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DH asking loaded questions...

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

Yesterday, after a particularly tough go with my SK, DH and I are talking after all the kids are asleep. SK, of course, is the main topic because-- well, SK is almost always the cause of angst and dissention in the house.

DH asks, "do you wish you'd married someone without a kid?". Not wanting to lie to him, I said the thought had crossed my mind. I always think of him and describe him as the perfect man, except for his kid. That was my thought process years ago when we were dating-- "but hes perrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfect <3<3<3, and his kid is cute! Kind of a lot of baggage, but he's perrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfect!"

Now, years later and 2 biokids later, I look at it differently. He IS great, and I love him to the ends of the Earth. But I should've never discounted just how much of a struggle his oldest child is and will continue to be.  My SK has had major struggles over the past almost 2 years now, and it has gone from quiet defiance and subtle attitude to full on pre-teen like blow ups at everyone-- but mostly the babies. DH and I are spinning our wheels trying to get a handle on it, only to be undone by a BM that refuses to enfore any type of rules or punishment or lose the status as the "cool" parent.

Even though it is counterproductive-- many days I just sit and think to myself... WHY did he have a kid while in a dead end marriage?!?!?! We could have a real shot at a supremely happy life, if not for the constant issues with SK and BM. DH checks all the boxes: he's smart, hardworking, hands on dad and husband, he cooks and cleans and fixes things, he loves to travel and experience new places and try new foods, he's always willing to try a new activity and encourages me to explore my hobbies as well, he never gripes at me over things like money or friends--- I mean we really, really are HAPPY.... until SK is involved. Then the house is tense, and we're spending the entire weekend trying to figure out how to balance 3 kids when 1 is a part timer with an attitude.

So when he asked me if I wished I'd married someone else, it felt like a relief in a way that he recognized how hard this is, but also broke my heart because we both know the answer to that is yes, sometimes (read: all the time) I do. I wish I got DH without the kid.

JRI's picture

I'm 75 and married to DH for 46 years.  We have 5 kids, 3 his and 2 mine plus 9 gkids.  I felt like you, he's perfect for me BUT that daughter of his!  At 58. She's still a problem.

From the perspective here at the final years, I feel that being with him thru all the step trauma has glued our relationship.  We are "deeper than dirt".  Would things have been easier without his kids?  Definitely.  However, I instinctively feel his first marriage and his kids matured him into the man I was attracted to.  After the years with my ex who never matured mentally past 18 yo, I was ready for a grown up.  I always say DH is an unusual man, hes an adult!  Lol.

I guess what I saying is that our life would have been different without the SKs but it's probably richer emotionally because of all we went thru.  Also, while those step years are traumatic, if we are lucky, there are many good ones once they are gone.  These years since we both retired have been the best of my life.

Good luck!  If you hang in thru these tough years and the fates are kind to you, you'll have those precious years afterwards.

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

Thank you for this, it gives me a lot of hope. There's so much happiness and fun... that is, until SK is here. I know 18 isn't the magic number, I've seen it all too well on this forum that oftentimes there's no launch/little launch and it's equally hard to deal with adult SK's. But you hit the nail on the head, we're in the young years slog right now.

Dogmom1321's picture

It sounds like our SD are EXACTLY the same! SD was 5 when I met her and that described her to a t. Quietly defiant. Now at 10, it full blown drama at every turn. Not just me. Everyone. DH, grandparents, aunts/uncles, friends, etc. BM has always had extremely rocky relationships due to her huge shifts in mood. And honestly, I'm starting to see why in SD too. 

DH and I are expecting in April. You have your bios to focus on too! Sounds like your SD and bios have quite an age gap. I am crossing my fingers that when SD "launches", it would be too much of a headache/inconveince for her to live with a 6 year old kid. At the least, if she "doesn't launch", her mom is also the "cool one" which I'm sure she would be dying to live with and play BFFs. 

SD says she wants a brother/sister (we haven't told her yet). But I just know her jealousy will rear its ugly head. How has your SK been towards your bios?

surprisestepmother's picture


If he died at work, I would receive his pension that would match his current salary and the SD would be gone from my life forever. On my worst days with everyone, it's a uncomfortable thing to think about. 

SeeYouNever's picture

Ugh if my husband died I'd have to split the life insurance with SD, but I would get the pension. I'm sure BM would try to make a move on it even though she is not eligible anymore because she remarried. It was in their original divorce decree that she would get it but my husband knew full well that if she remarried she wouldn't get it. She only finally agreed to sign for their divorce once she had her next husband lined up. 

surprisestepmother's picture

Horrible. I'm the only beneficiary on his life insurance. The pension is just for the spouse, so obviously me. He and the bio were never married so she has no independent claim.

If he died, I would do the split that we discussed with the life insurance and give SD her 20%, which would go to the bio mother. Contact would immediately be severed after. 

tog redux's picture

Well - you say he's great, but what is he doing about this kid's attitude in your home? Whether or not BM supports it doesn't matter, your DH has the right to give consequences for poor behavior that happens in your home. If it drives the kid away, then so be it - that may be the best for everyone.

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

I will say, hes very proactive in trying to nip bad behavior. We're all currently in counseling trying to address some of it, initiated by him. But-- there's only so much that can be done when you're just the part time parent. He's doled out consequences both light and heavy handed (taking away electronics, groundings, time outs, spankings (I know this is controversial but, it is what it is), positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, etc). That is, I'm sure, part of the reason SK prickles at our house-- it's the only one with rules and discipline and structure. Which, that's not going to change, especially not from pressure from SK. It just sucks, because it's an immediate nasty attitude at our house that everyone feels. 

After last night, the new mantra is: "if you come in here with a nasty attitude, just go ahead and go straight to your room and don't come out until it's changed" If you miss fun, or family time or dinner then...oh well

tog redux's picture

I know you are trying not to give away identifying information, but roughly how old is this kid? And do you think this is a parental alienation situation? ie, he/she acts out because he/she is being poisoned by BM to hate DH and you?

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

She's 9, and I'd  say-- a very "young" 9 (I've always described her this way, she was a young 5, young 6, etc). SK was the center of everyones world for years, and when DH and I became serious, I told him that  if he wanted to play fun or part time Disney Dad then that was his business, it was his kid. However; I wouldn't be able to continue the relationship if he didn't start putting some rules down. Back at that time, through my work, I received a few "free" family counseling sessions. So we used those to speak with a therapist about blending families and things to look our for/ things we would definitely encounter. It was REALLY helpful, and DH started then to form some lines in the sand when it came to boundaries.

Almost simultaneously, BM retracted a lot of her structure and is the epitome of the parent thats the perpetual friend to the child, not willing to upset them or make them uncomfortable in any way. If that means making 2-3 meals every meal until they land on what she wants then, so be it. If that means not making them do any chores, or play outside, or go places they don't want to go then BM bends over backwards to make sure SK doesn't have to experience *any* discomfort whatsoever.

Fast forward a couple years: we go to court to try and get 50/50, and it gets denied (after about 10k worth of retainer and legal fees) because the judge said that SK didn't need to be uprooted from the current situation if she was showing no signs of distress

Fast forward a little more and I'm pregnant with our first. That was when the PAS really started from BM. It's always very subtle, but it's there. BM has conditioned SK to think of us as the hard-on-her house. That we favor our biological kids over SK now, and that we only have time for them and not for her. BM has confronted DH multiple times over how his parenting style is too harsh, how she doesn't want him to do x,y, or z at our home, how he should be treating SK differently and BM has brazenly gone against things we've discussed as a group that we would be doing (ex: we all agreed SK was going to try an extra cirricular activity. We paid for it, and SK and BM decided they no longer wanted to go so they just stopped and BM got mad at DH for making her go when it was our parenting time)

As of right now, counseling again for not only the attitude, but for trying to cope with the family unit on all sides-- and to address the PAS. The counselor has come down hard on BM for it, which if nothing else, is validating for US to hear, even if BM disagrees thats what it is.But I think DH is not only frustrated, but feeling defeated. Like I mentioned earlier-- he's tried a variety of methods of punishment, both gentle and firm, to try and corral SK's behavior and try and make her feel like part of the family. But yeah, after last nights episode, he said he wishes he'd never had a kid with his ex, then thats when he asked me if I regretted marrying him.

tog redux's picture

Well, with alienation, therapy generally doesn’t work, since the dynamic doesn’t change if there are no consequences for the alienating parent. 

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

Yes, we've pretty much chalked alientation up as a lost cause at this point. BM doesn't think she's doing anything wrong or harmful, and SD  isn't aware enough to understand or see through the BS. The larger point of therapy has been to help really DH and I understand how to effectively raise well adjusted kids in a household where 1 comes in and out like a cyclone EOWE and there's no boundaries at her FT residence. The therapist has definitely helped us, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's been great for SK-- because there's been little application of exercises outside of our home, but like I said earlier-- sometimes it's just nice for some professional validation? Like yes, you're doing all the "right" things, yes BM is a problem and her "parenting" is problematic, yes you're free to remarry and have more kids and have a happy life even if that means SK isn't involved, etc

JRI's picture

It sounds lime he's doing what he can do.  It is a hard fact to face but life sometimes deals us a tough situation or person to deal with.  In your and my case it's a difficult SD.  Some families have physically or mentally challenged kids.  Some have needy, sick parents.  There's the whole list of human ills.  My daughter's child had development issues.  It was quite traumatic.  She read a quote from somewhere likening it to a trip to Paris.  Someone gets on a train anticipating a trip to Paris, seeing the Eiffel Tower and all the sights.  When they get off the train, they are in Holland, no Eiffel Tower, lots of windmills and tulips.  Not what they expected but ok in its way.  In other words, our expectations of the happy life with just us and DH is different from what we expected but it will be a different ok.

Rags's picture

Not kid related.. but my DW has similar thoughts about her experiences being married to a T-1 diabetic. 26 years of syringes, test strips showing up in the oddest places, the occasional Hypoglycemic episode, the insane cost of insulin and supplies, etc.....  I get her reticence.

We have a great life and marriage but my disease represents tensions and challenges that she would prefer not to have in a marriage..... if she had it to do over again.

advice.only2's picture

I'm sorry but his comment just feels so manipulative. "Do you feel sorry for me? I had this evil horrendous child with another you feel bad for me?" Uhhh no you stuck your d*ck in her with the hopes of procreating and you got a child out of it. I'm sorry you aren't happy with the outcome of your progeny but that's on your and your ex to have corrected those issues. So stop the pity party, man up and deal with your kid!

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

I understand what you're saying. I don't see it as manipulative since there's action behind it. If he was asking these things and no action, it'd be a different story. 

I was married previously, too (no kids). So I know you just sometimes regret sh** that you've done and the stupidity of it just comes out to nowhere and hits you in the face. I feel like it was a moment like that. Where we are both tired and at the end of our ropes with SK and it's like god, what a headache! 

susanm's picture

At least he grasps that you have reasons for potential regrets and is taking some steps to reduce them.  I got asked a similar question and , caught off guard, I paused to consider what to say and how to say it.  Just that pause caused my DH to flip out and jump to all sorts of conclusions before I could get out a word.  It was an unpleasant scene.  I ended it with "I didn't say sh*t so take whatever is going around in your mind and deal with it yourself.  And don't EVER ask me that again because clearly it is not a subject that you can handle!"  And then I was gone for the day.

So I never got to answer "You bet your hairy ass I do!!!!"   LOLOL   :) 


shellpell's picture

Oh, I know DH regrets having SS with BM. He is so happy with me and our two littles, I know he wishes it were just us. SS12 is on his way to being alienated by BM. No Father's Day/happy birthday calls/messages to DH for the last few years and SS knows when it's DH's birthday because it's close to his. DH is disappointed with how SS is turning out and has tried to counter BM's "parenting" but hasn't been successful. He's also not willing to go to court over things like BM not sending SS for his spring break or summer visits due to Covid. He regularly calls/emails/Facetimes, but feels like SS has slipped away and isn't as close to him anymore. So yes, DH wishes it were just us. He is happy that he and I are on the same page most of the time when it comes to parenting.

Do I feel bad for SS? Maybe a little, but he's been such a little entitled jerk that it's only a little. I can't see him wanting to be part of his dad's life down the line. The ROI on CS is low with this one.

Rags's picture

Sad, but absolutely true.

Too bad CS is not like any other business investment.  If the return does not meet the performance expectations don't throw good money after bad.

Unfortunately, in far too many cases CS is a huge waste of resources which far more often than would make sense returns toxicity at best.