The breakup of a blended family...
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.