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Struggling with husband and step kids

Community Member

My husband and I have been together for almost 10 years, he has 2 kids to a previous relationship- his kids are 13 and 11, was never married to his previous partner of close to 6 years. I was previously married, together for almost 10 years, married for 2 then my husband was tragically killed in a double fatality. I was widowed at 26. I have never gotten over this and feel I never will.

My husbands kids and I have never really got along, there has always been this very awkward feeling between the 3 of us, I have been part of their lives since they were very young, 4 and 2 however despite this we still don’t get along like I’d hoped we would.I feel our relationship was rushed to start with, we only started seeing each other just on 12 months after the death of my husband then he moved into my house pretty much straight away, my house certainly wasn’t set up to accomodate young children at the time which stressed me greatly. I am a person who has always been very structured with my way of life and in my daily doings and looking back now feel and without sounding selfish I had moved mountains and uprooted my ways for him and his kids to which now I feel I am regretting as I believe and feel I have lost a major part of myself in the process. his kids don’t live with us full time, he only has them every fortnight, I dread it, because I feel my space is being invaded and feel I have to tip toe around in my own home in awkwardness when they are here because everything is just so awkward when they are here. I have strong values on family time and believe in things like no phones at the meal table, no hats inside, use your manners, don’t gorg your food down and simply being respectful, however my husband is not one to encourage his kids with the above. My husband is from a split family and very happy to tell you he is from a split family and feels it’s fine for his kids to do the opposite of the above. I am a single child from a typical nuclear family with rules and boundaries. From our different backgrounds and different ideals on raising kids, this has a major negative impact on our time together as a family when his kids are in our care each 2nd fortnight. I feel I am left out of events and the fun things because I’m so different and looked at weirdly because I have values and morals. I feel I’m being ganged up on 3-1 when his kids are over so I just stay out of their way now.

My husband says ive got issues and need help, so here I am looking for help. TIA

2 Replies 2

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Tia and welcome to the forums,

No I don't think you have issues. I think your husband needs to pull his head out.

Many many step parents struggle with bonding with their partner's kids. I'm probably going to cop flack for this but I always knew in myself that unless I had kids of my own I would never consider a relationship with a man with kids. Why? Because not everyone is maternal. I'm not. Until my own kids were born I didn't really like kids. I'm not a natural Mum even with my own kids. What others find easy utterly drains me. And step kids are even harder to bond with.

So no. I don't see YOU as the problem. I see your husband as the problem. Why? It's your home too. Yes he has children. Yes you accept and love them. But that doesn't mean his and his ex wife's rules are the only ones that count.

You're uncomfortable in your own home. You're uncomfortable with the behaviour and he is letting the kids behave by the rules he and his ex expect. But it is YOUR home not hers.

How about asking him to come to a family counsellor with you? Neutral ground and a therapist mediating. Explain yes you understand his kids matter. But so do you.

It isn't fair for him to expect you to feel bonded to the kids. Maybe I'm out of line but I know my own mind and heart and I would struggle too.

I would find it very difficult to uproot my routine and way of life when the kids visit. I don't feel it os fair on you. Yes you chose him knowing he had kids but also you didn't sign up for changing who you are.

Not sure if it helps at all. I just wanted to reply and say I don't think you are wrong for wanting to feel comfortable.


Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear JDBS~

I'll join Nat in welcoming you here and must say I quite agree with her. I do not think you are in any way lacking. You husband is wrong. I feel it is a cop-out to say it is you are the one with issues. Even if that were true what is he doing to help with them? If one partner has problems or is unhappy then it is a problem the pair should face and deal with together.

Frankly I think a well known TV show about two families coming together in an ideal and happy fashion has a lot to answer for. It raises unrealistic expectations about a fundamentally difficult situation. You have invested an awful lot of your life and love in the children, and perhaps under different circumstances they may have responded as you would wish. Unfortunately you are not the only influence in their lives. For the times they are away with their other parent the influences on them are unknown, or at least different to yours. When they are with you your ideals and needs are undermined.

Frankly the ball is squarely in your husband's court. While nobody is totally responsible for their kid's' behavior one must always try to set a good example and steer them towards behaving in a sensible and considerate manner. Add to that there is an obligation one has to see one's partner is happy, secure and has a good life. Actually it is something that should simply be motivated by love.

Leaving your home or staying out the way when the kids arrive is not a good idea - or I don't' t think so anyway. I'd view it as the thin end of the wedge. If it happened for that then it might start to happen for other things until you have no home and retreat left.

It realy is a case where you husband has to make a sensible effort for you and the family. As a first step I'd strongly suggest counseling for you two together. What do you think?