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Please someone tell me how to handle this....(13 Posts)
I hope someone can give me some advice/ insight - I will try not to make this longer than it needs to be....
My parents split up when I was 11 (30 years ago!). We were living abroad and my dad had been having an affair with a much younger (17yrs younger) woman who he subsequently married and is now my SM.
We moved back to the UK, my dad had 2 kids (now grown up) with his wife and still lives abroad. For the rest of my childhood we saw them maybe a week or two a year plus a couple of short visits from my dad to the UK.
The relationship with my SM has always been difficult. I never rejected her, demanded to see my dad without her or kicked up any sort of fuss - from my dad's point of view it was always important to make her feel comfortable - that was clear - and my sister and I picked up on this and I think were just desperate to be with my dad when we could.
I went through a couple of holidays with them being a bit sulky though - typical teenage stuff - really nothing more than being fairly monosyllabic. This was used from then on as evidence that I was extremely difficult. My SM obviously found it very trying to spend time with my sister and me.
When my dad moved back to the UK in my early 20s (close to where I was living) I was banned from their house (no reason given). I had to meet my dad at the pub if I wanted to see him. I found this deeply distressing but when I confronted my dad about it he said he couldn't do anything, my SM would leave him.
I was eventually allowed to visit them again but my dad asked me every time not to "seem too happy", not to talk about my job or fun things I was doing because it made my SM jealous.
I sat down with them both and said I wanted to put the past behind us, and forge a good relationship with them and would do everything I could to achieve that.
Since then (15 years now?) I have been SO careful to never put a foot wrong. However cold my SM has been I have been polite, charming, grateful etc etc I have basically pretended there isn't an issue - as has my dad. Though we still see them pretty rarely - maybe stay 2 nights a year at their house.
I have however built a better relationship with my dad - we skype often and I feel we are much closer.
I now have 2 children who adore my dad but have met my SM only a handful of times. Recent visits have been very strained - she is clearly not happy we are there.
Over a week's holiday this summer (a rare event) her dislike of us and determination to avoid spending time with us became so obvious that the kids were noticing as were other old family friends who we were were spending time with. She also prevented my dad spending time with us. She said "What am i supposed to do while you are playing grandad?". When we got back I felt I had to speak to my dad about it. Apparently she says, we are not her children, my kids are not her grandchildren, any time she sees us it reminds her that she is the 2nd wife and she doesnt want that reminder. (My dad was married when they met remember). I get the feeling we are "banned" again.
My dad says they have been having huge rows about it, her behaviour is appalling, he thinks she needs counseling, he says even HER parents think her behaviour is awful and totally unjustified but he doesn't know what to do about it.
I find it very difficult that my dad allows her to treat me like this. And now I feel my kids are getting sucked in to this poison.
My question is how should I handle this? The injustice eats away at me. All I have ever wanted from the day my parents divorced is to be accepted by her and be part of the family.
Sorry this is so long. Had to get it off my chest.
I am very sorry for your situation as it sounds horrible and that you have done your utmost to act with dignity and respect. If you can try to keep the communication open with your dad otherwise she will get exactly what she wants and ruin things completely between you both. Sorry I can't be more helpful and good luck with how things proceed.
That sounds like such a hurtful situation, Kitsilano.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to change your SM's behaviour: only she can do that. It seems she has unresolved jealousy WRT to your Dad's relationship to you and now to his grandchildren, but they are precisely that: her issues.
Your Dad is also choosing to let himself be controlled by her -- ie. by caving in to her when she says "What am i supposed to do while you are playing grandad?". Again, very unfortunate for you and your children, but also his choice.
All you can do is make your feelings and needs clear WRT to each of them: eg. 'Dad, I would love you to spend more time with your grandchildren and it upsets me that you only spent x amount of time with us when we spent a week with you this summer.' Or, "SM, I would like my children to see their granfather (and you) for x amount of time over Christmas break this year. Can we make a plan to do that?" After that, their reaction to your requests is up to them. If you are hurt by their reactions, repeatedly, then there may come a time when you choose to take steps to reduce those hurtful interactions -- ie. by spending less or no time in their physical presence.
It would be so much better if your SM could get over herself, and if your Dad could stand up to her manipulations, of course. But that ideal you are hoping for may never happen. And it will be through no fault of your own. You can't make them behave any differently.
Thanks for your replies. Cutting off contact with my dad does cross my mind. I find it very difficult to accept and understand how he can love me and yet let my SM treat me in this way. Sometimes I wonder if it would all hurt less if I decided to distance myself entirely. And I feel my dad tries to pretend its all ok - this would send a clear message as to the pain she has caused. But then she would have "won" and I would lose my dad.
I understand your feelings. They do seem to be very much focused on your SM, though: sending her a message about the pain she has caused, and not letting her "win".
How about taking SM out of the equation? What you ultimately want is time with your Dad, for you and your children. It's between you and your Dad; SM is just muddying the waters.
He's a grown man, and it's his choice whether to give you that time or not. Ask for it. Tell him how it feels to you to see so little of him. Keep SM out of it: don't blame her, or whatever. Ask your Dad for what you want from him. If he brings SM up ("Oh, but your SM won't want that"), ignore it and reiterate your needs: "I want to see you. I love you and I need time with my Dad."
See if he can hear that and respond to it. If he can't, then he is the one choosing to lose his daughter. You aren't the one who has lost her Dad.
Thanks, I really have tried to focus on my relationship with my dad but this summer her behaviour made that difficult and I feel very hurt. I actually feel quite angry with my dad for not standing up for me in what is a pretty clear situation.
Also because they live in another country it's quite hard to spend time with mg dad and for my kids to spend time with him if we aren't allowed in the house...
That is such a terrible situation for you to be in. I'm so sorry.
You need to get angry with your dad, I think. He can actually do whatever he wants; he's just acting dumb for a quiet life with his wife. I feel sorry for him; it's clear she's a bully.
FFS you are living in a different country, so it's plain you are not encroaching on their time together. I thought you lived locally and was going to suggest you asked him to come to your house rather than you going to his. Is it possible for him to come on his own to see you? Has he ever done that?
Your dad is caught in a difficult situation ( through his own actions if leaving your mum, but let's leave that) and I expect he is finding it hard
Unless you can meet him in his own, or he can come on holiday without his wife it is difficult to see how you can see him often
It might be worth going back to Skype
Had similar relationship with my step mum, had take a backseat but she died and so I could rebuild my relationship with my dad. Sadly just had to accept her as she was until then.
Sorry not to have more hope
Thanks. Yes we live in different countries again now. I guess I just need go see how he responds after I talked to him about it a few weeks ago and make a decision as to whether I can accept I or to cut myself off entirely - which is the direction I am moving towards.
Oh Kit I have no more wisdom to add but just wanted to say I think you've behaved admirably and your dad's wife must have some serious headfuckery going on. I wonder why she feels so threatened?
I hope you find some peace with all this x
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