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Please help - think this is an irreperable problem...

(14 Posts)
PoisonedApple Fri 12-Oct-12 11:59:47

My husband and I met when his daughter with his previous partner was 6 months old. Their relationship was bad when she got pregnant and he wanted her to have a termination which I don't think he has ever forgiven himself for.

I moved from my home city to his and moved in when his daughter was a year and a half old and had only met her twice before, once with her Mother and once on a day out with her and my (now husband).

After about a year of us dropping everything to accommodate DSD's Mum's arrangements and him taking phone calls about every hour from her and her not speaking to me we now have a pretty good relationship and the arrangement is that we have DSD every Sunday to Monday and every Thursday to Friday morning. She is now 6 and at school so this isn't a huge amount and then we have her for the odd long weekend or for a week during school holidays etc.

DH and I had our own little girl 2.5 years ago and things have been kind of ok until recently when DH has continually said that he wan'ts to spend more time with DSD which I really wouldn't mind but I said that as I work 4 days a week and only have 20 days holiday I would also like to be able to spend two of my 3 weeks holiday with just my daughter as I need some time to spend with just her.

My DSD is a bit of handful - if she is here she is so used to individual attention from her Mum that she tends to take over, have tantrums if she doesn't get her own way etc. (I witnessed a conversation at her house over a chocolate eclair - she wanted it now, Mum said no she could have it after supper, tantrum, Mum gives her the chocolate eclair and says she can have back to front supper!) - she is also a bit hyperactive and has phases of being really difficult - I have had phone calls from her Mum in hysterics because DSD has been kicking and biting her and when she is here she can be pretty volatile so it is disruptive. She can also be absolutely lovely, kind and fun and she gets on really well with

BUT she is not my daughter and I said to my DH that yes I love her but she is not my daughter and I need some time on my own with my own daughter during my holidays. DH has just thrown out all the baby stuff that we were keeping as were trying for a new baby and said there is no way he is having another baby with me as I am a monster for not loving DSD as much as I love my own daughter.

Please help - am I being completely unfair? He says fine, I can go on holiday on my own with MY DAUGHTER and he will go on holiday on his own with HIS DAUGHTER. To be honest I think this might be too much strain on our relationship.

I was the one who spent hours at night putting his DSD back to bed when she wouldn't sleep when she was little. I was the one who spent 3 days looking after her when she had chicken pox and her Mum was away etc. etc. I love her but I also want to spend time with my own little girl. He says I get loads of time with her during the week and should want to spend my holidays with all of us as a family. Every time I suggest doing something he says we have to wait for DSD to be here and that he only feels like a family when she is here.

He says I lied when we agreed we would include his DSD in our lives when we first got together and that I am a failure as I don't love DSD as much as my own daughter and that millions of women adopt children and love them as much as their own. This is all true but DSD has a Mother and she doesn't need me to be her Mother. Or is this not right? Please help.

prettyfly1 Fri 12-Oct-12 12:38:40

I think you are sailing into very difficult territory. If this is the case that you will have to look at the DSD during this extra time alone whilst dp works then no, yanbu and you dont have to take more on. If this is his holiday time too then you are being entirely unreasonable. They are both his daughters and he has a right to time with both of them when he is off work.

PoisonedApple Fri 12-Oct-12 12:51:32

Thanks Prettyfly, I can see that. He is self employed and yes, really busy right now but his holidays are still a lot more flexible than mine so he can take time off during the summer holidays and see her - although would be pretty miffed if he took her off on a proper holiday I suppose... having my cake and eating it here?

I just feel under constant pressure to prove that I love DSD as much as my own which I just don't. I do love her, but he wants to know that I love her as much as DD and it won't ever be enough for me just to love her, I will always have to love her as much as my own and I don't think that is ever going to be the case and he is never going to be able to accept this and perhaps I am wrong and shouldn't feel this way.

Think it might be game over which sounds very dramatic but I can't change the way I feel and he obviously doesn't want to be with someone who is such a cold witch.

IceBergJam Fri 12-Oct-12 13:16:47

Not a long response as DD about to wake. Just picking up a few threads in your OP.

It isnt right to put off activities until your DSD is there , but it also isnt right to exclude her. Can you make plans for all four of you and also do things just the two of you?

Its fine to want to spend time with just your DD but are you expecting your DH to do the same? He does have two children, both equally important. I dont think you can ask him to use up his holiday time more on one child. Would you not like to build a sister relstionship between the two children? Holidays are great for making family memories. If you still neef time just the two of you , why not a weekend visiting relatives?

Its important to have agreed rules regarding behaviour for both children. Do you and your DH need to sit down and work out what behaviour is unacceptable and how it will be dealt with?

It is normal not to love stepchildren as much as your own, although lots of stepmums do. I dont love my stepchildren but I care for them and I work hard at our relationship and making them feel welcome. Does this my child , your child situation make your DH feel like you dont care? Do you treat them both equally when they are with you!? I think you need gel more as a family and then this will become a non issue.

Chucking the baby stuff out is unforgiveable and childish. I would say hold off before trying for another. Fix the family you have first. You need to create a family atmosphere for a family to florish. Is this what you would like?

charlearose Fri 12-Oct-12 13:37:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catsmother Fri 12-Oct-12 13:39:57

Think there are 2 issues here - the thing of you "loving SD as if she was your own" and secondly, the fair division of holiday time. Believe me, you have my sympathy on both accounts because it can be a minefield.

First off ... I personally feel it's completely unreasonable for anyone to expect their partner to love a child who isn't theirs as if they were. Bottom line is you can't force love, and though it would obviously be lovely if we could all love our stepchildren (and it would certainly make things easier many ways round) automatically it's not as if love's something on tap you can turn on and off when it's demanded of you. I think, as a stepparent it's only right and proper that you are kind and welcoming to your partner's children, and of course they should be treated equally to any other kids in the family as much as possible (logistically that's not always possible with 2 households) but that still doesn't mean love will follow just like that. To call you a failure is immature and ridiculous - I suspect he's hitting out because he feels somehow affronted - and his adoption analogy is stupid as well. When you adopt, that child becomes your own, and you live with them 24/7 as well as having 100% input into raising them, setting boundaries etc. That's not the same as having a stepchild ... because all too often stepmums (in particular) are expected to do all the physical care "as if they were your own" but as soon as we try to instill discipline, set rules, apply sanctions etc just as we'd do if they were our own we suddenly find that actually, no, that's not acceptable at all. I've long had the theory that women get especially guilt tripped and verbally attacked by some sexist men over this "love them like your own" issue because, as females, we are seen as the "nurturing" sex and therefore, if we don't readily admit to loving stepchildren, it's somehow unnatural. I don't think that women place the same pressure upon men who are stepfathers to "love" their kids .... in my experience, I just wanted someone to be kind to my older child - I didn't need there to be love between them as I felt my child got plenty of love from their actual parents.

The holiday issue is harder to sort out as most people don't have limitless time and money to spend their leave as they wish in "normal" circumstances, let alone in a step family where it can be very very hard to fairly combine the requirements of 2 different households especially when the ex is nasty and difficult for the sake of it. But I completely understand you wanting to spend some quality time with your own child ..... unless you have been fortunate enough to have developed unconditional love for your stepchildren (in which case it probably wouldn't matter) the fact remains that time spent with all the children probably will be different compared to spending time with just your own - especially if there's age gaps to take into account which therefore alter what you can - or can't - do. There's also that thing -which some stepmums experience - I mentioned before, feeling that when all the children are there, you don't have as an adult the same level of respect and authority you do when the stepchildren aren't there. All of that can mean that for some stepmums, what should be a reasonably relaxing holiday (as much as any holiday can ever be relaxing with kids) simply isn't - and if that's your only break for the year, it can leave you feeling quite fed up and resentful ....

.... this is hard for many dads to understand as, so far as they're concerned, they're with all of their children and it feels perfectly natural. They don't usually feel as if their authority has been compromised and they're simply pleased to be able to spend a holiday with all their family - which, in itself, isn't unreasonable - but, at the same time, it is unreasonable to assume your partner will feel exactly the same way. And even more unreasonable to verbally attack them if they don't.

In an ideal world, I'd suggest one break with all the kids and one with just your own child - because they probably would feel 2 very different experiences and you're only likely to feel totally relaxed on one of them. Yes - your child gets 2 trips then, but, for example, the non resident child would probably also go away with her mother. However .... never more so than now, I fully appreciate that that's not possible to do for very many families. It's something we've only managed once in over a decade for example and I'm afraid I readily admit that only the holiday with my/our child felt like a proper break as I found the other very hard going. For us, the holiday question has been a moot point for several years now as we simply haven't been able to afford to go away at all - but even if you're staying at home I think the same thing applies in wanting to spend some quality time with just your own child. Time during the week when you're tired from work and doing all the routine stuff is NOT the same as taking time off and pleasing yourself, going out for the day and so on.

So far as I can see you haven't said that you don't want to spend any time with his daughter but simply that you'd like to preserve a little bit of time to spend with your own and your own only. I don't think that's unreasonable though I expect I'll get flamed for saying so.

Oh - and as for this pressure to "prove" you love SD, well, if you don't you can't can you so he's asking the impossible. You absolutely cannot love someone just because your partner does. Does he love your mum/dad/brother/sister in the same way you do I wonder ??

catsmother Fri 12-Oct-12 13:45:02

I completely managed to overlook the thing of him holding off doing "special" things until SD is there. That's utterly wrong. Obviously, she should do special stuff with you sometimes, but her absence shouldn't mean that DD misses out in the meantime. It's rather hypocritical if you think about it - him accusing you of not loving SD like your own - which she isn't! - yet him treating his youngest daughter as a bit of a second class citizen who's not allowed anything out of the ordinary unless her older sister is there too. Does he imagine that SD sits in at home with her mum then and never does anything exciting while she's there .... I very much doubt it because of course her mother is going to want to do fun stuff with her every so often.

prettyfly1 Fri 12-Oct-12 14:02:25

I managed to overlook that too - all the whole "leaving special things until dsd is there" thing will do is send the message to your other child that she isnt as important - how ridiculous.

I think that yes, it is a bloody minefield with hols but ultimately how would you feel if your partner said "No I dont want your child there for half my hols" - I have been there with awful hols feeling resentful too but it is what it is and for me this is one of those areas that I have to just suck up. Not saying you do but that is what happens (or used to before exws crap started) here.

That said your other half is being a total dick. Throwing out baby stuff is childish and spoiled. Not making special time for your other child is childish and spoiled. Not being able to get his head around why your feelings for your biological child are different is childish and spoiled - of course you feel differently, most of us do. You still care for her, love her and want her around. NOONE can make your or expect you to love ANYONE ever so its a ridiculous, childish crappy point to make and you are not to allow him to make you feel cold - your not. He is being a bully and should be told so.

glasscompletelybroken Fri 12-Oct-12 14:46:23

"There's also that thing -which some stepmums experience - I mentioned before, feeling that when all the children are there, you don't have as an adult the same level of respect and authority you do when the stepchildren aren't there. All of that can mean that for some stepmums, what should be a reasonably relaxing holiday (as much as any holiday can ever be relaxing with kids) simply isn't - and if that's your only break for the year, it can leave you feeling quite fed up and resentful ...."

That's it exactly catsmother - I am not an equal member of the family when the stepchildren are here and it doesn't make for a relaxing holiday.

I don't think you are being unreasonable in any way at all. It is completely unreasonable of him to demand that you love his child as your own. And totally agree that you shouldn't be saving all the nice stuff for when she is with you - she gets nice things when she is at her mums presumably?

theredhen Sat 13-Oct-12 07:38:49

Your husband is in cloud cuckoo land for thinking that you're a monster for not loving dsd as dd.

As long as you treat her well when you're all together does it matter?

I'm sure there is a compromise for you but I doubt your dh will see it as anything other than rejection.

I also expect that such an extreme reaction on his behalf is due to his own feelings about his dsd, probably a mixture of guilt and maybe that he finds dsd more difficult to be around.

You're not being unreasonable at all. I've hated all my holidays with dsc. sad

nkf Sat 13-Oct-12 07:43:55

I imagine it's his guilt projecting onto you. I think the chucking out of stuff and calling you a monster is a huge overreaction.Sorry not to have any advice (other people's sounds good) but you are not being unreasonable.

AnitaBlake Sat 13-Oct-12 08:17:12

I'll try explain how our household works. I think we do a canny job of keeping it fair, and we have a nightmare ex to contend with too. We had DSD who is nearly 6, DD who is nearly 2 and one on the way.

Basically, I do love and care for DSD (but she ISN'T mine, and its been a tough journey getting DH to understand that, I totally get that he loves both his girls the same. I've done everything I can to facilitate intact and had it thrown back in my face by his ex a hundred times, she's reaping the results of that now, sometimes you get what you wish for, even if that isn't what you thought you wanted. Its a shame for DSD, but I can't do anymore) There are things that I can help her with that now that she's getting older DH is less comfortable with, do I do these things. Things like washing her bits and painting her nails ;).

We make plans for our free time and then see if DSD can join us. If she can't, no biggie, she misses them. We assure her that she'll have fun with her mum instead. We wouldn't not do them, and its unreasonable to ask others to change plans so DSD can join in if mum is refusing. This year irs looking possible she will miss her sisters birthday as a result. But I won't change plans because it doesn't suit her mum.

If DSD cannot come on holiday with us, we will go anyway and explain in age-appropriate language why not, and that she won't see us that week. DSD is disappointed sometimes but there's little we can do really. Same goes for special events, its going to happen.

madelineashton Sun 14-Oct-12 12:11:33

That's horrible that he doesn't feel you are a family unless she's there! So your daughter's life has to go on hold until dsd comes round? sad

And the comparison of a sm and an adoptive mother is just plain stupid!! The two are nothing alike.

I do think that two full weeks with just your dd is a little unnecessary though, can't you have a couple of days with just her? I'm sure she'd like to have a holiday with her sister.

Cloverhoney Sun 14-Oct-12 18:46:35

I agree with most of the above. It's incredibly naive of your DH to think you'd love your DSD as much as your own kids. I'm in a very similar situation - I have a DSC the same age. My DH separated from BM when their child was weeks old and I met him a few months after that. We married a couple of years later and have two kids together now; DS4 and DD2.
To be honest I think I thought I could love my DSC as much as my own in the beginning. Well until I had my own anyway and then I realised I'd been rather silly to have ever believed that! I think my DH assumed I'd love DSC as much as our kids too but he knows now that I don't, because I've told him. I told BM too as she just behaves like I should be grateful that she allowed me to have SC in my life at all and then leaves me to do a good portion of the 'work' relating to SC like she's doing me some kind of favour.
I think your DH is being desperately unreasonable. I don't know how you have holidays arranged but SDC takes it turns to have the half-terms with us, then BM, then us etc so inevitably, we have holidays that DSC can't join us for. Like Anitablake, we explain to DSC that it's their turn to do lots of fun things with their Mum. I admit the first time we did it was awkward as previously we had planned things around DSC but as our own kids got older, that became more and more unfair on them (are they going to miss out on an annual skiing trip just because DSC isn't with us for the Feb half-term?? No they are not. Especially if DSC is going away with BM anyway).
As far as going on holiday separately goes, we've never done big holidays apart but certainly I've taken our two kids away for the weekend either to see my parents or gone away with a girlfriend and her kids for a few days and left DH to spend some 'alone time' with DSC. My DH doesn't like it when it happens but I don't give him a lot of choice. He DOES need to spend some time 1-on-1 with his kid and I also need to spend some time my kids and WITHOUT his kid!
I don't know if anyone else here has done this but my DH and I went to a step-families workshop earlier this year. It was run by Dr Lisa Doodson (www.happysteps.co.uk). It's a great place to air this stuff with your partner in front of a) a professional and b) a load of other couples in a similar situation. Also I found other step-mums saying things I personally would never have felt able to say in front of DH, so it opened his mind up to what I was going through without me having to directly 'moan' to him about it!

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