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Paying maintenance on estranged adult stepchild is eating away at our marriage

Community Member

My DH has a daughter and has been in and out of her life since she was 3 due to issues with his ex. They tried to make it work for her sake after the 1st split but ended up making each other miserable for another decade until they divorced. When I met him the SD was 13 and wanted no contact.

6 years on and we have a son aged2 who the SD has never met. She was welcome to be in our son's life but his ex sent an abusive text to say that under no circumstances are we to consider her as a sister to our son. In the past 6 yrs he has seen SD a few times around xmas and bdays so she can collect an extra gift. She ignores him for the rest of the yr. There's a constant "you left us, you owe us" attitude and I doubt we'll ever see the day when they consider that debt squared.

I know parents with children would say "I would never choose my new partner over my own child". But I think he believed that he had a chance at repairing their relationship as SD grew older. He promised me that child support would stop when she reached 18 and we could relax our budget a bit. I have since found out that after she reached 18 he has secretly bought her a car, paid the her bond and is paying her $500 monthly while she's studying. We've been scrimping like mad to make sure the mortgage is paid. We're sharing a bathroom because the ensuite hot water is glitchy and we don't have money for a plumber. I've been putting off getting my wisdom teeth out because we don't have enough $ as a buffer in case of emergencies.

Sometimes at night I'm so crippled by anxiety that I can't breathe. My DH's good company, he still makes me laugh, he's a good father to our son. But the good moments are shadowed by the constant worry more $ will be siphoned off. As it stands he promised monthly support until the end of this yr while she finds her feet. I worry that she'll cut off contact if he stops paying so he'll sacrifice our security to keep her in his life. I have no problem with him having a relationship with her. I do have a problem with him splurging money on her and then telling me I have nothing to worry about and that we've still got enough. He still doesn't see where he went wrong, just that he's trying his best to do the right thing by her. But it's broken my trust and I don't know how to relax my guard around him. I look at the lovely house that we've bought, our innocent son and I fight the urge to just break things off so I'm not constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Thoughts?

2 Replies 2

Community Member

I know how you feel, I pay my ex CS for my two daughters and it makes me it tough for my wife now and newborn.

Having said that, they are young and I owe that money due to time share and pay differences. So I pay it.

Mine also want to be around me, even tho the ex does make it difficult at times.

In your case, I think she has learnt to manipulate your partner by pulling at the heart strings and threatening to cut him out...It's quite nasty tbh...but it's probably been reinforced by her mother her whole life.

On the other hand, I went to school, had a part time job and saved for my own car.

In my opinion she's an adult and he shouldn't be paying her a cent, she can get a job like every other grown up.

She's most likely claiming study benefits and centrelink payments also....probably getting herself a handy wage with your partners 500 a month.

It's probably time to pull rank on your husband and cut that financial blackmail. If she chooses to end contact with him so be it

Hopefully I'll be able to get through to him at the end of the year. I just don't know what I'm going to do if the payments continue. I was supported by my mother past age 18 so I can relate that sometimes payments don't stop just because a child hits a birthday. She helped contribute towards my car and expenses but I understand give and take. I understood that she worked hard to provide for me and sometimes I can't get what I want or what my classmates had because we weren't that well off and the money just wasn't there. And now that I'm an adult money goes back the other way. But beyond just money I actually care if something happens to my mum. Over the years SD has come out with comments like "you should be grateful to mum for all she does for me. My rent, bills and upkeep doesn't pay itself you know". So any contribution made by DH towards his ex is invisible. There'll never be any recognition of the sacrifices he's made on her behalf.

It's hard for DH to come to terms with the fact that the sweet little girl he had no longer exists. She became a difficult teenager and now a self entitled adult. I don't have the warm fuzzy memories of the girl that was so I have no fondness for her and no reason to want her in my life. But he has happy father-daughter memories that he retreats to when things get tough. She'll always be his little girl.

It's so frustrating that he can't see how his lies has damaged our relationship. Between the relentless task of caring for a baby and the resentment of betrayal, intimacy has taken a definite hit. I try to act the way I used to but sometimes I feel dead inside. I've got be so careful not to critisise his daughter because as soon as I say something negative he gets defensive and my words don't get through. They'll just be viewed as an attack and he'll justify his actions by saying that I'd be angry if he told me. Well right now if I'm not sad about it, I'm past anger. I feel blinding hot rage that I have to bottle up because I don't want to justify his actions by having an epic meltdown. Argh 😫