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Disrespect from New Husband and Step Daughter
Hi. I'm newly remarried in a blended family situation. My husband has 2 adult daughters in their late 20's.
Things were great until his oldest daughter moved in with us. She is usually in some form of crisis. Her dad has always been there to get her out of trouble. She became more money for bills. Husband would just give her his credit card and she would wrack up expenses. She now owes us around $12,000 which she believes she is entitled to this money. I was not consulted on giving her money, he just tells me after he's done it. At one stage he discussed her money situation with his ex-wife, and she wanted us to give more money to his daughters. So he did, but without speaking with me.
When we moved in all together, my presence in the same room was her upsetting her and I had to leave when she was there. This is in my own home. She even did this in front of my husband, storming out of a room in tears because I happened to walk in at the same time. He asked me "what did you do to her?". There were regular tantrums about bizarre things and slights I was supposed to have done to her.
All this time I kept asking my husband to work with me to talk with her and find out what was going on. He didn't want to be involved - saying it was strictly a conflict between the two of us and he was only the meat in the sandwich. He asked me to make sure that she had her own space inside our home and I had to make sure I didn't upset her - as I was causing her depression. I told him she had to move out.
My husband just doesn't want to listen to how I feel, but conceded he thinks she has had bipolar. We have had so many arguments about how to managed this issue. He says that none of this is disrespect, let alone abuse. I am just overdramatizing his daughter's behaviors.
I think she is likely to be uBPD and they are enmeshed. They are co-dependent and enabling her behaviors by turning a blind eye.
So - where to next? We have started marriage counselling, with the counsellor telling me I have no childhood trauma triggers, I have unhelpful thinking and I need to get some CBT. He said I need to "put on my big girl pants and build a bridge". That I'm an aggressive person and my poor husband just wants a life without conflict.
Am I crazy to want to deal with the disrespect? Should I just forget the disrespect and move on? How? I honestly don't want to be married to him anymore. I want to heal from these feelings of disrespect which have resurfaced, by myself.
Having been in step parent situations 3 times including having a partner as a SP to my teenage daughter's, I know how you feel.
Can I divide this into two parts- your side and his based on only what you've told us.
Firstly, saying to your husband "I told him she had to move out" is like waving a red flag to a bull. You are forcing him to make an impossible decision, kick his child out.
Also, any assumptions as to anyone's mental health diagnosis is inappropriate. Unless you are a trained professional please stay clear of that.
Your counselors comment "build a bridge" in fact has merit. Your intentions as a step parent should be (IMO) to be her friend of sorts. It means breaking down barriers not reinforcing them.
Lastly, in some cases it might seem a situation is showing you disrespect but in fact is not the case.
Now to his side. I think he made big errors not consulting you on all issues. It could be he knew you'd say "no" anyway.
I don't think it was wise allowing her to live with you both.
Others here might have different views. I've been the so called "meat in the sandwich" and it is a tough gig. Ultimately if these conflicts continue he is most likely going to choose his daughter over you. That's what blood relatives do.
So to save your marriage you'll have to try a different approach involving befriending his daughter. That's tough also but necessary.
Good to get another perspective.
She had to leave for my own mental health. I'm in a really bad place at the moment.
I agree with you - blood is thicker than water. I'm not in a place where I can befriend her.
I understand about the labels - I am only trying to understand the whys.....
So I think I need to leave the marriage.
I'm sorry to hear that.
Although he is the "meat in the sandwich" he should always give someone a chance to explain.
I hope some good comes out of this in terms of him turning around his attitude. If not I hope you keep yourself together and feel free to consult here. Please read this-
I'm here daily. I can keep chatting if you like or you can return.
I feel for my husband feeling like he's torn. However his regular undermining behaviors, refusing to talk to me about issues affecting us both, keeping secrets, breaking my boundaries and telling me outright lies, all to protect his daughter, are wearing thin. The daughter mirror images her dad and his behaviors, as he is her absolute role model. I am over her lies, deceit, tantrums and manipulative behaviors too. This is where I feel disrespected. I'm not even in the sandwich, let alone be the meat! They stick together and keep me on the outer.
I think we have different values and that is not going to work going forward. His daughter has made it very clear - I am THE cause of her mental illness (depression and anxiety) and my mere presence makes her feel unsafe. . Which is why I was asked to make myself scarce when she lived with us and why ultimately, she needed to leave. I am not able to befriend her. She has made that clear.
I have taken "her dad" away from her and from the moment we married, I feel she is doing what she can to break us up. Before I came along, she had him all to herself - is how I sense the situation to be.
I see all this now. So, looking at ways I can move on kindly and fairly.....
I see TonyWK has given you a lot of useful advice, having been in a similar situation himself before.
From what you have said, I wonder if your stepdaughter could do with counselling too in the form of family counselling. I cannot comment on any of your individual counselling needs, but it is clear the relationship between the three of you is in need of help. Your husband too needs to recognise how his actions or inactions are playing out in your family. For instance, in making you feel like you're being blamed for this rift between you and his daughter.
A lot of this depends on how far you're willing to go to save your marriage. Your husband's daughter is going to be in your life whether you like it or not. It's just how it is when you marry someone with children. If you feel like her presence in your life is something you can't accept, then perhaps this marriage isn't for you. If you are willing to try, then maybe you can try reaching out to your husband's daughter and spending some time talking to her and understanding why she doesn't like you. Keep your husband informed of your efforts too. He cannot pretend that this doesn't involve him - after all, you're both linked through him and it's his job to also help maintain the peace.
It is a very different scenario when the child/children is teens or young. Young ones can be befriended with the read of a golden book nightly and some fantasy, teens with projects like I did with a 14yo restoring a car. Adult children of your partner is another thing again. Unless disabled she should be independent and have her own life. Interfering in her father's marriage is unacceptable and her father allowing it is same.
You seem a strong realistic independent woman. You know your limits and needs. You deserve to be met half way by your husband and to top that off you are being restricted to be present in sections of your own home. I can't see how that can be justified. If she is so convulsed by your presence then family counseling is an automatic answer as Emmen suggested. If they refuse then remedying the situation isn't on her agenda, even if it makes her dad happier.
40 years ago as a young prison guard I developed a sense of suspicion. If a situation seemed abnormal, if I'm taken out of my comfort zone or I'm not returned consideration (self centred people) then my intuition tells me to exit.
I don't have anything further to add. Your future seems a sad one however a short time after separation you might see yourself elated that you've survived and moved on. That was the process I went through with my marriage split. 11 years with a narcissist but losing my full time fatherhood tore me apart. But With the tears came an hysterical laugh - because I wasn't beaten.
I'm concerned that life for you might become torturous because you are trying so hard when there is less and less realistic hope as time goes by.
We have a saying here- be gentle with yourself.
I did try and set up a meeting for us to talk about our feelings and be able to discuss remorse for the situation, draw a line in the sand and work towards positive interactions in the future.
It didn't work. My husband and his daughter got together and he 'coached ' her in what she had to say in order 'to make the problem go away'. That wasn't what I was after - I wanted genuine conflict resolution. She couldn't help herself and whilst repeating the words he gave her in a monotone voice, she let rip in how bad a person I am and just went off hysterically that she just wants her dad back.
I agree - we all need counselling. She has refused to join us in joint counselling and reminds everyone my presence makes her feel 'unsafe'.
I am trying to install boundaries and have called out her disrespect - something she goes off her head when I do. I'm not sure anyone has tried to hold her to account for her behavior before...
Great advice... much appreciated.
In kindness, I shall tiptoe forward.
Have a Good day!
Just an update...
Clinical psych I saw agrees that behaviours and description are consistent with BPD, but cant be diagnosed. I worked with her on the escalating behaviours of both daughter and husband. She helped me work on me... and I saw that I was being emotionally and financially abused by both husband and daughter. I worked through concepts like gaslighting, stonewalling and manipulation. I discovered he would agree to work with me on things, but have no intention of doing so...or do the opposite. He would say whatever it took just to shut me up.
Turns out husband was siphoning the bank accounts of tens of thousands of $ to support the daughter without my knowledge. He was also lying and covering up many other things not related to his daughter... other money, his porn addiction, our business, his work etc.
So I left the marriage.
I have heard his daughter is ecstatic because she has "won her dad back" and has him all to herself now. My children are in counselling of the abuse by the ex and his daughter to my kids... things I had no idea about. Bullying, name calling, being excluded... etc...But they are doing ok now.
The ex is now trying to stall and delay financial settlement by doing all sorts of tricks to undermine the process, and prevent me from getting my money out of the house and business. I put most of it in and he'd trying to claim it was mostly his - only he can't seem to produce any evidence. But the longer he delays, he know it's causing us financial distress and I cant move on and buy a house etc. I have a lawyer and she believes he is trying to do what he can to cause me maximum pain. We are working through the process patiently. It's been 8 months and I'm not sure how much longer he can continue to delay settling.
But we have our health and each other and have left a toxic situation. I tried.... I tried my hardest to work through the mental illness but in the end we had to leave for our own safety.
Thanks again for the advice....