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How to deal with your husband having a separate life

strugglingSM's picture
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I have a question for all those who have successfully disengaged - how do you handle the fact that once you disengage your husband now essentially has a separate life with his children?

One of my biggest challenges with stepmotherhood - and one of the things leading to my disengagement - is that my DH still seems to think that he can just do his own thing when it comes to his kids and expect me to go along with it. He also seems to think that it's fine for BM to schedule things on our time and we should just go along with it. I've been pushing him to set boundaries, but once I disengage, I feel like I'll have to lay off that (or maybe I'll have to lay off that in order to disengage). We've fought about this, so it's clearly an issue that bothers me. How do I stop being bothered, in order to disengage?

Do you just pretend that your husband is away when his kids are around and not think about what he's doing or worry about what he might be doing? Do you just go away yourself?

advice.only2's picture

Since he's just doing his own thing and isn't worried about your thoughts or feelings then when skids are around go start doing your own thing.

When I disengaged I stopped doing alot of stuff with DH because he always wanted SD there (she lived with us full time). He started getting upset that I was off having adventures without him, but as I pointed out he could have those adventures to, he just chose to shackle himself to his child and make her more important than our marriage.

tankh21's picture

I agree with advice.only. Do your own thing because your DH chose to make his kid a priority over his wife.

Kes's picture

I was very lonely every other weekend for 10 years, after disengaging. Once, DH was on holiday with his daughters when I was having outpatient surgery.
I put up with this until they stopped coming EOW, but then I decided enough was enough. DH once started talking about taking his daughters to visit his family, this was about 3 years ago, about a year after they stopped coming. I said "why would you want to do that?" I gave him to understand it was no longer OK with me that he went and did things with them, leaving me alone, now that they are no longer children (they are 21 and 22).

I don't see why being disengaged means that you can't have boundaries. You are still a person, for heaven sake.

strugglingSM's picture

If my DH was going to plan a trip with his kids and not going to include me. I would hit the roof.

It's bad enough that whenever we go on trips alone he sits there and says "this would be more fun if my kids were here" or "I want to take my kids on this same trip next year." Um, no, you went on trips alone with BM when you were married, did you sit there the whole time and talk about how you wished your kids were there with you? I highly doubt it, so don't do the same with me!

futurobrillante99's picture

"this would be more fun if my kids were here" or "I want to take my kids on this same trip next year."

Translation: being with you just isn't good enough. Man, that would piss me off.

strugglingSM's picture

Oh, it did! There was one trip - shortly after we were engaged - where I paid for everything and he essentially ruined it because he sat around the whole time wishing his kids were there an didn't want to do things because he said it would be more fun with his kids. I was so upset at him and told him that I was upset...he still doesn't seem to have gotten the message, though.

ESMOD's picture

You have two different issues going on here.

1. I believe that BM is the PC and your DH has some visitation? In this situation, where the kids aren't with you full time, I would not be surprised if your DH did prioritize spending time with his kids when he did have custody (assuming 50% or less). Because theoretically, you are his primary concern for all the time that the kids aren't there. Now, I don't mean that he shouldn't do anything with you while they are there, but if he only has an EOWE situation etc.. it's understandable that he would want to spend his visitation with his kids. So, during that time, sure, do your own thing. But, if you have something that you need or want his involvement in, you should definitely let him know in advance so that he can plan that in too.

2. BM scheduling things on your time. Are you talking about her setting up doctor's appts and such during your DH's time? or are you talking about telling the kids they can accept invitations for things like Bday parties on his time. Or is it that the kid wants to play on a sport team and some of the practices or games might be on his time?

In the instance of Dr's appts. I would push back on that unless there is a very pressing circumstance that makes the appt during that time absolutely necessary.

Regarding the birthday party invites etc.. That should be passed before DH because she can't guaranty that he will be able to facilitate the ride to the friend's party etc... Now, it would be nice if your DH would help his kids maintain their social lives because that shouldn't have to suffer because mom and dad split BUT, if he has limited time already.. he is within his rights to ask that they not do these things on his scheduled time.

The sports teams or other activities. Those tend to be a little more difficult to deal with because most teams have a regular schedule of practices and games.... it can be difficult when the child can't attend for the team's sake. (though these days I am sure this happens more often due to split families). I think if it's possible, again he should try to enable his children to be involved but if it is a hardship due to distance, he can tell her that .... tough.. child won't participate on his time. I know we were a multiple hour round trip from my SD's home base so we rarely brought them back for weekend games... they just missed them.

strugglingSM's picture

I think it's not so much about what he does on his time when the kids are here, but it's about agreeing to things for our house or that impact our shared finances (yes, our finances are shared and DH pushes back saying "we are a family" when I talk about separating them), or agreeing to things outside the time with his kids. So, not about what he does with his time on the weekends, but that he has this separate life including decision making that doesn't include me. Just a weird thing to say "ok, husband, go off and do your own thing and decide things that will impact us without me, because I'm over dealing with your kids."

Regarding things on our time, it includes errands (she wants him to take the kids for haircuts, shopping for things "they need") and also things like BM agreeing to give rides home to SS's friends from sporting events and then demanding DH do it. Sports teams that DH wasn't consulted on that conflict with plans we'd already made (that SSs were aware of and wanted to participate. BM is of the view that because she is the CP, she gets to decide on everything for SSs and DH just has to deal with it. SSs are never forced to make choices, so they never make choices and since BM is not above signing them up for things on our weekends, like sports teams, we usually end up getting stuck doing those things. This also puts me in a pickle, because my view is that if you signed up for a sports team, you've committed and if you miss a game, you'll be letting your team down.

Last year, after we told SS we were going to sign them up for ski lessons (only on our weekends, so we did not consult with BM, even though she knew DH planned to sign them up, because she told DH "that's not a sport and I refuse to pay for it"), BM signed them up for basketball. Then she signed them up for flag football, which started two weekends after basketball ended, so one SS didn't go to all of his ski lessons. After that happened, we talked to the kids about how if they wanted to play basketball, that was fine, we just wouldn't go skiing, because we can't do everything. They agreed and both said "we want to ski" and then asked us all summer when we were going to go skiing again and whether they'd be able to take lessons again (which they both wanted). Then several weeks ago, DH gets an email from BM. "I've signed the boys up for basketball. This is the schedule." Of course, more of the games were on DH's weekends than her weekends. DH is like, "we'll just do both". I told him, we can't, so I guess we're not going skiing. DH tells BM, "well the boys will have to make a choice." BM says "absolutely not!" The kids come and say "dad, aren't you happy that we're playing basketball" and even though they are in the 6th grade, don't seem to understand that if you only spend every other weekend with dad and then you sign up for basketball which has games on Saturdays, you're not going to be able to go to ski lessons - which are also on Saturdays. One of the reasons I need to disengage is that I'm sick of planning things out in advance, only to have to cancel them at the last minute because either BM or the kids agreed to something that conflicts - especially when the things they miss that we had planned cost money. Three ski lessons (including rentals and lift tickets) cost $387 per kid. One kid went to only two last year, because of a sports team he signed up for after we had already paid for and scheduled the ski lessons. Since DH and I don't split our finances, this really makes me angry. BM always replies "it's only one weekend, can't you just ski on another weekend?" Um, no, ski season only lasts when there is snow...we only see the kids twice a month. The lessons happen in an even more compressed timeframe. That gives us about six weekends in December, January, and February to go skiing. Add four basketball games over those six weekends and flag football during the last weeks in February and that pretty much means skiing is out. In my world, that would be the answer "skiing is out", but DH wants to go skiing and he likes skiing, so he doesn't mind paying a lot of money even if we miss one of the three lessons. The kids also like skiing and want to take lessons. On their last visit with us, then spent hours every day watching skiing videos on YouTube to plan out what runs they wanted to ski, but of course, if we say to them "sorry, you signed up for basketball, so we can't go skiing" then we are punishing them and being mean. Another reason I have to disengage, because my SSs never have to make hard choices or deal with any consequences. BM does not respect boundaries and DH has a tendency to cave...all a nightmare situation for someone like me who works hard to set healthy boundaries. DH even once accused me of putting up boundaries as if that was a bad thing. I told him that any therapist would tell you that boundaries are emotionally healthy.

ESMOD's picture

Shared finances would be a problem for me. You can't disengage when money that you earn is going to support those you are disengaging from!

It would be fine to combine finances on things like your mortgage, utilities etc.. but things like groceries or vacations or kid activities should be paid proportional to who's kid is involved.

I know my DH's ex pulled the "oh they need to have X for this sport.. you should buy this weekend" etc.. it was frustrating and he would usually get the kid what they needed since BM was useless.. but I get your frustration.

Unless your DH is willing to set more boundaries with BM I would tell him that since HE can't set boundaries with her.. you will remove YOUR finances from being impacted.

princessmofo's picture

"Unless your DH is willing to set more boundaries with BM I would tell him that since HE can't set boundaries with her.. you will remove YOUR finances from being impacted."

^^^THIS 100%^^^

OP, open a separate account at an undisclosed bank just for you. But some portion of YOUR money into it. If you don't get some input into the decision making, then DH doesn't get input into how you spend YOUR money.

SugarSpice's picture

how do i cope with my husbands separate life? i work on myself and have a great time! i visit with my family and friends. i have hobbies and volunteer, i have so much to do outside of my life with dh.

when dh visits his children i stay at home. let he get all stupid and crazy and spend a lot of money on them. (we have separate finances.) i dont have to see them or interact with them.

since they all live far away i dont have to deal with them. when they constantly text him i just ignore it.

strugglingSM's picture

Unfortunately for me, I'm the wife, but not the mother, so I have all of the responsibility and none of the authority.

Acratopotes's picture

I wanted to say separate finances, but you have that covered as soon as you start your new job, your salary gets paid into your own account and you only transfer your share of the bills to the joint account. The rest is off limits to DH ...

He can huff and puff as much as he wants, if he tells you we are a family blablabla then you smile and say, yes I always though that we are a family but where I come from families decide together on how much will be spend on what activities and when, not only one person...

Then times DH have the rats, you simply do your own thing, get a hobby, join a book club, wine club.. dammit start taking pole dance lessons, not only can you entertain DH when skids are not there but you will get slim and super fit, health benefits as long as you do not join a strip club Wink

When rats are not there, make sure you and DH have a nice time, and ignore his comments I wish the skids where with us, simply pretend you did not hear it and talk about something else, he's trying to make conversation, and if he keeps up with this for 3 months then you blow your top and you tell him.... why the he;; are we married if I'm not good enough to spend time with, you only use me for sex.. yeah get evil, sometimes men needs to hear how we feel.... make it clear to him on romantic outings there will be no talk about any children....

Simply take control of your life again and do what makes you happy, it's your responsibility to make yourself happy it's not DH's responsibility to make you happy.... yes we would like it but if you sit around waiting for that to happen you are wasting your life, it will never happen..

Ispofacto's picture

As others have said, once you find a new job it sounds like you will keep your finances separate.

Missing the kids when he is doing something alone with you is annoying. In most intact families, the parents can't wait for some romantic time alone. Maybe if you start doing your own thing, it will be harder for him to take you for granted. By then, maybe you will be too busy to notice.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” - Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

notsobad's picture

My stepdad was a trucker. My Mom had her own social life because she never knew if he'd be home or not.
It's not disengagement but they definitely had separate lives. When he was home she'd cancel plans to just stay at home with him.

Once he retired he wanted her, expected her, to change her social calendar to accommodate him. He wanted her to sit home and watch TV with him all the time.
She simply said no. He was more than welcome to go to dinner, or to the play, or the market, whatever it was she's was doing, but he couldn't expect her to sit home just because hes now home all the time.

He did start going out more but then he decided that he liked his alone time. After all those years on the road he found that he didn't always want to talk to anyone.
They do have a social life but they are also independent of each other and that's a good thing.

notasm3's picture

My DH has a separate life with SS32 - but SS's demands NEVER override what we have previously planned. If DH and I have plans SS's requests go into the trash can.

My DH almost always asks me if it's okay if he goes to see SS - even though he knows I have no plans with him and don't care. SS is a part-time waiter so gets off work late. I am usually in bed. DH stays up late so quite often will go see him at 10 pm. I don't care at all. It does not impact me at all. I do not want to prevent DH from seeing his son. I just don't want to ever have to see that POS again.

Our holiday plans are never subject to interruption from SS32. First of all his GF's family trumps all. Plus DH really does put me first.