The long and winding road
I have been reading posts on this site off and on for a while and have found the information and sharing very valuable. I wanted to share a part of my story with older skids during my 12 year marriage. The road has been long and winding, sometimes with many potholes and detours, but after 14 years together, 12 married, we have emerged somewhat in tact and stronger. Though, at times, I wasn't sure the outcome. This post is focused on my SD59, spoiled and pampered her whole life especially by BM. NOTE: I realize in hindsight I made mistakes along the way and may not have always handled things the way I would have liked, but, realized a long time ago that no one gets an owners manual to help guide you. This forum has provided some much needed, but hard earned, guidance.
DH and his first wife were married over 40 years and she unfortunately passed away from cancer after a short illness. After her passing, DH and I began having lunch, dinner, or just getting together with friends. Over time, we realized we loved each other and wanted to get married. He had two grown kids (the skids were SD45 and SS42 at the time) and I had one (DD10). Two years after the BM passing, we got married. SD, SS, SDIL all have fits over their dad dating and really went nuts when they discovered I was younger. Long story short, DH thought and hoped things would get better and his kids would accept me and my DD, but it was not to be.
Turns out, the SD thought she would become the family matriarch, including taking over care of her father. Bear in mind, my DH was living hundreds of miles from her, working full time, and very much active in his life. For whatever reason, she thought he would retire, move to her home, to be a full time grandfather. (SD has two children that were born late in life to her) I am thinking that was DH first mistake in her book, not wanting her to be his mini wife.
Before we married, DH thought if I wrote the skids a letter laying out my financial stability, family history, etc., they would not be so opposed to our marriage. I refused and in hindsight am glad because turns out nothing we have tried over the years has been effective. SD told DH that he was being taken advantage of and I would rob him blind (pot calling the kettle black).
I found out after we were married SD was always calling with "money problems" ... not asking directly for money but whining about what her husband would not let her have, like new eye glasses, vet care for dog, etc. Her husband has a wonderful income and turns out had put her on a budget to stop her spending everything dollar so she turned to DH since her BM was not longer around to bail her out of credit card debt, pay for her maid service, etc. The calls pretty much stopped after DH quit sending her money (that took a while to cut off...DH finally saw that he was circumventing the SIL's attempts to teach the SD money management).
When we married, the sgrands were under the age of 5, and I was excited to be able to do for them as I love children. SD informs DH that she did not want me trying to win her affection by buying her kids gifts. So, while they were little, we did birthday, christmas, etc., for the sgrands but nothing more. And, shockingly, we never received thank you's...lol. DH did address with her a few times and we would get one card with all the sgrands signature (few times=2). By the way, my child was never acknowledged -- at all. period. ever. DH sent DD's high school graduation invitation to SD which 6 years later, still haven't gotten a response (lol). I can see not doing anything for me, but to ignore a child is not something that I can easily forgive. That, I still struggle with today.
Three times I have written SD inviting her to visit but never got a response. DH has finally said that we have done all we can, and there is no more to do. I have let her know that I did find some of her mothers things that were packed away in a storage unit and let me know if she wanted them. She did until I told her that she would need to pay for the shipping. Not sure what to do with it now since the SD has gone silent on the subject.
Now, it is clear to DH that she has kept the sgrands from him because he would not give in to her demands. We get no pictures, not even the school pictures, no calls from the sgrands, nothing. It breaks his heart but realizes that giving in would not be good in the long run. I do want to add that DH has diligently gone through BM's estate and made sure she received everything her mother wanted her to have which was significant enough to ensure SD would never have to work (which she has not since before sgrands were born). Now, we have our estate and the skids have their BM's so that I won't have to go through the nightmare of splitting DH estate if he preceeds me.
Has the DH been aware of all the issues with SD over the years? No...he was blinded to her manipulative ways and found it easier to give in than to deal with it. After alot of issues, tears, and discussions, DH realizes that respect and consideration are a two way street and he has made it clear that until the SD accepts the marriage and shows respect, then they don't have alot to discuss. There are calls on holidays and birthdays, but not much else. We do do for the sgrands for now, but even the DH thinks they are old enough to be able to call or reach out. He really doesn't like it when he has to ask if they got their gifts.
One of the biggest lessons DH has learned is that silence when SD makes outrageous lies about me is the same as agreeing with her. He thought not responding was the best way but now sees that it just makes her feel she is right. Once he started firmly but politely disagreeing with her, she stopped. That was a huge step forward for him.
I realize this could have gone a much different way if we had not toughed it out and some days, I was not sure I had it in me to deal with "one more drama". But, by grace and alot of wine, we have made it through to a good place. Sorry for the long post (it would be a novel if the whole story with the SD was written). Thank each of you for your insights and sharing.