Please help, I feel like my world is falling apart(19 Posts)
Hi everyone, it's been several years since I've been on here but I'm in a really difficult place right now and I feel as though my life is falling apart. I have been with dh for almost nine years and we met when he'd just split from his ex wife. He has a daughter who was 6 then and is now 14. We married in 2013 and have two children aged 3 and 4.
I moved to an isolated and quite backward community to be with him as he didn't want to move away from his daughter, giving up my home, and after kids, my job and career.
His ex was venomous and spiteful and did her utmost, including using their daughter to make life hard and our early relationship, including my pregnancies and early motherhood was full of court battles, arguments/fights/drama and me supporting him through this and near enough falling apart as a result. There have been many ups and downs and it has damaged my relationship with dsd as a result. I have many of my own issues from childhood and have been having counselling for around two and a half years nowincluding a bout on antidepressants a couple of years ago. We also had counselling together with relate around two years ago. My relationship with dsd remains strained although mostly we manage to endure each other. The situation is similar to many other step parents- I cannot discipline her etc... As she just blows up so have to go through him for everything and have at times ended up resenting her presence in our home. She currently spends every other weekend with us and extra time in the holidays. Yesterday we had an incident when she started talking back to me and as usual, he just tried to calm it and made no attempt to let her know she could not speak to me like that. I walked out of the cafe we were in and sent him a text message calling her something not very nice which I know I shouldn't have but I was so angry. Things are really awkward as we were visiting my parents and are now at his parents home. Added to all this I have had a really bad cold all week and am layed up in bed at his parents house. We have not spoken since. I am at the end of my tether, sick of being treated like I don't matter. This has been a recurring issue, he never does anything about it when she is rude to me as he is afraid of upsetting her so she won't come for contact. I feel like he has always put her before our children and me and although most of the time I can paste a smile on my face and put up with it, I cannot tolerate her speaking to me like that in front of my own children. He is obviously really angry with me because of what I said in the text but I am wondering if it is just time to walk away now. So many resentments have built up over this. I just don't know what to do. It feels like nothing ever gets resolved and I'm always left feeling like I'm the one in the wrong. I am so scared of contemplating separating from him, I have no money, the house is in his name and I can't even begin to contemplate the impact this might have on our children. Overall he is a good man and I love him but I feel like this whole situation has ground me down to a point where I'm constantly anxious, depressed and feel like a failure.
Any advice or support would be welcome.
Resentments just build and build by nature. I had a DSD who did this, however I never bad mouthed, or shouted at her. You just lose all ground that way.
You have to say sorry about that text. Say something nice about your DSD to your DP. Then after a couple of days, when you are calm, call both DSD and DP into a room and realky clearly and calmly say your bottom line and why. Be strong! Say exactly what is the minimum, that no putting you down, and that as an adult in the house you should have some authority, I presume you clean etc? Why should you just be a maid and expect nothing, not even civilty in return.
With step children,
They have came to visit their parent, they rarely respect you, they mostly resent you and in general think you are stopping their parents reuniting.
On that basis I would avoid where possible trying to parent them in any shape or form.
Be polite and nothing else.
Don't do things for them just try to stay back as much as possible.
This is to save your sanity.
If she is rude to you, you can either ignore or look to her father for support.
If he doesn't do the right thing show him the door even for a week or so where he can contemplate his actions both past and future.
I would apologise for the text but make it really clear that it was your dsd's behaviour and, more importantly, your DH's handling of it that drove you to that level of frustration. I think you need to tell him that his lack of support over dsd's attitude towards you is pushing you to the limit and that it's making you question whether you can stay in this marriage. You will of course need to be prepared for the possibility he will call your bluff and refuse to support you even when faced with the prospect of losing you but it doesn't sound as though you can carry on as you are so telling him exactly how you feel gives him a final opportunity to change the way he deals with the situation. I agree with Quitelikely's concept of stepping back but that doesn't mean your dsd shouldn't be expected to show you the same basic courtesy and respect she should show any adult and your DH should be enforcing that. I have SC and my DH would never allow them to be rude or disrespectful to me, your DH has to step up and discipline her especially if you are not permitted to discipline her yourself. It's all well and good him being angry with you over the text but that's one incident compared to repeated rudeness and disrespect towards you which you have put up with for a long time. In your position I would lay it out for him in simple terms that you have supported him through all the hard times, court battles etc and yet he is failing to support you over something as fundamental as being shown a little basic respect.
She's probably very aware that you 'endure' her. And your DH is too. It is up to him to resolve, and only he can do so.
Apologise for the text, and tell him how intolerable things are for you now. Would he accept your younger children speaking to you in the way his eldest did, or would he step in? (I hope the latter).
Then ask for him to back you up and to start to discipline his daughter. And to allow you to discipline her when appropriate.
He needs to do this for the sake of his whole family.
I'd just add, of course your DP needs to enforce civility from your DSD. But so can and should you! Would you let a friends kid be rude to you, and stay silent even if her parents ignored it? It just reinforces to your DSD that only her Dad deserves to be listened to.
I agree with the above, why are you waiting for her father to stand up for you? It puts you both in a difficult position... I would say 'Don't speak to me like that' and if she sulks or moans let her.
From your later post though why on earth are you stuck somewhere with no hope of getting out or do you by nature catastrophise?
If you need to separate you do. You have family money, a family house and your children would survive. Instead of taking to your bed maybe stand up for yourself. You may find your mental health all round improves!
Also, I have been in a very similar situation. The stress was awful. I suddenly thought one day. Why am I stuck? It's my DPs house. Have no family near. Nowhere to go. So I kicked him out!
It was the best thing I ever did for my sanity. His first concern was where would he see his kids for weekends. Not my problem. I finally had a few months to piece myself together after taking a huge toll. I had our child properly diagnosed with special needs. With all the resentment and drama from older kids, the child who needed it most was ignored. I had a productive and positive time! Of course I'd have had to move out eventually, as it was DPs house. But he moved back in, and I never get rudeness from step kids anymore.
When you reach that point, you need to detach yourself completely. It takes away the image of the perfect new family, but that's a dream to be forgotten about and the priority is now to keep your family together.
What did you say to her to get her speaking badly back at you? Is it something you could have avoided saying? The reality is that indeed it is always wrong for a teenager to speak back at an adult, but they do that, even the best behaved kids. You responding by insulting her to her father is really not going to help the situation.
She is now 14 and her father can handle all her needs. Be polite to her, but don't get involved in any comment that you know is not going to be received well. She is not your problem, so don't make her become the one to break up your family.
he is afraid of upsetting her so she won't come for contact
As him why contact is important to him.
if it is to have a parent-child relationship with his DD, then he needs to parent her during contact - which he isn't doing at the moment.
Im always frustrated, and a little bit creeped out, when i read about a NR Dad who absolves himself of parenting in order to maintain contact with his DCs.
His job is to parent them - if he's not doing that, then why does he want to maintain contact?
What's in it for the DCs? They don't benefit from seeing him if he's not being a parent. And what's in it for him? Does he enjoy spending time with DCs in a non-parental capacity - so much so that he'd sacrifice his relationship with his DW to do so?
I think in so many cases like this, the dad is worried 'what people will think' if his DCs opt out of contact that he doesn't stop to think about how the contact benefits the DCs and whether maintaining contact at all costs actually has any positives for anyone involved.
I got chills reading your post - I saw myself in there, it's hideous. I really sympathise with everything you've had to endure so far, and the losses that have come with having what should have been a happy time (marriage, children) being overshadowed by this drama.
A few things -
Could you return to counselling? It sounds like what you're asking for is quite simple - to be backed up by your husband. It is utterly inappropriate for your DSD to be rude to you and makes it so much worse when your husband effectively allows her to treat you that way. This has to be addressed. If it isn't addressed, the resentment will continue to build and the marriage will rot away, no matter how much of a good man he is in other respects.
The house being in his name means quite little, especially if you are the children's primary carer, so I wouldn't worry about that. And you're right - your children cannot grow up seeing their father allow someone to be rude to their mother.
I never had my DSC living/staying with us, as all our DC were grown when we got together...a conscious decision on my part! However, there have been problems along the way, particularly with one DSC who continually has her hand out for money. I tried in the beginning to 'blend' our families, but soon realised that it was better to keep myself slightly apart, I'm always pleasant but never now get too involved!
I suggest, the next time your DSD is rude or bad mannered to you, tell her that whatever she wants to say to you will have to be said in a courteous manner, or you simple won't listen....and then totally ignore her until she speaks politely! If your DH asks why you're ignoring her, tel, him (in front of her) that you are tired of being talked to so rudely and will not tolerate it any longer, then just walk away! Worth a try, before resorting to leaving!
You can expect courtesy as widgin says.
However, as I tell my DCs, courtesy costs nothing and puts you in the right place. However, respect is earned and if the OP "endures" her DSD and she knows it, then no respect is due.
My DCs, I am told are painfully polite to their SM - well done kids! All it has done, so mutual friends tell me, is highlight how rude, offhand and dismissive she is towards them.
Respect is earned
We had an incident that was very similar with one of my DSCs. Basically DH smiled sheepishly and tried to make out that it wasn't really that bad. I tried to tackle it straightaway so resentment wouldn't linger but DH blocked every attempt. In the end I told DH I was not prepared to do anything for that DSC as a consequence of being spoken to like that. I pointed out that the answering back was getting ridiculous (it was usually DH who was the target and was being copied by the other DSCs), and if he was happy to be spoken to like that it was up to him, but I wasn't and so would do nothing further for the DSC.
Things have dramatically improved, I suspect because DH used to get really angry at the talking back but never do anything about it apart from saying 'don't do it'. DSC now sees an immediate consequence and the message is getting through - the whole household is calmer as a result.
Whenever DD has done the backchat to me there has been an instant consequence so on the whole it rarely happens, but as a SP you absolutely need the support of the parent on this one.
I do hope you get this sorted out as it is utterly draining and very upsetting for everyone.
I echo ppls suggestions to apologise for the text - when DH has said stuff about DD, it can put me straight into mega defensive 'I have to protect my kid' mode that makes it hard/impossible to see your DH as someone to work with rather than defend against - and might be a way to start the whole conversation?
OP, I agee with everythign QuiteLikely said about disengaging. I don't agree with kicking your DH out (yet) though.
Just step back, spend some nice time with your DCs (I know it is hard to just have them in a 'single parent' situation eow but you need a break from him and his DD). Let your DH manage meals for him and his DD and you get on with your life. They have both shown you that neither of them is prepared to make an effort for a blended family at the moment.
Even if this is just for a while, it will give
you everyone a much-needed rest from the tension.
I'm afraid I think its time to call time on this. There seems to be no equality in your relationship - you have given up everything to make it work for him. And the return on this has been.....? Precious little.
So perhaps it's time to ask how he wants to separate. The house will probably have to go, unless you want to stay there. Perhaps when you let him understand what not giving a discipline is going to cost him he might be prepared to step up. I doubt it though.
Im contributing not as a step parent but my DS has a SF my DH and a SM. There would be no way i would allow my DS to be disrespectful towards my DH he should respect the adults in that household. I would expect the same when he goes to his DF that he is respectful to his DW. I would be mortfied if he was rude towards any adults. I always enforce that he has respect for any adult in his child.My DH tells him off if hes naughty and is treated the same way as his sister. The problem you have if she has been treated differently and your dsd knows this and most likely playing on this. Has she always been like this OP since 6?
I agree with disengaging on principal but in practise I found it had some very profound, negative effects:
- I disengaged from DSD (teenager) who then proceeded to treat the house like a hotel. She completely ignored me and my son.
- there is a horrible atmosphere if a child ignores you and their step sibling.
- my children could see that my DSD did not get told off by me and therefore felt (rightly) incensed and upset that I was not being given any respect at all, and that the rules applied to them but not the DSD
- it created a separation and DP and DSD only shared things that were quite important with each other - e.g. whether DSD invited people and who to the house when we were away for a weekend.
- again - the horrible atmosphere when basically you are agreeing to DSD and DP that by disengaging you are giving up on any authority in the house or any chance of a healthy relationship
- DSD thinking that this means we can be equals and trying to boss other younger kids or do whatever they like as 'they do no have to consult with me'
- not washing clothes is one thing - they pile up - but you cannot realistically refuse to feed or cook for a child if you are cooking for other children, cannot just stop paying for their room, electricity. In that sense, if they are living in the same household you cannot just separate.
The fact always remains. While any children are in the house, no matter what age, they are a dependent and to have any chance of a peaceful atmosphere the number one is that there has to be some level of civility and cooperation with the adults in the house - ie step mum/parent, whoeover. No amount of disengaging can achieve this.
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