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The breakup of a blended family...

rockpyle's picture

For a little background feel free to read http://www.steptalk.org/node/199624. In that post I reference another post.

I have decided, unless I chicken out or something, that I’m going to have the difficult conversation to end the relationship with my live-in girlfriend. If you’ve read or glanced over my previous posts you’ll see that I’ve had an issue with her daughters for quite some time. I have come to the realization in recent weeks that I’ve been using her daughters as a scapegoat of sorts when it comes to the entire household situation. Do her girls backtalk their mother? Sure. Are they rude and disrespectful at times? You bet. Has their behavior become better over the past few months? Well, to be honest it has a little bit.

The real problem lies with the relationship between me and my girlfriend. I love her and I know she adores me but there have been longstanding issues in our relationship that even after nearly a year after discussing these issues nothing has really changed. The primary issue is that she and her girls have practically been dependents of me. When they moved in my girlfriend had a full time job. She ended up losing that job and quite frankly has been underemployed since. She’s been underemployed by choice because it allows her to spend more time with her girls and pick them up from school and help them with their homework. This is not an arrangement I agreed to. I have voiced this nearly a year ago and she said things would change. They really haven’t. She works about 28 hours a week. To be clear this isn’t a money issue. This is more of a respect issue and an issue of fairness. She does not contribute financially to our household needs. The household expenses between bills and things like toilet paper (or whatever) tend to run me about $1400 – 1600 a month. When I invited her to move in I was clear in stating I expected a contribution to these expenses of $150-200 a month. That’s it. This isn’t an issue of affordability for me. It’s an issue of principle and an issue that really hasn’t changed in a year. She’s always struggling with money because she doesn’t work enough.

Secondly, our relationship suffers because her children are the priority in our relationship and household. Please allow me to explain with an example. I am of the opinion that when it comes to a relationship whether it’s a first marriage or a blended family that the children should be the first *responsibility* but not necessarily the first *priority*. I know most of you will disagree with that but I’ll give you an example so you can understand my perspective. One of my biggest issues when it comes to the home is that when I come home from long day of work the TV is blaring because the girls are watching it while eating dinner. One of them is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids. I know for a fact that with her hearing aids her hearing is much improved meaning that she can hear whispers and low talking so there is no need for the volume on the TV to be at 70 out of 100. This has been an ongoing issue for a long time. A few weeks ago I finally decided to address the issue and asked that the TV be off by the time I get home. My day starts earlier than everyone and my commute is an hour and a half each way. When I get home I want and need some peace and quiet. Her first reaction was, “I don’t understand what the issue is. It’s only on for another 10 minutes after you get home.” Well, first off that really isn’t true. I get home at 6:30 and they watch till 7:00. Secondly, that reaction told me everything I needed to know about where I stand in her life vs. the children. My needs aren’t important enough. It’s really downright offensive when I think about it more and more. This is only an example but it speaks to many other instances where my feelings on something isn’t as important. She did turn off the TV during the time when I get home but I feel statement still speaks to where I stand in her life. Maybe the responsibility vs. priority comparison isn’t the best way to put it.

Her girls are capable of being independent. However, my girlfriend caters to their every so-called need. Helping them into the shower, helping them get out, giving them snacks, after they shower, and she still has a nighttime routine when them where she rubs their backs and lays with them for 10 minutes each. They will both be 11 and 9 in less than a month. This has put a great deal of strain on our intimacy. Even when they are in their rooms at a moment’s notice they could come out because they want a hug or want to tell their mother something unimportant. Basically the only time we’re intimate is once or twice every two weeks which is the weekends they are not home. My girlfriend seems OK with this. I am not. I have spoken up about this issue before with her. The problem is that even after they are supposed to be in bed again, at a moment’s notice, they can come out because they can’t sleep or whatever. They can be up till well past 10. The problem with me is that by the time 10:30 rolls around I’m done and tired and already falling out. I wake up at 5:00 AM.

There is so much more I could write about but I have come to the conclusion that her kids aren’t bad kids. I also don’t think she’s a bad parent. It’s just that the way things are right now we are two families living under one roof with two sets of rules that apply to the kids. One set for mine sons and one set for her girls. I have tried to make things so that we are all living under the same rules. My sons wanted to stay at their mother’s house last night because they had homework to do and they feel they cannot do homework at my home with the way the girls behave and with the TV being so loud. I didn’t force the issue even though it’s still technically my time with them. It’s a fair issue they have. On the girl’s end I’m constantly complaining about the noise levels in the house. My girlfriend made a comment the other day that she feels she has to walk on eggshells with me when it comes to the girls and their constant noise, loud TV, giggling, ect…. She’s right. We’re ultimately a house divided and our differences in parenting and expectations make it impossible to be united. We have tried to reconcile the differences but we can’t seem to come to a middle ground. She has every right to parent her children as she sees fit. I have every right to parent my children as I see fit. She has every right to have her children be the priority and responsibilities in her life. I want a partner who will value my feelings with the utmost respect. I want a partner who will choose to contribute financially to our lives fairly because she wants to.

I’m writing in this forum because over the past year or so that I have been visiting many people have issues with the step-children and how the SO parents. Two adults when they merge a household bring their upbringing and experiences to the relationship and these experiences have been forged throughout a couple of generations. This is just my perspective, and maybe you ALL have figured this out already, but maybe these issues and key differences are impossible to overcome. I really believed we could overcome these issues together. I don’t blame her. I don’t blame me. I blame us. I want things a certain way in the home. After all, I own it and pay for it all. Maybe that perspective alone is the problem and I’m unwilling to change. The house was a certain way when I raised my sons with my ex. The house was a certain way when she raised her daughters with her ex. We can’t seem to reconcile the two. All I know is that if these things are a sign of things to come there is no way I’m going to spend my 40s, over the next 10 years, living and feeling like this.

Sports Fan's picture

I'm sorry that you have come to this decision but it is probably the wisest thing you can do. You are not married and you don't have any children together. If you already are having these issues, they won't go away and they will most likely get worse. It is much better to realize this now then years down the road.

Good Luck.

rockpyle's picture

Do most girls brush their own hair at 11 years old? I really don't know. This is one of those things that my SO does for her. I've never commented on that since, again, I don't feel it's my place but the hair brushing is just part of a long routine that ties up her evening.

Sports Fan's picture

Yes, 11 year old girls can definitely brush their own hair. In fact girls can do it at ages much younger than that. The whole bedtime routine you described is way past it's time to end. At the girls' ages their bedtime routine should be being done by them and mom saying goodnight. My SD is 11 and she does her entire bedtime routine herself. And if anything I would consider my SD young for her age.

rockpyle's picture

I agree with you on the routine. I used to complain about this but like I said in my original post I came to the conclusion that if my SO wants to do this with her daughters then that's her prerogative. My bedtime routine with my sons probably stopped when they were each 6 years old. The routine became a hug and a kiss goodnight. Nowadays as they are pre-teen I usually just get the hug.

rockpyle's picture

Given the fact that this change will be devastating for her and a tremendous adjustment for all three of them it's my plan to help them with moving expenses, first month rent, and whatever else they may need. I don't anticipate them moving out until the end of the school year. I can take it if she can. I can deal with her daughter's behaviors and such when I know there will be an end date. What I know I can't take is dealing with this over the next 10+ years. No way.

That said, people can be unpredictable and I am prepared to go the eviction route if I am pressed to do so. By pressed I mean either become vicious or allowing herself to continually struggle meaning, "Oh we can't move out now because I still can't find a job" three months down the road.

ybarra357's picture

Of course it will be 'devastating' for her. She basically doesn't have to do anything but hang out at home. By your own admission, she doesn't really want to work and god knows she sure isn't parenting her children. I went back and perused your previous blogs OP, and you even admit she's not a good parent. Come on now, just call it and be done with it.

rockpyle's picture

Yes, in the past I have said she wasn't a good parent. I think many of you would agree with that. At this point I'm not looking to assign blame. Maybe she's a wonderful and loving parent and I'm just too stuffy and strict. I have read posts over the past year where it's the wife/girlfriend living with a husband/boyfriend who parents in a similar way as my own girlfriend. I wonder, if similar parents were to be together and raise their children in a similar way if the other would think they are bad parents. I'd guess they think they're great parents.

The differences just aren't working for us unfortunately.

rockpyle's picture

I appreciate your response. I don't think counseling will be of use here. Generally speaking people go to counselors to facilitate communication on issues. While admittedly I am not great at confronting serious issues the problem with her not working and other issues I've referenced in my post was addressed a year ago. I actually broke up with her over this and over a period of two days of pleading and promising things will change I decided to try again. It's been nearly a year since that conversation and nothing much has changed. I asked her to work full time and to contribute to the monthly expenses. Has she contributed here and there? Of course she has, but there lacks a general sense of urgency to contribute. How I wish I could pay the mortgage or electric bill on a here or there basis! A year ago I had a very direct conversation about things. I refused to be the kind of person to constantly nag on issues. I feel like I was clear. I’ve been waiting and waiting for that change to happen and it just hasn’t. I’ve certainly made my share of comments to remind her on what we’ve talked about in the past. You either choose to contribute in a meaningful way or you don’t. I don’t think going to a counselor is going to change her perspective on where I should be in terms of priority vs. responsibility. That comes from the heart and with her actions and statements over the year it’s clear where I stand.

Indigo's picture

Don't drag it out. Have your discussions and make a move-out date say a month or 45 days. Technically she's a month-to-month tenant, right?) Cover yourself by a follow up text/email.

thinkthrice's picture

There's always a problem when a parent treats their children like adult peers/confidants, giving them 100% authority and 0% responsibility. I call it Adult Spousal Status (ASS)

It doesn't work that way in real life and the sooner children find that out the better. Best to get out now before the trainwreck gets any worse.

Stormyweather's picture

Im confused....you say you want her to work FT but she works PT (nearly FT) doing 28 hours a week and the rest of her time is looking after the house?

So what does she do with her money?

And her "doting" attitude to her children seems to encourage dependence on her as opposed to independence and I believe she likes that they "need her". And besides, its gives her an excuse to not work as she is home for her kids. Its more than likely she actually loves staying home and being the house wife. have you asked her what she wants in the relationship? Its possible what she wants is different to want you want/require (an independent contributing partner).

Have an honest talk and see if you are on the same page..if not, then you can negotiate her leaving and finding a partner who can support her desires (which isnt you).

rockpyle's picture

You know, to be honest I really don't know what she does with the money other than paying her can and insurance, cell phone bill, and.....well....I don't know. She doesn't buy herself or her daughters a lot of things. Groceries sure, but me and my sons don't eat their food. I shop for me and my sons. It's easier that way than having the kids raid the fridge and eat whatever they see. We have kept our finances separate this entire time because there's no way I am going to allow any of my money to directly support her children. She works from home. Maybe she's not working as much as I thought she was. I actually feel embarrassed about not knowing. I've assumed she works 28 hours but it's not like I sit there and count the hours she's working. All I know is that it's not full time. She buys stuff for the house sometimes like laundry detergent, soap, toilet paper but that's not all the time.

Regardless of all of that, your statements on "doting" really resonate with the situation. She loves doting on the children and being needed. She loves being there to pick up her girls from school. She loves helping with the homework, cooking them dinner, getting their shower ready, ect....They're practically 11 and 9, not 6 and 4. It's not right in my view. Like I said, we're a house divided in most facets.

rockpyle's picture

The only reason why I'm willing to give them some time is because they are really fully engrained in the house. Between all the packing, finding a new place, ect...these things take time. I've been divorced and even when it was just me moving out the house (same house I'm back in) it still took me six weeks because of the timing of it all. I don't hate the step-kids and I certainly don't hate her. I don't want to her children to fail school due to a drastic change. Are any of these truly "my problems"? No, definitely not. But these are all people who's lives are about to be thrown into turmoil and unexpectedly. I don't have any feelings of love for the step-kidsI don't really like them all that much if I'm being honest. But they all genuinely love me. I love my girlfriend. We simply do not fit as a family. I'm not concerned about their opinions about me per se but they are still very young children who are going to be devastated. This will be like a second divorce for them all over again and I'm not thrilled to put them through that.

Still, all this said if I don't see things progressing in a way that I feel they should be I will see legal recourse via a formal eviction. I don't want it to come to that. I don't really know how this will all play out. Maybe she'll leave ASAP. That would be ideal. I guess in my mind I feel like I've lived like this for this long it won't kill me for a couple of more months knowing that I have made a decision to not live like this for the next 10+ years.

No saint's picture

I just wanted to say that I can relate to what you are saying and, by reading your posts, have come to respect the person you are. hope everything turns out for the best, with or without your Gf.

Modernworld1011's picture

This is my life in reverse! I am the wife, and I have a husband who is exactly like your girlfriend. When his kids are around intimacy is not on the table. I have tried to talk to him and he's is defensive, so it goes nowhere. His kids only like hamburgers at a certain place, I am vegan and have been for 30 plus years, but we always have to go to their restaurant because that is the only one that they like, cue me bringing a bag of fruit or vegetable and ordering water to the angry looks of the burger place manager. My daughter just had to leave our home earlier than expected because his kids were all coming to visit with fevers and she has three tests next week and cannot get sick now.

Your requests are not unreasonable, and you are correct, you should be entitled to have a say about things that matter to you.

They will never see that they are not doing children any favors by babying them. They will never see that their behavior utterly disrespects you and is showing the daughters not a good example of how an adult couple should behave.

I wrote because I wish you luck and all happiness. I have tried to find my own coping mechanism for my situation, but it sounds much more challenging for you given the constant presence of the kids.