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Please listen, have to talk about Dad's marriage.

(13 Posts)
elephant123 Sat 25-Jun-11 21:28:18

I have to get this off my chest. I hope someone has the time to listen.

Namechanged as some RL people know my usual posting name and I feel terrible and ashamed to have these feelings about my father's relationship- I can't talk to my friends or family as I feel to do so would be betraying Dad.

Will try to be brief!

Dad is on his third marriage. First was mum, divorced when I was 4, did pretty good job of co-parenting despite divorce. Second was a very unpleasant woman. I realise I sound like the typical bitter step daughter but she was emotionally manipulative and very unkind to me as a child. They divorced 4.5 years ago, Dad was devastated. He was so unhappy that he was suicidal and I supported him through his grief as best I could.

Dad met third wife during the aftermath of split from wife 2. He met her on holiday. She is a much younger than him (20 years) and is from a different country with a very different culture. I don't want to say which country as trying to avoid being undeniably identifiable!! She came to live here soon after meeting him, and they married six months after she came over here.

To an outsider I know the situation looked a bit 'mail order bride', and some friends and family have been disapproving. However, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt as she is very nice and certainly less vicious than wife 2. Meeting her made Dad happy, she seemed to love him and I was glad to see him getting over his heartbreak. I think Dad is the type who doesn't care what others think of him and I think this is a good way to be.

We live close and I work with Dad so I see them regularly but until recently have not spend extended periods of time with them. Last month we all went to Wales together (me, DC1&2 (4&6), Dad, wife) DP was working abroad so did not join us.

Her behaviour and their relationship on holiday was bizarre IMO. There, I've said it!!

I don't like to be a judgeypants and I don't really understand why it has affected me so much. I would like to just let them get on with it (whatever it is) but its constantly on my mind. The main thing that upset me was that she didn't want to 'do' anything- she would have preferred to stay in the cottage than go anywhere- a walk, pub, meal out, beach. She did come out with us but I know she would have preferred not to. I talked to her to find out what she would like to do but got nowhere. Also she took every opportunity to be in bed- got up late, naps in day and to bed very early always before 8.30pm.

I know some people like to kick back and relax on holiday but at home she is a gym bunny, very active and not a 'lazy' person. One day she got up at 10am, had a couple of hours nap from 4ish then went to bed at 8ish. I asked Dad if everything was OK and he said she needs a lot of sleep and that this was usual for her.

After a few nights I asked if maybe I had upset her as she seemed not to want to be with us. Dad insisted that this was not the case.

Sorry this is so long. I feel better for typing it. I have an increasingly uncomfortable feeling that she is just tolerating my lovely father and he is blind to it. I feel truly terrible to think this way. She does look after him well and he would do anything to make her happy. I can't talk to him about it, he would be angry and upset and he won't see where I am coming from.

I am kind of hoping someone will read this and tell me to grow up, butt out and that this is within the realms of normal.

Thanks for reading this mammoth post. I would love some mumsnet wisdom- delivered gently if possible!!

deepfriedcupcake Sat 25-Jun-11 21:38:54

Glad you feel better for writing it down.

Have you met her on other occasions? What was she like then? Maybe she was having a bit of a rough week and did just need to rest up a bit. Does sound like she was being slightly odd but maybe there's some reason they didn't want to say? Maybe that's just how she is but that's not a problem for your dad?

Could you meet up with her for a night out or something and see how she is with you then?

elephant123 Sat 25-Jun-11 21:47:01

Thank you so much for wading through my post Deepfried and for taking the time to respond!

Yes have met her lots. She is very nice to me, not chatty but the cultural gap is wide and her english is good but not great (though I admire her language skills very much) but kind and very courteous. In fact the courteous bit I find a bit strange but then as I say she is from somewhere with a different way of living.

I am not too concerned whether she likes me though- its more her relationship with Dad that I am upset about if that make sense.

I am not sure if it a bit wierd of me to be so worried about my father's relationship TBH. But I can't escape the fact that it has been constantly on my mind and is making me teary and preoccupied.

squeakytoy Sat 25-Jun-11 21:48:32

Could she be pregant??

Is her english ok, maybe she felt a bit uncomfortable or struggled to keep up with conversation, or maybe she was just taking a bit of a back seat to allow you time with your dad.

Slambang Sat 25-Jun-11 21:54:15

Could it be that in her culture a wife does not generally expect to 'go out' or socialise with her husband? In many more traditional cultures women expect to stay at home (probably socialising with other women in the home). The very British idea of going for a walk is completely ridiculous and laughable to many other cultures.
It could be that her expectations of what a marriage involves are very different from yours. Your dad's marriage could still be a workable one though as long as everyone understands what each one wants,

deepfriedcupcake Sat 25-Jun-11 21:58:54

Well of course you're going to be worried about your Dad, that's part of your job as loving daughter surely? It's just a case of checking whether you're on the right track or not, and not upsetting things if you're not (which is the tricky part).

Like squeakytoy said, could it be too many people in conversation at once was a problem - we have a French friend who said she struggled to keep up when she was just learning English.

cory Sat 25-Jun-11 22:03:08

Agree that some of the things that seem normal to you might seem very odd to someone from another culture- going for a walk (my Chinese SIL needed a long time to get used to that one, and still after 15 years in Europe would never do it unless dragged out), pub (totally unacceptable for a woman in many cultures). She may have been slightly unwell for some reason or just awkward and not knowing what to do with herself in this situation.

Teapot13 Sat 25-Jun-11 22:04:42

If they seem happy, and your dad isn't bothered by the behavior, I would just try not to worry about it.

My DH's family don't speak English. (Well, some younger members do.) I happened to already know the language they speak before I met DH, but it is a foreign language for me. When I am with my in-laws I find it a bit stressful. They are wonderful people but it takes a bit more energy to keep up with the conversation, and I can't think of things to say as easily as I can in English. This on top of normal in-law discomfort takes its toll. Sometimes I just want to be by myself and read before bed, but I would probably not say that -- I would say I'm going to bed.

Your new stepmother is probably feeling some stress in her new situation.

elephant123 Sat 25-Jun-11 22:05:07

I guess it is a possibility that she could be pregnant but I don't think so. Dad said she always goes to bed very early and is not terribly keen on going out.

Her English is good but I don't think she keeps up with everything. Sometimes I feel she is maybe smiling and nodding but may not really be following. I have tried hard to include her as much as I can and tried to talk about things she may be interested in and her home country. I sometimes feel though that she would prefer to keep herself to herself.

Slambang I love your suggestions. The idea that she genuinely loves dad but has very different ideas about how a marriage works sounds good. This could mean I am worrying unnecessarily. I have to admit Dad does not seem unduly bothered. He is great fun and I think would like her to be a bit more like him in this respect but he was very unimpressed and hurt when I suggested that she was being a bit unsociable- I so wish I hadn't said anything but I got so stressed and broke my usual rule of keeping quiet and 'sleeping on it'!!

I'm another one who is thinking she may be pregnant and not yet wanting to announce it (a lot of people don't like to make a PG public until they gets past 12 weeks) - early pregnancy can make you incredibly tired. Or she may have been unwell and not wanting to make a fuss.

And I do think for the moment that you should butt out. Given that there are several possible perfectly reasonable explanations, and given that you don't say you witnessed any nastiness or unhappiness, just that she didn't want to do much and slept a lot, leave it for the time being and try not to worry.

elephant123 Sat 25-Jun-11 22:08:57

Thank you everyone for your sensitive answers. I would love to find out more about what is 'normal' in her culture. Maybe it would help me understand her and be a better step-daughter. Not sure how I can find out, don't think you can buy books on this type of thing? Maybe start another post on MN under another name!!

deepfriedcupcake Sat 25-Jun-11 22:17:59

Maybe suggest a family trip to her home town at some point?

elephant123 Sat 25-Jun-11 23:11:48

That would be a great plan deep but its a longhaul trip so although maybe we could go eventually I don't think its an option for some time.

Thanks again for your suggestions, I think maybe I need to be more tolerant!

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