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Those secret phone calls...

marblefawn's picture

How many of you know your husband/SO communicates regularly with his kids but it's never in front of you?

It's just so weird. It's as if he has a girlfriend on the side. If I went by the contact I hear, SD wouldn't even exist. In summer, when my husband isn't working, he's in the garden early in the morning talking to her. Some mornings I stay inside because I feel like I'd be intruding if he knows I know he's talking to her! Everyday on the way to work, they talk. When he goes to get our takeout or to the store, he calls her. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason he's going to the store is to call SD.

Am I such a monster that he can't talk to his precious daughter in my presence? Is it so I don't overhear something and confront him? What is being cooked up that must be discussed daily on the sly?

The secret calls have been a decade-long thing now. He says as he gets older, just discussing SD makes him feel worse and worse. We hardly ever discuss her since I disengaged and told him two years ago that I DON'T want to discuss her.

How do the secret calls make you feel? What's your read on them? Did you ever confront your husband/SO about his secret calls to skids? What did he say?

This is not a huge deal to me. But I just wonder what it's all about. Does he think not communicating with her in front of me will make me think she doesn't exist? Or does he feel guilty talking to someone who has been so shitty to me?


PerplexedPatty's picture

My husband does the same thing. It’s just like having a mistress! The constant calls/texts.

What is your HD and SD cooking up that needs to be discussed everyday? I would definitely confront him even if it upsets him “as he gets older.”  That’s ridiculous behavior! 

When my DH’s kids call and I’m in the room he will leave and pretend he is doing something or he’ll take the dog outside. When were in the car and they call (mainly OSD30) he won’t answer the phone and says he doesn’t want to talk while driving. 

It’s a big deal to me. I am wondering what there is to hide and be so secretive about? Is DH afraid skids might start talking about me and he won’t be able say what he wants to? Are they planning the secret family vacation? Is it about money? I know he’s constantly giving them money and I’m not supposed to know. 

I’ve confronted my DH about the private calls and he says the reason he leaves the room is because I’ve made comments about what he says to his children. Yes, I have made some comments only because I hear the coddling that goes on or planning something with skids without seeing if we have something on the calendar first. 

My DH hasn’t stopped the secret calls even after confronting him. He does the same thing yours does and makes up errands to run.

It’s so frustrating because it creates a sense of distrust. 

sharonholly's picture

My husband does the same!   You know why they keep their conversations so private?  Because you'd be pissed off by what you hear.  Any time I've happened to hear a conversation by walking past a room, he is always sending her money so she can go drink at a bar and order an uber ride home, or buy more clothes.  When I hear that tone of his voice and KNOW he's talking to his daughter, I close my bedroom door now and turn on my fan, because if I hear any more about her latest cash grab, it gives me so much anxiety.   And sad to say, I have felt that they act more like a married couple than we do.  Lately I've told him (after a period where she was fired from her job and unemployed) "Do NOT tell me anything unless its GOOD news"  Because most often its one "crisis" after another, and no wonder I'm on anxiety medication now.

Kes's picture

My DH calls his daughters when he is out walking the dog in the evening, about 9pm.   I think it's like you said in your last sentence - I think he feels a little guilty about talking to them when they have been so shitty to me.  Tbh, I don't care either way.  If one of them phones him when we're together and I have to listen to his end of the call,  I usually leave the room.  I just don't care to listen to him fawning on them.  

marblefawn's picture true. I don't miss hearing those calls -- it was nauseating. I could tell just by his voice that it was SD on the phone -- he has an entirely different affect when it's SD.

The other thing about those calls was that they were all about her. He'd answer the phone and then I'd hear silence for 25 minutes while she monologued at him. He'd squeeze in a question now and then ("Is your tummy feeling better today?" Yea, SD is 31 and still has a "tummy" -- not just a stomach like the rest of us.)

Also, the calls were uncomfortable to hear because his level of intimacy in SD's life was astounding -- he knows all her co-workers' names and all about their lives, he knows details of her work projects and meetings, all about BM's latest antics, he knows all her friends' drama, and he knows every itch, ache or pain SD experiences (SD leans toward hypochondria).

This is so bizarre to me -- my own mother is a narcissist, so (I swear to god I'm not exaggerating this) she can talk at me for three hours and literally not ask me a single thing, not even the cursory opener, "how are you?" My mother is the only person in the world who routinely dispenses with this standard opening and just launches right into her problems...not unlike SD, now that I think about it. She knows nothing about me or my life. So my husband asking SD, "Did you and Stephanie have that Monday meeting with Marie about the XYZ project or did you end up rescheduling to Wednesday the way you thought you would because Marie's daughter had her baby?" is simply unbelievable to me.

I guess the reasons the secrecy of the phone calls isn't a huge deal to me is because hearing those calls was uncomfortable -- they screamed how one-sided their relationship is and I almost pitied him and I sure as hell don't want to pity him for being used like a therapist by SD.

And to be honest, just knowing SD was on the line made me anxious. I never knew when I would hear them cooking up a plan that would set me off (because I am never told of their plans until the moment of execution for some reason.)! he's agreeing to lend her his car again, which means he'll need mine, which means I'll be without a car...or...oh, sounds like they're planning a weekend together on our anniversary!, oh my god, does he not remember how we almost divorced the last time he did that???

I guess I should just be glad SD has no time nor regard for him. If she did, she'd be an even bigger presence in this marriage. I should be glad he doesn't talk to her in our house. It reminds me he and I are both damaged people -- both victims of narcissists (my mother, his father) -- and that's a painful for me to hear playing out with him when I'm dealing with it with my  mother.

2Tired4Drama's picture

Thankfully, my SD does not communicate with her father (my SO) on any regular basis. 

On the extremely rare occasions when they do, my SO will INSTINCTIVELY get up and go to another room to have the call with her.  He does not do this when he speaks with anyone else - his mother, sister, nephew/nieces, etc.  He will stay in the room with me and often hands the phone over so they can speak with me, too.  

SD is the only person who is required to have a private audience - princess that she is.  

I think the reason he does this is two-fold:  One, he needs to completely focus on every word she is saying because each vocal drop from her is a gem to him.  Second, he is embarrassed by both himself and her.   

My SO knows me well enough by now to know I am a pretty good people-reader.  I am well aware of her b.s. even though we never discuss it.  I think he is embarrassed for me to watch how easily he fawns all over her.  He is also embarrassed because he knows she will never ask to say hello to me or even ask about me.  

Hiding in another room is his ostrich posture - even though his @ss is up in the air, he can pretend his relationship with SD is normal because his head is in the ground and he can be blind to any possible looks from me.  

In your case, it is compounded by the fact your DH knows all the miniscule details of SD's life.  I can imagine your upset over him having all that brain-space used up just so he can be her personal audience!!  I'll bet there are plenty of other things in your life he forgets or can't remember, but boy, he sure knows all about her life doesn't he?!


Kes's picture

marblefawn - both my parents passed away years ago, but my mother was a narcissist.  I had an "OMG me too" moment when I read your remarks about how she is on the phone with you.  My mother used to phone me every Sunday night, same time, she would talk at me, without ever once asking how I was, then after a certain number of minutes start going on about the phone bill and ring off.  

My MIL is also a narc, but since April we have been estranged from her and my step FIL, since we spent a long weekend staying with him and she was so foul to us that I said I was never going there again and I'm done with her. 

My SDs hardly ever ask DH about himself, just use him as an unpaid therapist.  A year or two ago he had to have a minor procedure in hospital and neither of them even asked about it or how he was. 

marblefawn's picture

I'm sorry you've dealt with TWO narcissists in your close sphere. But I envy that your mom calls were only once a week!

I've recently shut down my mother when she refused to help me with something she knows only she can give me (dogsitting so we can take a vacation). I'm devastated -- I've lost so much of what I loved to do in the last decade. Travel was the one thing I had to look forward to. (Ha, ha! I just reread what I wrote so far and it almost reads as if I'm devastated that she and I had a falling out!) Since I ended that last call with her in August, she has not called me once. It's a typical narc move -- she obviously knows I'm hurt and angry, but would NEVER bother to even attempt to smooth it over with me. 

I am shaken. One fewer person in my already small circle makes it almost a dot instead of a circle. But giving up my mother is sort of like disengaging from SD -- I don't miss the negative feelings contact conjures, but on the surface I feel as if I failed to make these relationships work. Deep down, I know I did what I could.

I might pick up a book to get me through this uneasy feeling I have. There are probably great books out there addressing narcs and a while ago I found a site for daughters of narc mothers.

Ironically, my husband has identified BM as a narcisisst too. I felt that might have been an area SD and I would carefully navigate together over the years. Thanks for your post. If the hashtag weren't already taken, #metoo might have had a whole different meaning for we daughters!

sandye21's picture

I wonder how many of us have narcissistic Mothers.  I am back in therapy after the last 'Birthday greetings' turned to 'How horrible it was when you were born' episode.  When SD had her meltdown, I went to a therapist who mentioned that my Mother and SD were a lot alike.  They were both only 'cherished' children, never learned to share materialistically or emotionally. Both seem to take delight in delivering sadistic barbs and play abusive games.  I dread phone calls from my Mother.  No longer hear from SD.

Pretty much solved it though,(except in vulnerable times).  When my Mother and I share a phone call now it's like a weather report.  I give her no narcissistic fuel to use for her personal entertainment or to further alienate the rest of the family from me, although it doesn't seem to make any difference anymore.   Our phone calls are so boring she wants to cut them short now.  LOL 

It used to bother me when DH and SD would talk on the phone.  At first he would sneak into another room.  I told him the sneaking made me feel uncomfortable.  So he started talking to her in front of me and that was worse - the syrupy stuff was too much to take.  This created a no-win situation for both DH and I.  After a while I realized it was better that I don't have to hear it.  Now I have no idea when they communicate at all and I could care less as long as I don't have to be around her.

This book helped me immensely:  Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride Ph.D.

marblefawn's picture

Thank you, Sandye21. I was hoping someone might make a book recommendation rather than me trying to find a decent one. I'll order it right now.

People toss out the "narcissist" label generously these days. I am convinced my mother is certifiable. I'm not sure about SD -- I know she has had the capacity to be very warm with me on rare occasions and she has many successful relationships from what I can tell.

But my mother and SD are both only children, and from what I know of them, both came from less-than-ideal mothers and emotionally-bereft homes. My sister seems a tragic replica of my mother. But when I think that, I feel I'm jumping on the bandwagon of labeling everyone a narcisisst. However, there's a tendency for children of narcissists to become narcissists, so maybe it's not in my head.

Thank you again for the recommendation. I'm ready to tackle this to not feel so awful all the time.

Kes's picture

marblefawn, I have referred to the BM in my life as "NPD BM" since very early on in my membership here!   BM has many of the tick boxes for narcissistic personality disorder - including the grandiosity, the greedy entitlement, the selfishness, the willingness to blame everyone around her but never look at herself, and she is always, always right lol.   I believe that her daughters also have these traits to quite a high degree.  

There are a lot of books on the market about narcissism, and other personality disorders, but surprisingly few really good ones.  Ones I personally would recommend and go back to are:  The Empathy Trap, by Jane and Tim McGregor;  Narcissism by Alexander Lowen, and The Dark Side of Love by Jane Goldberg.   These are all more academic works, rather than popular psychology books which I dislike.  

marblefawn's picture

I appreciate the recommendations. I prefer a book with fewer anecdotes, more solutions and research. I have a few self-help books that give example after example of people in my situation. I've experienced it -- I don't need to hear about others' experiences at this point unless they've discovered some ways to manage it. I'll give those books a look. Thanks!


Nottakingit's picture

My mother sent me a bday card using my exhusband's last name even though I was divorced and remarried. And she was all lovey-friendly with him on Facebook and barely acknowledges my now-husband and doesn't at all acknowledge that I have 3 skids and 2 gskids. Then she didn't understand why those things hurt me.

My visits with her were always followed by long detailed emails of all the things I was doing wrong as a mother(though years later my grown kids and my teenager love spending time with me despite my failings as a parent). 

She makes herself the victim in every situation. It's very toxic and was it was a very unhealthy relationship between us. Totally disengaging with my own mother was one of the best decisions I've made.

marblefawn's picture

I did not take my husband's name when I married for practical and political reasons. It didn't matter much -: I was 41 and had no intention of having kids.

I've been married a decade and my mother refuses to call me by anything except my husband's name. My birthday cards come with his name; when she has to write a check to me she makes it out to someone who does not exist, and then I cannot cash it. She sent magazine subscriptions to me in that name.

Largely, it doens't matter. But her insistence is just so...her, ya know? Like she can will it with persistence.

I can't imagine being in your situation and having that painful reminder of a relationship that's over.

An old boyfriend went by his initials because he hated his first name. Even his parents called him by his initials. But when I introduced my mother to him, the first thing she said through her fake smile was, "I don't like 'K.C.' I'm going to call you 'Kevin.'" He smiled huge and playfully replied, "You can call me that, but I won't answer!" That guy was an absolute prince -- everyone loved him...except for my mother, who still brings up his "belligerent," "snotty" attitude.

My head is spinning. It's as if a light has gone off...this blowup with her and reading many comments like yours has made me remember so many little incidents, but also great incidents that affected my life that appeared to be my own decisions. Now I'm seeing how they were influenced by this dynamic with her. Why didn't I pull the plug long ago? So many agonizing years...

Nottakingit's picture

I, too, look back and see all the choices I've made with her in the back of my mind..She has this mindset of "honor your parents" but add to that "no matter what they do" and I've watched her my whole adult life allow herself to be emotionally abused by her own mother and keep going back for more and I will not live that way. I let guilt make my decisions for too long. I'm an adult, dammit.

Rags's picture

Maybe I don't struggle with this type of thing because I generally don't have toxic people in my life.  The rare one that shows up I flush.

The closest I have ever had was my grandmother.  She was tough to take as she got older. I severely limited my time with her though I did call her fairly regularly.  I was the only one of her 5 grandsons who did.  The telephone worked best because I could control the conversation and the duration.  If she got nasty, I got busy and had to go.

I struggle to understand why anyone tolerates toxic people in their lives regardless who those people may be.

When it came to the blended family opposition... I made it my favorite hobby to torment and torture them until their toxic crap was forced into remission.  When they let it out the next time... I went back to torture and torment.

It was fun!





Rags's picture

We documented every thing. Every phone call, every story the Skid recounted upon his return from SpermLand visitation, every record of significance regarding SpermClan criminal activity, arrests, etc, etc, etc...

When they lied to the Skid, she seasoned him with the facts.  As he got older we shared more of the facts, court records, CO, etc.. .with him in an age appropriate manner.   When they played manipulative crap, we bared their asses. When they stepped out of line with the CO, we smacked them with a court motion.

Eventually they pretty much just stayed under their slime covered rock at the bottom of their shallow and polluted gene pool.

If they were reasonabe, we were reasonable. They were rairly reasonable.

So we brought the pain.

still learning's picture

"...doesn't at all acknowledge that I have 3 skids and 2 gskids."

Why is your mother expected to acknowledge your 3 skids and 2 gskids?  


Nottakingit's picture

HER stepmother treated us like we were truely her grandchildren, my stepfather was very good to me and I welcomed him into our family with no drama, and my skids and first gskid were a huge part of my life. I stupidly assumed my own mother would at least not pretend they didn't exist, especially when the steps in her life were so good to her own children. Living by example, I guess? If my kids end up with step children I'd definately involve them in my life if they are involved in my kids' lives. 

still learning's picture

Maybe the blended family dynamic wasn't as great for your mother as it was for you and she doesn't want to repeat that dynamic again. There's much you may have been shielded from as a child. Lord knows any blended situation is complicated and a lot goes on behind closed doors. I'd cut your mom some slack on this issue.  My own mother never asks about adult ss's or ss30's kids and I would never expect her to. H3ll, I try not to think of them whenever possible >:-)

Rags's picture

On the same token, you are not required to tolerate anyone who doesn't acknowledge your family.

Keep it simple.

sharonholly's picture

My mom is one.  You can't have a regular conversation with her, with people talking back & forth. Instead its me listening to her monologues and then hanging up.  My last visit, she never asked me once "how are you"  "How is your daughter"?  If she gives a gift, its to make herself look good, and you better heap on words of praise or she'll get mean about it.  She loves the limelight, all attention on her.  I was always shy & quiet, so I didn't really care when I was growing up, I just knew my mom was "different" from other moms and for some reason I didn't want to be anything like her.  After I had my daughter, I then truly started to discover what a strange person she was, and so cold to family.

lkunig's picture

<p>I just recently found out why they had so many &quot;private&quot; phone calls. My evil SD was hiding assets for my husband so that when he asked for divorce, he would not have any.&nbsp; First I found out about his affair for the last 5 years and then hiding the assets, so make sure yours isnt trying this with omeone.&nbsp; We are in the middle of a divorce and there is no guarantee that I will get the money back so be nosy ladies and check your accounts!&nbsp; I was totally blindsided so 20s years down the drain.*diablo*</p>

sandye21's picture

Tomorrow I will be signing divorce papers.  Like you, DH is making out with a lot of money he never deserved but in the end I am SOOO glad to be rid of this 30 year blood sucker and just move on.   Thank goodness I kept separate accounts!   If I were to ever marry a man again I would definitely be checking up on his finances, make sure he can have something other than surface communications, will support you if you need it and will not withhold affection.  

Birchclimber's picture

I've always enjoyed reading your all-too-relatable posts Sandye21. Congratulations on unloading that albatross from around your neck!  You were a smart cookie to keep those separate accounts. 

Your statement, "If I were to ever marry a man again...." admittedly gave me pause!  The one thing that I have always said is that, after my 30 years of experience with my SD's, I would NEVER remarry!  I'm 56 years old and I can say with great certainty that I would NEVER, EVER put myself through all of this pain and anxiety ever again.  It's a rarity to find someone at my age who doesn't have kids.   As I read through all of these Step Talk posts, blogs and forums, having conflicts with Skids isn't an anomaly.  It seems to be the Gold Standard! 

I love my husband, despite my SDs.  I have no plans for divorce in the foreseeable future.  But if I did, I know that, to even whisper the word "remarry" to myself, would cause me to shudder uncontrollably and perhaps even vomit a little!  It could be PTSD at this point.

Enjoy your freedom and peace sandye21.  You have earned it. 

sandye21's picture

Don't know where my brain was at when I wrote those words.  The thought of marrying now or anytime in the far future is definitely out of the picture.  I guess I just wanted to make the point to be very careful when planning to get married to anyone - especially someone with kids.  Before doing so, check them out with a screening company for their personal income and assets, do a background check to expose anything they left out of their 'story', and possibly speak with people whom their ex-wife knew.  Check out their work history and employment background.  Write down all red flags - don't dismiss them.  Meet the SKIDS before marrying him, and if something doesn't feel quite right, pay attention to it.

This sounds pretty awful to do to 'someone you love', but believe me - if I had done this before marrying DH I would have never married him.  He told lies about his ex, about his work history, about his job prospects, about his finances, etc., and by the time I found out the truth I was afraid of having another failed marriage so I didn't take the action I should have.  Another thing to ponder is that parents will do anything for their kids - it's only natural.  But for the first couple of years of the marriage my soon-to-be-ex funded SD's college without paying his share of the living expenses because I thought it was my duty to help him.  I am now trying to forgive myself for being so stupidly innocent.

Birchclimber's picture

Wow!  That is just so disturbing to hear.  Your SD is the epitome of a Mini-Wife...a very EVIL and coniving mini-wife.  Did she know about his affair while it was going on? 
I hope Karma bites him in the ass! 

Hugs to you.

thinkthrice's picture

He would walk outside to talk to them so I'd be out of earshot to whatever of satan's machinations they were plotting.  That way I was unable to warn him in real time that IT'S A TRAP!!!

SacrificialLamb's picture

The calls made away from me do not bother me. He has said he knows that OSD is a source of contention in our marriage and that I do not want to hear her or discuss her, and in his mind, this alleviates a fight. We both also like to make phone calls while we are driving somewhere so we can talk to people on bluetooth. Gives us something to do on the drive. 

I think a difference maker is the level of contact. My DH and OSD don't communicate much now since she is punishing him for knocking her off of the pedestal she has always been on. That makes makes me madder than any secrecy - that she treats her father like garbage because he finally expected her to treat his wife with respect.   

If there is a high level of enmeshment, with lots of secret contact, that would bother me.  I think in that case daddy knows it is too much, knows he will get flack about it, and is trying to hide it.

CANYOUHELP's picture

I am used to hearing nothing, knowing nothing; I am certain the contact is much less than before, given he realized talking about me to them ruined any chance of ever having a relationship.  Since he no longer engages in wife gossip, they have no need to speak or visit with him often. But, whatever communication he does, he does away from me; that is a good thing ....I cannot stand to even hear the voice.  After all this time, any liklihood of me considering jumping back into that snake pit is over. I want to know nothing, as they are dead to me now.

DoberGirl's picture

Until recently, it bothered me a lot too. SO and SD are extremely close and talk Every.Single.Day. He sees her at every opportunity and goes to every single one of her college sports tournaments - in state and out. Every.Single.One. I don't have a relationship with my father at all so I'm admitting that this is likely why I find their relationship a little, shall we say, odd. I don't complain about their close relationship and his insistence at going to every single tournament. What I complain about is the interruption on date night. She's 20 years old for gawd's sake. Call her later unless it's an emergency. At any rate, I don't feel like I have the right to complain that SO steps out to call her when he knows I'm disengaged. I honestly prefer not to hear him talk to her because it's still very hurtful that they're continuining their loving relationship after she caused division. Frankly, SO just doesn't know what to do so he takes the easy path. 

marblefawn's picture

I have no need to hear their conversation. If I'm not on the call, it's not my conversation. And I made a point to say the secret calls are not a huge deal to me. And yes, I would call stepping into another room to make a call "private." I would say "secret" is leaving the house to make a call under the pretense of just going to the store. It's a nuance, but to me there's a difference.

Specifically, my question was how this dynamic makes others (in the same situation, by the way) feel and what they believe is driving it.

Many SMs feel "betrayed" when their husbands maintain and even enhance relationships with children who damage their marriage and berate them. These SMs do not need to apologize for their feelings -- feelings cannot be ordered up like a taco without onions. Their feelings are what they are.

Perhaps the sense of betrayal comes from a biological place fearing the collapse of the relationship. After all, if this were an unrelated woman threatening the marriage rather than a blood relation who has previously attacked and threatened the marriage, no one would expect the wife to be OK with secret or private phone calls.

So I maintain that feeling betrayed, uneasy, suspicious, angry or any other negative emotion about the phone calls is natural. In my own case, I don't feel uneasy when my husband talks with female colleagues, his mother, a female neighbor or really anyone else. But none of those people have tried to undermine my marriage. Those people respect my marriage and they respect me.

Exploring how other women feel in this circumstance is all I wanted. I am not excoriating anyone for how they feel about it, and none of these women said they expect their husbands to cut off their children.

sandye21's picture

"I would call stepping into another room to make a call "private." I would say "secret" is leaving the house to make a call under the pretense of just going to the store.  Gee- I am SO sorry!  I completely missed the point!  DUH!!

I totally agree with you. Yes, DH has a right to call the skids but it's almost like DH is having a 'secret' affair - at least he's acting like it.  If this occurs often it only makes it worse.  First of all, do you mind if DH has conversations with the skids in another room so it seems 'private' rather than 'secretive'?  If you are comfortable with this, ask DH to do so.  If he insists on continuing to be sneaky, let him know that it respect goes both ways and you will be returning his sentiments.

marblefawn's picture

No need to apologize...I actually was responding to what someone else said, but being opaque so as not to bully or target.  Acute

still learning's picture

When the phone rings and DH runs out to the driveway to talk I know it's one of the ss's.  Often shortly after one of them pulls up in the driveway, there's an exchange and they stay for a short obligatory visit.  When they're ready to leave they'll say, "Thanks Dad" and give a secret bro nod to each other. All this happens and they really think they've pulled one over me. Dh give me a guilty, "What?" and I'm like "What do you mean, What?" Oh they think they're so clever but little do they know I know exactly what happened.  

One of the ss's needed some cash and asked dad to "borrow" some money (it never gets repaid).  DH exchanges it in the driveway and neither one says anything to me but keeps it hush, their little secret.  It used to bother me and I felt really betrayed by DH for not talking through financial matters with me.  Now I laugh as he works overtime to keep paying his ex alimony and give his grown over 30 yr old sons spending money.  What nonsense games these overgrown boys play.  




TX2step's picture

I have experienced my whole marriage. Secret conversations with SD. I swear she IS the other woman. My DH makes me sick waiting for her calls, checking his phone. His whole demeanor changes when he speaks with her. He has outright lied about it. It's truly just the tip of the iceberg with their enmeshed relationship. 

KC is not the stepmother's picture

DH and SD32 used to talk every day and it never bothered me. Now they rarely talk at all.  DH is not fooled by her and he recently pointed out to me that she never visited him last year when he broke his back and was laid up for 3 months.

Yes, I had noticed that but wasn't quite sure if he had noticed. It breaks my heart the way that selfish shit treats him.

Too old for this's picture

I have the same issue about secret phone calls.  DH only calls when I am out. If I come home early I may catch the end of the call with him plaintively saying how much he loves/ misses her.

So the issue is not -as CG says- two women who “don’t get along”.  That creates a false equivalency.  The issue is a SD who has declared war on her father’s wife and DH who enables by not calling it out.  It is disloyal.  The secrecy is hurtful and it has a conspiratorial aspect to it.  The missing part implies that I am the impediment to their relationship.

In my case, as a result of these calls,  DH knows everything that SD and her husband and kids are doing.  Yet there is NO mention of me.  It is as though he is single.  SD acts that way and he goes along with it.

This conduct is damaging to our trust and intimacy.  I hate it.

SacrificialLamb's picture

"So the issue is not -as CG says- two women who “don’t get along”.  That creates a false equivalency.  The issue is a SD who has declared war on her father’s wife and DH who enables by not calling it out.  It is disloyal. "

This is it exactly. The war OSD declared on me was not as simple as two women who do not get along. I hadn't realized yet she had a problem with me until I found out she had declared war on me and formed Team OSD and Team SM - the new woman in daddy's life, so from my persective, we initially did get along. Intentionally trying to humuliate me at her wedding when she should have been focused on getting married, telling her dad I was not family and should be excluded from things, trying to convince her father I was emotionally abusing him is NOT as simple as two women who do not get along. And so many of us are in this same spot, with DH afraid their daughters will walk out of their lives if someone dares to call the Royal Princesses out on their nasty behavior.

bedazzled's picture

I agree 100% It is not just two women who don’t get along. My SD has also declared war on my marriage. DH enables her and won’t call her out because she would not let him see his grandson then. Listening to him talk to her and fawn all over her is disgusting. He calls her his sweet girl. There is nothing sweet about this evil 33 year old. No one should have to tolerate a person trying to ruin their marriage. Even if it is Family. DH never talks to her in front of me he always goes outside or in another room and closes the door. It makes our marriage so that there will never be trust or real closeness. He has let her destroy that. 

MissTexas's picture

there to save the day...Superman's got nothing on me..." just like the song says.

For the record, I have NO PROBLEM talking to my children IN THE PRESENCE OF MY DH. You know why? We are not talking ABOUT HIM, or COLLUDING AGAINST HIM; it's plain and simple honest conversation, and catching up.

On the other hand, when DH's adult kids call (closer to age 50 than age 40) he usde to RUN TO GET THE PHONE LIKE A DOCTOR WHO USED TO WEAR A BEEPER AND BE ON CALL. It didn't matter if we were just sitting down to dinner, having time alone together, going for a walk, HE HAD TO GET IT. This, I recognized was all guilt driven, as DH had divorced BM & the SKs have NEVER let him forget how tough life was without DH those last years of school. I never knew my father, and I grew up to be a productive human being with multiple college degrees, and I raised great kids who grew into adulthood, and do not lean on me as their emotional crutch, or personal cheerleader, therefore, they do not call me, fishing for compliments, or to get their ego stroked. This is largely what SD does. DH will say one sentence, then there's the monologue. "I Wannat Talk About ME" (Another song).

Once recently the SS called when DH was in the shower, so he missed the call. I happened to be passing by his phone getting laundry out of the dryer and saw it. We were on our way to an event, so I didn't tell DH, because I knew he'd call SS RIGHT THEN AND THERE, so I waited until we were on our way. DH asked in a very distressed voice, "Why didn't you tell me SS called?!?" Like it was a life altering emergency. I told him, "You were in the shower. That's why we have voicemail. He didn't leave you a message, so I guess everything is ok." He acts like these are funcionally retarded people who NEED HIM ON THEIR EVERY WHIM. It reminds me of how some treat a newborn who has been brought home from the hospital.

DH has gotten better. He gets an "E" for effort, however, he has not reached mastery as of yet.

Interestingly, when DH calls his son, SS may or may not pick up, and even take up to several weeks to return his call. With SD it's different; it HAS to be immediate phone tag. I'm trying to remember when it changed. Used to, he would pick up the phone, at least on occasion when SD called. I think it was when I started pointing out how things she sends in the mail come addressed only to DH, & in her photo albums, I'm cropped out of photos I was clearly standing next to DH in, (DH communicated this to SD, in effect calling it to her attention via my conversation) and that I always go out of my way for her, but it is not reciprocated. DH would insist, "SD always asks about you. She's glad I have someone in my life." So it kind of evolved, as it was not always that way, however, that is now the norm.

I did ask DH "Why must you ALWAYS talk to SD in private? What is so important or secrative that you two cannot talk freely in my presence?" DH said, "We hardly ever talk, and it's usually business related." My response was, "I rest my case. Chances are I wouldn't even give it a second thought if that were so. You can discuss business with me present." When I used to check phone records, I could clearly see they would talk DAILY, (& DH is a man of few words so I guess he was listening to SD?) What could they possibly have to talk about DAILY? Even my best girlfriends and I do not talk daily. I once asked if he had called her recently and he told me he hadn't. I showed him a picture of the phone bill within the same hour, and it clearly showed he had not only talked to her, but also CALLED HER, and he DENIED CALLING HER, TELLING ME IT MUST BE AN ERROR ON THE PART OF OUR PHONE PROVIDER. REALLY?

So, yes, it happens, and it is very nauseating, as many of you have pointed out. I know for a fact SD and DH have talked about me behind my back, as when SD had her meltdown in front of us recently, many things only DH & I would know came out, and were revealed. That was when I had an epiphany moment, and I haven't been the same since.

At the heart of the issue for me is SD has clearly disrespected me in FRONT OF DH, which makes it all the worse, as I feel if she's going to be emotionally stunted & cannot conduct herself in a mature, respectable manner, realizing she is a guest in this marriage, then I feel DH's time needs to be directly proportional to her behavior. In other words, you behave, you get daddy time, you don't DH withdraws (like most SD's threaten to do if DH doesn't play by their rules.)

Another thing...why do the SD's always get to be privy to our information, but DH doesn't do the same with regard to SDs? And, SD would always say "Love you dad" in that baby voice, 10 octaves higher than her normal voice when she'd get ready to hang u[, so DH would tell her he loved her too. We never close our conversations that way. You'd think that would be a husband/wife thing.

MissTexas's picture

I’m a realist and know that in my particular situation DH is so Pu**y Whipped by his own offspring that it’ll never go down that way. DH plays the guilt game well as he’s so riddled with it, thanks to SD. SS is better and hasn’t put DH through the guilt wringer. Guilt is the classic card the narcissist loves to play. It works like a charm for them. 

bedazzled's picture

We are married to the same man. He will never stand up for me and our marriage. He is whipped also. His children have told him they do not want him married. They want it back to just them. Weird thing SD is married and has a kid. I guess she wants to raise it with both her first husband(DH) and her new husband. DH falls for it all because of guilt that he broke up Skids and his threesome. 

MissTexas's picture

Then he will be alone & resent the SD? DH has told me he would hold her 100% responsible for the marital divide.

The counselor told us,”It’s her job to break you up! She’s jealous of you and insecure in who she is. It’s what they do!”

I asked DH. “Who do you think is going to be here changing your Depends $ wiping your drool when you’re 95? Me or SD? “ SD can’t even make her dad a priority when he’s had major surgeries! He told me it would be me, & that he knew he  could NOT COUNT ON HIS KIDS TO BE THERE FOR HIM IN HIS TIME OF NEED! How sad! Yet his guilt gives them everything he has to give!

A relative once told me,”If you don’t learn to create boundaries and to say NO, the SOBs of the world willf*ck your eyeballs right out into your cheekbones and they don’t even give you Vaseline to make it more comfortable. But, you’ll only have YOURSELF TO BLANE.” He’s right!

When SD had her “ballistic meltdown” (DHs words, not mine)in front of DH & me, he just kept repeating (& still does) how shocked, embarrassed & humiliated he was! Then he apologized to her?? I asked “Why? You didn’t scream, roll your eyes, flail your arms and twirl in circles, SHE DID!”

90% of the population would NOT HAVE ELECTED TO HANDLE THE SITUATION THAT WAY!! Only a NARCISSIST would. And only an enabler would apologize to the one who inflicted the emotionally stunted , hate-filled rant!

DH has said repeatedly how proud he was of me because I was a perfect lady throughout the ordeal. I cannot promise that will be the case in the future, however!

A law enforcement friend has advised me to file a restraining order against her, as she’s already proven  to be unpredictable & volatile. There’s a 2 year statute of limitations, & I’ve recorded the entire thing. It’s been said, “A picture is worth a thousand words,”  but the audio tells the whole story, & is worth its weight in gold.

Hugs to you!

Too old for this's picture

it was a mistake.

He screamed that he is not going to cut off his daughter and her family.  That was not the issue.  The issue is the separate relationship he has with them that presumes he is single.  And he goes along with it. He will say nothing about us, or about me.  He only speaks of himself ( as though he was alone) and them.  And all of it is in secret. 


marblefawn's picture

Yea. The old "I'm not cutting off my daughter!!!!!!!!" chorus. That's the go-to to mantra that escalates a discussion to a fight so you sound like the bad guy. I get that line too.

But from what I read here, these dads either act as if they're single, or act as if their wives' business is public fodder to be broadcast to his entire family...and it's always secret.

notasm3's picture

The issue is having a spouse who keeps secrets and lies by omission.  That is not acceptable.

If your spouses's conversations with anyone - not just a skid - are something to hide that is a problem.  A spouse may choose to have conversations out of your presence in order to protect you - that's okay.  If the intent is to hide things from you that is deception which is never right.

Liar liar - pants on fire. Not a good thing.

marblefawn's picture

If my spouse had said to me, "I'm going to always talk to my kid in private no matter what we're talking about, I'm going to let her attack you in front of my family and not say a damn word, I'm going to pay for her to fly about the country and then brag about how much she earns, I'm going to lend her your things when she asks without asking you even though she is hostile to you, and I'm going to defend her no matter how awful she treats you," I wouldn't have married him.

Were it not for everything else, I wouldn't question the private/secret phone calls. But private/secret phone calls with someone who regularly demands things that are out of bounds from someone who regularly gives them up at my expense is certainly another story.

My question was about the secret phone calls, but without saying it, it was of course in the context of marriages that have been weakened by the dynamic of overstepping skids. To separate those issues, would make this not much of an issue. None of us is in that situation though or we wouldn't be on StepTalk.

The women responding to my post are not women with great relationships with their skids. They have been marginalized in their marriages because of their skids. And as you can read here, it often happens in private calls before these SMs even have a chance to protest or weigh in.

I don't think any therapist would endorse that. The problem is the spouse who makes decisions in a vacuum regarding his or her kids. That breeds suspicion. I don't think suspicion is ever good for a marriage.

Rags's picture

Your pain is clear.  I feel for you in this.

Why do you tolerate it?  With this 5000Lb gorilla in the room the rest of the relationship can't possibly be so outstanding that it is worth putting up with this.


marblefawn's picture

Never mind!

Healyourslf's picture

"This is not a huge deal to me. But I just wonder what it's all about. Does he think not communicating with her in front of me will make me think she doesn't exist? Or does he feel guilty talking to someone who has been so shitty to me?"

Just because you've disengaged from SD does not mean you need to pretend that you don't see what is going on.  Two decades of this gooeey collusion (which clearly makes your toxic geiger counter go off), needs to be neutralized immediately.  This behavior is poisoning your marriage. You cannot have a healthy relationship without honesty and this is non-negotiable.  If DH is keeping you compartmentalized from his chats with SD, it's indicative of bigger problems. 

To me, there's a big difference between being private and being secretive. Privacy is liking to have an hour of quiet in the mornings gardening or a little downtime after work and that means no calls.  Whether DH's chats with SD are benign or not, the underlying issue is that he is connecting on a more intimate level with SD than with you.  

I'd love to hear the plethora of excuses and rationalizations that your DH has. Some distorted part of him must revel in the secretive feed and schmoosy chatter.  Daddy egos are easily spoon fed by manipulative SDs.  Like you inferred, "it's like he has a girlfriend on the side." 

Forget the eggshells sister. Discuss, divulge and determine what is acceptable to you. Put your egg-stomping boots on! You are his "wife!"  Your feelings and his respect for you need to take priority over his daily dose of SD.  

Oh hell yes I would bring that to the table and serve it up for dinner!  You're no side dish sister.  You are the main course!  

Pssssstttt....."onward buttercup, there are shenanigans and fuckery up ahead."


marblefawn's picture

OK, this was an amusing response -- I enjoyed the ride and appreciate your input!

Still, this buttercup isn't dying on this hill -- it just doesn't matter that much to me.

Here's why... Back in the day, these phone calls were wild cards. I had no idea what they'd cook up or what ridiculous demand she'd make that he would appease.

This stuff always happened in those calls. Once he agreed to spend our anniversary with her and she demanded that I not come. Then there was the time she tried to weasel a $2000 plane ticket out of him so she could fly (at the last minute) to see her mom's family over the holidays. There was also the time she wanted to borrow his car so he'd have to borrow my car on a weekend when I was trying to move my things into his house because we'd been married three years and still weren't living together.

All that crap has stopped. It was not easy, but those were hills on which I was willing to die. It took therapy, screaming and shouting at him, and a lot of days were ruined because of the fighting. But he learned not to give into her, and he no longer agrees to things without asking me first. And he doesn't ask often anymore.

I don't know if we "worked through it" or if she doesn't ask anymore, but either way it's gained ground as far as I'm concerned.

For the most part, we don't have much conflict about SD anymore. So in my new free time, I decided to try to understand where he's coming from and maybe chip away at some of this little stuff without fighting. That's why I asked others what they think drives it -- so maybe I'd understand it and can find a way around it. But I'm not demanding he stop the secret calls. As long as I'm not being shut out of decision making, they don't really affect me.

Healyourslf's picture

Sounds like DH has created boundaries in some important areas and you have arrived at a more peaceful place in relationship, but something is still amiss. Although it's not worth dying on the hill for, it's enough of a behavioral infringment to make it a mole hill.  

A few weeks ago, my DH drove to the gym parking lot to call his SD. (something was up because it took him an hour longer to finish his work out.) I didn't get mad, but I did get that skin-creeping, gut-tweaking "WTF is going on here?" moment of distress (symptom of PTSDD - post traumatic step daughter disorder). He walked into the house and said, "I'm late because I had a talk with SD."   I responded, "I don't feel good about you secretively talking to SD like you're hiding something.  You could have called from here."  His response was, "I needed to be someplace quiet (and parking lots are always a mecca for repose) because I have a hard time with my words."  Let me translate - "I don't want you to overhear what I am saying to her because I am unable to remain convicted to healthy boundaries and I am vacillating between SD guilt and fear of you seeing right through my bullshit."  

Yup...a mole hill.  No need to be Pele and spew magma, but I did have a few things to clarify so I emailed him these words the next morning: 

I am emailing you from the gym parking lot where I have been engaged in carbon pranayama and the sound of automobiles and delivery trucks are creating that oh-so-serene background for introspection. I hope these words reflect my inner sanctum. 

When you secretly call SD,  I perceive it as you returning to the same place of enabling.  One can't spank a kid for bad behavior then kiss ass because they feel bad/guilty about it. It DOESN'T WORK and the child sees your inability to hold steadfast to your convictions. If SD hasn't come to a place of self-awareness by now then it is going to have to be the focus of HER work. Not your job to fix her.  At the end of the day, secret calls smack of SD's ability to still manipulate you.  To me, any secretive actions feel like you are allowing a problematic ex wife/ex girlfriend to erode our relationship. Please explain. 

The irony of humor.  This also gave DH an opportunity to churn his thoughts and we were able to discuss the issue without defensiveness intruding. The situation is much butter. 

sandye21's picture

"I am emailing you from the gym parking lot where I have been engaged in carbon pranayama and the sound of automobiles and delivery trucks are creating that oh-so-serene background for introspection."  Another way to say, "Cut the B.S."  Love it!!!  My DH rarely tries to play games with me now because he knows I will see right through it.

sammigirl's picture

LOL...Sandye21 has it nailed here. 

My DH has even admitted he is finished with the games; he also demonstrates this more every day.  When I stopped caring, my DH began caring about changing. 

SD will never get over the change, that said, it`s her problem. 

Also, I know in my heart, DH loves his DD, as he should, and this change shows regression somewhat  at times; but it has improved since I got a life and I have never, nor will I ever respond to my SD`s games. 

still learning's picture

"since I got a life and I have never, nor will I ever respond to my SD`s games."

Step-drama is at least a 2 player game. Step-Solitaire is just no fun Wink

sammigirl's picture

I put it all on the table to my DH.  Quote: "Your darling Princess is the other woman in our marriage.  Why don't you pack your bags and go live with her and leave me to my life.  She owns your thinking, your phone; but she refuses to come and take care of your needs like a wife.  Get over it, or move out to her house".  

My DH now admits that he did wrong by betraying me to his daughter.  He lived with her a few months (I booted him to her) and says he wants no more of it.  He tells me he understands how I feel.  My DH has been much less secretive, but I will never trust either my DH or SD57.  They both know, therefore, DH and I are slowly putting it all back into prospective and moving forward, without SD57.  She comes to visit her Dad any time she wishes (maybe 4 times a year); but she knows her boundaries and has left me alone now for the past 2 years, since we moved 150 miles away from her clutches. 

That said, she cannot help herself with the snarky remarks when she comes around me.  I give no response and walk away from her at the moment; thus letting her know she is on thin ice.  One day, she will be banned from visiting, if she continues to push it.

Bottom line: Both DH and SD has mistaken my kindness for weakness.  They both know how strong I am at this point. 

I will always be here on this site to maintain my disengagement; the fact being I will always have the "other woman" in my life.  She is her Dad's daughter after all.

Rags's picture

On therapists.  I think that far too many people never realize that a therapist works for you.  As does your attorney.

You hire them and if they do not deliver as required you can fire them. Why tolerate an employee or contractor that does not perform?

I was fortunate in the selection of my therapist when I was young and trying to save my first marriage.  I picked the cheap one out of the yellow pages who could get us in quickly.  In the 8+ mos I saw her she completed her Ph. D.  She was no bullshit though she did follow a process and she would not allow me to deviate from that process.  After 5mos of my XW and I going together my XW walked out never to return on the day Doc  announced that "now we will start on the intimacy issues".  My XW stood up, announced (she) did "not have a problem with sex" walked out and never went back to counseling with me.

I kept going and with Doc's help reconnected with the man I enjoy being.

Set your goals, engage your contractor, and if they do not deliver on your goals replace them with a better one. 

marblefawn's picture

My husband has a nasty chest cold. He's been getting over it. Today we spent hours at a kitchen remodeling center. He started looking paler and coughing, so we went home and he went to sleep on the sofa while I walked my beloved dog.

When we got back, my husband was nowhere to be found. Then I heard him in the shower. I was surprised because he usually naps for hours. Then I realized...checked his phone...sure enough, the moment I left to walk my dog, he dialed up SD!

I don't even know why I check his phone. I guess part of it is just to confirm I'm not paranoid...although I'm not sure how this confirms my paranoia or lack of. The other part is remembering how these secret calls often led to something he and I would end up fighting about...SD requesting money, SD needing to park her ass at my house between trains on her way to see her mom or friends, a request for SD to borrow our car...

He has often blindsided me with his plan to lend her our car or see her ALONE on our anniversary and I'd think, how the hell did that plan happen without them even discussing it? But of course, they discussed it...just away from my prying ears.

I don't know why I'm still harping on this. I think we've all exhausted our thoughts on this topic! Thanks for letting me vent AGAIN on a point we've already belabored! Aggressive

soccermom830's picture

i'm surprised he doesn't lock his phone!  my SO does this now.  i have fought him on it but gave up recently.  i only read things that upset me about his daughters.  i still don't like it though.  makes me feel like something on there is a secret. 


horseygirl's picture

My DH whispers when he talks to SS20. I know immediately who he is talking to and I get physically sick. I have to read DH's texts to know if and when SS is coming over otherwise, on the day of, DH will say, "oh, BTW, SS is staying this weekend." Like I don't know the truth...

soccermom830's picture

how do you guys get these men to give you their phone codes or make their phones nonprivate?  do you demand it?  i don't think phones should be private in a relationship but that's just me.  i think some people disagree but maybe cause they have things to hide.  mine goes back and forth.  just like he waffles on everything else. 

marblefawn's picture

Our phones have no locks. I don't even know why I check...I guess just to prove I'm not nuts.

Rags's picture

People with nothing to hide... hide nothing.

Just the sneaky crap proves that they feel guilty about something.

My bride and I do not specifically check each other's phones. But we do each know the other's access code so that if something dings or if one or the other of our batteries are dead the other can check messages, get directions, etc, etc, etc......

We both ask the other if we need to use their phone.

Keep it simple.

Stepaside-1987's picture

For me - some days it bothers me and then on my strong days I think  - What difference does it make - I don't want to be forced to talk to them anyway AND I don't have to find excuses to avoid speaking to them if I am around so...go ahead and talk when I am not around because then nothing can be used against me and I don't feel stressed out.  

Then if I am truly honest with myself and everyone else...there are days where it does bother me because once again I am excluded.  However, I am starting to have more strong days.


TwoOfUs's picture

Honestly...I don't do calls to my family or friends in front of DH either. I'll step into another room or step outside. I'm an introvert and being on the phone at all already feels weird to me...and nearly impossible in front of someone else. 

I'm not trying to hide anything. It's just a personal preference. If we talk about anything that would affect DH, I fill him in later.

shamds's picture

but its always in private and hubby only rarely tells me anything

everything regarding our family plans revolves around her but i am never consulted but expected to be available and make our 2 toddlers available but alot of the stuff that sd messages hubby is just laziness, guilt manipulation tactics and to guilt hubby etc. She plays this poor helpless person when in reality she is perfectly capable of doing things