You are here

Getting tired of the pretense that I don’t exist

Too old for this's picture

Having learned to accept the fact that I will never have a relationship with SD43,  and having accepted that DH will have  a relationship with her,  I still can’t deal with the pretense between them that I don’t exist. 

SD lives in another country.  She and DH talk incessantly about all the minutiae in the life of her kids, her husband and herself.  This includes daily activities, trips, household events, her husband’s job.  DH asks about each one individually and sends them all love.  

This would all be fine were it not for the game they play that DH is single.  All emails, cards, letters, calls are addressed to him. Even when significant events occur in our lives, if I am affected, it is ignored.  For example, when my mother - who had always been loving to SD - died, no mention;  when I received a well-publicized award, no mention.  If we go on a trip, it is only what HE did or enjoyed. On and on.

I recognize that she hates me.  Her husband and kids are most likely following along to keep peace since I had a civil relationship with them.  But my issue is with DH.  He plays along with this game.  I know because he admits it. He thinks she will stop talking to him if he changes his approach. (How pathetic is that)!

She will do whatever she has been doing these last 16 years.  However, I am sick and tired of HIS acquiescence.  

Do I just suck it up?


tog redux's picture

Honestly, I would stop expecting or wanting anything from her.  I don't know how long you've been in her life, but she's making it clear that you are not an important person to her.  I'm not sure how DH can force her to see you as important, or force her to acknowledge you or anything that's important to you.  I think the only thing he could do would be to tell her that it's very hurtful to HIM that she doesn't acknowledge you in any way, but even that may mean nothing to her.  It's not reasonable to expect him not to have a relationship with his daughter just because she doesn't like you.  So all you can do is accept and let go.

SacrificialLamb's picture

She WILL stop talking to him. That's exactly what my SD did to my DH. And withheld the grandchildren.  And your DH knows it.  He may not want to admit it to you, because it's hard to admit your child is not a nice person and that DH had a hand in raising her.

It's a hard discussion to have with your DH. You feel like he should have your back, but you don't want anything to do with his daughter anyway.  The problem at the moment is you are not feeling validated, which is very important. I would suggest counseling to discuss how to resolve this.


shamds's picture

my ss is the same and hubby has told him how upset he is with the way he has treated me and our 2 kids (he doesn’t acknowledge them) ages are almost 1.5 & 3. Hubby has told me he knows he screwed up but there is nothing he can do now, its all too late. SS response to hubby telling him how his behaviour is so uncalled for and unnecessary (was no comment), he’s a disrespectful little shit and i mean it.

i’m waiting for the day when our 2 kids start telling hubby and his family how ss is not their brother and never will be because he has never acknowledged or wanted anything to do with them. Maybe that will cut through hubbys heart like a knife. Hubby knows but i have chosen to disengage completely, hubbys kids with ex aren’t worth my time or effort. I focus on my kids and when the time comes stepkids start getting married etc, hubby will know how hurt and upset me and our kids have been with them all. That damage is irreparable 

bedazzled's picture

This is 100% true. This is the ace card they hold over DH’s head. SD didn’t speak to DH for 3 years. He dared to try to take his wife to dinner with SD. She now has a spawn. DH knows she will not let him see Spawn if he does not kiss her a$$. 

Validation for what we are going through is exactly what we long for from DH.  My H like many men on here seam to lack that ability. It is not important to them so why should it be important to us. Is their excuse. 

DH makes you invisible because that is what is best for him and Skids. It is always what works for them. It is never even an after thought what is does to SM. ((((Hugs to you from an another invisible SM)))))

notasm3's picture

Tell your DH that since you do not exist in her life you want the SD OUT of your life too.  He is never to utter her name to you again. Nor is he to carry on conversations with her that you have to listen to. 

You will be much happier if you erase all traces of her from your life. 

Curious Georgetta's picture

mobile adult " have to listen " to someone else's conversation? If she is not being held hostage ,she can walk away. If she stays ,it is only because she wants to be privy to the conversation. In a vehicle, she can ask either that the conversation cease until she is no longer in the car or she can ask her husband to pull over and exit the car to complete his coversation.

The  OP gives extensive details about the nature and content of her husband's conversation with his daughter which indicates that she sits, listens, and retains the content in great detail.

The relationship between father and daughter need not involve the wife of there is resentment and animosity between the 2. 

Neither of these adults have any obligation to like it care about the other. The fact that the daughter lives out of the country should make disengagement easier for both of them.

It is unfortunate that the situation is so hostile, but truth be told these people do not have to exist for each other in any meaningful way.

The dad relationship with his wife and daughter can be compartmentalized and they need not acknowledge each other at all. I believe that this is what you would call mutual disengagement.

If the  OP cannot tolerate mutual disengagement with someone who lives out of the country and from whom she is essentially geographically disengaged, she might want to get some help to deal with those feelings





twoviewpoints's picture

Because the SD does not stay away and remain in her country. Nope she comes and acts the *ss.

She's been known to visit Dad in OP's home and then run out the door as soon as OP arrives home. SD has asked and received permission from Daddy to use OP's vacation home. Then Daddy b*tches at OP at any thought of OP not making SD feel welcome and wanted in the vacation home.

The man can not have it both ways. If SD can treat OP as if invisible, disrespected and completely disengaged from Dad's wife, then Daddy can knock off the crap of sneaking SD over, stop loaning out OP's vacation to SD who despises OP blah blah blah.

I think OP would be fine if the SD would indeed stay away and out of the OP's 'space'. But that isn't what happens. When SD calls and wants to use OP's get-away home and Daddy jumps OP for simply emailing SD the home usage instructions, that's not SD disengaged from OP. OP wrote nothing more nor anything less than what she does when a good friend is loaned one's property. No need to b*tch at OP about making the SD perhaps not feel welcomed..... frankly, no, the SD is not welcomed into OP's second home. Why should should be? The OP doesn't exist, remember? 

And if OP is sitting relaxing enjoying her evening, why the heck should she have to get up and leave just because SD now wants to call Daddy? Let Daddy get his *ss up and take the call out in the driveway, go into the bedroom and shut the door.... where is common courtesy for the OP? 

ldvilen's picture

I hear what you are saying CG, and to a large degree I and many of us here agree with you on this—it is called disengagement.

However, this statement is not wholly accurate, “The dad relationship with his wife and daughter can be compartmentalized and they need not acknowledge each other at all.”  Or, at least it is not as simple as this comes across.  In some ways, you could just as easily be saying, “The dad relationship with his wife and mistress can be compartmentalized and they need not acknowledge each other at all.”

What happens if they show up at the same event together?  Who is the wife and who is the mistress?  Obviously, we should all know SM is the wife, but SKs may view it as more like the opposite—I was here first--I’m the real “wife,” and SM is really more the mistress.  When they both are in dad and his wife’s (SM’s) home together, who is dad’s lead partner?  When SK gets married (to someone else, for real), does SK have any rights regarding separating dad and his spouse?  When SKs have a home of their own and grandchildren can they “prevent” SM from entering or can they just invite dad and it is all supposed to be hunky-dory?  

There is so much more going on in this situation than the solution being as easy as everyone simply needs to compartmentalize and go on their merry way. . . so much more.  Yes, right now, given what is occurring, and if you want to keep your marriage moving forward and highly value your marriage, disengage.  However, there is no way in H- that SM or any wife or SK should be expected to go this route by-the-by.  It still needs to be made clear that SM is dad’s wife, dad and his wife’s home is THEIR home, and dad and his wife are married, joined at the hip, and will attend any and all family events as a couple, if they both so desire.  That should be the assumption, and the assumption should not be that: ‘I do or place whatever I want with dad and SM at “family” events, and I don’t need permission from either dad or his wife.’  And, yes, SM also needs to let her husband attend an event or so if she doesn’t want to attend, but he does. 

There is more too.  But, to just say off the cuff, “The dad relationship with his wife and daughter can be compartmentalized and they need not acknowledge each other at all,” is really not accurate and does not address genuine conflicts of interest that are going to come up way more often than most realize.  Nor, is it appropriate to make it sound like someone can so easily pretend another person in someone else’s life just simply doesn’t exist. That goes for DH, SM and SKs.

MsMad's picture

Is that not childish and giving up?!

only as I am in a similar situation but want it to improve for us all.

Rags's picture

Not giving up or childish at all IMHO.  Purge toxic from your life.  This is a 46yo not a 4yo.  She knows full good and well that she is being toxic and a POS.  So treat her as the POS that she is.

It works. Give it a try.

CANYOUHELP's picture

What's worse than not existing in this sick dynamic? Existing... it was the most miserable place I have ever been-in my life!

Who cares what she thinks about your marriage, you know the truth. Most of us have been where your thoughts are right now and we share the feelings you have expressed; try to let go of these thoughts each time. Let him overly cater to his DD and pretend he is not married; at the same time-- you pretend he has no brat adult daughter. Play the game, you still come out the winner.

Like SL stated, if you have no interaction with her, she will cool it with DD eventually....She is going to want to get back the power to control you, via dadeeee; if you are not cooperating with her hidden agendas, she will be unhappy with him.  Natural consequences are the best!

disrestep's picture

You should not have to suck up to the fact your DH plays along with SD's sick little games and expects to have a life with them where you are not respected and are excluded. A good DH would not keep doing things to exclude his wife if he knows this hurts his wife. How would he like it if you did the same?

I'd try not to harbor any negative thoughts and have fun with it. Why not have DH include you and put you on the phone, video chat or whatever way he communicates with her to say "hello." Just to make her day, ha, ha. Send  SD and family a big holiday card with a picture of you and DH on it kissing under mistletoe or hugging in the snow. Ha, ha, that will would be funny when she opens it.

Think of all the positives, like you don't have to buy her and her family anything, saves time and money. 

Do whatever makes you comfortable. Everyone is different: some people like to vent, others totally disengage, some try to fit in. Whatever works for you and makes you happy.

I would talk to my DH and let him know how this makes me feel and leave SD's name out of that conversation as much as possible, focusing on your relationship with DH. 

You are DH's family and there is no reason you should be excluded. Nice people welcome one another and don't play adult skid mean games.

good luck

marblefawn's picture

I also don't exist in SD's world, and it also bothers me when I indulge myself and think about it.

So I don't indulge myself.

Make peace with the fact that you can't change this, stop asking why he does it, and then take the next step:

Don't think about SD, period. When he's on the phone with SD, walk away. Tell your husband you don't want to hear ANYTHING about SD -- not even her name. If they talk, you don't want to know. You are on a strict need-to-know basis from here on out. If he's planning to visit her, you need to know when and nothing more. If she's dead, you don't need to know that.

Why should you hear about SD when he gives SD a world without you? If he can do it for SD, he can do it for you. Let your husband bear the brunt of pretending he has two separate lives. Tell him you want parity!

In my house, I hear about SD only when my husband plans to visit her -- just to be sure we don't have plans that day. I don't ask how the visit went -- when he comes home, I only ask how the traffic was on the way to his visit and then I change the subject.

After you have trained your husband never to utter SD's name, it's up to you to shove her out of your mind. Once you stop dwelling on her, you can take the next step to forgetting she exists altogether. You can do it. And when you do, you'll be much happier. But you really have to work on putting her totally out of your head.

Good luck! You're going to love a world with SD. It opens up so much time and energy you wasted fretting about this ugly dynamic. You'll be glad you did it! 

Too old for this's picture

Great advice which I will take to heart. But here is my question:  how do you handle extended family events with her?

notarelative's picture

Extended family events. My advice, what I do, is dress for the occasion, and smile, smile, smile. Be nice to everyone. Then when SD makes one of her rare appearances, she’s forced to either be polite or be outed as the person she is.

tog redux's picture

Be civil, distant, and classy.  You can avoid someone at an event full of extended family. If she acts like a child, and you stay calm and cool, that will be noticed by other family members.  If someone sees her breeze right by you with her nose in the air and greet DH, just shrug and move on.

Don't let her get to you so much. 

marblefawn's picture

For the past two years (since I disengaged) I haven't gone to extended family events if SD was there. It is the one area that's tough to negotiate.

It means I don't see extended family because SD never misses a chance to hold court with her family of subjects, so if I see them, I also have to endure her.

However, in August my husband and I had a blowup because he's such an ass about how he handles everything with SD -- he went to see extended family and never told me SD would be there. I was supposed to join him later in the visit, so when I learned she was there, I freaked out thinking our paths would cross and we'd have a repeat of all those family visits when SD attacked me and he did nothing. (Turns out, she was just there for a few days before I got there, but I was still furious that he lied about her being there. Like, grow up, man!)

Anyway, this blowup opened all the old wounds, reminded me how shitty he's handled everything with SD, how it's hurt our marriage, and that none of this would even be happening if SD weren't such an asshole. (Forgive me...I'm trying not to use sexist insults anymore, which only leaves "asshole" as an option.)

I was so furious, I told him from now on, this is how we'd be handling family events: we either see extended family on our own, or he will have to tell SD to stay home sometimes.

We don't get together often with extended family -- most family is on the other coast. I long ago had to end trips out there because SD always showed up and made every trip miserable for me. Our August trip was one of the first we had in a decade of marriage without SD showing up (and, as it turned out, she STILL showed up, but it was before I got there. Unbelievable.)

However, there's an annual family gathering with a local relative I never even met because I won't be there with SD. During our fight in August, I specifically called my husband out on that event and said he better figure it out this year because I won't be sitting home alone again and I won't be there with SD. I said he could telll SD to stay home or we could see this relative on our own, but we aren't doing it again as it's been done with me staying home so they can all have a big family gathering.

I don't know how it will go. I suspect my husband won't go to this event rather than set SD straight or tell her to stay home so I can be there.

To be honest, it feels unfair for me to make a demand that will keep him from the event, or for me to ask him to tell SD to stay home. 

But the way I see it, SD and my husband got us to this shitty point. I was always nice to SD and have taken years of her shit. She always behaved badly and he allowed it. How is that on me? They called the shots for 20 years and I thought I just had to live with whatever they decided. SD used to demand I stay home when she saw her father, so why can't I demand she stay home so I can see my extended family?

Yea, it's petty and ugly. But they were petty and ugly first. If anyone had made space for me, if she had been consistently decent to me, we wouldn't be here.

It takes a while to feel comfortable with disengagement. But the longer you do it, the more clearly you see things. Your confidence comes back and you start to stand your ground more. You start to see ways you can make demands that you can't see when you're in the emotional web of a hateful person. You resent your husband less and there are fewer fights because of SD. You can come to peace with him seeing SD alone, even though it will always make you a little uneasy.

With disengagement, you really can find as much peace as possible with an existential blight out there hating you for no reason. It ain't ideal, but it's better than eating shit all the time.

2Tired4Drama's picture

And they may help guide you through this landmine in some form or fashion.  You will be able to figure it out, give it time.  I do understand very well the feeling of exclusion (of you) and of exclusivity (of SD) and practiced by your DH.  Most of us have experienced it and it sticks in the craw.  Given appropriate time and distance, you will be able to disengage more easily.

The big question I have is this:  What happens when something goes wrong with your DH physically or mentally?

None of us will be getting younger.  Yet we find ourselves in a situation where we will probably be on the frontline of caregiving, and still have to deal with these awful adult skids.  This is what plays on my mind - if something happens to my SO, I have the uncertainty of how I will be able to handle SD.  I am hopeful we have many healthy years ahead of us but if this happens when we are in our 70s or 80s I can't imagine the stress it will cause - on top of the illness/health event of our spouse we will have to deal with.

Oh well, cross that bridge when we come to it I guess.   


sandye21's picture

"What happens when something goes wrong with your DH physically or mentally?"  Yeah, this is something I'm not looking forward to either.  SD has the right to see DH but I have the right not to be bothered with her nasty attitude.  I don't have the phone number. and have never asked for it (LOL *diablo*) so my only option is to call one of DH's relatives and have them get in touch with her.  Then I will make sure I have friends close by who will back me up if needed.

The thing is, before disengagement we opened ourselves up for a possible relationship with a Skid.  Now we know better and can prepare for them without any hope or desire of getting to know them.  I have no fear of telling SD to stay out of my life and legally restricting visitation with DH if necessary.  It's up to SD to behave or be escorted out.

Too old for this's picture

You said:The big question I have is this:  What happens when something goes wrong with your DH physically or mentally?”


that is exactly the question my therapist asked! How right you are.

bedazzled's picture

My therapist asked this same question also. He said that there is a big chance that they will try to seperate us. A friend of my husbands who is much older than my husband went through this very thing. His wife got very sick and had to go into a home. Her children got a lawyer and said that he was not taking care of her. He could no longer go see his wife unless 1 of her children was there. She had demintia and they talked her into divorcing him. He was heart broken. . He is in his 80's now and is by himself. He was very good to his wife. He did not deserve this. He is a good man. 

It does happen. 

Lisa mckay's picture

I know exactly how you feel my husband does the same. To me its like I'm in a family I'm not part off and I'm the mother of one of his children. Not that our son has much of a relationship with his half sister either.  I fully sympathize. I've read all the responses and agree with all. But its still painfull and that's just the truth of it.

Booboobear's picture

OP- I like what sacrificail lamb said about SD WILL stop talkingto him and withholding  SGRANDS.  But you have to make it fair.  It cant be one sided with him not spending time with his kids without you, if you wouldnt do the same for your kids- If they didnt want to be aroud your DH, and pretended like youwere single, and expected you to play along as a single woman just for you to be able to see your grandkids, what ever you would do to be able to see your kids, it has to be equal and the same for DH and his kids and grandkids.  You got to discuss with DH and decide right across the board, If we have asshole children, what are we going to let them control us and pretend to be single to see the SGRANDS, or are we going to tell them we are both busy?

Rags's picture

That your DH caters and participates in this shit makes him a write off IMHO. Along with the rest of his shallow and polluted gene pool.

Why do you tolerate a supposed equity life partner that supports anyone stabbing you in the back like his toxic crotch dribble does?

soccermom830's picture

yes they are so afraid they're lovely daughters will stop talking to them which happens.  i've seen it and they hate it.  the daughters know this.  it's a sick game.  they are in total control!  exactly why they get away with it - they were raised to be in charge of their own fathers.  my father would have never tolerated this behavior from me.  when my mother died, i heard from not one family member of my BF either and yet when one of his DD just had her baby, i was supposed to be concerned about her and ask about her, etc. when i was completely excluded.  get real.  it's just an emotionally depleting game that will never change.  sad but true.

Lisa mckay's picture

This seems so common know matter how young or how long you become their step mother. I know thIs started happening when it was evident her husband didn't like us. Well she couldn't treat her father badly so it became me. No matter what ive done for her and her kids. I think she fails to see that her father does not like her husband as he is rude,drinks too much and just not nice. I'm sorry that my husband is not so close to her anymore but its not my problem. I told her the last time we spoke that I didn't stand in her fathers shadow and didn't like that I was treated like I didn't matter. She never spoke to me again. Tuff.


Rags's picture

How hard is it to be polite?  Even if adult prior relationship spawn do not want a close relationship with mommy's or daddy' new spouse how hard is it to address and card Mr. and Mrs LAST NAME?

And of course it is not a whole lot easier to write the card to Mom & SDad or Dad and SMOm.

Basic human dignity and politeness.  Anything less needs to be confronted and destroyed.

IMHO of course.


Suemm44's picture

Never ever suck it up. Never.

im never disrespecting myself like that ever again. Just the sight of both steps makes my heart race. And the more I hear what sd spews out of her toxic mouth the more I realize she is out to get us. She’s to never be trusted.

i really think when I told SS that I could never trust him or his bs ever again and most definitely I should never let them interfere did dh take me serious. He said , well never trusting them is a big word. I said yep dam# right and I meant it. He said I know you did. I wanted to say I’ve never trusted them with their evil nasty eyes looking at me. They look at me like they want to kill me , I lie to you not !!!