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Three years into disengagement and DH would like me to reconsider

There is a light's picture


I have been with DH for 11 years and married for two. During this time, I have experienced all the usual negative experiences by the skids, who are now in their early 30s. I must admit ss35 has always been very respectful and only drew back once, when ss32 and I had an argument. I am convinced that ss32 told lies about the argument as he became very withdrawn, but was still respectful and civil. In the main, ss35 and his wife have always been respectful, decent and civil to myself and my children. SS35, invited me and my children to his wedding. We sat on the head table, I sat besides my husband. His son calle me ‘grandma’. My son really likes and enjoys both him and his wife company. Ss32 on the other hand, had been nothing but a nightmare from day one! He has always made a point of excluding, ignoring and disrespecting me. He has been consistent to letting me know, in both actions and words, he wants nothing to do with me. Unlike dh, I have always been fine with that. In the past ss35, would act differently when ss32 was around. However, this changed a few years ago and I can honestly say I enjoy visiting him and his family.

On the other hand, ss32 has been the opposite. Three years ago, I discovered this site, and decided it was time to disengaged from him. I had to protect myself, as DH was in total denial. I made it clear to DH that I will not be going to small family blending events, consisting of us, skids and my kids. Whether it was birthday, Christmas, or any event, I will not be stuck feeling miserable and dh acting as he did not want me there, something he always did when ss32 was around. was the best thing I did. Having absolutely no contact with ss32, hence no arguments with dh, gave me and dh time to focus on our relationship. I avoided any conversation about ss32, when I did respond, it was well thought of response, not resentful, just polite and thoughtful. Slowly dh realised I did not dislike ss32, I hated the way ss32 treated me. Our relationship grew from strength to strength and we eventually got married 2 years ago.

the wedding day ss32 was on the periphery, there but not involved. Whilst SS34 was out there, socialising with guests and family. Everyone commented about ss32 actions or in actions. Even dh noticed. SS32 new girlfriend came later to reception, sometime in the evening. She could not bring herself to greet or congratulate me at my own wedding! Unbeknown to me, dh had clocked her actions. A few months later, we meet ss32 and his girlfriend at an exhibition, they went on to greet everyone except myself. It was only when we were about to leave ss32 pretended he had not seen me. I am not sure how he missed me, as myself and my sister, were the only 6ft tall, women of colour in the whole exhibition, which was featured in one medium sized room!

evening, on our way home, dh confused that he had turned a blind eye on ss32 bad behaviour for the last 9 years and admitted he had to do something. He arranged dinner with ss32 to discuss it. He was optimistic that a single conversation would resolve everything. How wrong it was! ss32 blew up and refused to accept anything dh said. Dh came home, tearful, exhausted and admitted he had created a monster for me. The poor man, finally realised, ss32 had real emotional issues. He realised he had guilt parented this child/man and he now had to stop! A few weeks later ss32 and his girlfriend unexpectedly dropped by, ss32 said hello, but his girlfriend refused to greet me. Dh, then turned to her and said “you do know my wife xxx” embarrassed she gave me a confused look and said, “did I meet you at a party a few months ago” to which I replied “I hope so, it was our wedding”. She went bright red in the face. It was then we decided, that ss32 and his girlfriend would not be allowed in our home unless they showed respect.

dh is on a mission to work things out. Can you imagine, a decade of his silence, dipping his head in the sand, denial, talking about me to the skids, now he wants to turn things around! Dh wrote to the skids, saying how ashamed he was for all the nasty things he may have said about me and planned to meet them to discuss it further. The meeting took place 2 weeks ago. It was fiery, with ss30 denying any negative actions toward me. He was super sensitive when it comes to his girlfriend. He refuses to accept that him or his girlfriend has ever been disrespectful towards me. In the end dh, burst into tears and told them he had married me and nothing was going get between us, but he would like to sort out things between us. The plan of action, is to get all the blended family for a day’s outing to an exhibition. This should be our first bonding exercise.

disengaging, not only has my relationship with dh grown from strength to strength. With the help of a counsellor, I have been able to press the reset button and discover the woman before skids. The constant feeling of hurt, resentment and anger that goes with the territory has since disappeared and so has the negative energy that goes with that. I have been able to rediscover me, my needs, established my boundaries, what I would accept and what I would not accept. I have reconnected with old friends, nurtured my relationship with my adult children, who had the misfortune of having to pep talk their emotional beaten mother. We now look at those days with laughter.

am elated that finally dh has stepped up and stood up for our marriage. However, even though I acknowledge that he is really trying, I do not want to have a day with the ss32 and his girlfriend. I made a pact to myself, never to put myself in a vulnerable or uncomfortable position, especially not to make others feel comfortable! The mere thought, brings back anxiety, stomach churning, nail biting experience I used to have before I met the skids. SS32 does not think he or his girlfriend has been disrespectful, he still thinks his behaviour is acceptable. So what has changed with him? The only thing that has changed, is that now the skids knows, that dh will stand up for me and we will not accept any rubbish. My views are, if he loves and respects his dad, he will change or try to change naturally. We do not need to go to an exhibition to try and be nice to each other!

have often wondered why dh has made a 360-degree change. My guess is that he is beginning to feel unappreciated by his kids. He is lucky if he gets a call after 2 months of silence. Then he sees, my children calling every other day. He has opened up to me, about how disappointed he is, with how his children are treating him. Long are the days when he ended the relationship, because ss32 did not like me. Ss32, just does not have that kind of power any more. He now describes me as his only constant and really does value our marriage.

thoughts are, dh made his bed. He talked about me to his children, which only made things worst. I never allowed my children to ever disrespect him, that is why has an amazing relationship with them. It is his monkey, his jungle, he made his bed! I will keep my boundaries until I see signs that things are different.

I would appreciate your thoughts.

fairyo's picture

I have found this very heartening. I've been disengaged a whole year now and it seems a long time to me (though since reading posts on here I realise it isn't so long. I have stood my ground and continue to do so and I have finally got The Ostrich to come for counselling. I am hopeful that he can see we can create some sort of future together where I am not involved with his kids. Reading yor story makes me realise it is possible.

There is a light's picture

Stand your ground.  It does not matter how much we love our husband, we need to keep our dignity and self preservation.   The world of skids can lead you to a dark place and ruin your marriage.   Keep well away from toxic situations, never say a bad word about his little darlings.   Sooner or later he will beginning to note where the negativity is coming from.

We have both agreed that it saved our relationship.   This is surprising, for a man who used to accuse me of hating his children, being unreasonable etc. 

SacrificialLamb's picture

It sounds like you are in a good place personally and also with your DH. Keep that pact you made with yourself. It's a good one. Healthy adults do not engage with toxic individuals. 

It's great your DH, after some time it seems, has your back. It took mine over a decade to admit his middle-aged daughter was acting like a big baby trying to drive a wedge in his marriage.  He was afraid to stand up to her because he knew she would punish him. In the end, that's exactly what she has been doing the last two years.

I've told my DH I support him having a relationship with his oldest without me, but I will remain on the periphery until:

- I've seen respectful, normal, mentally healthy behavior from her for an extended period of time. I will not be a test subject to see if a skid is going to behave appropriately.

- I will need to see remorse and accountability from her.

- I need to see him treated with respect first, because if a skid does not treat dad with respect, SM can forget it.

- I will need to feel 100% comfortable that should any bad behavior occur from her, he will have my back. 

Your SS is not going to admit he did anything disrespectful anymore than my OSD43 will - someone who tried to get me to wear white to her wedding, said I was not family, banned me from her house, told my DH I was emotionally abusing him and he should move by her, told her father to F#ck off because he defended me - all those things were incidental and she could not help it.   So don't second guess yourself based on SS denying wrongdoing.

Kes's picture

Firstly, welcome to StepTalk!  I had a look at your profile page, and I live not far from you - ie near Cambridge, UK.  There aren't many of us Brits on here so nice to welcome another!  

I did a bit of a double take when I got to the bit of your narrative that said "Dh wrote to the skids, saying how ashamed he was for all the nasty things he may have said about me and planned to meet them to discuss it further."   

So HE said nasty things to the SKIDs about YOU?  Honestly, that really is a shocker.  One would hope that one's husband might have one's back, but when they don't, and in the past mine didn't, wouldn't go so far as to badmouth me to one of his kids.   I think if I were you, I would keep on exactly on the track I am already on - ie continue to be disengaged.  I don't see that you should U turn your disengagement unless you get a show of good faith from SS32 - as Sacrifial Lamb said.  Other examples might be sending you a nice card for your birthday, or inviting you and DH to do something with them.  

If things go on as they are, with them cold shouldering you, there is no way on earth I would stop being disengaged - your DH must be crazy to even think that you would, IMO.  




Exjuliemccoy's picture

What a lovely addition you are to the Adult Skid Forum.

Isn't that the way it goes with step problems? Just when you've sorted it all, another issue crops up. In your case you've gained clarity and made your peace, but now your H is beating his breast and trying to exert control in order to assuage his guilt. Is he always like this? The unpleasant truth is that he sabotaged your relationship with his sons. And there are consequences that come with poisoning that well, including that with the passage of time,  you and his youngest son are okay with not being okay with each other.

The challenge is how to get your H to recognize and accept this without appearing churlish and uncooperative. Going to events where you, YSS, and his gf will be forced together accomplishes nothing except to perhaps make your H happy in the moment - until the inevitable clash happens. Hopefully you'll find a way to make him see that what is, is.


Rags's picture

I am happy for both  you and DH that you have fixed your bond as a couple and made your marriage the unequivocal priority for both of you.

We dealt with a similar issue with my eldest BIL (BIL1) and his bovine bride for many years. They were toxic, manipulative, behind the scenes instigators, etc, etc, etc.... I had written them off many years prior but my wife kept picking away at the scab they represent trying to create a bond and a relationship that I had written off long ago. 

My DW tends to try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, over, and over, and over, and over again. What finally brought the situation with BIL1 and his bovine bride to a head was when we had been visiting with my ILs in SpermLand (they live in proximity to my SS's SpermIdiot hense.... SpermLand) when she reached the end of her rope for that visit and was venting through tears in our hotel room. I finally just held her, told her that I did not want to hear another word about it and if she nor anyone else in the family was willing to confront them (I do it regularly) that I was not interested in hearing about it any longer.

She got very stern, picked up her phone and called and confronted them about their crap.  Though the disconnection was total for a few more years following that call it was that watershed moment that initiated a reconciliation.  Though there have been a few issues over the years since then... nothing that remotely resembles their toxic crap from prior to my wife jerking a knot in their tails.

Most recently my FIL asked my wife to take a sealed  letter to all of his children (her included) he has been on death's door for a decade or more and does not do well with updating his kids on his medical issue or on he and my MIL's consistent and advanced state of financial destitution.   So, my MIL and my wife asked all of the kids to meet my wife at their family favorite restaurant so that my bride could update her 3 sibs and they could all talk through it... Two of the three showed up, BIL1 got his panties in a wad and ran straight to my IL's house and blasted my FIL... which of course put him in the hospital.  My wife actually grabbed him by the throat and put him against the wall at the hospital for his crap and told BIL1  that if her daddy died because of her brother's failure to follow instrutions and honor their father's request that she would make damned sure that BIL1 would suffer for it for the rest of his miserable life..  He just whinned about how he doesnt like to be left out, blah, blah, blah...

They reconciled fairly soon there after but .... BIL1 and his bovine bride know that they are on a very thin line with my wife and that she will broach no crap from them.

Confronting crap works far better than ignoring it IMHO. I appreciate that your DH is no longer ignoring the crap his children dish out to his bride.


Merry's picture

Were you part of forming this "plan" to get the blended family together for an outing? Or was it something your DH and his kids cooked up, and you are expected to attend? If you were not part of the plan, then it is THEIR plan, not yours, and you have no obligation to attend. See, your DH is still treating his kids as the primary relationship and expecting you to fall in line with their decision..

If you are even willing to try a "bonding experience," you should have full control of the situation and be able to make an exit should the rudeness continue.

There is a light's picture

No they decided amongst themselves!  Can you imagine!  It was an absolutely no from the start, on so many levels.

sandye21's picture

"have often wondered why dh has made a 360-degree change. My guess is that he is beginning to feel unappreciated by his kids. He is lucky if he gets a call after 2 months of silence."  You are a very perceptive woman!

It is very typical that when the SM removes herself from the equation the Skids go after the DH.  When my DH realized I was not going to make a return to 'Stepland' he called SD and informed her, "You won't be coming over for a while."  But out of desperation he looked at me with a self-assured light in his eyes and resorted to the old 'Guilt Ploy' that had been used for many other occasions, "SD says she 'LIKES' you!"  I replied so SD could hear me, "SD doesn't like me and I don't like her."  It delivered the message that the game was over.

After that, because I was no longer available as a detestable scapegoat, and because DH decided - against SD's wishes - to remain in the marriage, SD took all of her frustrations out on DH.  When he called she would say she was going through a tunnel and the call was cut off or she was just leaving her house for an appointment.  She never returned DH's calls - or acknowledged him at all.   As a result, her alienation became old.  DH doesn't mope around anymore on Fathers' Day or on his Birthday.

Your DH is at an emotional 'door' with his son - and he is feeling some desperation with the threat that the door may be permanently closed.   You and SS have accepted that the door is closed for now between the two of you.  If DH wants to open the door then he should be the one to turn the handle.  Inform DH that you support him in his relationship with his son but continue to stand your ground as far as your wishes.  If you posted the original message as a request for validation - you are doing the right thing.

marblefawn's picture

I agree that healthy people choose not to be around toxic people. I've disengaged and lost out on some activities I would have liked to partake. But your description of the churning stomach is exactly why I am not tempted to put myself near SD again. It's sad because I have no children and I wanted to be part of his family. But he didn't choose to demand any better treatment of me, so I choose not to be around his toxic daughter.

I think you risk looking like the problem if you choose not to go along now. But that said, I think we need to protect ourselves. I hope you get to a point where you want to dip in a big toe when you're ready - not just when they're ready. And, of course, I hope it turns out well for you.

Thanks for your post. It made me feel like maybe someday I won't look like the bad guy. Yours is a rare story of a husband seeing the light!

There is a light's picture

The truth is, I have gone past the stage of caring what anyone thinks, including my husband.   I get along with all my husband's family, I have never had an issue with anyone but this particular stepson.   I went through years with him being, rude, abusive and damn outright wicked toward me and my children.  During this time, my husband denied everything and did nothing.  DH would accuse me of not trying enough or liking his children, when I refused to be in the accompany of skids.  Whenever SS32 was around,  dh would ignore me, or act as if he did not want to me be there.    I went through years of this toxic merry go round.  Enough is enough!

The last few years of disengagement, I have found peace, nurtured a happy home and gained a wonderful marriage.   Absolutely nothing will get me to put myself in a toxic situation again.    I know my truth, I know what drove me to this wonderful world of disengagement.   It probably still difficult for dh, but unless I see glowing signs that things has changed, nothing will get me to jump on that toxic merry go around.

sandye21's picture

Do you allow SS32 in your home?   It's been over 7 years since I've set eyes on SD and I have absolutely no desire to go back to 'stephell'.  She was nasty to me for over 20 years and finally one day I said, "No more."

Countless times I was accused of making SD 'uncomfortable' or making her feel like she was walking on eggshells.  Did you notice that accusations like making them uncomfortable or not trying or not liking DH's kids are very vague.  I can guarantee if you ask your DH for specifics, like, "When and what did I do 'specifically' to make you think I wasn't trying or didn't like your kids", he will not be able to give you a clear answer.  You have written about events when your SS has been rude to you and has not made you feel well-liked or like he was trying - and it has been VERY clear.  Why the double standard?

It's probably been difficult for my DH too.  But you know what?  With his lack of support and inaction he created an atmosphere where toxicity could fester.  My DH can visit SD just about any time he wants but I refuse to be around SD until he can tell her in front of me that she is to respect me as his wife.  After 7 years, I don't see this as happening any time soon.  Our marriage has inproved dramatically and he has learned to practice mutual respect.  Quite frankly, I really don't want her in my life again so if he never does it that's OK. LOL

notsobad's picture

“DH would accuse me of not trying enough or liking his children, when I refused to be in the accompany of skids.”

Agree with him, tell him that he’s absolutely correct. You don’t like his son and you are done trying. He is free to have a relationship with them but you don’t have to. Give him specific examples of the behaviour that brought you to this point.

Ask him if someone from work or an acquaintance treated you like that would he expect you to try harder? Would he expect you to like that person? 

Just because he is related to the rude person doesn’t mean you have to put up with it or put yourself in situations where you’ll be treated badly.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Sounds like you are in a good place.  It seems the other stepadults get along alright with you, the one is a burr under the saddle, so to speak.  I guess I would say that as in life, not every one is going to like you, BUT they should at least be attitude, snarks, etc.

Just stay as you are.  My own personal experiece had me learn that everytime I gave in to giving my Twit another change, she didn't mean it, etc., I found out that she did mean it and I had another bad incident to deal with.  Twit saw my being gracious as weakness and would start off again.  Case in point.   The last time we had Thanksgiving with them, I brought a small host/hostess gift...a hand painted ornament of a local historical place in town, for their tree.  Twit made me feel awful about doing that, making it seem I had a problem (but in reality the truth was that her evil mouth had been flapping about me to the other guests before I got there and my graciousness in bringing a token gift embarassed her).  Then, before the meal was over, she and her brood got up and left to go shopping leaving us with her hubby to finish dinner!!  Life is too short.