When a husband loves daughter more than wife, how do you cope?

(40 Posts)
RonnieScott Sun 01-Sep-13 19:39:49

My husband (of eight years) doesn't love me. I am his housekeeper, joint wage earner, sexual partner, mother of two of his children but he gets his emotional fulfillment from his 15 year old daughter. I feel so rejected and lonely. He (and I know I will be flamed for this) acts like he is in love with her. He hangs on her every word, laughs at all her jokes, asks her opinion on everything ( and listens intently). When he is on the phone to her, he talks in a lowered voice, giggles like a teenager, he blows kisses to her and tells her how much he loves her, that he cannot wait to see her. They act like they are teenage lovers. I am invisible when she is here. I never thought I would be in this situation. I am a grown woman in my thirties and I long for mutual affection and companionship but how can I compete? I thought this would get easier but as she gets older they become more of a couple. We went on holiday last month, it was so emotionally draining. He spent the whole time trying to find excuses to be alone with her, do stuff with her. I wish I could turn a blind eye and do my own thing. I wish this whole mess didn't make me feel so rejected and unhappy. I try so hard to love her but I resent her so much and I'm starting to hate him. We had a massive row when he went to collect her this weekend. He called me disgusting and sick. I feel that he's right. This is such a mess.

VenusRising Sun 09-Nov-14 12:27:17

Wow, those cherries were a peace offering to her as he'd 'betrayed her' (in his mind) by being intimate with you,
It's classic.

I think you need to have counselling.
His relationship with you is falling apart, and his relationship with his dd is damaging to her.

He's chewed up with guilt about breaking up with her mother and 'destroying' her childhood. You are paying the price of his guilt in your relationship now.

You need joint counselling and family counselling later on, for your SDD and you.

Boomeranggirl Sun 09-Nov-14 12:15:42

One of our family members has this kind of relationship with his daughter (they are a together family) and its always appeared as though there were three in the marriage. Dad and daughter would gang up on wife in front of people and put her down, it was uncomfortable to watch. Now daughter has grown (early twenties) the best way to describe it would be 'failure to launch' - no education to speak of, no boundaries, no drive, no prospects. Still has same type of relationship with dad and mum looks quite miserable. To be fair, I think the dad has finally realised what effect this has had on her but it's too late, feels very guilty about it. Now he's just taking the view he'll have to support her financially for the foreseeable future.

Strange situation.

MarmiteMania Sat 08-Nov-14 22:00:59

Bit jealous not but jealous!

MarmiteMania Sat 08-Nov-14 22:00:16

I realise this is an old thread. I know a 'together' family where dad is besotted with his dd almost to the point of obsession. The difference is his wife doesn't feel in the slightest but threatened or jealous, simply because she is her mother and she takes delight in the fact that they are close.

It is so, so hard being a step parent- you just don't feel the same way. I know I don't.

Baker1963 Thu 06-Nov-14 20:33:03

I have the same problem but the opposite I'm a step dad to 6 grown up kids of my wife she thinks and shows more to them than me I hate it fill left out and on my own

Jenham41 Sat 02-Nov-13 17:12:49

My OH displays some similar traits towards his 6 year old daughter which I find hard but pleased that I have found this thread to reassure me that I'm not a bad person for feeling the way I do sometimes as similar feelings on here ��

PomBearArmy Sat 21-Sep-13 18:26:54

Has he been in her life consistently? I read that when people aren't around their children when they are children, but reconnect as adults, it can stir feelings of attraction.

ItsDecisionTime Fri 13-Sep-13 01:39:02

It sounds like he's over compensating for something by being over the top in his affections for her. Does he feel guilty about something that's happened in their relationship?

RonnieScott Tue 10-Sep-13 15:06:24

Thanks everyone for your honest responses, it means a lot to me. Brd girl, thank you, I always think you talk a lot of sense. I’ve ordered those books.

Yes, I do think some of this is down to me, I do have a tendency to be jealous. I do have self esteem issues. But I also know it isn’t all in my head, it’s not just me being a ‘jealous cow’. There are things that aren’t right. Some people may say I’m making something out of nothing but I believe the situation is sometimes unhealthy.

An example. We were on holiday, my DH and I were getting on fine, in fact earlier that morning before we got up, we’d made love. We’d been going through bad patch but I’d resolved to really make an effort on this holiday. We were all sitting in the living room later that morning, me DH, DSD, 2 DC. Husband suddenly gets up, goes to the fridge, takes out some cherries and puts them in a bowl and then lovingly puts them in DSDs lap. She hadn’t asked for them, it was just a spontaneous loving gesture from him. I felt like he’d kicked me full force in the stomach. I think the fact that we’d been intimate a few hours before made it worse, it hurt like Hell. It goes without saying he never does spontaneous things like this for me.
Some people may say the above example is pathetic, that I’m being pathetic. As an isolated example then yes, I probably would be. It’s just all the other examples that go with it. When she’s round our house, he won’t even sit next to me for goodness sake. He has to be constantly at her side. It seems that he’s scared to show me any ‘favour’ in case she thinks he loves her less.

Meditrina, you're probably right, if we had a stronger marriage the above wouldn’t hurt so much, maybe I wouldn’t tune in to all these things. Our communication in all areas is pretty rubbish really. We hardly connect anymore, I really worry about it, I don't think he could honestly care less though.

Noddy, he lived with her full time for 3 years, Hasn't lived with her full time for 12 years.

RonnieScott Tue 10-Sep-13 15:06:22

Thanks everyone for your honest responses, it means a lot to me. Brd girl, thank you, I always think you talk a lot of sense. I’ve ordered those books.

Yes, I do think some of this is down to me, I do have a tendency to be jealous. I do have self esteem issues. But I also know it isn’t all in my head, it’s not just me being a ‘jealous cow’. There are things that aren’t right. Some people may say I’m making something out of nothing but I believe the situation is sometimes unhealthy.

An example. We were on holiday, my DH and I were getting on fine, in fact earlier that morning before we got up, we’d made love. We’d been going through bad patch but I’d resolved to really make an effort on this holiday. We were all sitting in the living room later that morning, me DH, DSD, 2 DC. Husband suddenly gets up, goes to the fridge, takes out some cherries and puts them in a bowl and then lovingly puts them in DSDs lap. She hadn’t asked for them, it was just a spontaneous loving gesture from him. I felt like he’d kicked me full force in the stomach. I think the fact that we’d been intimate a few hours before made it worse, it hurt like Hell. It goes without saying he never does spontaneous things like this for me.
Some people may say the above example is pathetic, that I’m being pathetic. As an isolated example then yes, I probably would be. It’s just all the other examples that go with it. When she’s round our house, he won’t even sit next to me for goodness sake. He has to be constantly at her side. It seems that he’s scared to show me any ‘favour’ in case she thinks he loves her less.

Meditrina, you're probably right, if we had a stronger marriage the above wouldn’t hurt so much, maybe I wouldn’t tune in to all these things. Our communication in all areas is pretty rubbish really. We hardly connect anymore, I really worry about it, I don't think he could honestly care less though.

Noddy, he lived with her full time for 3 years, Hasn't lived with her full time for 12 years.

noddyholder Tue 10-Sep-13 14:38:43

This happened to a friend of mine and it eventually strayed into v dangerous territory which she is still dealing with now 30 plus years on. Has he ever lived with her in the family home?

Lotsofswearwords Tue 10-Sep-13 14:31:25

Playing "mum", doh!

Lotsofswearwords Tue 10-Sep-13 14:30:48

Exactly what Kaluki said.
Eerily the same, dsd playing my to dss...
And now that dss lives 50:50 with his dad, dsd has become v aggressive towards him, as if he had left her, not his mum.
Thankfully she has become v pleasant to me, but still has problems accepting that dh and I are the couple that like a bit of private time to unwind, not her adult companions, where she can just plonk herself down and "join in".
Don't get me wrong, we have a family dinner, family time and lots of chances to do 1 on 1 with either parent. But our bedtimes are earlier blush and we ask the kids to give us these moments (about an hour, give or take) alone at the TV/ DVD... Neither ds nor dss (finally) have an issue with this, so I think this is a remnant of the old days...(and dh sending out mixed messages when asking her to text in own room).

Kaluki Tue 10-Sep-13 10:44:45

I feel for you OP and brdgrl is (as usual) spot on with her advice.
My DSD was DP's mini wife when I met him. They had a strange dynamic where DSD and DP were like the parents to DSS!!! She has a very strong bossy character and was the centre of their world so when I came along it threw this strange little set up was turned on its head.
I put my foot down hard too - no way was I letting a 6 year old girl tell me where to sit (usually as far from DP as possible!) when to go to bed, what to eat etc etc.
Luckily for me DP backed me up and she eventually took her rightful place as the child of the family. If DP had refused to do this I would have walked.

meditrina Tue 10-Sep-13 06:57:03

"Isn't it fairly natural/common to love your DC more than your DH? "

There has been a little outbreak on threads about this in recent days (to the extent that journalistic research was suspected). No, it is neither normal nor common. Love doesn't set up false oppositions and comparisons between family members, and this also means that it isn't a competition between OP and her DSD. For, as a poster on one of the other threads pointed out "If I loved DW like I did DC, then my sex life would end; if I loved DC like DW I'd be arrested".

The problems in your marriage are not caused by DH's relationship with his DD, but are being shown up by your response to them. You say you feel as if you are taken for granted, and that life is stale. These are areas you can change (on the assumption you want to repair your marriage).

What aspects of your marriage have changed recently? What could you do to change them back? What is communication between you like in areas other than parenting?

caramelwaffle Mon 09-Sep-13 23:52:36

I also agree with brd This is spousification: it is insidious and destructive.

UC Thu 05-Sep-13 12:32:07

I think the love for a child and the love for a partner are different. Agree completely with everything Brdgrl says.

I wonder too how your other children feel OP. Do they also get sidelined when DSD is there? Does your DH make them feel that they also are not as important as his other DD? That would be terrible.

It sounds to me as though your DH feels guilty, and he is trying to assuage his own guilt (about not being a nuclear, full time family with his DD) by "making it up" to his DD. It really won't do her any favours. Or him. Or his other children.

Mojavewonderer Mon 02-Sep-13 18:08:45

I have to say my husband loves me more than his kids. He loves them to bits but in a totally different way. I love them both equally but in different ways. My husband says that he puts me first because I am his life partner and will be with him forever but his kids are only loaned to him and will go off and find their own partners and families when they time comes.

Emptychairs Mon 02-Sep-13 07:30:09

I second everything brdgrl says.
Dh had even admitted strangers looked at him suspiciously when out with dsd!
I also tried books (which he also read, including Covert Incest, Patricia Love) and simply explaining to him, but nothing changed his mind as much as our couple counselor. Same argument used as above, he was essentially ruining her life.
This then stopped and dsd and I have a really good relationship (she stopped hating and sidelining me).
Then I had the same routine when dh decided to be BFF with dss?! Same answer from counselor. Leave the boy alone to socialise with peers ffs.
Since about a month now things have normalized and dh tries to lead by example, his dc are notably content and feel fine towards me, no longer their perceived rival.
Without this adult team/ dc team in place a marriage cannot function.
Good luck!

mrspicklepants Mon 02-Sep-13 07:23:14

You poor thing I feel for u. Something quite similar here and it stil gets me down although we don't see as much of dsd now thank god but wen we did the change in dp was dramatic! And I lost so much respect for him.... To see him running around after a brat being told to pass them things so they don't have to get off their lazy backside,well it was too much! I started resenting her and avoiding seeing them together. I think she picked up on this and I don't know if she must have said something to dp but it became then that when she did call over my dp practically apologised for leaving the room (making me feel great!!) she is grown up and gone to uni now so defused that situation. It stil grates on me now though and it is definitely to do with the split and not being able to be around them as much as he'd like.

brdgrl Sun 01-Sep-13 21:54:29

OP, the thing that really, really, got through to my DH was not that it was hurting our relationship, but when a counselor put it to him very bluntly that he was hurting his daughter. That she wasn't being able to be a child, or have age-appropriate expectations, that he was setting her up for social failure with her peers, and that he was laying the foundation for a really dysfunctional future when it came to her own love life and relationships.
That woke him up.

DowntonTrout Sun 01-Sep-13 21:11:44

It doesn't sound like you are suggesting anything untoward is going on. More that he is a little obsessed- maybe overcompensating, but is he making you feel pushed out and how is he with the children you have together?

A couple we know had an issue a bit like this. He seemed infatuated with their older daughter. They would share little jokes at the exclusion of everyone else, twiddle with each others fingers, we would all be having a meal out together and they would be in their own little bubble. It was often uncomfortable and embarrassing.

That marriage didn't survive, not because of the father/daughter relationship but because there were all sorts of other faults in the marriage. It didn't help though. You have the added problem of it being your stepdaughter and anything you say will be seen as jealousy or resentment, but then maybe it is. I don't blame you.

nenevomito Sun 01-Sep-13 21:01:58

My DH has never behaved like that to his DD (my DSD). If he did and it was making me so unhappy, I'd consider leaving the marriage.

brdgrl Sun 01-Sep-13 21:01:32

This is called spousification, and it is all about the blurring of the boundaries between adult and child roles in a family. You aren't the one with a problem here, and don't let your DH make you feel that you are.

Sometimes it results in the daughter (or son) carrying too much adult responsibility, as when the daughter steps in to take over the traditional female housekeeping roles, or being too responsible for the father's emotional support.

Sometimes, the daughter only takes on certain more 'attractive' aspects of the maternal role - all the privileges and power of the adult role with none of the responsibility.

My DSD fit into the latter category. I know exactly where you are coming from. I spent more than two years being the housekeeper/nanny for other DSC before things really started to turn around. It is much, much better now.

I should say that I never felt that my DH loved his DD more than me, or felt that it was a competition - for one thing, it didn't look like 'adult love' - it was more that I found the whole thing incredibly irritating and it got in the way of our growing relationship. I wanted to be treated with respect, and frankly, it's not respecting your date/partner/wife to ignore them, sideline them, or refuse them privacy, or expect them to not act as head of household in their own home. I put my foot down, hard.

I recommend this book a lot, but I think it is particularly useful on the subject of roles and boundaries around the adult relationship. It is called Stepcoupling, by Susan Wisdom.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 01-Sep-13 20:56:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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