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Is it hopeless?

sad-stepmom's picture

Every time I read through these threads and hear other people's stories (which are often very similar to mine, particularly about the spineless spouse who's at their kids' feet), there's a voice in my head that says "oh man, this stepmother (or stepfather) should just walk out of that bullsh*t situation because it will never change." And yet here I am, staying in mine. If the biological parents allow themselves to be walked all over, what's your take on it--in general, is it hopeless and should stepparents just cut their losses and leave, or is there some magic approach that actually seems to work to get the spouse to wise up and stop enabling maladaptive behaviours in their kids (and subsequently making chaos in the partner/stepparent's life)? Does anything work?

Rags's picture

Sadly the warm tingly feelings of early state "love" often completely masks the issues of character that many single parents seem to carry into new relationships. Sadly attraction and what most people perceive as love has very little to do with intellect and judgment and nearly everything to do with that warm tingly feeling, passion, hormones, and attraction.

So, far too many of us get stuck with people who we would have had no interest in beyond a passionate one weekend, maybe two, hook-up if we had observed and analyzed rather than tingled and buzzed our way into the relationship.

In the case of my XW and my first marriage, it was definitely all about the excitement of the early stages of the relationship because when the blinders of passion, engagement, wedding, celebration came off she was the cavern crotched slut whore witch from hell almost immediately. Rather than the confident, cocky, dynamic guy I enjoyed being I nearly immediately turned into the cuckolded idiot from hell who was to clueless to see what my friends seemingly saw the whole time. Fortunately the skank whore had no value for our marriage and left me after 2.5 years because it is not likely that I would have gained enough clarity to leave her for much longer period of time.

I would not say I was ball-less, I was clueless which is probably the only thing that let me gain clarity and to find the guy I liked being again.

In most blended family situations, at least the ones I have read about here and on other SParenting communities, the primary struggle seems to be the discovery and realization of disappointing character and behavioral traits of mates and their kids. The struggles seem to be about making the commitment and having the confidence to set boundaries and expectations for spousal and Skid behaviors then enforcing them and applying consequences for deviation. That applies to both SOs and the StepSpawn in seemingly most cases. The drama comes from a seemingly incessant repeat of the same old sequence of events, day in and day out, the same players, the same complaints, the same results. Few people seem to be able to identify that the sequence of events played out by all involved is seemingly a replay, over, and over again and rarely does anyone take the lead in breaking the sequence and solving the actual problem.

I for one do not believe that the problem necessarily will ever get solved but I am a firm believer that it can be effectively dealt with and mitigated. Mitigation does not necessarily solve the actual problem but it sure can stop the behaviors that cause the aggravation.

No, it is not hopeless.

Rags's picture

Having re-read my comment, seemingly, the word seemingly is seemingly my word of the day. Wink

peacemaker's picture

I think rags has summed it up pretty good...It is hard to design your future when you are with someone who is stuck in toxic life patterns that he helped create...usually because he and ex lacked the ability to resolve the present day issues with their broken family...That is why the family remains broken...all the baggage from the failure to resolve ends up on your doorstep...not directly, but we definitely indirectly have to deal with the result of people who cannot resolve issues or navigate through them successfully....

I have learned to stand when being unjustified trespasses...and not to get caught up in their delusional way of thinking...You get to choose your it to be the way you want to live your life...with or without them...because sometimes you just get tired of waiting for him to "get it"...There is always "hope"...but I got tired of holding my breath and putting my life on hold...I found that living my life to the fullest regardless of what they choose has been the best choice for me....because you only live once and time is a valuable commodity that I am not willing to waste on their disfunction's...

Snowflake's picture

You are correct. We as woman are told, even from each other, that we are responsible for keeping our families happy. We as individuals are responsible for ourselves. It is certainly not my responsibility to make sure that skids or bm are happy.

Snowflake's picture

You are correct. We as woman are told, even from each other, that we are responsible for keeping our families happy. We as individuals are responsible for ourselves. It is certainly not my responsibility to make sure that skids or bm are happy.

still learning's picture

Almost 3 years as a step mom to adult men and I'm just disgusted at how DH "fears" his 30 year old son. We are budgeting and trying to get out of a financial pit dug by years of DH enabling everyone in his family not to be responsible while he went in the hole. We've gotten a handle on most of it except ss30 who dh is "afraid" will never talk to him again if he doesn't pay his bills. My respect erodes for DH every time this issue comes up, every time he passive aggressively tells me he's making ss30 pay his own bills and doesn't do it. I am the nag, I am the aggressor because I have the gall to want us to take care of us first and let his grown son grow up.

It sucks, will it change? I don't know but I'm very quickly growing weary of it.

Rags's picture

So, open an individual account in your name with DH listed with rights of survivorship move all funds and direct deposits to that account and tell DH that his answer to his idiot son SS-30 is "Sorry kid, I don't have any money to pay your bills with." It will be the truth.

That takes DH off of the hot seat with SS-30, no need to mention your name at all, and you and DH can start weening your finances back for your own use.

triplea2006's picture

It's not hopeless! I had a disney dad with no spine but it is a learning process. Dh has learned that he needs to step up in order for us to work out and he has compromised a lot. He still reverts back to disney dad on occasion but it has got a lot better over the last year. Have you had a heart to heart with him? It was easier for me to talk because we were having a son together and I told him that we need to come up with a plan on how we are going to raise children because we can not have two sets of rules for the children, that would breed resentment. Also I refused to come home one time because the skids had no discipline and we had a big talk concerning how my house would be treated and the expectations. It is a process and will not take place overnight, not even over several months. Start with what you absolutely can not live with (mine was the walking in our bedroom and jumping on furniture) and once this has been corrected slowly start adding in the little annoyances (like lack of cleaning up after themselves). If you lay everything out at once it will feel like an attack. If dh wants his marriage to work he will make compromises and you will too. Also ask yourself if he is worth it?

blondielocks's picture

I just wanted to pop in to say thank you for this post. My FH and I are actively working on creating the life we want, even in the face of his terrible younger son. I believe there's hope for us because he has demonstrated to me that he's willing to work at it. He's not perfect. I wish he would knuckle down. But it's a process. Everything can't change all at once.

sad-stepmom's picture

Thanks for all of your insights. While reading your posts, a recurring thought for me was that ultimately it depends so much on the significant other. I think after 15 rotten years I'm finally resigning myself to the fact I've got a dud for a husband. There is no evidence he'll ever change, and I've been a sucker for holding out hope for so long. It just keeps getting scarier as his sons grow older and the financial stakes get bigger.

sandye21's picture

"Does anything work?" To make it work there has to be sacrifices and a good reality check. This usually comes after a confrontation and as a result, a point of no return. I agree with Rags, we are drawn to one another hormonally, then are slapped in the face with reality when we are suddenly faced with the realization that our SO is a spineless coward.

I had to be the one to set limits both with SD and DH and be very firm about it, even risking a divorce if necessary. I would not back down. The sacrifice comes in our relationship with SD. DH can visit her anytime he wants (except holidays and birthdays), but she is not to set a foot on our doorstep until he informs her in my presence that she is to respect me as his wife. He has not done this yet. I have no hope for it to happen either. But I don't dwell on it. It's been 4 years and our marriage has improved.

So how do I live with a spineless coward? I have two lives: One where we enjoy each others' company, travel together, live in the here and now, and don't bring up SD. She is non-existent in our day to day lives. The other is a life that DH has little to do with, friends and activities, which helps to reinforce and validate that I am a good person after all. I also live with the knowledge that there may be a day DH throws me under the bus again. If this occurs I am ready to end the marriage.

evilicious says I quit steppin's picture

I was a stepmom before being a mom. Got married in January of 2002. Pregnant in February of 2002. DH had 2 adopted kids (a SS and a SD). No contact with ASD. Had ASS for a while during his mommy's drug and alcohol rehab. He also had a biological daughter with SuperCunt. We have 2 boys together, BS12 and BS10. We raised his bio daugher (SD19) for 13 years with SuperCunt staying in the Northland and doing nothing for her kid.
Last May, SD turned 18 and graduated. I informed SuperCunt and her husband WonderDick that SD was graduating early. They came down here for graduation and convinced her to go visit with them. They filled her already screwed mind with more bullshit. SD turned her back on me. No worries. Enough crap went under the bridge and destroyed anything I had built with her. When she turned her back on DH, he went stone cold for a long while. About 3 months ago, she played a nice little headgame about him being a grandpa soon. LIES. It was a ploy for cash.
Took my man 14 years total to pull his head out of the sand.
I am here, because that damn insurance policy is MINE. I have been the wife who lasted longest. I went through more hell with his military career and health issues and all of the shit with all of HIS kids. None of the other wives (there are 4 of them) dealt with a quarter of what I did.
Cold, yes, truthful, yes. I am in it for the money at this point.

Overit1960's picture

Every situation is different to a degree. At one point I felt it was hopeess. But after the last few years and SD36 repeated F-ups... and not nice treatment to her Dad - some highlights for you here - coming for their annual few days after Christmas lunch out or dinner out with us a few years ago (so they can get their $$$ gifts, of course) - we were only good enough for Christmas Day once about 10 years ago - they show up giftless as usual. Nothing for DH and certainly nothing for me. During lunch they talked about Christmas with Loser son in law's family and how they had a hard time jamming all the gifts that they were taking over to Loser son in law's house into their mini van, they needed a bigger van or SUV. Ha ha ha, so nice... Geez, spend $5 on your father already. I was super pissed and finally told DH my true feelings, had a HUGE fight and found out that he was embarrassed and ashamed of her behavior but he always had been saying to me "Hey I don't care if she forgets me on my birthday or holidays, etc." Big surprise to me.

Then another fav, just last year... the night before Thanksgiving... I'm cooking like mad, I have 18 people for dinner coming on Thursday afternoon. Loser son in law calls me and says they can't come for Thanksgiving because Bitch SD36 is sick.... right away, I had to check my tongue because I knew it was BS !!!! Then I see on facebook the next day how they had such a great Thanksgiving at their friends house... YEP the blinders were off then for sure for DH.

Major breakthrough and we have a better relationship today than before all that pain. However I will say, SD36 is still his daughter, I know they have spoken recently because I check his phone. But he has stated he agrees with me that she and Loser son in law are not welcome at our house. Now if I could only get over not seeing the Grand kiddies anymore... I became attached to them, so cute, elementary school age... SIGH. Sad

Bottom line is be true to yourself. And don't let the evil nasty step children and a co-dependent spouse ruin your self esteem. Things can improve.

still learning's picture

Just a little update on my above post: This weekend DH texted ss30 and told him that he will stop paying his phone bill on "such and such date." Shockingly ss30 texts back, "I lost my job." I asked dh, "who will pay his car payment, who will pay his rent?" Dh said "not me" then texted back that he needed to deal with it and reiterated that the phone would be shut off in one month. So proud of DH! Still have to wait and see if he actually cut the cord in a month but this is HUGE for DH. He lamented how hard this was but that he should have done this years ago. I agreed and was supportive. It has taken 10 years for DH to do this! It has been 3 years of marriage and my insistence on taking care of our own bills first that finally is making this happen.

So change CAN happen but it has not been easy and dh back slided a lot.

Merry's picture

I married DH when all our kids were adults -- or at least out of the house even if they weren't acting like adults. I had issues early on with SD, but we worked it out and we have a good relationship now. No issues. The occasional irritation (for her too, I'm sure) but nothing major.

SS is another story. He is needy, can't keep a job. His asking for money has slowed down but not stopped. I don't think he's a terrible person, just very immature (he's 30) and I blame DH for that. Dh was/is the classic "friend parent." All I want is for that manchild to take care of himself and his own business without repeated meltdowns and pleas for financial bailouts.

One of the last times DH told SS he couldn't send him any money (a minor miracle) he threw me under the bus as the reason why. DH denies he threw me under the bus, which only indicates to me how blind he really is.

We survive by not talking about SS, unless DH himself needs to. Even then the only opinions I offer have to do with what I will and will not accept/do/agree to. DH and I are good together.

sandye21's picture

So you and DH decided to stay together? I am happy for you - not only for preventing the divorce but also for standing up for yourself. SD and SS will probably be glad you to have DH all to themselves when he visits them but at least you don't have to put up with the a$$es anymore.

I had to do this with my DH too over 4 years ago. We do not discuss SD, she is not allowed to enter our home, I have no relationship with her - DH can if he wants. And with every year that has passed our marriage has improved. I DID inform him though that if I am in a situation not involving SD, I need his support and he doesn't back me, we are through. There was a recent incident where he did support me - it was a big relief.