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After 11 years, this isn't getting better

(83 Posts)
TheBlueFairyMary Wed 05-Jun-19 20:03:18

Met a man 11 years ago who has 4 kids. He saw them a third of the time when we met. He was a typical "Disney" Dad and was really scared of losing them I moved in with him 2 years later. The reality has been though that we have had them most of the time from when I moved in and I have become a full time step Mum to 3 of them. I have found it really, really difficult, been for counselling, tried every sort of meditation and yoga and technique to deal with the stress and anxiety my home life has caused me.

People kept telling me that the kids would grow up and I just had to be patient and that my time with DP would come.

The kids are now 23, 21, 19 and 16 and DP and I rarely get alone time unless we go out. The 23 year old is married and pregnant and her and her husband still come 3 weekends out of 4 and stay all weekend including overnight. The 21 year old went to university but came home every weekend Thursday to Monday and and every single holiday and is now home full time. The 19 year old lived with Mum and we do only see him occasionally and the 16 year old is with us 3 days out of 7 including all weekend.

Their Mum lives a free and easy life that we help fund, she doesn't work and I do, as does my partner. I want to work and enjoy it but I resent then spending all of my free time with these "children" who won't leave my partners or my side. I have considered not working and having less money to live on just to try and get some time to myself but that isn't really what I want and I suspect it wouldn't really work anyway as they would still be by my side most of the time. I am kind and welcoming to them but I don't want the rest of my life to be like this. My partner insists on doing everything for them and he spends all weekend, washing up cooking and cleaning when they are here. They all tell me how much they love being at ours and much prefer it to their own homes (which DP and I have helped pay for).

If I post this on the step parenting boards I will be slated for being "nasty" to the kids and I knew what I was getting when I moved in with a man with 4 kids, but I didn't!

I'm an introvert and just want to spend some quiet time in my own home by myself and with my partner. I have some things I want to discuss with my partner but feel I have to make an appointment with him to do so or I end up texting him from work to try and discuss things because I know I can't at home.

I have discussed my feelings with him in the recent past and his answer is for us to go out more and leave them in our house, but I find this unsettling particularly as they go through all my cupboards and drawers and help themselves to my clothes, toiletries etc. I have told them not to and they keep on and on at me about why I have a problem with this. I have also asked them not to wake me up by getting up early or staying up late and they question me on this too. I think they really struggle to understand that this is my home and my only home at that, whereas they have two homes!

My partner says he understands my feelings, but ultimately he must be quite happy with the situation as he makes no effort to change it.

I don't think he is wrong to want to be with his kids, but I don't think I am wrong to want some time without them.

I have no idea what to do apart from leave which feels like such a big step and defeatist.

MrMagooo Wed 05-Jun-19 20:20:05

Why are you funding the ex? When they are grown up and she doesn't have them?

Why can't they stay at the mims more. You need some space and space is available for you if they all stay at their mums part of the time.

Your partner isn't listening to you or your not telling him hard enough. If you don't like the situation walk away. I feel for you because it can't be easy and he needs to set boundaries for them.

Do they contribute any money/help around the place?

I wouldn't be putting up with it to be honest. You need to carve out proper time where you get the house to yourself and they need to respect your stuff.

There is no reason why the ex can't have them all at the same time some how or at least when the one is at uni. He should only be funding the 16yr old really and not her. How much money does he give?

MrMagooo Wed 05-Jun-19 20:23:53

Why the hell is the married one coming too. This all sounds a bit much.

Your partner shouldn't be running around after them. They are old enough to sort themselves out. A few nice family dinners here and there but they can sort their own shit out.

Mycatatetherat Wed 05-Jun-19 20:24:33

You must have made a really happy home for them to want to be around so much so I think you need congratulating for that.
However you somehow need to set some boundaries. I don't know how - hopefully other step parents will have some good advice.
In your shoes I'd book a long holiday with dp and really cherish the time away together and recharge your batteries. I don't know about long term strategies though.

TheHammock Wed 05-Jun-19 20:26:42

That doesn't sound worth it. It's not making you happy. You don't feel valued.
11 years of not feeling cherished and valued is ENOUGH

TheBlueFairyMary Wed 05-Jun-19 20:46:00

Technically he is funding the 16 year old but the reality is we do all the providing for her as Mum spends the money on herself. In a few years time, it will stop.

They don't want to be at mums so I don't see how we can make them go?

She doesn't seem bothered about seeing them either.

I just feel so horrible and guilty for feeling like this but I'm just so drained from it constantly. He has never asked them to do anything including wash up a cup so he's hardly going to tell them to leave us alone is he?

Xyzzzzz Wed 05-Jun-19 20:48:52

Have you considered couples counselling?

poopypants Wed 05-Jun-19 20:59:41

This sounds ridiculous. The oldest two in particular are fully formed adults. No one should be financing them.

LatentPhase Wed 05-Jun-19 21:10:58

Blimey, this sounds oppressive. I worry about the same thing happening with my DP, he is very light touch at parenting and likes to do everything for them. I’ve told him he needs to help his two be independent if we are to consider living together.

He decided to take the first step this weekend by showing his 17yo how to run a bath! Haha! Only half joking...

Like you OP I’m an introvert and need my space and I couldn’t cope living like this. If you threaten to leave will your DP listen? The ‘children’ sound really disrespectful.

Hope you can talk to your OH.

QueenBeex Wed 05-Jun-19 21:12:23

Well done for putting up with it for this long! Something needs to change or you need to leave, unless you want to remain unhappy for another 11 years. This problem has been on going for far too long.

category12 Wed 05-Jun-19 21:19:34

You sound like you want very different things from your dp.

Is there some way you could get your own space - like, I dunno, probably ludicrous, building a studio in the garden?

category12 Wed 05-Jun-19 21:20:07

You realise when the grandchildren start coming, it'll be more of the same?

ChuckleBuckles Wed 05-Jun-19 21:26:39

Help themselves to my clothes, toiletries etc

Why in the ever loving fuck is this happening? Then questioning why you are not comfortable with it when asked to stop. None of these people have any respect for you OP, no respect for your home, no respect for your boundaries either and that includes your "D"P.

I agree with a pp that it will only get worse when the grandchildren are born. It is beyond time for a sit down chat with your partner, and if he is not acting on your needs then you will have to leave to get the peace you need to be happy.

mybeebop Wed 05-Jun-19 21:36:05

Firstly, get yourself a lockable cupboard for all of your toiletries. In fact, padlock your bedroom door! Put a lock on it. Then when you and your DP need alone time they can’t interrupt you! That solves the immediate issue but this really isn’t fair at all is it and something has to change. They are taking the mickey really. The 23 year old and husband shouldn’t be coming every weekend! Is your DP doing all of their washing too? They are adults. They should be visiting maybe half a day on a Sunday weekly for a roast. That’s max unless you invite them. I don’t know how you sort this out though. Your DP has to be on board. Can’t you move? Into a small apartment so they can’t just pile round. Say now they’ve all grown up you are downsizing.

Needsomebottle Wed 05-Jun-19 22:04:43

I don't have any practical advice but wanted to say what an amazing step mum you've obviously been for them to feel so comfortable in your home and loved I imagine.

Perhaps BECAUSE of that you could speak to them all? Maybe not by being so upfront as it would seem a shame to make them question their great relationship with you, but if you aren't enjoying it, could you perhaps say to DH that you want one weekend a month just the two of you, then explain this to the kids "now you're all older we want some "us" time back". You lead the conversation - no reason why you shouldn't as you've been in their lives so long and they clearly respect you (if not your boundaries). It seems you've done such a good job of making them feel welcomed and at home that they take it for granted. They could coincide their plans when they aren't at yours for all on the same weekend. Or perhaps suggest to the eldest that you go to their house one of the weekends too? So you can leave when you like, maybe grab a bite on the way home just the two of you and have some time just the two of you? Encourage her to host. When the baby comes you could also lead by saying it's easier for her if you visit them so they don't have to lug baby stuff about?

billy1966 Wed 05-Jun-19 22:17:33

I hope it helped you to write all of that down.
But to read it, it's unbelievable that you would put up with that for years.

Obviously your DP has absolutely no intention of changing the status quo.

If you really care for him and want to continue your relationship with him, I would move out into your own home.

Your partner can visit you there.

Leave him to running himself into the ground for his children.

They actually don't sound very nice.

Invading the privacy of your bedroom?
Taking your things?
Refusing to be quiet when they've been asked.
I have 3 teenage children and they wouldn't dream of doing any of those things.

Mainly because I sure as hell wouldn't tolerate it.

Move out and get some peace.

Good luck.

ittakes2 Thu 06-Jun-19 09:17:03

I'm sorry you sound lovely but it does not seem you are compatible. You are an introvert and he likes having his kids around. I don't think you are being unreasonable at all - you have done more than your fair share and in fact I am not sure why you have put up with this for so long. I once complained to a parenting advisor that my son was treating me like a slave...she pointed out he was treating me like one because I was acting like one. Decide on your boundaries, stick to them and ask your partner to support you and if he can't then your relationship might need to end. God luck.

TheBlueFairyMary Thu 06-Jun-19 09:42:58

I honestly can't see a way out of this apart from leaving him.

He says he hates it as much as I do but says he can't speak to them properly and is frightened of losing them. I don't know if this is genuine or just an excuse. I suspect he wants his cake and to eat it.

I think the thing is without actually forcing the issue and making a point to them all that we are going to have time without them, they are going to just carry on helping themselves. I think I need to try and force some boundaries and think of some rules.

To whoever said about the 2 hours roast dinner on a Sunday, when there are 10 people to cater for (including husbands and boyfriends), it's never going to be 2 hours of my time is it? The shopping, the cooking, the clearing up? That's a whole Sunday taken care of and when you only get two days off, a whole Sunday with them every Sunday isn't what I want. Then they will all want to drink alcohol and all want to stay the night..... Even if they all took it in turns to come over, it still means I never get a weekend to myself.

As for the boundaries, I do consistently ask them to do this and that and not do this and that. They question me on it everytime. There isn't that automatic respect (that perhaps only comes from a natural parent). I know they also see it as "Dad's" house rather than my DP and my house.

The house comes with DP's job and is large, we are lucky. They take advantage of that.

I am very aware that when the baby comes along, things will get harder. DSD1 has lived "away from home" for 5 years and we have funded it but we have only been to her house twice. DP has said he would be "mortified" if I carried on at her house like she does in ours!

DP keeps suggesting date nights etc but this isn't what I want. We aren't trying to get some time away from a house full of toddlers!

We did couples counselling years ago. He now listens to me, where he used to just constantly tell me I was "wrong" but his actions don't seem to really change.

I'm going to think of some rules. Maybe 1 weekend a month where the ones who don't live with us can stay over. And make some rules on entertaining them and their boyfriends for the ones who do live with us the other weekends. I'm going to ask DP to implement with me and if not, I'm packing my bags.

Ellisandra Thu 06-Jun-19 09:46:39

He owes maintenance for the 16 year old, and rightly so. She’s only with you 3 / 7 days. Please be careful with the line that mum spends all the money on herself - unless you’re sending the girl home with 4 days of packed meals, and she has a sleeping bag on her mum’s garden.

It’s not unusual for a 21yo university student to spend long weekends every weekend at home.

You are never going to have the quiet introvert-friendly home that you want.

It is bloody unusual to have a 23yo and their husband stay overnight 3 weekends in 4 shock. If your husband isn’t onboard though, I don’t see how you can stop that.

But them taking your clothes and toiletries?
What have you done to deal with this?
Why do they think it’s acceptable?
Did you allow it at the start in an attempt to be welcoming and have quietly seethed ever since? Or are they actually defying you, having been told not to touch?
Because if it’s the latter I would tell them to stop, then tell their dad to fucking sort it - and if he wouldn’t, I’d lose all respect for him, so it wouldn’t even be an option to stay with him.

Ellisandra Thu 06-Jun-19 09:56:49

Cross posts, and you answered some of my questions in it!

The house existed before you, you moved in, and it comes with his job. Rightly or wrongly, I can see why they think that it belongs to their dad and you don’t have any more right to it than them. That’s in terms of spending time there, or having boyfriends and husbands over. You’re not going to win that - only your husband can stop it. He won’t - it’s great for him still having his kids around. And remember the younger 2 actually do live there. Two homes doesn’t mean they have the obligation to give you space. If they can only be there at certain times... then they have 2 sets of lodgings, not 2 homes. Two homes mean that you belong in both places.

Your clothes and toiletries are another matter. shock

You say it’s a large house - does it’s design lend itself to a re-organisation to create a separate space for you and your husband? Unlikely I suppose, but if it was on 3 floors and the top had 2 bedrooms and an en suite for example, you could create a separate living room and ban them from that floor.

Ellisandra Thu 06-Jun-19 09:59:00

So I wonder what he learned in counselling?

1. It’s wrong to tell her she’s wrong, I want to listen

2. Hmmmm. Listening is more effective at shutting her up and making the problem go away, and I don’t even need to act.

Call me cynical, but I’m going for 2.

MrMagooo Thu 06-Jun-19 09:59:09

You need to write all the things you want to change, talk to your OH about them and have a family meeting. If this was your family then you wouldn't get a break but you might set up bigger boundaries. It's not and they have another house to go to. Your OH still isn't listening to you. You need to TELL him things need to change, you are not asking for much, maybe two weekends a month.

I really don't see why the 23yr old and husband have to bloody come. They need to grow up and stand in their own two feet. Fuck me!

thegreatcrestednewt Thu 06-Jun-19 10:01:02

he says he can't speak to them properly and is frightened of losing them. I don't know if this is genuine or just an excuse. I suspect he wants his cake and to eat it.

What a pathetic lump. Your problem is with your h.

TheBlueFairyMary Thu 06-Jun-19 10:20:09

Ellisandra, I think you are spot on with the observation about counselling. He's definitely gone for option 2!

We do a lot for the 16 year old in "Mum's" time and I can assure you that Mum is not spending her maintenance on DSD but that's another thread and the least of my problems.

The 23 year old and husband want to visit her Mum, his family and old friends when they come to our town so use our home as a base. Often visiting Mum for an hour and staying with us for 36 hours. They could stay at Mums or his Dads but they say our house is nicer and more comfortable. I also suspect that whilst both his Dad and her Mum don't work, they make it clear they have their own lives and that all weekend isn't convenient for them.

Our home is one that they didn't grow up in and we moved there a few years ago. The 21 year old may be "moving out" in a few months but has already said she will be coming home to ours every weekend as if this is an obvious thing to do.

I have friends with kids the same age who rarely come home and seem to enjoy an independent life away from home. It's not unusual for adults in their twenties to be away from their parents some weekends is it?

NunoGoncalves Thu 06-Jun-19 10:40:44

I honestly can't see a way out of this apart from leaving him

I honestly can't believe it's taken you 11 years to figure that out.

Like you said, there's no reason he shouldn't want to spend time with his kids and they shouldn't want to spend time with him. If you've discussed having more alone time and it hasn't happened after all this time, then your lives and desires are probably just incompatible. Time to move on.

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