. They stayed another 6 weeks.

They live several states away and the whole family has returned many times. Each time, they stay at least 10 days, sometimes 3 weeks. We have an older dog who does not like the baby and we usually have to board him. Before we were married, SD never stayed with her father. Now, she never stays any where else, even though there are 3 sets of parents in this same town!

We do not live in the house where she was raised. We bought a house together as 50-50 partners. Before SD came to live with us 2 years ago,DH said she would help us around the house. The opposite was true, I came home from work and cleaned up her messes while we were busy remodeling our new home.

DH never asks me if it is ok from them to stay. I never know how long they are staying. Last straw came earlier this week when I overheard her telling my mother-in-law that she and the baby would be staying 6 weeks this winter while her husband had a training.

DH does not understand why I am upset! He is very black and white, and rants that he is not going to disown his daughetr when I tell him that I wish to be consulted. I feel taken advantage of and disrespected. He told me if it's such a big deal, I need to write down the rules. I think this is a great idea! PLEASE HELP ME in coming up with these

sandye21's picture

Since this IS your house too, invite one of YOUR relatives for 6 weeks - one your DH doesn't like. In fact, tell DH they will be coming before SD is sheduled to arrive so there won't be enough room for SD. Surely he must understand. Otherwiswe he could be reminded that this is a 50-50 partnership - no double standards. In fact, his idea for writing down rules is a good one.

sunnyside's picture

Sandye21, HA HA! Thanks for your response. Just to try to get him to understand how disrespectful it was not to be asked, but to find out because I overheard a conversation with a third party, I gave him the example of finding out my nephew was coming to live with us for 6 weeks. He said "she is my daughter." I told him I don't have any children, and asked if that meant there was no one who could stay in his house without his permission and he said yes. Then he went into his "I didn't disown her when we got married" rant. (I am so bored with that)! Then he said something I found really disturbing. He said "She's been around alot longer than you have." What do you make of that?

Anyway, Do you have suggestions for the written rules? I am thinking things like: We will discuss it together before we agree that anyone will be staying in ourr home. Anyone staying more than 3 nights will need to be a contributing member of the household; eg: cook a meal, put dishes away etc WHAT ELSE?

Thanks again. I am so grateful to have found this site. Like so many of you have said, it helps to feel like I'm not alone, not crazy and not selfish:)

mverysad's picture

I am afraid his comment means that she is more important to him than you are. Been there..heard that.

Shannon61's picture

That was a pretty good one Sandy .. and I agree, writing down the rules is an excellent idea. I feel your pain and it is indeed disrespectful to find out she's coming and staying for any length of time, without DH consulting you first. The number one rule, we make decisions together regarding who stays in our home and the length of the stay.

I had to tell my own DH this because if he had had his way, all of his relatives would live with us.

Also, why is she staying with you and DH in the first place? Does she and her hubby not have a home? Is she afraid of staying alone? I have a feeling she's staying there because she knows she can be lazy and get away w/it. It's time for her to grow up. If she needs help w/the baby, her BM needs to step up.

If DH continues to challenge you on this, start making things difficult so she won't want to stay there. Make her accountable about chores, cooking meals, and other contributions to the household. I have a feeling that DH is making things a little too cushy for her. Once things change, I don't think she be visiting as often.

sunnyside's picture

Shannon61, I think you nailed it! DH is making things too cushy. Believe me, I am questioning why she always stays with us. She lived w/ DH her last year of HS, then ran off to get married. After that, she never stayed w/ DH until we got married. Doesn't that seem odd? What do you make of it?

I LOVE your rule number 1! Any other suggestions? Please be as specific as possible. DH is very concrete!

THANKS SO MUCH for your input:)

Delilah's picture

His behaviour and comments are unacceptable.

He says to you that no one is permitted to visit unless he gives his permission?! Well, its about time he gets a LARGE dose of his own medicine.

I recall when my own DH tried to do this to me, after several years of never being informed, considered and expected to do the lion share of the housework for my ss (he was a child mind) and other horrendous stuff with a psycho BM. I had enough and told DH I didnt want ss at our home one weekend, not nice I know but I felt like I was having an emotional breakdown. DH's response was shock and anger, telling me I couldnt stop ss from coming over. Sorry, nothing further could be the truth. If your DH consistently disrespects you then I am afraid that is the kind of behaviour he would be experiencing from me too - so if that meant, calling sd directly or emailing her and telling her that you overheard the conversation and sorry that time is not convenient for you. If DH acts up, then tell him if he dares go behind your back again you will tell everyone WHY you pulled the plug on the visit. Dont enable him to be a jerk, then if he says you cant prevent it - then tell him dont dare you anything because you can. I told my DH I would go to the door or in the home and be very unpleasant if necessary - not my problem what the fall out would be.

As for saying she has been around longer - not your problem, you own this house too and so legally he cant do squat. As for not being able to invite your own guest, tell him he wont be able to do much about it if this person is encamped in your home when he arrives home. Too late then.

Stop trying to reason with him, he has shown you again and again how unreasonable he is being - so save your energy and TELL him calmly how its going to be. If not, there will be unpleasant consequences - then when he fails to have courtesy implement consequences.

As for the rules, well you tell sd them directly. No guilt, no excuses - dont even bother checking with DH. Again who cares what his problem is? You get attitude even when everyone is getting their way except you. If sd doesnt listen, then tell DH with a sweet innocent smile "hunny, sd hasnt bothered doing x. I would appreciate it if you do this." Then walk away, dont let them respond as you dont need to hear excuses/moaning/bitching about it. Seeing as this is DH's guest he gets the pleasure of picking up after her.

sunnyside's picture

StepAside, thanks for your thoughtful response. You have given me much to think about. Honestly, I'm feeling a little sick at my stomach right now! I read some of your blog entries, and I strongly agree with you; especially what you have to say about treating others with respect.

Your point about DH talking calmly with me is a good one; however, he has NEVER been able to have a calm discussion with me about his daughter. We went to counseling a year ago, and he agreed to set boundaries and talk to me before agreeing to visits, but he has not abided by that agreement.

I am so naive sometimes...thank you for pointing out that he'll use the list to make me look like a B. I am going back to the counselor this week~alone, because he refuses to get and get beaten up!!!! I will get the counselor's input....

Persoanl question: how long did you put up with this crap before putting your foot down? And how exactly did you do it?

THANKS!! Peace and love, Sunnyside

sunnyside's picture

Wow! I don't think I have 13 years of tolerance in me!

There are 2 major differences in our situation...I don't have any bio kids, and there is no contempt (outward, at least) between SD and me. I had an epiphany on Saturday night. I was trying to figure out why SD was so disrespectful, since we get along pretty well. SHE IS DISRESPECTFUL b/c HER FATHER IS DISRESPECTFUL. She doesn't know any better because HE thinks it's perfectly fine!!!!

I cannot adequately express how much better I feel to have input from you and all these generous posters. Thank you very much:)

Kes's picture

Hi sunnyside - I think that you have been given a lot of good advice by the previous posters, most concentrating on the issue of you becoming more assertive with your DH. I think this is necessary - despite the fact that you are a mature, professional woman, it sounds like he has been imposing his will upon you to an unreasonable degree and that you have felt unable to stand up to him. "Not disowning" his daughter is a long way from not allowing his ADULT daughter to come and stay for long periods of time, disrupting your life and forcing you to send your pet away. No-one is asking him to disown her, but neither is there open house for her and her family to move in at will, whenever they feel like it.

My exDH was very much like yours. He just stated how things would be, and if I tried reasonable argument, he would just shut down and refuse to speak to me any more. A bully, in short. You may have to be VERY assertive in order to get back an equal sharing of power and authority in this relationship, as your DH will fight tooth and nail against any disruption of the status quo. Plus you need to figure out what your bottom line is ie. if despite your statement of what you will and won't accept, if he continues to ride roughshod over you, you need to be able to back up what you say with what will be the consequence if he continues to ignore your reasonable demands. For instance, you MAY have to say (I hope you don't have to) for instance "Unless I have an equal say in when SD comes to stay and can put some limits on it for my own peace of mind, I am not prepared to be in a relationship with you any longer." I hope it doesn't come to this, but it may. It did with my exDH, he didn't believe I would hold to my bottom line, I did, I left. He was very surprised.

sunnyside's picture

Hi, Kes,

You are exactly right, I DO need to figure out what my bottom line is. I hope to be able to clarify that by working with a counselor later this week. DH has many wonderful qualities, and part of me still loves part of him. Like you, I am not one to make idle threats...I detest a blow-hard! I hope I don't have to say that as well, but I fear this has been a tipping point.

I am certainly praying about this so that I don't make a rash decision based solely on pride....

thank you for your thoughtful response:)

sunnyside's picture

Thought I'd post an update. This week has been a roller coaster! I decided that my bottom line was to be a partner or leave. A minor miracle has occured b/c DH finally said "Is that all?"

You know the story...guilty Daddy has regained SDs love and is afraid to lose it again. He realizes that it is unhealthy for everyone to exclude me (his wife and partner) from arrangements regarding his adult daughter who has been married for longer than we have!

He has agreed to talk to her about the January visit. He and I agreed that she and the grandbaby can stay with us for half of the 6 weeks; he will suggest that she stay the other half with her mother.

The other minor miracle that occured is that he admitted he hadn't handled things well. He said he is just learning....

DHs family just thinks it must be so wonderful to have SD23 stay with us everytime they come!!! I've had well-meaning people tell me "You'll always come second. That's how it is and that's how it should be." I wanna scream "Are you F'ing kidding me?" I am much more civilized than that, of course Wink

I can't tell you how supported you have made me feel. Thank God for you!

XOXO, Sunnyside

LizzieA's picture

I'm glad it's working out!! I'll pray it for the ones who say she should come first--the relationships are different! That is incredibly ignorant. She's a grown woman now.

sunnyside's picture

Thank you LizzieA! It seems ignorant to me, too! She is a grown woman with a family of her own. And her primary relationship should be with HER HUSBAND, right?

Thanks, too for the prayers. I can use all the help I can get:)

Kes's picture

Hi - really pleased to hear things are going so much better! Don't allow the DH to slide into old ways and bad habits - remember to keep on the case - then things should be more straightforward.

sunnyside's picture

Hi Kes,

Thanks for your kind words. You know, it has helped me immensely to read these posts and know that I am not being selfish or unreasonable!

The truth is, DH was single for many years and he really doesn't know what the boundaries should be. A year ago, when I said that we would be consulted before our guests invited guests, He said angrily "Well, I guess it's not their house." He really hadn't made that distinction, so I guess we've come a long way.

Not-the-mom's picture

As a Christian, you should know about Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend who wrote the best selling book, BOUNDARIES and BOUNDARIES IN MARRIAGE.

They also have a web site:

In all of these they say that it is important to set healthy boundaries, or people will take advantage of us. The weaker our boundaries, the worse it is for us.

They also say that a FATHER needs to set healthy boundaries with his KIDS. He can understand things from their perspective, but they need to be told they MUST not be disrespectful of the you, and that your needs and feelings are of his priority, not his kids.

Your husband needs to understand that YOU (after God) are of priority - then his kids! He married you, and became ONE with YOU. Not his daughter. His allowing your skid to do what she is doing is disrepectful to you - and ultimately him as well. She seems to think she has free range in what she can do in regards to your home.

Good luck.

sunnyside's picture

Hi Not-the-mom! I am so glad to know about these authors. Thanks you so much for taking the time to respond:)