Growing resentment towards step-kids and ex's
I am seeking some input from others who have navigated similar situations and have found limited information from the perspective of other men on this topic.
I started my relationship with my partner knowing she had two children from previous relationships (teenager and a toddler). At the time it didn't seem to be an issue to me; I was head over heals in love with my partner and whilst it was an adjustment for me having kids around when we were in a new relationship we made it work and still had time to ourselves.
Our relationship progressed quickly and my partner and I also had a baby (my first) early in our relationship. I couldn't be happier to be a father; I love the new role and have changed my life to make sure I am home as much as I can be with our baby. In the lead up to having our baby and certainly since though I have a growing resentment towards my step-kids and the ongoing relationships my partner has to manage with her ex's for the benefit of the kids. I am uncomfortable when the kids from her past relationships interact with our baby, dread when those kids our returning home and often feel like I miss out on experiences with my partner and our baby due to the impact mainly of the toddler she has from a past relationship. Things feel perfect when the other kids are not around but that all changes when they come home and the return of those kids also means interactions with the ex's which is something I dread having as part of my life. I understand that these issues just come with the territory of being with someone who has children from previous relationships but I am increasingly concerned about whether I can cope with this being my life because the resentment is clearly not healthy or sustainable. I haven't spoken too openly with my partner about the growing feelings towards her kids but have over-talked about the issues with the ex's particularly the father of the toddler because due to the age of the child there is a lot of contact. I feel stuck now in a constant battle of weighing up how good things are in the relationship and being a new father against the anxiety/resentment/frustration I feel about having other kids from past relationships interrupt that and the involvement of my partner's ex's in our life. I understand these are my issues, there is nothing my partner can do about them, but I am increasingly focused on these aspects of my life to the point it stops me enjoying the good parts of my life...
And I was pretty much flamed to hell on this forum for having the same view as you.
I had a good set up with my children before i met my wife, would see them regularly, sleepovers here and there etc but I still lived a well balanced life, gym, work, social and so on
When i met my wife she was upfront about having her son 7 days split over a fortnight, but would always dump him at her parents or grandparents and she would frequently see me, gym, socialise etc
As the relationship went on it changed, all of a sudden she was no longer leaving him at relatives for sleepovers, day visits etc and he was always there.
She had him every other weekend, and the weekend she didn't have him she was working. Our life quickly become focused on her son, our life revolved around it, gym stopped together, socialising stopped together....any day trips had to include him....
It really tarnished the relationship and wasn't what I had signed up for, I wasn't interested in raising someone else's kid and certainly no longer felt important in my own relationship....i was like a 3rd wheel.
And just like you said I would dread the days he was coming to our house, couldn't wait for him to leave as it was like life was on hold while he was there.
Our relationship ended now after 3 years, I regret not leaving earlier when I first had these feelings as I never accepted it and was never happy.
Just want you to know you're not the only one who thinks these things, as you'll see there's alot of differing opinions on her regarding this subject
Blended families are a tough gig, bern there done that with a couple of relationships plus my own kids having a step mother.
My view is that it has little chance to work long term unless you connect well with your step kids (which take effort) and you distance yourself from the potential battle grounds between your partner and her ex’s.
Living your partner doesn’t have to mean being involved in the communication between her and her ex’s, a cup of tea following a conversation she has to give with the opportunity to support verbally can be your limit if involvement. Fume over it and chat all the time will drag you both down.
i had a step son 14yo and had lots of issues early in- I had to connect and did so by having a project together- restoring a car for his learners linence. We then really got along. I also helped him a little with his homework but the best connection came with humour. I’d look up a joke on the www before dinner and tell it while eating. We had great times.
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Thanks for sharing your experience theborderline. Sorry to hear things didn't work out for you.
Your comment about feeling like life is on hold when the step-child is there feels relevant for me at the moment and I do worry about the comment you made regarding not leaving earlier when you first had the feelings as you never accepted the situation. I guess that is what I am weighing up now; I am not accepting of all of the involvement of the ex's in her life and am becoming less accepting of the involvement of her kids in our life. I acknowledge that is not fair and am trying to work on that (hence seeking input from others) but I worry if I leave things too long it is more damaging..
Thanks for sharing your experiences white knight. The funny thing I have actually bonded well with the kids; more so with the toddler who I have a very good bond with than the teenage but regardless have quite a good relationship with them both and neither would know I have feelings of resentment. My concern though is that now we have a baby of our own I just look forward to those times they are not around and it can just be the three of us so there is growing resentment which I can imagine will take its toll on me and those relationships.
The ex situation is hard and the ongoing conversations about it are bringing our relationship down. We have differing opinions about how it should be managed though and I have had difficulty accepting that despite my feelings towards he ex being involved in her life she thinks it is important so is going to involve him regardless. It feels to me then like there is not a 100% commitment to our relationship because there is always some thought about how the ex feels and on ensuring he is not put out or made to feel uncomfortable..
I didn't bring it up to my wife in the last 12 months of our marriage but I still had the same resentments toward him.
For example, watching him eat his dinner silly, or the way he spoke at the dinner table would annoy me, just him coming up to the lounge room would trigger anxiety and I'd want to escape him.
When our daughter was born 18 months ago, his father approached my wife about me sneaking down to his bedroom and pushing him, and punishing him by blindfolding and making him stand in the garage. This is what he had told his father.
When he was sat down between the parents he came straight out and said he'd lied because his brain told him too.
I was so angry and hurt, I made my wife take him to a child psychologist to protect me from these disgusting allegations. I never trusted him again from that moment and refused to be alone with him again. I guess you could say I hated him for doing that to me
And ultimately she left the marriage, and takes the son from your life like your nothing to them. So I felt justified in my own personal view as when the relationship ultimately fails your nothing to the kid anyway
My wife rushed her divorce and rushed our marriage, I always felt like I was a 2nd class citizen to her family, as they seemed to idolize the ex and the son. I never felt welcome or comfortable there.
That's just my situation its different for everyone I guess
Your feelings of “competition” to her ex, annoyance of her children’s presence etc are all considered normal but even though they are normal boundaries and conventional values need to be introduced as well as reassurance.
Lets break that down.
My ex would- have meals (with our kids) in the lounge room with TV on. From day one separated I introduced meals at the table no TV.
Meals at my ex never included fruit. I’d include a fruit bowl on the table always full. Bulk fruit purchased at factory outlets meant our kids could take them to school for lunches.
Id never concern myself with how my ex cared for our daughters inly that they were safe and not abused.
My partner at the time respected my need to spend quality time with my kids. You could do the same with your child.
Mt then partner had a very friendly relationship with the father of her children, she acknowledged my need for reassurance.
I also acknowledge that jealousy can creep in but I’d always remind myself that even as a single guy my girlfriends would meet up with ex boyfriends and the same feelings would arrive.
I suppose acknowledging this is the first step, asking for your wife to reassure you is a fair request and reminding both of yourselves that you are a step parent not the parent to those two children should keep clarity ongoing and plan for quality time alone with your child.
These measures will become automatic over time and the kids will know that that house has certain standards.
Thanks for the additional input and suggestions Tony.
My partner has generally been good about offering reassurance regarding the ex. At first for me there were feelings of retroactive jealousy about their relationship. I feel I have mainly addressed that and am not concerned about something happening between them; more concerned that he even needs to be a part of our lives and that I feel my partner includes him in her life more than she needs to - buys him gifts for every occasion from their kid, has him on social media to share photos etc.
The suggestion of ensuring I have separate time with my child is a good one and is something I will implement. I guess that is what has been the trigger more recently. I am at work fulltime and when I come home I want to spend time with my child but feel that is interrupted mainly by her toddler who has to be involved all the time. I get for my partner that is cute and something to encourage but for me I just see her as another man's kid and although I have a good bond with her I don't want her interacting with my child at the expense of me getting to spend time with him.