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WaterOffaDucksBack's picture
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Please tell me disengagement gets easier with time...

DH and I overall have a great marriage - except where SD22 is concerned (as it seems is an unfortunate common thread amongst many of us SP). I think our marriage is continuing to improve and strengthen since I've become disengaged from SD22. However, I am having a difficult time with him not sharing this part of his life with me. I should probably count myself lucky, but it bothers me that he chooses not to mention when he has talked to SD22. I know it's silly,  (and possibly controlling on my end) but I would still like to know when he talks to her, what is discussed, etc. Typing this out is helping me realize that that is the opposite of what I am ultimately desiring... but it still hurts and makes me feel somewhat rejected. 

Any tips on how to make the process of disengagement easier? Or does it simply take time and discipline?

fairyo's picture

You can't have it both ways- and also DH will get confused if you say you don't want to know and then you say you do. Find things to do that will take your focus from her and put it back on yourself- where it belongs.

WaterOffaDucksBack's picture

I haven't told DH that I want to disengage from SD22, but I think he's noticed me pulling back from her in general. DH has always been more private and reserved regarding SD22 than he has ever been with any other aspect of his life with me. It hurts that he has helped build that wall between he and I, and between me and SD22. I'm just tired of being constantly disrespected by SD22... I will continue working on myself and what I can control. Thank you!

Curious Georgetta's picture

To disengage and you seem satisfied with that state for you.

If you love him , recognize that he too has the right to conduct his relationship with her as he seems appropriate.

He is respecting your disengagement and not trying to control or intrude.  You owe him the same respect. Allow him to have his interactions without your need/desire to know what he discusses in a relationship from which you are disengaged.

You decided, based upon her actions,

that you no longer wanted the cake so now you cannot expect to eat it

Enjoy your new found freedom and stop giving her space in your head. 

 

tog redux's picture

Why do you need to know when he talks to SD? DH sometimes tells me he's spoken to SS, but not always. I don't care, as long as he tells me if SS is coming over or something that affects me.

Sounds like, in some ways, you feel jealous of his relationship with SD?

 

WaterOffaDucksBack's picture

I think that I am more concerned about the idea of her coming to visit and intruding on our life, and DH not telling me until she's physically on her way to our home. DH has a history of not sharing plans that are made with me until the last possible minute  (ie SD will be here in 10-30 min, and he will have made the plans possibly weeks before her actual arrival!). I have discussed this with DH, and he just doesn't get it because it's his princess. But DH will tell me as soon as he knows my MIL or other friends and family are planning on visiting with us. I don't understand this. I'm assuming it's because DH is conflict-avoidant, and he knows SD22 and I do not get along well. Why else would he wait until the last possible minute to tell me?

still learning's picture

My DH does the same thing with ss33. He'll tell me about 10 minutes before ss is coming over.  I would prefer to have notice so I can gracefully escape. On the bright side there's no time to roll out the royal carpet, make him a meal o make him extra comfy.  

WaterOffaDucksBack's picture

Lol that is true! I used to try and frantically clean up the house before in the little bit of time I had before SD22's arrival, but now I longer bother! The house is what it is, and if DH wants it to be cleaner when SD22 visits then he can clean it himself (has yet to happen). If I find the visit becoming too much I have some of my coworkers call me after I text them that I'm needed to work (i take A LOT of call for work), or I tell DH I have some errands to run and offer to take our DS with me.

sammigirl's picture

Same story here.   He sneaks the visit in this way. 

My SD57 texts her Dad on her way to our house, then presents herself minutes later.  

I told DH to always let me know if STEPKIDS and family are coming.  WELL, DH let's me know, just when he knows.  So can't say he didn't.  He knows he is also sneaking it up on me.

It is a game I don't play.  The door is latched; SD57 has to wait until I go to let them in.  I never do the hostess gig, I am cool, but civil.  When they leave, they show themselves out, no goodbyes.

My DH is disabled, therefore they are at my fireside, without smores, thus they don't stay long.   

Figure out how to get around them, by being a "cool "  hostess with no hostess skills.  Let your DH be it.  Sit down and do absolutely nothing, say nothing, hear nothing, whatever...this I do.

lieutenant_dad's picture

I do understand this, OP, especially if SD has been a drama queen/st*t stirrer, etc in the past.

I don't want to deal with BM/MIL/SSis BS, but at the same time, I don't want to not know what is happening. I want to be prepared for the onslaught of crazy, but that requires engagement. It's this fine line I walk.

So, here is my practical solution foe you: prepare for the worst but hope for the best. You likely know what shenanigans your SD will pull, so just assume she will pull them. If you think DH will drain a joint savings account, then set up a separate account that just had your name on it. If you know your DH will ask her to visit at Christmas, go ahead and start making plans to be away.

It's a bit like living in an area that gets a lot of hurricanes. You know they are coming, so you stockpile supplies, have an evacuation plan, keep a list of family members you can rely on for support, etc. Maybe the hurricane is little and nothing happens. Maybe it's huge and wipes everything away. Either way, you're ready for whatever awaits you, even if you didn't hear the latest weather report.

Try taking a similar approach. Assume they chat. Assume sh*t is always brewing. Prepare yourself as best as possible. Keep living your life as if the next hurricane isn't coming, because even when it does, you'll pick up right where you left off before it hit.

WaterOffaDucksBack's picture

Your response was so beautifully written... exactly what I wanted to say AND express how I am genuinely feeling.

I know I have yet to write about my past experiences with SD22, but the short version is that she created such an incredibly toxic environment in our home when she was living with us that DH and I almost divorced. She created a very tumultuous, hostile home environment that DH, for whatever unknown reason, failed to see and kept telling me I was crazy, that if I continued complaining about SD22 he would leave me since I had it out for her, even though we had just had a new baby... Seriously?! You want to leave the mother of your newborn son over an "adult"?! SD22 is honestly the most lazy, selfish, disrespectful person i have ever had the displeasure of knowing. I'm clearly still reeling from those threats (more to write about in the future).

You and I seem very similar, lieutenant_dad, as I am a planner also. I plan my life out years, decades even, in advance lol. There are some changes happening soon in SD22's life as her maternal grandparents she has been living with and leeching off of (in their mid-70s!) have placed their home for sale and are planning to retire in a different state that SD22 does not want to move to. I am concerned that this will cause either her to move back in with me and DH (not an option as far as I'm concerned, and I pray DH doesn't think it is either), or she moves in with her BM and tries to mooch off of her; which then makes me worry DH's  XW will pretend SD22 is a minor and try to bleed him/us dry financially and constantly be involved in our lives again since SD22 cannot possibly do anything for herself, or simply grow up and act like an independent adult. 

Like you said, I need to prepare for the upcoming storm and protect myself and my family to the best of my ability. We already have separate accounts and I control the finances and bills (DH gives me a set amount each month), as I have major trust issues from my XH constantly overdrswing our account when we were together. After l left him I vowed to never allow myself or my children to be in that kind of financial position. After reading your reply I spoke with DH and we both agreed no cosigning for any loans (car, student, apartments,  etc) for our children. I have also already made plans to be on call for work Dec 24th and Dec 25th so it won't matter when SD22 decides to grace us with her presence and an outstretched hand for receiving presents (but never to give any of her own).

I will continue to prepare for the storm.

2Tired4Drama's picture

I certainly have not perfected it and it's been years for me!   But I completely understand where you are coming from when you talk about how conflicted you are emotionally.  Disengaging is very beneficial but it's also HARD sometimes!

It is extremely difficult to be committed to someone yet know there is a very important part of their life which you cannot be a part of.  In our case, it's skids.  In other people's lives it may be a meddling mother-in-law.  Or overbearing sibling.   

I think that disengaging from skids is actually more difficult though.  If you disengage from your mother-in-law most people are understanding and can sympathize - even your spouse/partner.  If you disengage from a skid it's seen in a much more negative light since many parents have a blind eye to their children, no matter how old they are.   Add in the complex situation of divorce and it makes it even worse.

When we disengage, I think a lot of us have similar experiences to yours.  It feels like our partner has a "secret" they are keeping from us and in a way they do.  That's never a nice feeling.  It's even worse when your own life and family is a welcoming and open book for your partner - yet you are closed off from a primary element of his.  It's never good to have this kind of imbalance even if you seek it out willingly ... like disengaging.  

In my mind, disengagement is the lesser of two evils.  You do avoid the drama of regular contact and involvement with skids but it is replaced by a silence which can be maddening.   I can sit and talk with my SO about the foibles and follies of my own family and he has no problem providing his viewpoint but his daughter is absolutely off-limits.  This can be frustrating since he has no problem giving "constructive criticism" about what he thinks of my family members' actions and what my response should be, yet if I were to try to comment on his daughter's actions he will literally get up, leave the room and mope/pout for quite a while afterwards.  So I don't do it anymore.  Thus, he has a whole segment of his life (including his emotional life) which is shut off to me.  Fundamentally, this does affect the overall intimacy of the entire relationship.   Our partners are supposed to be our harbor from the storms of life.   When they have shut down a whole segment of themselves it can't help but affect the closeness the couple experiences.  That's the sad part and it's also the part where you can "slip" and make the mistake to try and re-engage again.  

In your case, I believe you have a child with your DH which makes a world of difference.  You have your child who brings you together and that is a strong foundation to have.  Disengaging from an adult skid is then not as dramatic in the great scheme of things.  When there is no "us" child it makes disengaging more fraught with imbalance.   

But I must say that disengaging has helped in many regards - I don't say anything about his daughter unless absolutely necessary.  I don't spend money on her anymore.  I don't waste any time trying to think of ways to successfully engage with her since I know now it won't ever happen.  I have accepted that I will never have a relationship with her.  I have directed my emotional energy towards people who I know love me and appreciate having me in their lives.  Even when I learn of things going on in SD's life that my SO doesn't know about, I keep mum.  I leave his relationship with her for him to manage and that includes any news.  

The bad news is that I find it does affect what I choose to share with my SO about my own life.  I sometimes find myself holding back some things about my own family now, since I don't like the imbalance.  I figure he doesn't tell me about SD or how he feels about her actions, why should my family continue to be an open book?   The result is we both have sections of our life we don't share.

There are many couples who have such situations and they learn to navigate it.  And that's what I'm trying to do - take it as it comes. 

tog redux's picture

For me, disengagement doesn't mean I never talk about SS or anything related to the drama.  If DH brings it up, I'll talk about it, I just don't tell him what to do or how to handle it. If he asks my advice on how to handle it, I'll give it, but if he wants to do it differently, that's fine.  Similar to how I might handle giving him advice about a work issue. I'd say my piece and then let it go.  I wouldn't ask him over and over, or demand to know when he's dealt with it, etc.

For example, he's got a pending court date.  I put all of my ideas of what he should do in a Google Drive document, and then let him take or leave them as needed.  We discuss it a bit, but ultimately, it's his call how to handle it.

I don't think disengagement HAS to be "don't ever talk to me about your kid again".  It's more about "I don't get myself all tied up in knots trying to control how DH handles things".

WaterOffaDucksBack's picture

Thank you tog redux for your great advice! I know I have read others mention this before to view SK you're disengaging from as a coworker or a friend of DH's that you tolerate for him. I will try to keep that in mind when SD22 visits. She is a guest, not a member of my family. Her impact on myself is trivial and inconsequential, and only I can decide if that changes. 

MissTexas's picture

That post makes sense. If one is withholding information, then sooner or later it seems the other spouse would too. That would be tough, as it would feel like emotional partitioning, and eventually it seems it would create a rift in the marriage.

I like what one poster wrote, (I'm paraphrasing) You're disengaging from SD, not your spouse, and not talking about it with him is disengaging from him. To a degree, I can agree.

Some have DH's who talk freely to SD's in their presence, and some do not. I don't know what's better or worse, in the presence of or in the absence of. I think it depends on the history. Some have DH's who have triangulated their marriages. They typical thing that seems to happen is, DH has a problem with something the wife has said or done, but since he is non-confrontational, he runs to SD to tell her about it (in hopes of gaining support emotionally, which can develop into emotional insest). The wife ends up looking like the bad guy and feeling like the outsider in her own marriage. This is never good, as it will breed feelings of doubt and insecurity which were never there.

In this instance I don't think jealousy drives the upset, but rather, the feeling of collusion and exclusion.

As one poste wrote, DH's are supposed to be our safe haven.

Soul search yourself and ask why you feel the way you do. That's the starting point. WHen you do this, and have self-efficacy, the next step will follow.

Keep us posted.

WaterOffaDucksBack's picture

I think it is more the collusion and seclusion, being isolated from this part of DH's life.  I do not care if they get together, and actually encouraged  DH to visit SD22 by himself next time, but he can't stand being by himself with her lol. If whatever they talked about truly mattered it affected me, I know DH would tell me. Here it is weeks later and still crickets...

MissTexas's picture

That post makes sense. If one is withholding information, then sooner or later it seems the other spouse would too. That would be tough, as it would feel like emotional partitioning, and eventually it seems it would create a rift in the marriage.

I like what one poster wrote, (I'm paraphrasing) You're disengaging from SD, not your spouse, and not talking about it with him is disengaging from him. To a degree, I can agree.

Some have DH's who talk freely to SD's in their presence, and some do not. I don't know what's better or worse, in the presence of or in the absence of. I think it depends on the history. Some have DH's who have triangulated their marriages. They typical thing that seems to happen is, DH has a problem with something the wife has said or done, but since he is non-confrontational, he runs to SD to tell her about it (in hopes of gaining support emotionally, which can develop into emotional insest). The wife ends up looking like the bad guy and feeling like the outsider in her own marriage. This is never good, as it will breed feelings of doubt and insecurity which were never there.

In this instance I don't think jealousy drives the upset, but rather, the feeling of collusion and exclusion.

As one poste wrote, DH's are supposed to be our safe haven.

Soul search yourself and ask why you feel the way you do. That's the starting point. WHen you do this, and have self-efficacy, the next step will follow.

Keep us posted.

WaterOffaDucksBack's picture

You are absolutely right 2T4D! DH has always been a more private person than I am overall, and has just recently started to open up more to me regarding work and issues with some of his family members. However, I'm clearly not part of the "needs to know" club when it concerns my SD22. I hate that DH has helped to create this wall between me and SD22, and also between DH and me. 

I have learned over the years that SD22, she who shall not be named, is synonymous with divorce when the slightest negative comment is made to DH about her. So, disengagement seemed the only reasonable solution for us to help save our marriage. A large part of me wishes it could be different, but I have accepted that that will never be a reality for us. DH has some serious guilt issues regarding SD22 that he will never resolve, as he is extremely against seeking counseling for himself unfortunately 

I think that having our DS4 together definitely strengthens our bonds with each other, and he is clearly DH's favorite of all 3 kids. But his allegiance still seems to be with SD22 over me, and that is hurtful. Who in their right mind would threaten divorce to their spouse when they just had a child together, because the SM pointed out factual  (albeit negative) observations about the adult SD?!   

Like you, 2T4D, I do not care for the imbalance these secrets create between us, but I do very much appreciate the drama that has become minimized in my life due to becoming disengaged from SD22. One day at a time, right?

futurobrillante99's picture

Obviously something is eating at you and it’s probably that they are hatching plans or he’s spending money that might affect you.

You have every right to expect him to be upfront and transparent about any agreements with SD that affect you. Scheduling visits and spending money if your funds are jointly held are things you should have a say about regardless of disengagement.

hereiam's picture

I am disengaged from my SD27 but I still have conversations with my DH about her. He tells me about their conversations (usually, I'm in the room when he talks to her) and we discuss what is going on in her life.

I've never felt the need to disengage from my husband, as far as his daughter is concerned. Since I am indifferent when it comes to her, talking about her doesn't bother me at all. I like to know what is going on so that I can be prepared for anything that might happen. It is also reassuring when I hear my DH tell me that he knows that his daughter is just trying to manipulate him. I know that I don't have to worry about him falling for her bullshit.

It is totally possible to be disengaged, yet informed. I'm not sure where the idea came from that being disengaged from somebody means that you can't even talk about the person or the situation. How can that happen when your SD is still a part of your husband's life and he is a part of yours?

For me, disengagement is more emotional and I have no emotions for my SD, DH can talk about her all he wants. I have very little to do with SD, herself. I don't talk to her on the phone, I don't suggest visits, I don't remind DH about her birthday or to call her on holidays, but talking about her is a non-issue for me. For some people, it's a trigger, and maybe that is what takes times, getting to the point of indifference so that you don't have to disengage from that part of your husband's life. Because not talking to your husband about her, at all, is disengaging from your husband, not his daughter. And from what I've read, it then starts to feel like your husband has a mistress.

You have to decide what you are comfortable with. If you still want to know a little bit about what is going on, let your husband know that although you want nothing to do with SD, personally, you are willing to to be his sounding board if he wants to talk about her.

 

WaterOffaDucksBack's picture

"It is totally possible to be disengaged, yet informed. "

This is my goal! To be emotionally uninvolved where SD22 is concerned, so that DH can feel he can share everything with me. I am a planner and hate being in the dark!

Rags's picture

Disengagement from toxic elements of a blended family and open book communication between equity life partners are two separate things.  Partners should communicate.  Cutting interface with a toxic Skid does not mean that you turn into a mushroom to be kept in the dark and fed bullshit by your partner regarding Skid communication and issues.

Though I detest the SpermClan, I do care that they are important to my son (Skid).  So, when we speak with him, I enquire as to how they are doing. I do not engage with them at all. But I want my Skid to know that he can speak with me about them and that I am interested because they may  be important to him.  There are no indicators that they are, but.........

Merry's picture

Disengagement got easier for me. And my relationship with the skids improved.

I didn't make any announcements about disengaging, I just backed away from self-imposed responsibility. "DH, I think it makes more sense for you to buy the gifts for your family." If I don't feel like talking about his kids, I turn the coversation to something else.

That's not to say all is perfect in Merryville. I DO make my voice heard when DH's actions impact ME. Taking calls from SD and SS when we are on a date is a big fat no-go. Took me taking the car and leaving DH stranded for him to learn that lesson. DH and SS making plans for what DH and I will be doing is also a no-go. Whatever they "decided" is the one thing I will most certainly NOT be doing.

My issues are not with the skids. It is entirely with DH. I used to try to let it go, but that didn't work. There wan an inevitable blow up that wasn't fair to either of us. So, I've learned to say what was on my mind. I might wait a day or two if one part of my brain (or heart) tells me it's not a big deal, but if I'm still bothered by it two or three days later, then it IS a big deal.

In the case of your DH not telling you that the skid will visit in three minutes instead of three days, there must be consequences for him. It would be enough for my DH to tell him that it really hurts my feelings that he thinks it's ok to do that and take my presence for granted. Your DH might need something stronger to get the message. You have to make it more painful for him NOT to tell you.

MissTexas's picture

They do this so they don't have to hear anything about it, or allow you to protest or leave. After all, SOMEONE has to cook and clean up after them!

This used to happen, and slowly we have worked on the concept of they must call in advance and ask if we have plans. Our pastor told DH that he MUST tell SKs, "I'll have to check with DW and get back to you." That is nice, but it was short-lived. We are in remediation now.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

I have right of first refusal for stepbrat visits. That won’t stop when stepbrat ages out. I don’t tolerate last minute changes and there would be hell to pay and my DH knows it.

CANYOUHELP's picture

It is better not to know than to be part of the sick mess they have all created. I figure these are not people I would associate with anyway; given my treatment.  So...I do not care about people who act like this....

It does hurt that there are "secrets."  But, how bad could they be?  My money and our money is safe....and, even if they are talking about me (I think he learned to not do that years ago); they never see me and I am living a peaceful, happy life without their sick family drama 99.9 of the time. You can bet the drama will continue in that sick family, with or without us anyway.

I know I cannot have it both ways, and in some ways, that is a relief for me too.....do you really want to know?  You are above all this insanity.