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My Stepdaughter Is Making My Life Miserable - My Wife Won't Help!

distressed6's picture

I live with my wife and her 2 children for 5 years now. I should explain - I absolutely adore my wife, I believe she is one of the best things that happened in my life. My relationship with her 11-year old son is also amazing, him and me are super close. He even spends more time with me than with my wife - his interests do not differ very much to the ones I had when I was his age, so we get to play together a lot. Her 10-year old daughter though, that's a completely different story.

Everything came gradually to a point I cannot take it any more. I noticed she always had aggressive behaviour to anyone ( friend, family, even other kids) who spent even a little time with my wife, trying to to cut them off (being very rude most of the times) or becoming naughty to draw my wife's attention. I am sure now that's, among others, the main reason she's doing all this to me : She thinks I am ''taking her mum away from her''.

I should also explain that I really sweated on building our relationship, forgiving her rude and illogical behaviour, talking to her for hours and sometimes giving her much more than her brother, trying to win her love. In the beginning things seemed controllable : as long as she had to earn something she was nice, but after that, back to the normal behaviour : All-day-long whining, rude cut-ins when me and my wife were talking or had a moment alone, rude behaviour in general, cries for nothing and always so nerve-wracking noisy, trying to draw attention.

My wife's response to that? Nothing. When I tried to talk about it? Denial. I do understand she suffered quite enough with her ex, but I had to convince her to toughen up and face the problem before it got worse and not to throw an excuse every time.

As the years passed, my stepdaughter's behaviour became more and more intense, even when she had to earn something. She became rude and problematic with people she did not like, started ruining almost every family moment, and, more important, she became manipulative to my wife. I tried to give her more time with her mum, but she apparently wanted it all for her self. Even though some serious events (like spitting me because I decided to take a different path to the one she wanted during a family walk, screaming hysterically "I will make mum get a divorce etc. " or lying for things that I didn't do, thankfully proven, pulling my hair or even hit me) made my wife realise her daughter was no angel. But even after that and off course lots and lots of talks, my wife admitted she didn't have the psychological strength to act.

My stepdaughter's manipulating skills develop day by day. She skilfully finds the weak points in my wife's mother instinct, using them to get off the hook. With bursting into cries, she will have her mother hug her tightly, no matter what she did moments ago. With whining, she always gets what she wants. With her attitude, she literally rules the house, she will do anything she can in order do what she put in her mind without caring for the consequences. Therefore, the mood of the family is completely depended on her mood. By the way, her brother suffers from her manipulative behaviour too. It' s him who becomes the ''punching bag'' when I'm not home or manage to escape.

I know the first one to blame is myself, but I can be patient no more. This is an every day thing, it always finds me, I can't run, I can't hide. And this is the only reason to argue with my wife any more, apart from that we would be perfect. I know she's been through hell but she has to put her past life behind her and take care of that one. She barely finds the courage to protect me from her daughter and when I try to do this myself, I find my stepdaughter talking back ten times harder or even worse, my wife shouting at me for ''abusing'' her daughter while my stepdaughter is looking at me with a sinister smile from behind her back. When I try to talk about it later and in a low tone, she avoids the conversation or becomes an all-out attacker trying to find points to blame me or to tell me that I am the grown-up etc.

Having completely lost any defence for myself, I find myself desperate, feeling the pressure becoming unbearable. Walking away is the coward's option, ruining mine, my wife's and my stepson's life, with only my stepdaughter getting what she wanted once more.

Any ideas...?

paul_in_utah's picture

That sucks man - very similar to my situation. My wife also has the blinders on when it comes to her daughter, at least most of the time. The only thing that I would recommend to you is to disengage. This is what I did, and it helped a lot. I now have nothing to do with my SD17, and DW is fine with that. She never has to be the "bad guy" because I am no longer pointing out bad behavior from SD17. Of course, I am no longer helping with SD either.

Shannon61's picture

Good advice. It's a tough situation, but try not to allow it to make your household completly miserable. Disengaging is an excellent way to keep your sanity and keep SD from her playing her petty games because you'll no longer be reactive. Give DW some time and she may come around to seeing SD for who she really is. And it sounds like SD is going to need some counseling in the future. Prepare to ride it out and hopefully she'll be going off to college in 7-8 years. Hang in there.

I've dealt the same thing w/an adult SD (27). After moving in with her and DH 3 years ago), we had one issue after another w/SD. I too felt that SD felt I was trying to take daddy away and I recommended DH have a talk to her. 99% of our arguments were regarding SD. Her BM put her through hell regarding DH so she had attachment issues. DH even admitted that he should have gotten her counseling. So I basically disengaged. I'll speak and chit chit a little, but that's about it . . no affection or anything sappy like that.

I feel that SD was being such a bitch because she wanted me to end the marriage and leave. Didn't work. She thought DH would chose her over me, didn't happen. She's moving soon and getting married next year. Our relationship is strained at best. Once I disengaged, all the petty games, annoyances and other BS slowly ceased, because I was no longer a participant. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a SD.

Beat her at her own game and good luck.

Goneforsix's picture

This is a great story - exactly what I need to do. Congratulations on taking control!

jojo68's picture

I think most of us on here feel your pain. It is frustrating to see a child literally run your home. It is also frustrating to work really hard in a relationship and a family to make it all run smoothly and then have a manipulative child turn everything upside down. I totally agree with the above poster...disengage from the situation. It is very hard. I ignore my SD10 for the most part because I am not going to be a part of her immature, ridiculous bahavior. But in the rare instances that she acts decent, I do connect with her. I don't dislike my SD, I dislike her personality, lies, and most of all her manipulation. You can't blame her totally though cause one can only manipulate a willing participant. JMHO

CDalla's picture

Disengaging is the answer. I am in a very similar situation and really feel for you. Hopefully you can learn earlier than I did. SDs for some reason look to push your buttons and if you can disengage you beat that. I stopped asking why. I also let my guilt go by assuring myself I had done everything I could. Also I really pushed the responsibility back onto the parent. Sorry your partner sounds lovely but these guilt ridden adults need to toughen up and start parenting. Wish you all the best. Do not underestimate the wonderful work you have done. You have to give yourself credit. There is now an energy shift you need to do to deflect all this negativity this child is able to project onto you.

SM again's picture

I agree with the disengaging. As hard as it may be to disengage from her and still have a relationship with your SS. Does she have her biodad in her life? From the sounds of how bad your wife's and ex relationship was I'm guessing not? Maybe next time she says something rude or mean to you tell her your plans of disengaging. She's old enough to understand the I'm not going to take your behavior anymore and you are not going to ruin your moms and I's marriage. I disengaged (very recently) and I think my SD10 is starting to realize being separated from all the fun and family stuff I do with my two BD's 6&12 she is starting to think twice about her behavior. Now when SD acts out, I just give my fiancé that look and he steps up and takes care of it. In fact as we speak he is at her Xmas program without us. Good luck to you, it's a lot of work. Believe me, I almost called it quits last week. Hang in there, your relationship with your wife is the most important thing. As I told my fiancé last week, we are going to be the ones left standing when the kids are raised and gone away from home.

Rags's picture

This is a kid that needs to learn that crappy behavior with other people gets her cut off from any access to other people.  She can learn to love standing in a remote dark corner holding up intersecting walls with her nose, or in an empty room alone sitting in a chair in the middle of the room all by herself for hours and hours on end.

If she behaves and treats others with respect, she participates. If not..... she suffers.

Lather, rinse, repeat. As long as it takes to deliver clarity.