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I did it, and survived

boopug
15 years ago

I found myself in the stepparent role. It was hard, but only because the mother and father( my dear hubby) made it hard. They taught the child to also rock the boat.But I taught her also. I am proud of her, and though at times I wanted her gone,( she had her moments with me also) after 14 years I survived , and not only that, Mandy(my stepdaughter) and I have a very loving relationship. When I suffered a sever stroke at 48 years old, five years ago, it was Mandy who dropped everything, job, fun , and left friends and family to drive from California to New Mexico to help her dad care for me. She did it with no one asking her to, because she wanted to. I am the one she calls when she is going through difficult times, for support and to as she say`s " make her laugh or feel better. I wouldn`t trade this relationship ,now, for the world and am so glad, even through the jealousy, resentment and hardships that I hung in there. It was very hard. at times I felt like leaving or giving ultimatums, a couple of times I left for a few days , just to get away. But, I guess , if I can do it, most anyone can, but it also takes some cooperation on the childs part.

Comments (8)

  • dirt_yfingernails
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What an inspirational story. congrats to you and Mandy on having a loving relationship.

  • paulajean68
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow, you give me hope! I'm so happy for you that it all worked out! When you say it's so hard that you had to leave for a few days, etc, I'd love to know more about what you mean. I am not married nor engaged. I am a divorced mom of two beautiful daughters ages 5 and 9, who has a bf of over 2 years with children ages 6, 8, and 12. We waited over a year and a half to meet each others' kids and to introduce the kids to each other. We deal with his very, very bitter and cruel ex wife (i've not yet met her) putting hte kids in the middle, berating their father in front of them and him (and anyone else who happens to be around...doesn't matter if it's at the kids' ball games, either), and putting road blocks and obstacles up constantly. She has even switched her daughters' bday parties to the same day as my daughter's party just so that he would have to make a choice of his kids over my kids, and prevent him from attending mine (we live a few hours apart). I can write a book.

    The introductions of everyone went SO well, I cried. Having dealt with the ex's behavior, i was very thankful that the whole kid thing went so well. The kids all loved each other immediately, and we've had a ball as a "team" ever since. My kids adore my bf, and his kids have adored me until....here's the wierd thing I can't get a handle on....all of the sudden, the 12 year old turned on me. I don't know what happened!!! This child just said "i love you" last month to ME, and just this past week she wanted nothing to do with me. I had given her some books I thought she might like and she didn't even want them. She was careful not to cross the rudeness line with me, but she made every effort to avoid me, was rather cold, and didn't talk to me! It was a very drastic change from this kid who attached herself to me, talked to me about friends and clothes and school, and wanted to go with me wherever I went.

    I don't know how to handle this! My dear bf feels that it will 'blow over', and I disagree. I think this is only the beginning. Being we live a few states apart, we don't see each other more than on weekends usually, and have been very careful to allow his kids to spend alone time with him, and mine to do the same with me. In other words, we don't get the kids and us all together every time we both have the kids (we managed to get our custody schedule in synch, miraculously), we've scattered it. I KNOW that the ex, who has thus far been unable to break us up no matter how hard she has tried, is FUMING because the kids all get along, we get along, and everyone has had a grand ole time with one another for hte past 5 months. We KNOW she badmouths both of us. We also know this woman has NO conscience or boundaries, and is afraid of NOTHING. WHAT is her achilles heel, and does it matter? Is there any way we can 1) get the ex's behavior to stop and/or 2) do something on our end to counteract whatever the ex is saying about me/us? I'm afraid she'll say stuff like 'if it weren't for HER, your dad and I would be back together and you wouldn't have a broken home". This isn't true, of course...SHE filed the divorce papers, then she made him wait out the entire 2 year period that PA requires, then contested everything, and then said "you can't make me get divorced if I don't want to". It got SO ugly it dragged on, and in this time the two of us met. It had NOTHING to do with me; he didn't file, she did....and I met him months after that and he had already moved out.

    I'm afraid that this will tear us apart, as I'm getting unnerved by his lax attitude that it will somehow all get better miraculously. He has defended me MANY times to anyone (including ex and daughter) who have said anything about me over the years. That's not the issue. But, this whole situation just HURTS so badly; i want things to go back to how they were when we all got along! And, the other 4 children are unmarked by this (so far, I guess, huh?) and it's a shame that the situation with the oldest is deterring us from getting the kids together for a while. It puts a strain on us now, too, because we now can't see each other as regularly as we were before. We both agreed that the kids need to spend more alone time with him (he only has them e/o weekend and for a few hours during the week) without me there, so I have no problem taking this step back. BUT, what do I do for my own hurt, especially when he's so zapped out of energy from feeling in the middle of the ex, me, and the daughter that he can't even really be there for me?

    What did you do to foster your relationship and NOT go nuts and/or break up with your guy when it was tough? My bf is a wonderful man, and I knew he was the most important guy I'd ever met as soon as I met him, and I've always felt that way even through the rough times we've had with the ex, adjusting to post-divorce life, kids, ups and downs of jobs, etc. I'm proud of our relationship, and I don't want to lose it. But, I also want to be true to myself and not end up doing more work that HE is on this problem with the daughter AND with especially with the ex.

    Any advice you have would be well welcomed!
    Thanks!

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  • boopug
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Paulajean, oh how I wish I had all the answers , But I don`t. I find that the ex`s are alot harder to deal with then the kids.And I dealt with two, he`s been married twice before. They are both rather unpleasant, one alot more, lot more i say, then the other. He has one child by each. We have none together , but I had two boys, both grown when I met him. I never talk down his ex to Mandy , like it or not , she is her mother. Didn`t even pay attention to her till she was nine. The other ex, I try not to deal with period, we don`t see the 15 yr old, but she does contact her dad(when she needs something, and We am very happy to help her. I even got her some clothes awhile back, told her if they were not what she liked to take them back and pick something else out. But she told her dad she loved them. She has not let me in yet , but that`s okay, in time she will. We are a few states away.But never give up on your relationship with him or his kids. Don`t give the ex the pleasure of ruining what could be a wonderful relationship. Don`t try to hard, be you and yes things do blow over.I had one major fight with Mandy, She told me she hated me, I told her she thought she was the queen bee and always had. This was when she was already on her own but visiting. Of course after a couple of days, she came to me and cried and told me she loved me and was sorry, and I did the same.Yes, it happens, just like with your bio kids. Done and over,and will never happen again.Set rules and keep them, but before you set them talk to him to make sure they are agreable to you both, then both of you talk to the kids.That way they are coming from both. Mandy would try to manipulate her dad at first, and he would let her. I`d do a slow burn, and stick to my guns. It would be like just one more hour of tv, a bath tomorrow, and stay home from school sick, but able to go out and play later. When she didn`t get her way after awhile , it stoped, but she tried for months or longer. Okay gotta go. more later, just tell me if I can help you and I will give you what I can , or we can just write , I will give you my support everyday , you can vent with me and no matter what you say or think, believe me , I probably did to , nothing will shock me , and I will never think bad of you , trust me... Linda

  • paulajean68
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Linda,
    You are a Godsend, really. Thank you so much for your advice and sharing your story. I think I'll be writing in this forum for a while! My bf and I live 4 states away (about 3.5 hours drive, so not horrible, but certainly not 'easy'). We see each other as often as possible, which is just about every weekend lately.

    I'm visiting him tomorrow (no kids) and am hoping to talk, but now I'm not sure if I should say anything yet about how frustrated I am with the whole ex wife situation and his dealing (or lack thereof) with her. I want him to know that I love him very much, and I don't want to leave the relationship. The stress I am under becomes unbearable however, whenever something with his ex flares up. And, this is just the worst so far..having his daughter not like me. I am a sensitive, artistic, peace-loving and -living person, a gentle soul. He's an attorney and cpa. Sometimes it just feels like too much, and I'm torn. He's much tougher than I am, and can let things slide off him. I want to be true to myself, but I also don't want to abandon the relationship since I love this man with all my heart, and otherwise we have a beautiful, fulfilling relationship and enjoy each other immensely.

    It's obviously her mother to a large degree because this 12 year old says stuff to her dad like, "why would you even date someone who lives 4 hours away?" "What's going to happen if you get married...". Now, I get that it's a valid concern, and he was quick to let her know that we have no plans of marriage right now nor are there any plans for now or the near future (meaning a few years) of anyone moving. But some of her comments are clearly not something a 12 year old would come up with. His ex is so bitter and full of hate that she has no problem using her kids as pawns, which she often does, in order to control HIM. She's even gone so far as to change the 12 year old's bday party to the same day as my 9 year olds, to not only prevent his kids from attending OUR party, but also to prevent HIM from attending. She deliberately plans events for the kids on weekends he doesn't have the kids, putting him in the position of choosing his kids or me. She will have the kids call him constantly on his 'off' weekends, and puts ideas in their heads like 'daddy was SUPPOSED to be here to see you today, but instead he's with HER", when there were NEVER any plans AT ALL. It puts the poor kids in the position of 'who do I believe, and who's lying". It's just awful. There ought to be some sort of recourse for the "healthy" ex, but there isn't. WOuld be nice if there were legal repercussions for ugly behavior like this, like mandatory counseling, or something. He has had to file 2 police incident reports on her, one for her trying to hurt him in her driveway (and using a car to trap in in the driveway first, so he couldn't leave by car), and another for her linking her credit card account online to his bank account and using it to pay her card (to the tune of 3k). The latter happened when they weren't divorced, so the police said it was civil matter, not criminal. ACK!!!! I've witnessed the kids having conversations with her on the phone which resulted in their being extremely stressed and frustrated, coming out of it in tears.

    She does nothing (and did nothing in their 13 year marriage) to support him as their father, often withheld the kids from him as punishment, and berates him in front of anyone and everyone. THe 8 year old asked me "what does daddy do?", and I was shocked that she honestly had NO idea. Now, that's also HIS fault, and I get it. She was beaming when I told her how much education he has, and how he helps people, and how hard he works on building his business (which he started just a few years ago and spends a ton of time in). When they were married, he worked for a law firm where it was expected that you just work, work, work, and he said he was often the first one to leave even at 9pm. His ex complained that he didn't make "partner', but also complained that he wasn't home enough. Now, if you KNOW your husband is an attorney and is working at a top 8 law firm right out of law school and you want him to make partner at said firm, then you honestly can't expect the guy to be home for dinner every night...it's just not going to happen! Now that he is in his own business she says he is a "loser" because he's dealing with everyday people and never made partner (which he didn't even want, but was doing it because he felt like he "should"). She even wants to take him to court to get part of "our business" as she calls it, even though she hasn't even ever stepped FOOT in his office, helped him in any way shape or form, or even took interest. Now that he's making some money, she figures she should get it. The woman makes 70k a year working 21 hours a week at a no stress job for a billionaire's estate, and she actually went after him for alimony. She now makes over 100k by working 5 rather than 4 days a week and extended her hours by on hour per day, so she's still only working 6 hours a day. He's working from 8am to 11pm daily, and she's home by 4pm, makes more than he does, and wants MORE money. Doesn't matter that she'll lose, but it's worth it for her if she can just add more stress to his life. It's an ongoing battle.

    I honestly feel, and maybe I'm wrong, that if he were more firm with her and nipped this behavior in the bud, that maybe she would back off at least somewhat. Everyone is scared of her because she has no boundaries or conscience. Even her neighbors want nothing to do with her. It's dumbfounding to me that so many people can be so scared of her! She's a nightmare. I used to think that he just made her out to be worse than she is, but after talking to old friends of theirs they told me horror stories. For instance, the 8 year old girl had a gymnastics competition last week, and the ex came into the gym place, walked right over to my bf, and started yelling at him saying he's a 'terrible father', etc, in front of the 12 year old and 6 year old, AND all the other parents. He just walked away, but didn't bring it up at all with her later. I would have said something to her alone when the kids weren't there, but he didn't. WHY? He used to say "i'm just going to keep taking the high road, and eventually she'll get better as she heals". Well, she's just gotten worse and worse, and obviously it doesn't work. Plus, does 'take the high road' mean 'be a doormat', or does it mean 'keep your integrity, but set your boundaries". I opt for option 2, while he doesn't see it that way, and it causes arguments which end up in us both feeling like this just isn't going to work. It feels tragic. It doesn't even matter when she's in a relationship herself; she'll act ugly to my bf even if her bf is there to hear her end of the conversation.

    I have read the stats, and I see that most 2nd marriages with kids fail under the stress that we are under. No, we're not married, but if I look into the future with this man I know I can't deal with how he's handling all this, because she just has more and more fodder with which to put strain on him and his relationship with his kids, which now is coming out on me, which if we ever moved in together and married would then affect MY kids.

    He keeps complaining about his ex's horrid behavior, but then does virtually nothing about it! I'm frankly SICK of hearing about it if he won't take anyone's advice. We are all frustrated (his mom, sister, aunt, brother, you name it), and everyone says "what is wrong with him....why is he taking htis from her???". He's the only one who doesn't see it. I wonder at times (like this week) if I'm just being stupid, because she sti ll has a hold on him! Well, when I think of that I feel like a fool.

    So back to the daughter issue...what do you think I should do? We agreed that we won't get the kids together next weekend (and perhaps the next time we have our kids, which is 2 weeks later) because a cooling off is probably necessary, and the last we weekends he's had the kids, I've been there, too. They need time alone with him, and they don't get it during the week. I'm ok with that. But, I'm sooooo afraid that he will back off from me, or get spooked if his daugther's behavior continues and NOT want to get the kids together for a good long time. I feel mixed on this issue, because I also don't want the 12 year old to feel like she has conquered the situation. I'm more of a doer, I take the bull by the horns and won't mind a conflict if it is necessary; he's a very nonconfrontational person (although he has NO problem at all confronting ME if I criticize him for how he deals with the ex). What do you think?

  • jupiterj
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Paulajean,
    I can greatly sympathize with your challenges, I knew going into this that it would be hard but never realized just how hard it can get. When I first moved in with my fionce everything was great with the kids I always tried to be conscious of their need for alone time and also tried to plan fun games and things to do with them also it all was going very well until ex started getting upset about how the kids talk too much about how much fun they have with me and started saying things in front of the kids that really only should be for adult ears the kids have enough to worry about but now it's like she makes them feel bad or guilty for having fun with me. Some of the things that they have been saying to me I know are their mothers words. My DH always says two wrongs don't make a right as we always say positive things about her to the kids I agree with him but where do you draw the line where it is unhealthy for the kids I asked my DH to have a section put into his divorce decree stating that she cannot talk of my fionce or his relatives or associates in his life and to always foster a positive relationship with him but he worries about her reaction. I also feel so torn at times I love this man tremendously and love his kids and only wish bio-mom would give me a chance with them. Yet sometimes after reading other posts I wonder if these kids would be better off psychologically if I left, cuz as my fionce and I grow closer the ex keeps making it worse. My heart goes out to you and from what I've read you sound like you have a big heart of gold! GOOD LUCK!

  • kym61768
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm not trying to be ugly but the one thing that sticks out in all that you have said is.............he is nonconfrontational.....I find that hard to believe.....He is an ATTORNEY! Thats what they do?
    What do others think? I think he's scared of the ex for some reason

  • zalea
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I am trying to figure out how to do it myself. I have a 4 1/2 year old who is super friendly and my bf has 2 daughters, aged 9 and 3 years old who are not quite like that. At times I can feel the 9 year old's resentment that comes forth as sulkiness and smart comments. I talk to her and sometimes she doesn't answer. I want to have areasonable relationship with them, but my bf started us out spending time together and then cut it back saying that he felt my and my daughter's presence "diluted" their time together. I told him that things like this take time and in order for us all to be comfortable, we needed to be around each other sometimes.

    He agreed in the end, but from time to time he gets all harried and blows up. This last time he accused me of not trying to get along with the children because me and his 9 year old were sitting silent at the table. He claims he tries very hard with my daughter and that makes him angry. In my opinion, all he does is talk to her, which she many times initiates because she liked him from the start as her father is not in the picture. He even cut back the times he saw her and she would ask for him. Whatever I do for my daughter, I do for them when I am there. I told him that sometimes I do not know how to approach his older daughter and at times, even the 3 year old is like, "No, I want my daddy to do it" I feel like he encourages this and I blame him.

    He raised his voice at me in front of his daughters and my daughter and I quickly left at which time his eldest perked up and talked about how she had seen an expensive gift that she wanted. He hasn't spoken to me in four days and I just don't understand this after 2 years. Please give advice on how to handle this. He tells me, "These are kids, you're the adult...figure it out". How I wish it were that easy. I really feel like he is over-reacting. I have never raised my voice to, said anything mean to, or hurt his children in any way and I play with the 3 year old when her and my daughter are playing so she feels comfortable

  • lonepiper
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Has your boyfriend ever raised his voice to you before or exhibited any signs of violence, etc.?

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