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

(35 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.

IJustNeedANap Sun 01-Sep-13 19:41:43

Hmm I don't really no what to say but 1) your not disgusting or sick it does seem a bit of a weird relationship to me so I don't think your alone there. Sorry I'm to much help I'm sure someone will come along soon thanks

Hawkmoth Sun 01-Sep-13 19:42:11

What did he say when you brought it up?

RonnieScott Sun 01-Sep-13 20:01:47

Hawkmoth, he honestly doesn't see my problem, he thinks I'm completely unreasonable. He says he loves his daughter and he says I'm jealous because my Dad didn't show me (in his opinion) 'proper' love.
My father has always loved and supported me. No, he hasn't ever blown kisses down the phone to me etc, I suppose I would of been a bit freaked out if he did.

Faezy Sun 01-Sep-13 20:11:43

my dad loves me more than anything but doesn't behave like that around me. I'd be very uncomfortable if he did.

louby44 Sun 01-Sep-13 20:17:22

That is very strange. I'm very close to my dad (I'm now 44, dad is 71) and I enjoy his company but my relationship has only ever been a normal daughter/father one.

Has he put her on a pedestal do you think? How does she react around him? Does she have a boyfriend.

It sounds like he is a bit besotted.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sun 01-Sep-13 20:17:49

Counselling? I think you really need to talk it over with a professional, either alone or together. Otherwise it will definitely lead to a break up. Counselling may help you decide that a split is needed or help you both manage this. It sounds very difficult.

noisytoys Sun 01-Sep-13 20:20:39

The relationship a seems to have gone beyond the boundaries of father/daughter relationship. It doesn't sound good.

SuperiorCat Sun 01-Sep-13 20:21:16

I hope most parents love their children more than their husband / wife.

However, what you are describing sounds slightly more intense than the traditional unconditional love a parent has for a child.

IIRC there was a similar thread about Mothers and teenage boys a while ago, I'll see if I can find it....one theory seemed to be that parents realise that they are soon to lose their child to adulthood and go a bit batty about them.

SuperiorCat Sun 01-Sep-13 20:22:48
RonnieScott Sun 01-Sep-13 20:30:19

Does anyone have any suggestions where I could find a decent counselor? One that would have experience of this type of thing? Or any books? I'm seriously at the point where I want to walk but we have children and are tied up financially. I know that marriage isn't supposed to be easy but surely you shouldn't feel so completely unfulfilled and unhappy the whole time (I've felt like this for a long time). I feel like i'm trapped and living a life sentence with my husband.

ButThereAgain Sun 01-Sep-13 20:43:48

Isn't it fairly natural/common to love your children more than your spouse? Add to that the fact that, by the sound of things, the step daughter is living apart from her dad at least some of the time, which is very likely to add poignancy and intensity to his love for her, and it doesn't sound like an obviously problematic relationship.

Is there an underlying problem that you don't feel loved enough by your husband? Is that the real issue and is it making you jealous of his other natural affections?

TheWomanWhoMistookHerHusbandFo Sun 01-Sep-13 20:48:30

That is fucking weird, sorry.

I would be out of there like a shot.

Corygal Sun 01-Sep-13 20:54:36

There's more than one issue here that needs detangling - you poor thing. I would start with your least controversial one, your marriage. Book relate for a start, and start to think how much you want to stay in it.

PrincessFlirtyPants Sun 01-Sep-13 20:55:57

Yes, most people love their DC more than their spouse. The love should, however, not be the same type of love they should show their spouse.

Sorry to be blunt but your DH's behaviour doesn't sound normal. I would be very uncomfortable if my DF behaved that way to me.

I think marriage counselling may help.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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

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

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?

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.

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).

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

Playing "mum", doh!

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?

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.

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.

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?

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.

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 ��

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