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Never feels like “family”

CrazyCatStepmom's picture

My wife and I(same sex marriage) have been together almost 2 years now. My stepdaughter9 and I don’t really get along well but things have gotten somewhat better. My wife knows this already. When it is just me and SD, she acts a certain way. When my wife is home she acts COMPLETELY different. Can’t do anything for herself. Always coming to my wife when she’s supposed to be doing chores or hw saying things like “my (anything) hurts” “oh I forgot to tell you so and so wore a blue shirt today at school” just saying anything random to be around her mother. Everything is all about her, the attention has to be all on her, and she hangs on my wife like a toddler. When we go anywhere SD is all over my wife to point that she is literally tripping over her. My wife had to make a “rule” that my SD stay on her right side at all times due to the fact that wherever I would stand, SD would cut me off and get in between my wife and I. My wife always wants us to have “family” time but I can’t stand how my SD acts around her mother. It NEVER feels like family time. It feels like them two spending time together and me just watching them in their own world. Now I feel bad because I know how much my wife wants us to have “family time” but idk how to make her see that it’s not family time. It’s basically “mommy and me” time. I’ve tried to explain before but each time my message never comes across right. I try to avoid “family time” at all costs now. I feel bad because I feel like I’m not being a good wife also by shutting myself out. Has anyone felt this way? Almost like a third wheel. I love my wife but I’m starting to feel like being with her and dealing with her daughter is just more than I can handle....

sunshinex's picture

You might not ever feel like a family. I wouldn't worry about that. 

I've been in my 7 year old stepdaughter's life since she was 2 and her mother is rarely involved. I still barely feel like "family" with her. When I think of my family, logically, I know it's DH, SD, our 18-month old son, and I. But in my heart, I feel like my family is the 3 of us minus SD. She's just... not mine? She loves her mother more than me, which is fine, because I love my biological son more than her. It might sound cold, but it's just the way it is. I care for her, but no, I don't feel like family with her. I have to remind myself often that she IS my son's family and I have to treat it that way. 

My point is, don't get so caught up on feeling like family. It's not that important. You're a BLENDED family, not an intact family. Things will be different. As for your point about feeling like a third-wheel because SD is always hanging off your wife, I have been there before. Until my SD was about 4 or so, that was our constant situation. I had a few talks with DH but it didn't really click until I explained that it really pushes me away and makes me feel left out. I also explained that in-tact families don't do this. My parents, growing up, never allowed us to hang-off them or butt in the way when they were talking/cuddling/etc. It's just not normal.

There is a hierarchy in any given household and the parents need to be united at the top of that hierarchy. When one parent is always pushed out of the way or expected to be put second to the kids, that is ruined. If you're out and about, kids walk ahead while you/DH hold hands together. If you're on the couch, kids sit elsewhere while you/DH cuddle. If you're having a conversation, kids GO PLAY. This is how it is in every household i've seen aside from stepfamilies. I will say, when my DH finally started catching on, I felt like a million bucks. I finally felt the natural order was restored.

I got to feel like I was actually in a relationship again. Kids can still have cuddle/play time with parents, obviously, but they are not part of the union you and your wife are. Talk with her. Tell her it's hard enough being part of a ready-made family. You'd like to feel like the head of the household so you CAN feel more part of it all. 

CrazyCatStepmom's picture

Wow. You just said said everything I needed to hear. Thank you so much. I was definitely raised the way you’re talking about. My parents relationship came first then we had separate time. It does only feel like we are in a relationship when she’s not around. I will express that to my wife. 

Step-girlfriend's picture

I feel like a family until we do certain things, and then it becomes clear that I’m the outsider (as if I didn’t know that already). I have the same issue as you- when we go somewhere with skids, I have 2 skids jockeying for the position next to my SO, so I end up trailing behind or walking in front of them. We recently took skids to Mall of America, and for 2 days straight that was my life. I was ready to scream. That was the LAST time that will be happening. We’d been having so many skid-related arguments that i didn’t want to ruin our wknd by bringing it up, but decided that on the next outing, it will be made clear that I will no longer trail behind kids. I don’t even think my SO notices.

When we go do something fun, it’s always “dad dad dad”, wanting to be by him. It used to really bother me, but I honestly don’t even care that much anymore because I’m used to it and half the time I don’t want to do what they’re begging him to do anyway...My SO makes sure I’m included and that’s what matters (after I pointed it out and we discussed it). We’ve also made changes in other areas- my spot is next to my SO on the couch. He’s getting better about sending SD to play when we’re trying to talk, but sometimes she just sits there and I feel like I can’t get any time with him alone. 

The point is, I get it. It’s really hard, and our biggest issue is me pointing out things that drive me crazy about their dynamic or how he parents. Some things are so hard to let slide, and they don’t realize how much it affects us or how it makes us feel. They don’t see all these things we see and feel. I’ve wondered many times if it’s too much for me too. 

GirlfriendMom's picture

When its just me and SD8 (almost 9) it's actually a lot better. I feel like a family more when its just her and I, which is weird to say but she is well behaved, self sustaining, calm, indepdent, listens decently. etc.

When SO is around, she bounces off the walls even in public and SO never takes a stand with her. She has to be attatched to him at the hip and is all over him. I find it gross, clingy, and annoying. I absolutely relate to that third wheel feeling. 

"Family time" tends to be me in the living room with my headphones in while they run around the house. Often I will use this time as time to go have "me" time. I take a bath, listen to music, read, or even go take a nap (or at least claim I am while I chill relaxing in the bedroom). In public, unless we are somewhere like a park where her obnoxious behavior is acceptable or a movie theater where she has to be calm, I cant stand being around them lately. I tell them "Go have a daddy daughter day. I have X to do (or) I'm gonna have some me time. Have fun!" and leave it at that. 

My SO used to push family time and get upset that I didnt feel the same way about it until I basically laid it out that her (and his) behavior makes me uncomfortable/irritated. I told him that I DO spend the time with them that I can and have family time but sometimes I just don't want to; forcing myself to become this instant family unit with him and her was only doing me more harm than good. He seemed to understand that and honestly my life is so much better with the balance.

Do not feel bad. Step parenting is hard af with these clingy damaged sks... so many of us here have gone through what you're going through and it's a very common SM experience. Do what it best for your mental health always. x