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Need some help or at least validation

Irishstepmum's picture

Long time reader, first time caller. 

I'm going out of my bloody mind over here. My partner and I have been together for 4 years and lived together for 2. The first year we lived together, everything with the kids was rainbows and unicorns. I got on with his daughter (17 now), he and my son (15 now) got on like a house on fire, and they got on together. 

After a horrid family trip where SD basically shape-shifted into a monster (literally threw a toddler temper tantrum about not being able to go to the holiday carnival in the middle of Hyde Park). When we got home, her punishment was going to a long process of earning respect and trust back. Needless to say, my SO is a complete pushover with her and she got all her privileges back in about 1/6th of the time we discussed. From that point on, she's been unbearable. Talks back, whines, eats like a toddler, forgot her manners entirely, doesn't hangout with my son anymore, fights me on everything, threatens to SO that she doesn't want to live with us anymore, has to be reminded to do anything (especially chores), and is so inconciderate and rude I dread serving dinner and am dreading Christmas with no thank yous and the inevitable complaints. 

Obviously he feeds the monster because she doesn't get punishment for anything, gets whatever she wants (literally you name is she has it-- including a brand new car), doesn't get told off when she talks back, and basically has him wrapped around the axel that she'll be depressed if he doesn't make her happy. On top of this, because I had pointed out things she's done and not done, my SO has now taken to nitpick on everything my son does and tattle tail everythign he doesn't like to me. It has caused some real big fights and a pretty general issue with us. I dread her coming over, but now I'm starting to feel I'm on eggshells when my son is over too. 

After reading around this forum, obviously I've got a Guilty Father and a Mini-Wife on my hands. I'm just at a loss because talking about it with him gets me no where but fighting and animosity and accusations that I don't 'like' his daughter. Trying to talk with her is PURELY useless. I've tried to just disengage where I can, but it's maddening to have such a good relationship being torn at the seams by teen angst and poor parenting choices. 

Rags's picture

Tell him that it is time for him to man up, be your partner, put his failed family spawn in her place, or get out.

Be clear, inform him of exactly what is required for him to remain your partner.  

Do not tolerate anything less.

ndc's picture

Perhaps it's time to live separately until his daughter and your son launch.  Date, spend time together, but don't live together.  I would suggest it, because maybe the prospect of that will have him up his parenting. If not, I would think from what you've described that you'd be happier living elsewhere.  How is your son doing with all this?

Kes's picture

It's not unusual for partners (it's usually Dads) to use the whine "you don't like my child/ren" as an excuse for their poor or non-existent parenting of their offspring. I pointed out to my DH on more than one occasion that nobody would like his daughters when they behaved in an obnoxious manner, as was their habit.  If your partner won't see the light about his mini-wife then perhaps do as ndc says and live separately.  Though tbh, I think my attraction to someone who colluded with mini-wifedom might quickly wane. 

Irishstepmum's picture

Thank you all so much for the advice. I decided to try to talk with my SO and we ended up agreeing to see a couple's therapist together. Which we did last night. I am not typically an emotional person (except being quite quick to anger) but wow, once we got to talking about how this thing all started and what's been happening... I lost it entirely. 

I think it opened his eyes to the fact that I'm not just over here plotting to be a captial B to his little girl, I'm trying to survive the daily tiny (or sometimes not so) slights from her until it's death by a thousand paper cuts and I explode. 

Unfortunately, there's still a lot of work to be done for all three of us. She's back doing something she hasn't done in some time which is pit her BM against SO which usually results in him receiving a long email (generally calling me a name or two). But I think those will become less shocking if he can realise that we can be a united front. BM/Ex is a therapist herself and has really both done a number on SD, but also gives her language to manipulate her father. 

But this seems to be a hopeful first step. Have others gone to counseling as either a couple or a family? 

Merry's picture

I can totally relate to not being emotional -- until I am. Then there's no turning back until the faucet of tears is dry. You've been holding all this in for SO LONG, and it was actually healthy for your DH and therapist to see all that.

That your partner agreed to see a therapist is a really promising sign. When my DH and I were having some issues we both saw individual therapists, which helped us both tremendously. I wanted to continue on with couples counseling, but he didn't want to, and I didn't push it. He continues to see his own therapist periodically for a "tune up" and I'm satisfied with that.

This IS a lot of work, and I hope you and he will both actually DO the work of coming back together and putting your relationship first. His daughter WILL NOT LIKE it because she will lose power over him, so be prepared for that and his backsliding. But hold him (and yourself) accountable for the changes you agree to make.

I hope you're on the road to happiness.