Dating and marrying a widower with children…my stepdaughter hates me and this is what I’m doing about it….

evilstepmother.jpgMy stepdaughter (soon to be) hates me because I am not her mom.  She hates me because I’m a constant reminder that her mom’s not there and not coming back.  She also hates change because it’s another reminder that things around her are still happening, even though her mom is gone.  Nicole is fourteen years old and her mom passed away when she was ten.  I don’t blame her.  I would hate me too.

Here is what I am doing about it:  nothing.  There is nothing that I can do about it.  I’m sure that in another life, we would have really liked each other, say, if I was a friend’s mom or something.  But I’m not, I’m her dad’s partner.  In the beginning, I tried to conversate with her, buy her cute things that girls like, I tried to win her over.  I believed naively that I could win her over, she would grow to like or even love me and all would be great in our world.  I didn’t know any better.  I was met with no response, screaming at me in public, staring at me through a window the whole time I was there and trying to throw me out of the house (oh yes, she has done that too), all while dad stood there looking like a deer in the headlights.  I refused to go back over until he was able to manage her behavior.  She doesn’t have to like me, she just can’t be disrespectful to me. So he took care of it.  She no longer does these things.  Actually, she doesn’t do anything at all.  She just stays in her room and doesn’t talk to me or anyone else really.  I feel sorry for her.

I think as women, a lot of us are people pleasers.  We automatically feel that if someone doesn’t like us, it’s personal and we can fix it by being our fantastic selves.  There’s that woman in the office who constantly rolls her eyes at you because you look a lot like the woman her husband left her for, or the rude cashier who doesn’t  like you after seeing you for a total of five seconds because your voice sounds just like her ex best friend who she now hates.  I would rather spend my time nourishing the relationships that I have with the people who have actually gotten to know me and appreciate me, life is far too short.  We have to accept that sometimes, the more you try, the more they despise you.  They have chosen not to like you.  And that’s okay.  I have spent a lot of time in the past reading blogs and comments from both widower’s wives and daughters of widowers.  The wives were so appalled that the daughters, (who are all grown up now) still hate them when they could not understand why, they eventually hated the daughters as well.  Yet, they would still give anything to reconcile with the daughters, if only the daughter would see the err of her ways and try to be grateful for all that the stepmother had tried to do for her.  From reading the daughters’ comments,  they still felt the very same way they had when they were children.  They didn’t WANT the stepmother to do anything for them, most of them commented that she had always tried too hard and they took this as the stepmother trying to replace their mother.  The daughters wanted the dad to be on his own and avoid moving on but if he couldn’t, they did not want to be bothered with the stepmother.  They already felt that the dad was betraying their mom, they were not going to (in their minds) betray her by actually liking the wife as well.

I have had some very well meaning, yet naive, friends make these comments to me:

“I have always wanted to be a stepmom!  She would LOVE me if I were her stepmom!”        Ummm….why?  It’s not very much fun.  Yeah…..no she wouldn’t.

“If I were you, I would make sure to go to her room and say hi and start a conversation every single time I went over.”                                                                                                              Yes, because I have never thought about doing that…..Too bad when you knock, she acts like she doesn’t hear the door.

“What you need to do, is go over there every single night, cook dinner, and act like you own that house.  She’ll HAVE to come around!”                                                                               That’s a great idea!  Because I don’t have my own house to take care of and I would just love to act like a squatter at my man’s house.  I’m sure she’ll just LOVE me after that! 

I do hope that things change, and that some day she ‘just comes around’, but I’m not holding my breath for it.  Sometimes, people never do come around and that’s okay.  I can accept that and I can also accept that I can’t fix something that I didn’t break.

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Are ‘Red-Carpet’ kids ruining your marriage?

I sent this article to Gabe last week and I found it absolutely fantastic.  One of the best parts about it were the comments and all of the readers who were offended by it and did the classic defense phrase, “Just don’t have kids then if you can’t put them first!”  Wait, so I should treat my kid like royalty and turn him into a selfish jerk who thinks he’s the center of everyone’s world or just not procreate?  I love it.  Here’s the article:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2413638/Child-proof-marriage-Dont-let-red-carpet-kids-ruin-relationship.html

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You see, I AM that parent that the defensive reader is telling not to have kids to.  I don’t think it’s best that I put them first at all times and make them feel that they are the center of the universe and we should all just stop what we are doing while they interrupt us so that they can tell us how they absolutely need that new wrestler or whatever.  Screw what we were in the middle of, right?  Nope.  My friend who I haven’t seen in a billion years who is visiting from out of state will surely understand that she is being put on hold while telling me about her infertility struggles so that my kid can complain that he doesn’t like his food, right?  I feel like some parents really don’t understand that by putting their kid first at all times and everyone else on hold, and essentially, on their kids’ schedule, they are being rude themselves.

So, being the great partner that I am, I went ahead and read this article, point by point to him.  FYI, these are all situations that he and I have discussed before.  Herrrrrreeee we go…..

  • The couples’ free time was being all consumed with the kids and their social lives.  i.e.  skipping dinner together because we can NEVER say no to one of the kids activities or events, that would make us look like bad parents, right?
  • The couples’ relationship coming in last on the priority list due to the childrens’ demands.  i.e. Can’t go out to dinner together without the kids because the kids will throw a fit about being left behind with a sitter.
  • Not sleeping together because the kids have gotten into the habit of sleeping in the parents’ bed, so it’s just easier to sleep in another room than to put up a fight and end things badly with the little angels.

The reasons for allowing these things include:

  • It makes things easier in the short term.  (Better than having a full on fight before bedtime)
  • Guilt parenting.  Divorced, widowed, married but can’t buy your kid enough stuff.  Kids can sniff this stuff out.
  • Wanting to be liked, losing your kids’ friendship.  I don’t know why but I have pissed my kids off so many times but magically, they still like me.

Lastly, here is how the psychologist says to, “Roll up the red carpet and take back your marriage”:

1.  Put your children last. Prioritizing your partner over your children is good for your marriage and your kids. Of course, there will be exceptions – if the children are ill, or their first day at school and so on, but otherwise make sure you and your partner go out for dinner together, send the kids to bed early, do things the two of you love to do together. A happy marriage makes happy children.

2. Be a ‘good enough’ parent. Accept you’re not perfect, that every parent makes mistakes and it’s not the end of the world if you send your child to school in a hastily cobbled-together costume for the school play.

3. Recognize Your Needs. I have met many mothers and fathers who, after years of downgrading their own needs, felt ‘entitled to do something for myself for once’ – and had an affair. Always putting your children first can cause resentment to rebound in extraordinary acts of selfishness. Have a good think about what YOU want and need in your relationship and family life – and make sure you get it.

4. Talk. Make sure you talk through your problems – don’t silently hope they’ll go away. Problems fester if you don’t get them out in the open.

5. Put a lock on your bedroom door. You wouldn’t barge into a teenager’s bedroom unannounced, so don’t let your children do it to you. Give yourself some privacy as a couple – they can always shout ‘Fire!’ if they’re in trouble.

6.  Greet your partner first when he or she walks through the door – not your children. It shows how important they are to you.

7.  Don’t let your children interrupt when you are talking to each other.

8. Make unilateral decisions about your children. Parent as a team and don’t compete for popularity with your children.

9. Prioritize sex. Intimacy keeps a relationship alive. Send the children to the grandparents for the night. It’s important.

10. Make the children responsible for tasks around the house, so there’s more time for you to be partners rather than servants.

 

Maintaining separate households in blended families or Living Apart Together

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I’m engaged to marry a widower who is also a single dad this coming October.  We have been in a relationship for over three years and have seven kids between the two of us (4 for him and 3 for me).  We have maintained our own households over the course of our relationship and we don’t intend to change that when we are officially married in October.  I’ve shared this concept with friends and family, my mother thinks I’m nuts and my friends think I’m a genius.  I started researching this concept a few years back and there are a lot of success stories out there.  Here is one of my favorites:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/23/blended-family_n_5871060.html

 

I thought I would share a few of the reasons why I think this is the best approach for us, although it’s unconventional:

 

  • We have completely different parenting styles.  I don’t plan on parenting his children and he doesn’t plan on parenting mine, however, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to live in a house with a set of divided rules.
  • Neither of us currently have a house large enough for everyone.  We would need a house with at least five bedrooms.  That’s not so common around here and when we looked around, it would actually only cost a few hundred dollars less than paying for our separate houses.
  • Our kids are in two separate school districts which they have all been in all of their lives.  Moving one or the other from their schools would be devastating to them and my guess is, create even more animosity.
  • Sleeping together every night at this point is just not worth all of the uproot and hostility the move would cause, we always have the weekends.

I’m not sure how long this will work for us, but as long as it does, great.  I strongly feel that for now at least, this will help to keep all of our relationships stronger and happier,  and isn’t that the point?

 

Why I love Dear Abby…

 

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So I’m done blogging for the day and was just messing around online when I come across this Dear Abby post:

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/m/8b44b383-57d5-38fd-bc5c-eb990f717cf0/ss_dear-abby%3A-i-gave-up-dating.html

Quick recap:  This guy is 70, he gave up dating at 40 due to he kept getting dumped, and now, 30 years later, he’s lonely.  Yet, he is not attracted to women his age and finds that younger women are not attracted to him. Ummmmmmm……..

You didn’t want to put the effort in when you were younger to be a good mate and uphold your relationships.  Now that you are older and really want (read = need) companionship, you still do not want to put the work in but do not find women your age attractive.  Ugh.

She told him to go and find a puppy for unconditional love then.  I effin love her.

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The first year in a relationship with a widower….The merry go round…

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Firstly, I want to say that I refer to him as a widower for the sake of my posts, but I don’t really identify him in real life that way.  His name is Gabriel and he is a man who happened to lose his wife years ago.  Okay, going forward….

The first year of our relationship took off very fast.  I chalk it up to knowing each other in the past and feeling comfortable with each other already as compared to someone who you are just getting to know.  I feel personally, like there are core things about people that never really change.   It’s hard to describe feeling like you really know someone and feel comfortable with them and then, on the other hand, there are so many things that you are still learning about them, like you need to catch up.  There is also a feeling of obligation to someone that you have already known.

That first year we hid our relationship from most of the people he knows due to guilt and obviously the fear of hurting others.  We went out to eat a few times a week, we went on one or two day romantic vacations several times.  That year his in-laws were very involved with his children and I think he just needed an escape from what he was going through, which was me.  It was like being in love for the first time with so much underlying guilt and shame.

When I would go to his house, it would always be when his children were away or in school.  It is so strange to go to your guys’ house and yet, you are actually really in his and his wife’s home.  You have the family photos, you have the memorial pictures of her, and everything there is essentially her taste.  It feels as if you’re having an affair and it’s a very hard feeling to shake.  About a year in, we were on a short getaway and he asked me to get something from his wallet.  I opened it to see his drivers license along with a small picture of his late wife right beside his drivers license picture.  I do understand grief as a logical person, but oh, that stung.  There was also the time that he told me that if his sister in-law just happened to show up one day, he would really contemplate asking me to hide in the closet.  Ewwwww and ouch!!!  What are we, twelve???

On one hand, I was in this new relationship that I was sharing with my friends and family and was so excited about.  I could definitely sympathize with him but would feel such betrayal from him for hiding it.   And so it goes, it was a teeter-totter of joy, excitement, guilt, shame and being hurt, over and over again.

One of the best examples of that year that I can think of was his birthday.  We were coming back from a two day vacation that day, (his kids were visiting family in another state) and he had made plans the previous year for his birthday to go out.  I remember us driving home from our vacation and his friends calling him and me staying quiet.  He felt horrible, I felt horrible, but he couldn’t just squelch his prior commitments with his people either.  He went out that night with three of his couple friends and sent me pictures while I was at home.  Worst.  Feeling.  Ever.  I knew I had to be a logical adult but could not help but feel betrayed.

palaLast day of vacation leaving home on his birthday

I also longed for the day that we could have a “normal” relationship but dreaded it as well.  I wanted everything to be normal and to not have to feel hidden but I also dreaded the reactions from those close to him and the hurt and anger that I knew that it was going to cause.  To this day, I almost want to hide in a corner at times when it comes to gatherings with his family and friends, it can be so hard and at times, just painful.  I have found a whole lot of solace in certain individuals in his circle who have just accepted me and loved me unconditionally and that is one of the ways that I can still keep going and have hope for a “normal” life.

How it all began….How I unintentionally rekindled an old romance and began a relationship with a widower…

When I was 19 years old, I had a boyfriend whom I was madly in love with.  He was handsome, smart, funny and hardworking but he was also very young as well.  We were in a relationship for about two years when the day came that he butt dialed me and I very dramatically discovered that I was not the only girlfriend he had.   I was devastated.  I was also very young and dramatic.  Following that day ensued throwing out anything he owned that was in my possession and plenty of screaming matches and tears.

Moving forward, we both married other people, had children and wished each other well.  I would hear about him through a string of mutual friends and a phone call years later when his dad was seriously ill and he needed help navigating insurance programs as it was my line of business.

I divorced almost ten years ago and have been a single mom to my three boys since then.  I have dated and been in a relationship that did not work out since then but to be honest, it never even crossed my mind that I would ever run into this guy again.  Until one day….I’m scrolling through my usual Facebook feed and a mutual friend posted that his wife passed away. She was only thirty eight years old.  I was shocked and heartbroken for him and their children.  I sent him a text to see if they were okay.  Obviously they were not, I left him with the usual, “I’m here if you need anything” and left it at that.  In the weeks that followed, I thought about them a lot.  We had a phone conversation a few weeks later when things settled down a bit for him and agreed to meet for lunch before he returned from leave to work.

Fast forward a few months and he picks me up from work for lunch one day.  I had not seen him in over fifteen years.  He looked tired but surprisingly, he looked like the same guy I knew all of those years ago.  I surprised myself when I suddenly felt nervous there in the car with him.  We decided on Corner Bakery and sat down to eat and chat.  We talked about how he was feeling, how the kids were and how he was planning on juggling everything on his own.  He has always been an extremely resilient person who at least pretends not to dwell on things for too long and would rather turn the subject to the other person instead of himself in order to avoid looking weak.  He dropped me back off at work two hours later, we hugged and said goodbye.

Following that day at lunch, suddenly, this person that I almost never thought about for so many years was constantly on my mind and I didn’t want him to be.   We’re suddenly texting daily and I was anticipating hearing from him although I knew I was being crazy.  A week following lunch, he sent me a text, typical him style, “Hey, why don’t you let me take you on a real date out to dinner?”  And so it began……