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Disengagement is a band-aid, NOT a resolution

Dunwiththem's picture

I don’t speak for the ‘wicked step-mother’ types who want to cut out their husband’s previous life altogether, but those of us who, through loving our man, start out wanting to do what’s right by (his) children. All too often it’s an impossible task.
The lives of those of us who fell in love with a man who has children NOT OPEN TO CHANGE will never be happy. There will be pockets of happiness (with him declaring undying love etc) which will serve to enhance and continue the dream, yet in reality only prolong the eternal torture.
So, even in disengagement, there remains a chasm of silent conflict, secrecy and distance that slowly erodes all intimacy, trust, respect and the wholeness necessary between a man and a woman.
Some say ‘so what, I still have my man?’ – and that’s fine because they’re ‘coping’ and life’s about coping. Kudus! But I urge any woman not yet embroiled to consider RUNNING FOR THE HILLS.
It’s like diet and exercise– think long term health benefits!
In reality I don’t expect one single person to listen to this because we all make our own mistakes and then come looking for answers. And so it goes on…

anothermom's picture

Oh, so very true! I felt that raw emotion just reading this post.
I really can't believe the ones with no bk 's of their own.
I hope one of the rental homes in my area contact me soon! LO

Dunwiththem's picture

Bless you, stepaside. You have succeeded in your marriage and are a beacon of hope for those who follow. I should have said it's most often a band-aid - not always! Wink

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Dunwiththem - You are absolutely correct. I believed that since DH's children were adults there would be no problem. And, yes, I do get along quite well with 2 of them. The burr is the Twit, but then she is an ever ongoing festering problem with everyone in her family....her mother and siblings.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have done it. Twit has destroyed a lot between us that will never ever be the same.

hatesteplife's picture

Disengagement worked for me. I used to be far too involved with the skids, but with disengagement, I now choose the level of my involvement depending on my attitude that day. Granted, my DH went to counseling to deal with the way he was being treated by his kids, and his counselor told him that he needed to circle the wagons around his marriage, which should be his number one priority. And he respects my wishes for the most part. He still gets caught up trying to save his helpless 25yo daughter and her baby, but a word or two from me will bring him back to reality. We have compromise and we stand together as a team.

Disengagement does NOT mean to disengage from your marriage. It means to separate yourself from the toxicity of nasty skids. It stressed me out to hear every drama that was happening with SD, and I found that when I chose not to worry about it and just let him deal with it, I was more at peace and I could no longer be blamed for anything when I wasn't around.

Lemonlimez's picture

I can relate, depends on my mood that day. What skids have taught me is that the nicer and more engaged I am with them, the more they "try" to use me as a doormat, a bank, and a maid. To them, I'm even further removed than a red headed step child. So as of a year ago, I disengaged. I am the type of person that sees through the heart of a person and what their true motives are and can gauge their feelings about me regardless of whether they're right or not. This applies to everyone I am entangled with at work, in friendships and with family.
I give you back double what you give me, good or bad.

positivelyfourthstreet's picture

OP I totally agree with what you mean.

But consider this: The first step is to stop the bleeding....

Dunwiththem's picture

Yes, but once you have stopped the bleeding, how do you deal with a wound who's scab is continually being scraped off?

tigerlily74's picture

This was actually something I had planned to post about today.

DH and I only got married in February after a tumultous year (see post in General Forum: Meeting The Ex). His SS32 and SD28 have been giving us hell and stirring shit with his family - prompted by the Ex-Wife making a lame offer of reconcilication.

It's in DH's personality to be gracious and open even if others are not - something that I admire greatly - so we are trying that path with his family. I know some people here might think I'm just opening myself up to toxicity, but I don't want to give observers within his family and without any chance to say I'm not trying or that I'm keeping DH away from his first family.

I think disengaging totally would be misunderstood by those who want to find fault with me. So I'll partially disengage: ie. not bother when he deals with his skids on a day-to-day basis, but I'll still keep my doors open *if* they want to engage with me. Damn if I give anyone the opportunity to label me a Wicked SM!

20YearsAsAStep-Mom's picture

Tiger. Why do you care what his family thinks of you so much. If you are doing things things just to please them eventually you will be tired of of it.

Take care of yourself - they will not.

Be selfish. Put yourself first. I didn't and it is one of my great regrets. I am learning to do that now. My health and happiness is my priority for the rest of my life.

tigerlily74's picture

It's not their opinion so much, it's everyone's!

Unfortunately DH is very high-profile and everyone around us knows our situation, our difficulty with his family and are looking to see how I will cope with it. Basically I'm under a microscope at the moment and I'm not going to let my detractors find fault with my behaviour!

At the end of the day though, I want to sleep happy in the knowledge that no matter how I'm treated, I've done the right thing. So there's an element of selfishness to my madness Smile

Shaman29's picture

I get what you're saying and there are several people on this board who have not been able to disengage.

Fortunately, I'm not one of them. Disengagement serves its purpose and I believe it's easier on those of us that do not have any kids (or any kids at home).

I only disagree with you stating that it's a band-aid and not a solution. For me, in my particular situation, it was the only solution. And it's been a solution for others.

However I do agree, it's not a solution for everyone.

My sympathies to you and what you're going through right now.

Dunwiththem's picture

Yes, shaman, I should not have made it such a blanket statement, and it does greatly depend on the attitude of the man (or woman).
In my case, the pain is over. He died 2 1/2 years ago.

Sigh's picture

"So, even in disengagement, there remains a chasm of silent conflict, secrecy and distance that slowly erodes all intimacy, trust, respect and the wholeness necessary between a man and a woman"...dunwiththem.

This is my biggest fear...

BarkAtTheMoon's picture

I'm going through this, too. I have SD19 and SD13 FT, so it's tough to disengage. I keep trying to not care.

~ Moon

Helga's picture

Agree also ^^^ it's always there just simmering under the surface. Unfortunately it Is such an open wound it doesn't take much to set it off again.....tolerance levels become very low

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Dunwiththem says:
Yes, but once you have stopped the bleeding, how do you deal with a wound who's scab is continually being scraped off?

Another good point. Deep hurt = deep scar and when it is continually being scraped off it just can't heal and gets infected leaving you with an even bigger problem.

Dun- I tried all that forgiveness carp at first, believed the oh she didn't mean it comments from DH, BUT when Twit kept doing the same mean things, and new mean things with INTENT to hurt, well, that was it.

And it has corroded my relationship with DH, it is just not as it was before we moved here. It is difficult to forget, much less forgive Twit because she is always back with another dose of nastiness. Sadly for me, I have logged her past actions in because it, in learning what a sicko sh is, help me in fending her off.

And the fact that DH knew Twit had BIG problems and expected me to take her garbage and put up with it, THAT has hurt me deeply.


Dunwiththem's picture

SDM, I have followed your story with interest and admired how strong you were when you had to be. Also that you have researched and found answers to TWIT’s behaviour i.e. she is very likely a narcissist. I personally believe that most of the trouble, in all walks of life, comes from people with this mental disorder as they simply have no conscience. You are coping well, but I’m sure you know the drama will never end. You also know that moving away from her is your best chance of happiness. I fear your DH will make excuses for her, albeit in subtle ways, forever. If you get him far away from the toxicity you may yet regain the trust and closeness you so miss and maybe forgive him for not giving you the heads-up because admitting bad things about our kids is not easy (((hugs)))

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Hi Dunwiththem - Thank you, but at times I don't feel very strong and am so glad I found this board.

Your topic makes a lot of sense and undoubtedly, as I have said, I and many others here feel the same but didn't want to discuss it. thanks for bringing it up and out.

Yes, I am dealing with someone who is mentally sick and it is so difficult and was so confusing even to reach this point. Research has really helped as well as counseling because it gave me an insight into what to expect. Funny how these people seem to do the same thing in being nasty etc.

Yes, when DH's knee gets better and he can do some serious walking, we are going house a different state. This just didn't work out. The hard part is that we have made friends here, and getting up in our years - he is in his mid 70's as I am in late 60's - it gets harder and harder to make new friends. Moving, packing, unpacking, especially long distances, isn't easy when one ages. If only I had known what Twit was really like, we could have skipped this episode in life and been somewhere else.

Dunwiththem's picture

Skeeter, I also am glad that you have worked things out with DH.
Happiness can never be a constant in anyone's life, and if there are more 'ups' than 'downs' it is something of a victory.
You are strong enough to set your boundaries and lucky enough to have a man who is willing to try. Good luck for a happy future x.

Overit1960's picture

Well, not in every case. I dated men with little kids and I certainly DID run for the hills then. My SD36 was 18 when I met my hubby. I thought, ok, she lives in a different country, says she's never coming back to the US, this might work... hmmmmm. Well, the best laid plays can go awry. She broke up the her bf and proceeded to move into MY house. That I paid the mortgage on. Then she got married and moved away (yippee!!!) It wasn't horrible until the last few years. Now she is older, lazy, stays at home and lives with the Loser son inlaw, her brats, in my husbands ex-wife's house (that my hubby paid for, by the way) and is jealous of everything that we have worked hard for.

Resolution? What the heck is THAT? Everyone on the face of this earth has baggage. When you love a man you put up with some. And he puts up with yours.

Oooo making progress... I wrote "brats" and not grandkids... hopefully my thinking is finally changing and I can forget about them.

Sigh's picture

We all do have baggage that's a definite. I don't necessarily think of peoples kids as baggage though.

But if that was so...the skids in my situation are a lot more then baggage...more like a freaking freight truck.

sandye21's picture

Disengagement does not always offer 'resolution' for everyone but it offers a respite from the hostility. I know what you mean about "-- there remains a chasm of silent conflict, secrecy and distance that slowly erodes all intimacy, trust, respect and the wholeness necessary between a man and a woman."

Like Skeeter I found that I had to defend myself when verbally attacked by SD and her husband, and I will do it if needed from now on. The fact remains though, DH did not think enough of me to insist SD and her husband respect his wife in my own home, and he never has. Yes, we have learned to get on with our lives. I love DH and we are quite happy but I have never regained full respect for him. I have come to acknowledge that HE was the problem more than SD.

When you wrote, "In reality I don’t expect one single person to listen to this because we all make our own mistakes and then come looking for answers", it hit a 'note' for many of us who have been on this site for a while. Like many of the women who finally come in search of answers, for many years I thought I was 'different' and so 'special' that it would eventually work out for SD and I. There are still posts on here which state that their Skids treat them like dog doo and DH does nothing, but they say he is a great guy. It reminds me of when my ex was fooling around on me - it was right in front of my face but I refused to see it. I know I'm on my soap box (sorry!) but society really needs question the suitability of a future spouse with adult children to a happy, healthy marriage.

LostinSpaceandTime's picture

Beautifully written. It is exactly how I feel. I have lost trust in my DH. I don't think it will ever be regained as my heart is hardened.
It is sad when that protective bubble of love is burst.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Hi Skeeter - In my case there is no way to make it work with Twit because she is a psycho. And I don't want to make it work, I just want to move and have peace and quiet.

Unfortunately, though I stay away from her, she still keeps coming back, starting things, crying to Daddy. And THAT is the problem. Though in the last 2 years DH has gotten stronger, he still has his "moments".

As I posted, my DD and her family spent the last week with us and DD answered one of Twit's many calls, which DH and I ignore and let go to the machine and then delete unheard. Now the Twit is really in a snit. She is rip roaring seething, frothing at the mouth mad (not angry, but mad) that my DD was here and has left many a nasty message. DH and I know this because if we are around, before the Twit message goes to the machine to be deleted, we hear her ranting.

Me? I have said nothing, just ignore. DH has expressed irritability at her crazy calls demanding, demanding I tell you, an explanation at to why DH was here. Can you imagine? Talk about someone who THINKS she rules the world and every one in it.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Skeeter - Yep, Twit is a control freak. She is still at war with the police department over has been a year and a half and she has had the hearings, trials, etc. postponed for all different kinds of things. I believe she hopes that delaying it will just make it go away. As I said, delusional.

peacemaker's picture


Dunwiththem's picture

Judging from the responses, it would appear that disengagement can work if the DH (or other SO) has a healthy attitude, intelligent empathy and enough love and respect for his wife to see things as they are.
In my own case I had a 'man-in-the-middle' who actually seemed to relish juggling his mini-wife and I around his disordered world!
The more I disengaged her, the more she would link arms with DH and walk off into the sunset :jawdrop: (I WILL write that book one day!)

Dunwiththem's picture

Thank you, Sally, but I won't be linking arms with him any time soon - he died 2 1/2 years ago. And to be honest, I'm relieved the 20 year drama is over!

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

I remember, Dunwiththem, when you posted about your SD Daisy and her behavior at the funeral. What a piece of work. Have you ever seen her or heard from her since?

Sadly, I will have to hire security guards to protect the house as Twit would be racing here to rob and take everything she can get her greedy paws on, heck with the wake and funeral when there is stuff to grab.

She did something similar to her FIL when he had a garage sale. I guess all his family helped out with it but Twit. Twit walked around picking out all the things she wanted, or could make a buck on. Her hubby's oldest sister approached her about all she was taking and told her that she should give the FIL something for it, as she was cleaning out the place. THAT our "loving" Twit, never did. How do I know this? Twit actually bragged about how she filled her van with all kinds of neat and expensive things, some she wanted and some to sell at HER garage sale! Could I just imagine how terrible her Sister-in-Law was to say that she should give the Father something for all the stuff she was taking! After all, according to our Twit, if he needed it and wanted it he wouldn't have had it out for sale. The cretin has no feelings for any one. This was about 3 years ago and I never forgot her bragging, as she showed off, all the goodies she got for FREE!

On seeing that and hearing what Twit had to say, I was reminded of something my Mother once told watch how someone treats others, members of their family, friends, etc.; because sooner or later they will get around to you.

Dunwiththem's picture

SDM, hopefully by then you will be living miles away from her. If she tries to enter your home just call the police.
And yes, Daisy did jump in front of me to take the widow's position behind the coffin, but I daren't even tell you what I heard him mumble on his drug-fuddled death bed. It was so disgusting I don't think I would be allowed to repeat it here - but I have to live with the knowledge it was either something that happened or that he wanted to happen.
When he finally learnt he was terminal about 2 weeks before he died (he didn't want to know prior to that) the first thing he did was get a large envelope and stuff all the cash he had in it, bound it with yards of tape and marked it 'DAISY' in thick, indelible ink. He never once asked me if I would be ok. Bear in mind he also had a son who I get along with to this day - he even continued to live with me months after his father died.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Dear Dunwiththem - I remember you saying how Daisy jumped in front of you to take the widow's position behind the coffin. How crude and unfeeling the cow was.

I am sorry you had to hear the rantings of your husband before he passed and that he wasn't concerned for you. That is so wrong, but you, my dear, know it and sadly feel it. Do know that I will include you in my prayers tonight. Bless you.

I believe in charma, what goes around comes around. And, in my long life, I have seen it happen a few times along the way. My goal, and I pray that I have the strength as we are all so human, is not to drop to the level of the Twit but it is so hard as sometimes Iwould just like to give back what she gives to me. But then I can never get that low as I am not a mental case such as she is. I guess using the term mental isns't really correct...Twit KNOWS what she does and enjoys it. But she is till sick in the head, doesn't think like normal people. As she once bragged to me....she's not normal and never has been normal. That was right out of the horse's mouth!

Joyful Mom's picture

I'm new here and found this forum while looking for some insight—not really insight, but validation for the way I feel OR a new way of looking at things. Dunwiththem, your post touches some of my worst fears. I will be marrying a man with three adult kids next summer. His son has already told him that I can't be a grandma to his children. I am feeling so wounded . . . they have never even met me, and already he is shutting the door? Of my 5 children, two really like my future DH, two are just glad I'm happy, and the other is negative and tries to be territorial (I won't let him). I entered the relationship determined to be loving, fair, not play favorites and not draw any lines.

I should probably start a new thread later because I am so distraught that I can't even put a cohesive statement together. Sad

I know that it works out sometimes—I just hope that this is one of those times. Do I just commit to love his children as I have my own, through all the quirks, and hope that it works out . . . or . . . sigh.

Dunwiththem's picture

Dear joyful, skeeter is right. You're going to have to toughen up. They are not judging you as a person but as an interloper. You can't remedy that. No matter how 'nice' you are to them, they will grind you into the ground then dance gleefully on it. Think very carefully about the realism of your situation before you commit. It's such a shame some people can't live and let live, but that's the sad truth.

sandye21's picture

Skeeter has good advice. If your skids are not accepting you now, the odds of them 'coming around' are about like getting struck by lightening - twice. Just make sure BEFORE you marry your future DH that you have his full support as his wife, and your marriage will be his top priority. If he can not do this, run for the hills!

Joyful Mom's picture

Skeeter, I am glad that worked for you, but it's exactly what I *don't* want. I really don't think I can handle the separate visitation like that. I truly am an all-or-nothing kind of person, so I think it would be sheer torture and be a huge blow to our marriage if he had to just go visit them alone. I also would not want to have to set him aside to visit my children (which is not likely to happen, since they are accepting).

By the way, his children are 2,000 miles away and have never met me.

sandye21's picture

"The absolute worst thing you can do is jump in and be super friendly. You will be seen as a doormat, and the ab use will quickly follow." So true!!! Please read some past posts before you decide to jump right into the frying pan. Place boundaries before you get married. Expect nothing less than mutual respect from anyone. I thought I was different or 'special' but I wasn't. The abuse only got worse as time went on.

Joyful Mom's picture

Thank you, Sandy and StepAside.

I am going to post a new thread. There is so much I have to say.

AVR1962's picture

This is very true. I have had no contact with my husband's oldest son for 10 years and no contact with younger son for 5 years. I also have had no contact with my inlaws in many years as well. I cut them all out and it was mutual and as long as they do not have contact with husband, or vise versa, things go well. I do not ask about them and I am sure they do not ask about me. Husband has gone to family functions without me and I have been fine.

However, a new change has developed in all of this that has made me rethink this process. Our only child together just recently turned 18, and now my daughter is being asked to join functions without me and I do not like it. I lost my first family to my fist husband's affair and bitter divorce, I lost my second family (step family with current husband) due to a split among the children, and I now I feel I am losing the only family I have left if I remain the outsider.

The steps never have to accept us but they need to have respect for their parent's choices. We don't choose who they marrya nd we don't tell our children we will not attend certain functions if their spouse attends Adult step children owe us that same courtesy.

peacemaker's picture

Disengagement after 26 years of step hell saved my life...Gave me the breathing space I needed to gain a new perspective on what was really happening...helped me push the reset button, and gave me the time I needed to heal from all the complex trauma imposed on myself and my own family...

It was a time that was utilized to de-program me from the person they had shaped me into becoming...I found me again...and at that point...there was no return to the toxic culture they are all marinated in to this day...The legacy of hate and unforgiveness was starting to contaminate my personhood...I had to take me back...Disengaging was the venue I used to do that....

Now high level boundaries are in place, and the entire relationship has shifted...I no longer need to have a relationship with these people...Why on earth would I continue to embrace such hateful individual who only seek to harm me and divide my marriage??

That is crazy...

Disengaging helped me change my focus to something more fulfilling and productive in life....(like my own children who have been innocent casualties of the step trauma for their entire lives...

Disengaging was my last option after trying everything else....I am so glad I did....Now, the step life is a very small part of my life instead of it being my life...peace

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

I saw Jurassic World this weekend, and in reading our posts on this site I can only think of what the Mother told her youngest son.....if anything chases you....RUN. Get away from them and that situation as it never seems to get better.

Okay, just couldn't resist a little Jurassic humor in dealing with these cretins.

ybarra357's picture

As far as I'm concerned I don't have any desire to for 'resolution' with any of my adult SK's. My life has ZERO to do with them. I don't a flip if they like me, hate me or are indifferent. JMO.

Dunwiththem's picture

ybarra357, by 'resolution' I didn't mean resolution with the skids, I meant it's not a cure all for the unhappy situation we are/were faced with. Disengagement has brought many on here a good level of peace and a workable solution. But the casualty can often be the relationship between a man and wife. Once the seed of mis-understanding, insensitivity or even betrayal by the DH (or DW) is sown, it can fester affecting trust, respect and intimacy between a couple. This particularly applies to the man-in-the-middle types who stand there wringing their hands crying 'what can I do?'

Dunwiththem's picture

Echo, I am happy your marriage is good and that disengagement worked for you.
I have actually acknowledged that it has worked for some in earlier posts, also that it takes a certain type of husband (or wife) to achieve this.

‘You can speak for yourself and how unhappy YOU may be after disengaging’

My husband died 3 years ago this coming September so, gratefully, I no longer have to deal with it.
I didn’t disengage with Daisy. It was a case of her not ‘engaging’ with me i.e. drawing her father away every minute of the day she possibly could, which got significantly worse after she had her 2 children. They virtually acted like man and wife under the sham of a ‘close’ father/daughter bond.
She – and him – were happy to portray me as the ‘jealous’ step-mother to the world.
Had I ‘disengaged’ Daisy, that would have suited them just fine.
I realise my situation was very different to yours. I also realise he didn’t love me. It took me 19 years to learn he was a narcissist and that praise and attention was his life-blood, and Daisy gave him that in bucket-loads (he rewarded her financially and un-ending child-minding).
I did leave him for 2 years at one point, but moved back in with him when his cancer returned. I cared for and nursed him the last 18 months of his life. This is just the skeleton of the story.

The majority of responses here would suggest that disengagement can bring it’s own set of problems, although I’m certainly not against it. There is no ‘one’ solution. People have to do their best with a bad situation. I’m happy it worked for you. Genuine, loving people deserve to be happy.

sandye21's picture

"The majority of responses here would suggest that disengagement can bring it’s own set of problems---" I agree. I'm not as lucky as Echo either.

Disengagement is many times easier to live with than the alternative of being subjected to abusive behavior from the skids, but it isn't the perfect solution. The perfect solution would have been an agreement between SD and myself to practice mutual respect. The perfect solution would have been for DH to cherish me as his wife and present our marriage to SD as a united relationship. Since DH and SD did not choose the 'perfect solution', it was disengagement or divorce.

For me disengagement consisted of settling for a less than desirable but livable option for me and my sanity. But as a result, there are residual issues such as trust, belief of love, reliability, etc., which hover in the background while we are trying to make the most of what is left of our marriage. I find it really sad that if DH should pass before me I would be left with the question, like you did, of whether he really loved me or not.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

"happy to portray me as the ‘jealous’ step-mother to the world."

Dunwithem - that is Twit. DH wouldn't dare to that to me publically any more...he learned the hard way when I threw him out and knows I would do it again.

Twit only acts nice to him when she is in public so she looks like she cares. What a crock.

As I said on another thread, she ignores him for Father's Day and then Sunday at an auction, where there are other people of course, fawns all over about him letting her take him home so I can stay late at the auction. Oh, she is being sooo nice. BS. DH turned her down on that, which I know has her undies in a bundle over it, blaming me, of course. IMHO she was just trying to separate DH from me so she could try to get him back into her clutches.

You see, DH is finally getting the fact that Twit will cry to him that I ignored her, etc. when it never happened. DH is sticking pretty close to me these days. He knows that when I find a place hundreds of miles away, I am going, period. Enough Twit dramatics, antics and evilness is enough.

Dunwiththem's picture

SDM, when I left DH I suppose deep down I was hoping it would bring him to his senses. It didn't. They started doing all sorts as a couple, even going on holiday with the 2 kids (bear in mind Daisy has a DH who she has no time or respect for - he didn't even go on hol with them). During this time DH was telling everyone we split up because I couldn't stand his and Daisy's 'close' relationship, also that I was going a little crazy and also that I was spending all my time on the PC. Yes to the last bit, lol, - I was researching narcissism!
Because we had a business together that was impossible to split, we still saw eachother. Occasionally we would have 'talks'. When I earnestly tried to explain how I felt and that Daisy was more of a wife to him than I was, he said, "Yes, she is now!" It was so frustrating.
Now, nearly 3 years later, it's me that keeps the grave clean and tended. Daisy doesn't bother, not even for his birthday or Fathers's Day - there's no money in it!

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Wow, Dunwiththem - That is terrible what he said. I am sorry you were hurt that way.

Not surprised that Daisy doesn't bother to tend the grave. As you say, there is nothing in it for her....the cretin.

I also know how it feels to start to believe that what you are hearing and saying isn't true because other people, people that matter to you (my DH) were telling me I misunderstood, that is not what Twit said, etc. Or Twit's fav. remark when I did confront her on look at me and say "I don't know what you are talking about". THAT kind of carp is meant to get one, me in this case, to back off; but I know what I see and hear and I didn't back off. And, when DH tried to run to her protection I had no problem telling him point blank to stay out of it. I must say, that was the end of the gas lighting by DH to make me think Twit was normal. But I had a lot more to endure and go through since then.

One very scary thing was the time she was talking to me and telling me, in Twit talk, that she couldn't wait for me to die so she could have my things! Talk about the hair on the back of my neck rising! When I brought this up, and my feeling to DH he poo pooed me, I misunderstood, Twit didn't mean it. The heck she didn't...if I had been standing by a cliff she would have pushed me off - as long as no one was looking. Not a good feeling.

still learning's picture

I agree with OP that disengaging is more of a band aid and not a permanent fix. lt's like having to redress a wound when it gets oozy again. My gooey wound is an ss30 who refuses to grow up, hates that daddy got remarried and blames all his failures on daddy not doing enough for him. Things go smoothly for a few months while ss30 is mad and not talking to his father then ss30 needs something and he's back in my face, kissy kissy with DH and the cycle starts all over again.

Recently he was downstairs visiting with DH and my SIL came over because she wanted to know the scoop. "Have they reconciled? Are they talking again? blah blah..." I told her that I have no idea since I've asked DH not to share that particular drama with me anymore.

I used to care about his relationship with his kids, his happiness in fatherhood, helping him smooth things over, ask about them and how things were going, etc. But now I'm done. Silence, nodding or the way my face moved as DH talked about ss30 made me the bad guy. If I get enough warning that ss30 is coming over I will gladly run errands while he is visiting. He brings them up now and then but I don't. Never expected that being a step mom to adults would be so drama filled but I had two choices, disengage or be a doormat. I can happily report that I'm done being the doormat!

brandtbaby's picture

I have semi-disengaged and it has worked wonders and I actually like his children better now.

His adult children wanted family time with BM (which included the holidays). I tried to make it work but the BM and kids actually started saying things like they were all a real family and I only fulfilled DH's intimate needs. I asked DH to deal with it, but every time he said anything they all threw fits and he would come back with his tail between his legs. I felt like he cared more about them than me. Instead of getting mad or waiting for him to do anything else, I plan something fun whenever he is around his kids whether BM is there or not. I tell him to have fun and instead of brewing, I just go and have fun with my own kids, friends etc. It has worked so well that I actually am enjoying myself and he can sense that I don't really need him or his kids. This has scared him and he keeps tweaking time with his kids to make it more enjoyable for me, so he is starting to take control of the whole crazy bunch. But since time with them still favors his EX (but much less so) I still decline. He misses me like crazy when gone and he is with them. Instead, I fill my time doing my own fun things. He has realized that I really don't need to be with his kids, especially when BM is around.
The benefit of it is that I am happier, I don't have to stress being with them and I am having fun without them. I don't know what he says about why I am not there and I don't really care. Recently SS came to town with his girlfriend. I made plans for most of the trip and only saw them two short times. I had a great time and didn't feel any guilt.
The benefit is that when he talks about doing stuff with them, he now practically begs me to go, I will only agree if it is on terms that don't make it all about them or BM. Since that rarely is the case, I don't go. Really its been good. And now when he talks about if they call or what they do, it does not drive me nuts anymore. Frankly the emotional change has been very good for me and my ability to deal with him.
He is a great man despite his lack of balls dealing with his ex. However, the more his misses me and the more he realizes that I am not engaging with them, the more he is standing up to them and I think that in a year or two things will start leveling out.

headsaregonnaroll's picture

Dead on.
No one is truly happy with disengagement - not long term. But sometimes it is where we have to go to maintain even a semblance of sanity.
There for two years plus.

dadswife's picture

Ive been married for 5 years, disengaged for the past year and we didn't fight over his youngest (30) anymore! It's been good. My DH still has issues with it and just wants us to "all get along" He fails to see the little passive aggressive things she has done.
Even SD30, tells DH she "wants a relationship" with me. But I have learned she is just playing the part of daddy's good little girl, and telling him what he wants to hear so I will seem like the bad one. The one who is causing the issues and not trying to make things work.
She had not been in our home for about a year until a few months ago. I told him he could see her elsewhere, and he would but she would keep asking to come over & he kept making excuses. One day she was across the street at her sister's and asked DH could she come over and see me? Please! Like he really wanted to see ME. She just wanted to prove to me that daddy would let her come over.
He WANTS her to come over, and I don't and he brought her over. I was polite but distant. She hasn't been back.
Every time I have EVER thought of trying to be cordial with her again, she makes me regret it with her games.