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Adult stepchildren, my spouse and our young child

12 years ago

I've read many other posts and could not find one similar to this. I could use some advice.

I am "married" to a man with 4 grown children. We are not legally married, as he is anti-government and did not want to contract with the state, but he insists we are married. I had three children of my own still at home when we got together six years ago and we have a five-year-old as well.

Immediately we had problems discussing money, responsibilities and how we planned on raising our child together. He wouldn't talk about "us" and our lives together. I figured out that he did not want to support my children, and that was fine as I had an income. But he has been less than wonderful about being responsible to me about his own expenses. He is not an obvious flake. He works very very hard, owns his own business, pays his own bills, built his own house.

He moved in with me and my children and rented his house to his sister and brother-in-law, only he didn't charge them rent the first year, paid their utilities and remodeled the house for them, while neglecting to pay me all we had agreed he would for his own expenses. When I confronted him he said he thought it was the right thing to do. They were having money problems. (Because they spent all their money.)

This has been a theme. He does for others instead of for me or my children, and especially for the child we had together. He tends to do for others that don't really need it, such as paying bills for my now-26-year-old perfectly capable stepson, who would rather spend money on partying then on his car insurance. But not for our child.

When the price of everything went up as gas prices rose, he refused to agree to give me more money for living expenses. He refused to pay me the money he hadn't given me while supporting his sister (and that was while I was pregnant with his child) because his selective memory told him that wasn't what happened. (I had repeatedly tried to talk to him about it at the time, and he apparently thought I was crazy, but never said anything). My income (a pension from my first late husband) was cut and cut again.

I've gritted my teeth and gotten a job even though I feel so strongly a child should have a stay at home parent for the first four or five years. I have to pay the bills. I also have to cook all the food and clean the house. And I have to take care of the kids. If I want to go somewhere I have to ask him if he's free to take the kids. He often has gone off to do things without even telling me where he is going and I've spent way too much time calling him to find out what is going on. He expects dinner to be made every night when he gets home, but has so often not come home at dinner time either because he was working late or because he was having dinner with someone else, and wouldn't bother to call me!

He's gotten more considerate over time that way, but he still does not pay a cent of anything our five-year-old needs. We have since moved into his house and I rent mine, which helps me. He pays the utilities at his house (he does not have a mortgage as he built it himself), but is stingy with the utilities, telling us not to use the stove because he doesn't want to buy propane, etc., and he pays for a cell phone for me and my second oldest daughter who rents my house with her friends. (She is very considerate and does not run up the minutes at all, despite the fact she does not particularly like her stepdad.) He does often buy gifts for my children for birthdays and Christmas, as I do for his children and 3 grandchildren.

I am not happy with the entire set up of our lives, particularly as I've just had to deal with whatever he wanted and we've never really decided things together. But I want my children to have a father so I have tried very hard to just deal with it. I've been managing as best I can and at least I can now, working, afford doctor and dentist bills for my 13-year-old and our five-year-old, (my other two having moved out), as well as myself. I can buy us clothes and pay for the car and toys and school supplies and other things. The job I have isn't great and doesn't pay well, but it is something. I buy almost all the food and needs for the household.

But, in addition to being a flake about our child, financially, (and he is the one who wanted another child and said he'd be financially responsible for her) he is a flake in other ways, saying he'll pick her up from daycare but not picking her up and not bothering to tell me; making us late to all kinds of things; letting our child take a nap at inappropriate times or not giving her a nap when it is nap time; not ever giving her a bath, ever, in her entire life, even when he was with her at bath time and I was gone somewhere; refusing to ever change her diapers when she was a baby---in so many ways, really refusing to be a parent.

My "husband" is such a nice guy to people, everyone loves him. He's done so much for many people, generously, including his grown children. Despite the really hard feelings their mother has toward him (still) and how they think he was not a very good husband to her, they love him and benefit from his love as well. They have told me they sympathize with my problems with him. But they will say nothing to him about it because they do not want to jeopardize their relationship with him. And, I suspect, they really like getting him to help them with building projects and appreciate all the gifts he gives them. Our own five-year-old? He's bought her one gift that I remember, maybe two altogether, and only because I specifically asked him to. He buys her nothing but junk food occasionally (not something I'm happy about either).

The same could be said about his friends and employees. They benefit from his generosity consistently. None of them want to hear about how tough I have it, about how he won't fix the car unless I wait forever and ask him repeatedly (and I am very careful not to NAG him) and buy all the parts myself, whereas a friend of his will get the oil changed by him and he buys everything, without even asking! This friend was an attractive single female, I might add.

The difficult thing is that his family and friends are the only people I really associate with anymore. I've been so busy working and taking care of the house and kids that I have no friends of my own anymore. I know some people at our church and have actually sought counseling from the pastor and other couples, but my "husband" will not listen to anything they have to say. So I'm stuck.

Recently I had a confrontation with my stepdaughter, grown with her own family, who wanted to tell me how I should be dealing with a possible behavior problem of my own five-year-old. Essentially SD was telling me that mine was spoiled, that my child's life is no harder than her son's is or hers had been, despite the fact her son's father is there and supportive and she can stay home with her son, 3-years-old, and she had a stay-at-home mother as well and a father who actually paid the bills. She acts as if my child's behavior problem of not listening well to a swimming lessons instructor was somehow incredibly horrible, instead of no worse than other kids in the class, and when I suggested maybe my child just had too much to deal with because I had work, she has preschool and her dad wasn't around much, and that maybe she wasn't ready for swim lessons, she bluntly stated that was nonsense. She would allow no reasonable excuse. I argued in defense of my child, she accused me of attacking her.

This is not the first run-in we've had. When my daughter was 3 months old and before my SD had her own child, even before she was married, she went around telling everyone that I was sabotaging her relationship with my child by taking her back when she started to cry and my SD was holding her. My child needed to nurse. My SD didn't talk to me about it, she just talked about me behind my back. When we finally did talk about it, I told her that she was welcomed to have a relationship with my child but that I was her mother so at that time that was definitely the most important relationship. She did not like that.

Another time she lied about events in her backstabbing to make me look horrible to her entire family and completely ruined our Thanksgiving.

She is the type of person who is sickeningly sweet to your face, and brutal and merciless when you are not there. She doesn't have any girlfriends. She is close to her sisters and her mother-in-law, who is exactly like her. I want nothing to do with her anymore, nor do I want my daughter around her very much. My oldest two daughters don't like her and never have, though they've always been civil.

Lately my husband has been insisting on spending more time with our child, surprisingly. Perhaps this is because she is a bit older and less dependent. But I've also noticed he takes her over to my SD's house most of the time. I am beginning to fear that he wants her to parent our child because she is more in line with some of his political and religious beliefs, or perhaps because she's a stay-at-home mother and he really wants that for our child, except he doesn't want to have to support me. I'm not sure. Am I being paranoid?

My husband has already shown a lack of appreciation for what is appropriate, in that he supported his married spendthrift sister instead of his frugal pregnant wife, he supports his 26-year-old partying son instead of his five-year-old daughter, and he is generous to others and stingy with us. Not to mention the fact that we are not legally married. If he gets hurt on the job (construction) and cannot work, I'll be responsible for more of the bills. If he dies, however, I get nothing. I get to move out of his children's house. I feel very put-upon.

I am also finding he's a very good liar, having recently found evidence of lies he's told me. I cannot trust him. I wonder if he is planning on throwing me out and taking custody of our child, while really giving her to her daughter to raise (this is rather paranoid, I admit). I just feel as though he's never really committed to our relationship or invested a thing into it, and I'm totally getting the short end of the stick.

I don't know what to think. Or do. But I lose sleep and don't function well, so I need to do something.

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