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Dealing with DH during disengagement

Ozlady's picture

It appears SD and SSIL and DH have realised that I am disengaging and this morning I was confronted by DH about why I take little to no interest in them and their brats. He is upset that I don’t like the brats, have no time for SD and her demands- the latest of which I confess I lost my temper about (silly me). Let me give you the situation: we were to attend a family event in another state and decided to have a few days either side of the event for holidays about 10 days away in total. It is summer down under and we organised with my BS22 to water the garden, put bins out etc, as it is supposed to be quite hot weather I also said to BS he is welcome to use the swimming pool. We always ask BS to do this as SD and SIL have refused in the past (stay at home mummy is too busy!). This morning I get told that I have to message BS and tell him not to use the pool on Friday (it is to be 44 degrees Celsius) as SD wants to bring the brats to use the pool. I said no, that’s not fair if she can’t share the use of the pool she can’t bring the brats and then world war 3 erupted. DH accused me of hating SD, the kids, the SIL because I don’t play the grandparent game of accepting appalling behaviour, I don’t praise SD for having babies and staying home sitting on her butt whilst expecting everyone run around after her and frankly don’t care if I ever see her again- none of which I have ever said out loud. Apparently SD has been asking why I don’t like her or the brats, wants to spend more time with us but feels I don’t welcome her enough, doesn’t understand why BM upsets me and wishes we could just play happy families (all on her terms mind you).  You can look at my other posts for descriptions of her behaviour.

in the end we cancelled our trip and are not attending the family event as I don’t feel up to pretending everything is ok when it’s not.

DH is not speaking to me & I feel as though SD knew if she upset me this would happen. He visited their house yesterday and I bet she primed him to have this argument.


How do I make DH understand I don’t want to be part of this charade?

Kes's picture

The one thing I couldn't tolerate in your story was that DH isn't speaking to you.  Using silence as a weapon to control someone is not acceptable in my book, and I divorced my first DH because of it, personally I would never tolerate it again, no matter what is going on between you.  Plus if he's taking SD's side over you, then I'd seriously rethink whether I wanted to be with him, long term.  

Ozlady's picture

He will come around eventually, by the end of the day usually. I think it’s his way of not saying something in anger that he really doesn’t mean but it frustrates me but the support for SD is tiresome at best and you are right it’s becoming an ongoing issue between us and I don’t know what to do about it. I thought disengaging was the right thing to do but it seems even that is not enough to stop the princess affecting our lives.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Be a hard@ss about your disengagement. I also hate the silent treatment. My DH will be in a foul mood and shut down for a few hours. That really makes me boil but I just get busy with our kids or one of my favorite hobbies or rant on STalk lol  and ignore him until he snaps out of it.


Ozlady's picture

You are soooo right, I just need to refocus my energy and stick to my not engage right? Thank you for your advice

ESMOD's picture

Your post reminds me that sometimes we can be right... or we can be happy... sometimes we can't be both.  Now, I actually don't have an issue if you want to disengage from your SD.  She sounds entitled and a PITA.  I also understand your BS was going out of his way to help you out on your 10 day trip.  But, what would it have hurt to agree to ask your BS to allow them use of the pool on Friday by themselves?  I mean, there are 9 other days he could use the pool. They only asked about one of them.  Yes, you have every right to want to draw your line in the sand.. but the result is that you and your DH aren't speaking and you are missing your trip entirely.  What would have been the harm in just letting it go and asking your BS to give them that time?  He likely wouldn't have minded.. right?


tog redux's picture

That seems very enabling to me. Why can't they all use the pool together, is it a baby pool?  Or why can't SD call her step-brother herself and let him know they will be coming by on Friday - chances are good he'd make himself scarce voluntarily.  Why do parents have to get involved with the wants and feelings of grown children?

I'd have said to DH - SD can let BS know herself that she doesn't want him there.

ESMOD's picture

I know.. again.. I don't think that princess is "in the right".. what I'm saying is that sometimes we let things happen because it is easier and keeps the peace.  Instead of the sharp "no" from OP.. maybe just saying.. "I don't know.. why don't you have her give BS a call and see if that will be an issue".  Might have been less "in your face" to DH.. and spared this whole ruccus.

I'm not advocating her letting SD run roughshod over them all the time.. but it is one day.. when she wouldn't have even been there.. and likely wouldn't have been an issue for BS anyway.. so the line in the sand is understandable.. but it did mean she ended up where she is sitting now.  was it worth it for something that is relatively minor?

tog redux's picture

I think she could have just said, "SD can contact BS herself if she wants him to stay away on Friday".  That would be the disengaged answer.

This isn't about the pool. It's about asking SD to be a grown woman.

ESMOD's picture

yes... I agree.. just indicating that she didn't want to be involved in the process may have worked out better too.  But...I get that this SD probably is pretty dense when it comes to boundaries.. and her DH probably still enables that.

simifan's picture

So DS does all the work and gets banned from the pool because princess SD wants exclusive use? That would definitely be my line in the sand. 

tog redux's picture

And DS's mother has to tell him that he can't go that day because Princess wants the pool to herself?  Let Princess do her own dirty work.

Ozlady's picture

I agree, if she is so precious as to need the whole pool to herself she can sort it with BS, he is a very reasonable kid and would want to avoid her brats anyway. My suggestion to DH at the time was that SD and brats use the pool before lunch as BS works nights and wouldn’t be out of bed before 1pm anyway but noooo she had to have everything to herself. The broader issue is she thinks she makes the rules in our house and because DH is afraid she will stop him having a relationship with the brats he gives in. 

Also why should BS be told you can’t be at our house because she is there (which she did at Christmas time)? He has never been anything but polite to her and the brats, he helps us out all the time and she does nothing for us at all. 

No I will not give in to her demands but I will continue to remove her and her brats from my sphere, one thought at a time

tog redux's picture

Exactly - so for me, the disengaged answer to him saying, "Can you tell DS not to be at the pool on Friday so SD can have her kids there?" would be, "She can tell him that herself".

Then if DH wants to continue to enable her, he can tell your son that.

Ozlady's picture

It remains the fairness and reasonableness test for me, she could have been both fair and reasonable and everyone could have been happy but that’s just not how it works with her and DH who is generally both things has a crazy blind spot for his princess, hence my disengaging in the first place. He thinks I’m being unreasonable, which I do understand from his point of view but from where I stand it’s her manipulative behaviour to control our lives that I am disengaging from.

CANYOUHELP's picture

There is usually a lot more to the story than just the pool, I get that loudly and clearly. If you are this irrate, I am certain you are dealing with some significant history from this SD, like most of us here. Heck, if so, she is fortunate you are letting her even come to your home. This is YOUR home too and you are not to be taken for granted by those who disrespect you regardless of relationship. All daddeee ever had to do was make her respect you and your marriage.  Sounds simple to be so impossible for so many! BS helps out the family and treats everybody well, he is never cut off for her immediate, unearned pool party desires; agreed.

I have been through the "testing the water" phase of this sickness and SD will up daddeee's love tests to try to destroy your marriage.  Keep disengaging until you are done with it will likely be your only peace because they do not ever stop even when completely disengaged.

If there is a history of all about me behavior, the final blow  for most of us--is just a step away and yes---it is worth fighting for.  Let the enmeshed dadddeee sulk, he can come around and go live with SD. Either way, you win.  You stay in your house with your pool.....take a peaceful swim and relax knowing you had to parent/teach your husband, as well.

Ozlady's picture

You got it, the pool fiasco is just latest. Unfortunately she and her mother are the only issues we have in our marriage, otherwise life is pretty darn good. If only they would F off the world would be wonderful.

More disengaging to be done on my part and more acceptance of it on DHs 

Cover1W's picture

When I finally disengaged completely for a time (about 3 years ago after we bought our home and chaos commenced) it took DH a couple months to realize I did NOTHING to help.  One night after he made dinner, SDs were loud and out of control and the house was a mess he confronted me just entirely PO'd. 

I let him yell, sitting there silent until he finished.  I then told him that unless I had a say in how things happen in OUR house (which he couldn't have purchased without me) and input into the behavior of HIS children without being undermined and only with discussion would I do things of my own free will.  Etc., etc., etc.

Oh, we had it out.

But after that, he got better.  He is better even now and continues to get better.  He has a counselor.  He talks with me.  He understands when I tell him I cannot be more involved in X or Y decision than I am and will not contine the discussion.  It's not perfect by any means, but I held my ground.  

If an SD wanted to come use a pool at which they were normally not invited to do so and knowing that they will likely not respect the house or the pool area (am I right - will they leave a mess for your DS to pick up?) - my answer would also be a no.  Unless your DH agrees to mitigate somehow (hire a cleaner?  have SD do something in return to help?) then it's your home too.

Ozlady's picture

I’m actually ok with them using the pool, it’s the exclusion of my BS, who helps out whenever we need it that annoyed me. She also did this at Christmas, demanding exclusive time for her and the brats, when for the rest of the year she does everything she can to make our lives uncomfortable. And, a whole day? Totally not required. 

She just wanted to stop us enjoying a holiday, again 

tog redux's picture

The thing is, your BS is a man now, so it's his job to tell her to piss off if he wants to, not yours.

Ozlady's picture

Why should he have to get involved at all? The issue is not BS but SD wanting to make rules in our home. When I had small children they were made to share, use manners and respect other people and their property. They were rewarded for helping others and punished when not behaving accordingly. Social mores they still live by and you suggest that now, at 22 he should be told “that doesn’t apply to the princess, she gets everything she wants for nothing” so we can avoid conflict? 

Nope she can learn to play nice and share or not play at all.

my issue is getting DH to see that his princess is behaving like a naughty 3 year old, not a 33 year old with 2 brats and one on the way. How she is raising children is beyond me! 

You are right though she could have sent him a text saying she and the brats would be there before 1 and he would have avoided it but that would mean no issues in my and DH relationship which was her goal, which she got. Now resolved.

All the Gods forbid that she shows up for a swim because I am home and angry that my holiday was cancelled and my son disrespected and whilst disengaging is great, sometimes my ancient Celt takes over and tells it like it is and she will know exactly what I think. All said with a smile in my best management tones!


GotSerenity's picture

I’m sorry you are going through this. I have tried to disengage as well and my fiancé and his parents are giving me grief. It pisses me off! They can make their own decisions and do what they want with SD but they shouldn’t try to force her on me. Plenty of stepmothers are able to disengage, it shouldn’t be a huge spectacle. 

sammigirl's picture

I have been married to my DH 39 years.  I began my disengagement from SD57 nine years ago, and completely disengaged five years ago.  My DH said and did all the same things, you are describing here.  

I finally had heard enough from DH complaining and my SD57 running to DH saying how she didn't feel comfortable in our home any more, on and on with the BS.  I put an end to it by telling DH; "it is your problem.  It is SD57's problem.  I have no problem with the way I am handling it.  You two are having trouble letting it go, work it out and stop complaining to me or bringing it all up to me.  I will not make it my problem, therefore, leave me totally out of your relationship and your toxic behavior.  What don't you two understand?"

I'm sure they continue to discuss KARMA, I don't care.  It is much more peaceful.  "Live and let live."  Adults can handle their own decisions and you do not have to be part of it.  It just opens a can of worms and the misery continues to their delight.  

My DH is doing well with it now, we get along much better, and SD57 refuses to visit our home more than 3-4 times a year.  All is good!  I still struggle at times, when SD comes around, due to her toxic behavior towards me; it is short visits and not often, so I sail through it with keeping my composure. 

You will get there.  Stay here and continue to vent here.  This is the best support system.

Mountains's picture

So sorry you are going through this with the is not fun when the DH doesn’t get why you need to disengage.  It took several discussions for several years ( although I did not know I was disengaging until I found this site and could put a name to it) about boundaries and disengaging for us to get to a point of understanding.

What I was able to convey is:

a) I don’t have a long term relationship with your kids like you do so I don’t feel the same towards them (ages 56 and 59). 

b) My interactions with them have been very negative - not loving or even kind.  Would you want me to hang out with people who were hostile?

c) My home is my sanctuary so I do have a say (as does the DH) about who comes inside.  Why would I want to open my home to people who treat me as an invisible ghost?  

d) Family traditions are important but not to the point where they can’t change when the family dynamic changes.  Forcing me to participate in the family traditions because that’s the way your first family did it is not cool.

e) Setting reasonable boundaries is healthy for everyone.  Just because the SD thinks boundaries are not needed and break apart family values doesn’t make it so.

f) The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Let’s just try something different and see how it goes.

i don’t k ow if any of this will help or make sense but it is what finally got through.  This notion of a Norman Rockwell family is self-defeating - we needed to adjust to a new reality or call it quits.  Fortunately we are forging a new path.

Ozlady's picture

I love the way you have handled this, you are right about the definition of insanity!! I should have that quote prominently displayed in my office, to remind both DH and me. Thanks for the support and encouragement to keep trying to find my way through the skids minefield

Ozlady's picture

It makes perfect sense and helps enormously. Thank you for your advice and support. I will reread and digest over the coming days.