Tension in my teenage/young adult step family - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 06-13-2011, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My DH and I got married when my DD was 18 and DS was 15. This was 4 years ago.  My kids really like my DH and DH loves the kids.  The big picture doesn't seem to be the problem.  It's the little day to day annoyances.  My DD just moved back home because of lack of funds.  She is due to graduate from college in December.  She is now 22.  DS is in college and still living at home.  So basically we have 4 adults (plus the kid's friends in and out) living in one house.  I feel really torn often.  Just as some examples.....my kids don't like my husband's dog (with some good reason....he barks and can be difficult.  but my husband loves this dog) and complain to me about the dog (like there is something I can do about it)  I told DD before she moved back home, that this is part of the living here and i really didn't want to hear about it.  she agreed....but has had to be reminded of that agreement.  My husband gets annoyed about my daughter's bf being over as well as other things.  He would never say anything to DD or DS or BF but complains to me.  The things he is complaining about I don't feel are huge things and are just part of living with other people or dealing with teenagers and young adults.  DH has no kids of his own and this is his first marriage.  He is used to having things his way.  Like I said, he would never tell the kids he was unhappy about something....he would only tell me.  I want to make everyone happy.  Most of the time it seems as everyone is....but with my husband especially, he seems to pick about the kids....probably because all of the annoyances get pent up as he doesn't feel the ability to voice them to the kids and they seem to get poured out on me.  At times I then get defensive of my children like the mama bear.

 

I know that we only have a few more years until both kids are out on their own....but I'm concerned about these few more years and the impact they are having on DH and my relationship.

 

Any insight is appreciated.

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#2 of 23 Old 06-13-2011, 10:21 AM
 
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I think that part of the problem is that you feel it is your job to fix everything and make everyone happy. It's not your job. Your DH knew you had kids when you'll got together. It's not your job to make him happy about the kids.

 

The real problem is the complaining TO YOU. You have a role in this. You choose how to respond. I highly recommend reading up on Non-Violent Communication. The goal to let them know that you really hear and understand them without jumping into any of their drama. Listening for the feeling behind what he is saying, and letting him know you hear him. "You sound frustrated." "You seemed concerned about her choices." "You seem annoyed" etc. But don't try to fix it, just hear him and then let it go.

 

As far as the dog, get the thing some training. It sounds  miserable to live with, but there are lots of solutions.

 

It's not your job to make your husband happy. It's his job to figure out how to be happy.

 

If reading up on communication doesn't help, marriage counseling might.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 07:19 AM
 
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Getting the adult children out of the nest would be MY priority - not to placate DH, but just because the season of having them under my roof of a permanent basis would be past, and there's be other things I wanted to do with my time and space.

 

Can you and your DH maybe help them with living expenses a bit while they're students, but expect them to go out and find roommates and live like, you know, young adults? You might find, when you ask your DH, that a monthly cash payment in exchange for not having two extra adults plus friends and boyfriends all up in his face is a deal he'd be happy to make. 

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#4 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 09:00 AM
 
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Getting the adult children out of the nest would be MY priority - not to placate DH, but just because the season of having them under my roof of a permanent basis would be past, and there's be other things I wanted to do with my time and space.


One of them is 19.

 

There is an organization in my city that helps homeless teens. The number one cause of a teen being homeless in  my city is the parent remarries and the teen is no longer welcome at home.

 

The other is a senior in college. Doing anything to screw up her graduating will impact the rest of her life.

 

 

 


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#5 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 01:22 PM
 
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I wasn't suggesting that OP toss them out on the street. But when I was 19 years old, I lived at college (home for summers, then living with fiance in summers, then married and gone), and when my younger brother got to the same age and failed to make that transition in the normal fashion, it was very stressful for my (non-blended) family. I'm not sure this is a blended family issue, as much as an unsustainably-extended-childhood issue. Only the OP is in position to make that call. But expecting your college-student children to live in college-style housing is not unreasonable, and it's not an indication that you don't support them and their goals. 

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#6 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 01:40 PM
 
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I wasn't suggesting that OP toss them out on the street. But when I was 19 years old, I lived at college (home for summers, then living with fiance in summers, then married and gone), and when my younger brother got to the same age and failed to make that transition in the normal fashion, it was very stressful for my (non-blended) family. I'm not sure this is a blended family issue, as much as an unsustainably-extended-childhood issue. Only the OP is in position to make that call. But expecting your college-student children to live in college-style housing is not unreasonable, and it's not an indication that you don't support them and their goals. 


I agree, this is probably not a blended family issue - four adults in one house could be pretty difficult in general. It does sound like there are financial reasons for the arrangement, though, so it may not be as simple as just expecting the young adults to live at college.

 

Are the students working part time? Could there be a possibility that they could rent a small apartment together? That is usually cheaper than living on campus.

 

I would definitely set the expectation that the 22 yr old will be getting a job and moving out after her graduation in December.

 


 

 

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#7 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 01:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

One of them is 19.

 

There is an organization in my city that helps homeless teens. The number one cause of a teen being homeless in  my city is the parent remarries and the teen is no longer welcome at home.

 

The other is a senior in college. Doing anything to screw up her graduating will impact the rest of her life.



Totally agree.  I am not of the opinion that the day my kid is a legal adult, that they better be out of my house.  I think most teens/young adults need a transition period.  I feel responsible as a parent for helping them through that transition.  If they're getting drunk every night, throwing up in my bathroom, and sleeping on my couch all day with pizza crumbs on their pillow--well, its time for a talk.  But if they are going to school and being respectful and helpful at home, I don't understand why any parent would kick them out.  It sounds pretty harsh to say "okay.  My kid is now a legal adult and I've got better things to do, so out of my house already."  I moved home during the summers in college because I loved and missed my family...not because I was a crazy moocher.  I would have been terribly hurt if I hadn't been welcome.  You can welcome your kids at these ages/stages into your home without enabling them. 

 

OP-- I don't know that you are going to be able to please everyone.  Personally I feel like your husband needs to accept the fact that these are your kids and he knew the deal when he married you.  I would tell him you are feeling torn and don't like having to defend your kids.  If he didn't let up a little, I would head in for some therapy.  It doesn't sound like an unworkable situation.  It just sounds like he maybe needs to really understand how the comments impact you as a mother. 

 

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#8 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 02:19 PM
 
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" It sounds pretty harsh to say "okay.  My kid is now a legal adult and I've got better things to do, so out of my house already."

 

Yup. That would be totally harsh, if anybody was saying that.  

 

 

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#9 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

" It sounds pretty harsh to say "okay.  My kid is now a legal adult and I've got better things to do, so out of my house already."

 

Yup. That would be totally harsh, if anybody was saying that.  

 

 

Oh, well, I'm sorry.  I guess I misinterpretted "Getting the adult children out of the nest would be MY priority - not to placate DH, but just because the season of having them under my roof of a permanent basis would be past, and there's be other things I wanted to do with my time and space """'''""""".

 

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#10 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 03:33 PM
 
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I guess you did.
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#11 of 23 Old 06-14-2011, 03:52 PM
 
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I know this isn't much help, but I wanted you to know that my sister and brother are back at home living with my parents (and funnily enough, one ridicuously annoying dog), and everyone is on edge sometimes.

 

My parents were empty nesters for a year before; so it helps that they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the end, they are adults, and they should respect your dp's space and his dog a little bit. Perhaps have them do some extra things to show their appreciation for your husband.

 

Also, I think your dp should feel comfortable saying something to your dd, and if not, you should back him up. So if he has a problem with the bf, they should hang out elsewhere. If the dynamic thus far is that he talks to you, and you talk to your kids, and that works for you-- then you need to tell your DD that the bf can't stay over past 7, or what have you. 

 


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#12 of 23 Old 06-16-2011, 03:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post




One of them is 19.

 

There is an organization in my city that helps homeless teens. The number one cause of a teen being homeless in  my city is the parent remarries and the teen is no longer welcome at home.

 

The other is a senior in college. Doing anything to screw up her graduating will impact the rest of her life.

 

 

 

I really don't think she was implying that OP toss her kids on the street. I think it should be all parent's priority to get the adult kids out of the house. It's a part of parenting! My sister has been "helped" by my parents over and over again and let's just say that when (if) she's ever out in the real world...she'll be eaten alive.  I'm not saying that this is the case with OP at all, I'm just saying that just because parents want kids out does not make them the equivalent to the parents mentioned here that toss kids out for the love of their new spouse. Definitely a difference.
 

I desperately need my "alone time" and also go really crazy if too many people are around (maybe I'm on the path to being a hermit...hmmm) so in this situation I would just say, "OK family, we all know there are a lot of us living under one roof at the moment. Because of that, I think we need to implement a temporary guest rule. Basically, let's go TO the people we want to hang with instead of have them over here. It's just too crazy here right now." That will encourage the older kids to get out asap because they'll want the freedom of their social life back, they'll get away from the dog, and it will give you and dh a break from the mass amounts of people around all the time (which is probably really what's overwhelming your husband, not just the BF).  As an adult who frequently went from moving in and out of my parents house, I can say that I don't think this is unreasonable to ask of adult children (or younger children for that matter). 

 

From a step parent's point of view, I think it sounds like DH feels like he's being over run. I'm not sure if that's actually the case, but I've often felt the same way in our home when dsd's social life impacts my needs for privacy or down time.  I'll probably get flamed here, but I think DH has a right to say that he's sick of your DDs BF being over all the time and he should be heard. It's a valid complaint imo. He's complaining to you because he doesn't want to complain to your daughter, which I can relate to as well. Family is one thing, but family and friends is a whole other thing. Implementing the "no guests please!" rule will not make dd feel singled out, but will also (hopefully) make them go somewhere other than your house when they want to be together.

Again...this is coming from a borderline hermit who doesn't enjoy a full house. hide.gif

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#13 of 23 Old 06-16-2011, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You have all given me a lot to think about and I appreciate it. 

 

To clarify.....my daughter has lived with a roommate near college for the last 3 years.  Her dad and I pay her tuition and supplement her rent.  She is responsible for her utilities/food/car upkeep etc.  She has a part time job, but it doesn't pay very well.  Unknown to me until very recently she racked up a lot of credit card debt.  apparently she was having trouble paying for food, etc and was charging it.  She asked to come home so she can get back on a better financial footing.  She has a new job now that pays much better.  it is still part time because she is a student.  Both DH and I do want to help her get more financially stable. 

 

DS is only 19.  He is in the process of signing up for the military so he may be leaving soon.  i don't know.

 

Strange new thing that happened today...the kids ask to take my car sometimes.  They have cars of their own, but ours are nicer.  Its probably a few times a month.  They never ask to take DHs car, only mine. It annoys DH that they don't just drive their own car.  Anyway a week ago, DH said that he talked to the insurance guy and he said that the kids aren't insured when then drive my car.  I had to call the insurance guy about another issue and brought this up and he said he didn't tell DH this and that the kids are covered under our insurance when they drive our cars.  I asked DH about this and he insists this is what insurance guy said despite insurance guy saying he would never say that.  Makes me wonder if DH just didn't tell me that because he doesn't like the kids driving my car. 

 

I know once everyone is out of the house things will get better.  I wish DH could at least voice some of his feelings to the kids.  He wont even ask them to take out the trash.  he asks me to ask them.  Beyond that, he never backs me up with the kids even when I am enforcing something he wants.  Like if he is complaining to me about the friends being over and i tell the kids not to have friends over they will go to him and say " you don't mind do you?  mom is just being weird"  Then he will say "No i don't mind"  GRRRRRRRRRR  It makes me CRAZY!

 

Thanks again for all the feedback!

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#14 of 23 Old 06-16-2011, 06:16 PM
 
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Forum crashing here, but the title caught my eye.

 

Can you have a family meeting? It might help to set some ground rules that you can all agree on. What are the adult children expected to do to help the house run? How often is reasonable for them to have friends over? You sort of need to craft a 'roommate' agreement with them. I also agree that you need to quit being the go-between. You can't make everyone happy. They are all adults and should be able to talk to each other.

 

I think the push to get kids out of the house 'early' (i.e. when they're in their late teens) does not fit work well for many kids. In many cultures, kids live at home until they're married. A 19, or even 21 year old, can often use a lot of support from their parents. I think it can help set them up better for success later in life. I also think it can help give them a bit more freedom to stretch themselves, if they have a safe 'landing spot' if they fail.

 

In my family, the kids in their late teens/early 20s were in and out of the house a lot. My parents couldn't provide a lot of financial support, but they could provide a roof over our head and 3 meals a day. that got us all through college. When my sister needed to save for a house in her late 20s, she moved back home for a year. When my brother needed to go back to school, he moved home for three years in his late 20s. My parents marriage was strong through all of this.

 

At the same time, there were expectations. Everyone was expected to help clean the house. If you didn't cook dinner, you were expected to do the dishes. If you prepared a meal for yourself, it was your job to clean up. My parents never provided cars for us, so that was a moot point. But, if we did drive the family car, we were expected to fill it with gas up once in a while. When it snowed, we were out there shoveling alongside my dad. Our laundry was our job. If we had friends over, we were expected to let our parents know in advance, and we had to introduce them to our folks before we disappeared into the basement. We were expected to have a job and/or to be going to school. Staying home with no job and no plans would have gotten us thrown out ASAP.

 

 

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#15 of 23 Old 06-16-2011, 08:47 PM
 
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Let's see...your home, boyfriend does not need to spend the night. If she wants to play adult and make decisions about a boyfriend spending the night, then she should get a job and pay for her own place and have him spend the night there. I lived with my husband for years before marriage and even had children before marriage, but never ever would have dreamt of expecting anyone to let him spend the night with me, in the same bed, at their house. And before that, I had a couple serious boyfriends through the years. It never would have dawned on me to expect anyone to put us up like that..together. 

 

If they have complaints, they are adults, they can get jobs and their own places. In exchange, when you visit their homes, you won't complain about their pets, their dogs, or their decor. 

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#16 of 23 Old 06-16-2011, 08:50 PM
 
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I should add that my children are not even adults yet, but they know, they are welcome to stay here as adults. But, they will be expected to have the same rules as adult guests in our home as they do as teens in our home or as any other guest would be expected to have. There is just an expected way to behave in someone's home. It is reasonable for them to stop griping and start helping more, and have their boyfriends and girlfriends go home at night. If they are old enough and mature enough to even have a boyfriend or girlfriend, then they are old enough and mature enough to make it through the night without the boyfriend or girlfriend to hold their hands.

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#17 of 23 Old 06-17-2011, 07:33 AM
 
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I know once everyone is out of the house things will get better.  I wish DH could at least voice some of his feelings to the kids.  He wont even ask them to take out the trash.  he asks me to ask them.  Beyond that, he never backs me up with the kids even when I am enforcing something he wants.


 

I think that a chunk of the problem is that your DH never learned how to live with other people. Even though the immediate problem will go away when the kids move out, I suspect this underlying problem will resurface in other ways until he deals with it, perhaps when one of your kids comes home for a visit with their spouse and children. Without dealing with the problem, it could very well impact that kind of relationship that you get to have with your kids and their kids *for the rest of your life.* Rather than counting down until this period is over, you could look at it as a gift to really become a family together -- to learn how to talk to each other.

 

If it were me, I'd march my husband into marriage counseling.

 

One of the things you guys could talk about it what sort of guidelines you are both comfortable with for you kids. Some families are fine with boyfriends/girls sleeping, some aren't. Which you two agree on isn't the important part. That you agree and then are CLEAR with your kids is what really matters.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#18 of 23 Old 06-17-2011, 08:07 AM
 
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DS is only 19.


My son is 19. After living in a dorm for his first year at college, he's gotten an apartment with a friend. I help him out with rent (it IS cheaper than the dorm), and he works p/t to cover the rest and expenses. Money's definitely tight, but he's happy to be on his own, building his life. Saying that, he also knows that he is ALWAYS welcome in my home - for a day, a few nights, or for longer term, if needed.

 

I'm really not sure why you include the qualifier that he is ONLY 19.

 

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#19 of 23 Old 06-17-2011, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Let's see...your home, boyfriend does not need to spend the night. If she wants to play adult and make decisions about a boyfriend spending the night, then she should get a job and pay for her own place and have him spend the night there. I lived with my husband for years before marriage and even had children before marriage, but never ever would have dreamt of expecting anyone to let him spend the night with me, in the same bed, at their house. And before that, I had a couple serious boyfriends through the years. It never would have dawned on me to expect anyone to put us up like that..together. 

 

If they have complaints, they are adults, they can get jobs and their own places. In exchange, when you visit their homes, you won't complain about their pets, their dogs, or their decor. 


Occasionally BF spends the night at my house.  However, when he does, he sleeps in the guest room, NOT with my daughter.  just wanted to make that clear.

 

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#20 of 23 Old 06-17-2011, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I should add that my children are not even adults yet, but they know, they are welcome to stay here as adults. But, they will be expected to have the same rules as adult guests in our home as they do as teens in our home or as any other guest would be expected to have. There is just an expected way to behave in someone's home. It is reasonable for them to stop griping and start helping more, and have their boyfriends and girlfriends go home at night. If they are old enough and mature enough to even have a boyfriend or girlfriend, then they are old enough and mature enough to make it through the night without the boyfriend or girlfriend to hold their hands.



not sure where you got that bf was spending lots of nights at my house, but it isn't the case.  And actually DD is wonderful about helping around the house.  DS, not as much.  That really isn't the issue.

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#21 of 23 Old 06-17-2011, 10:47 AM
 
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What does the boyfriend so that is so annoying to your husband? Exist? Come over to visit? Things you hope your grandchildren do some day?

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#22 of 23 Old 06-17-2011, 11:52 AM
 
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You have all given me a lot to think about and I appreciate it. 

 

To clarify.....my daughter has lived with a roommate near college for the last 3 years.  Her dad and I pay her tuition and supplement her rent.  She is responsible for her utilities/food/car upkeep etc.  She has a part time job, but it doesn't pay very well.  Unknown to me until very recently she racked up a lot of credit card debt.  apparently she was having trouble paying for food, etc and was charging it.  She asked to come home so she can get back on a better financial footing.  She has a new job now that pays much better.  it is still part time because she is a student.  Both DH and I do want to help her get more financially stable. 

 

DS is only 19.  He is in the process of signing up for the military so he may be leaving soon.  i don't know.

 

Strange new thing that happened today...the kids ask to take my car sometimes.  They have cars of their own, but ours are nicer.  Its probably a few times a month.  They never ask to take DHs car, only mine. It annoys DH that they don't just drive their own car.  Anyway a week ago, DH said that he talked to the insurance guy and he said that the kids aren't insured when then drive my car.  I had to call the insurance guy about another issue and brought this up and he said he didn't tell DH this and that the kids are covered under our insurance when they drive our cars.  I asked DH about this and he insists this is what insurance guy said despite insurance guy saying he would never say that.  Makes me wonder if DH just didn't tell me that because he doesn't like the kids driving my car. 

 

I know once everyone is out of the house things will get better.  I wish DH could at least voice some of his feelings to the kids.  He wont even ask them to take out the trash.  he asks me to ask them.  Beyond that, he never backs me up with the kids even when I am enforcing something he wants.  Like if he is complaining to me about the friends being over and i tell the kids not to have friends over they will go to him and say " you don't mind do you?  mom is just being weird"  Then he will say "No i don't mind"  GRRRRRRRRRR  It makes me CRAZY!

 

Thanks again for all the feedback!

It's totally understandable that you would want to help your daughter get more financially stable. It's good that she got a better job. Does she have a plan for how she is going to pay off the credit card debt? Amounts, how long it is going to take? I think she should learn to draw up a budget and be able to show you how and when this will be paid off, and how she plans to avoid getting herself into the same situation again.

 

Regarding the car, it's your car! Not your DH's business if you let the kids borrow it.

 

I think the family meeting to hash out the house rules is a good idea. Let's face it, neither your DH nor you should have to tell an adult to take out the garbage, they should be able to figure out when to do it themselves. I think that if your adult children are to continue to live with you for any length of time, they need to act like adults and take their full part in running the household, rather than expect to be treated like children where the grownups do the housework.

 

 

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#23 of 23 Old 06-17-2011, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

What does the boyfriend so that is so annoying to your husband? Exist? Come over to visit? Things you hope your grandchildren do some day?

 

 


Yes, come over to visit.  My husband works really long hours. He is only home for about 30min each night before he goes to bed.  The weekend is his time to relax.  He doesn't feel he can relax as much if there are guests in the house.  I understand that, but that is also part of living with other ppl.  Someone said it above, he doesn't know how to live with other people. Actually that is very true. He lived alone for years before we got married and then he had an automatic family with 2 teenagers and their friends.  I supposed that is a big adjustment.  He has said it is.  I would have thought by our fifth year of marriage he would have adjusted, but i guess not. 

 

Talking about all of this made me remember something from my childhood.  I was 19 and didn't have a place to live (I moved out of my dad and SM house at 17.  I asked my dad if I could move back. He said yes. I was going to use the motorhome in the yard as my room.  Apparently, SM didn't like that he told me yes. I was told by step sister that my dad told her if she didn't like it he would sleep in the motorhome too.  I was never so proud of my dad and i felt very loved.  There were many other times that I was made to feel much less important than the new step family.  One time as an adult (25) I was working for my dad managing his restaurants.  At the end of the day he wanted me to to drop deposits off at his house.  When I did that i would usually sit down and talk to him about business for about 30min.  He never came into the restaurant so this was the only time i had to talk to him.  I didn't stay long because i had a baby and a husband at home myself.  Anyway one day, my dad came to the restaurant and sat me down and told me I couldn't come over any more at the end of the day and talk about business.  SM didn't like it.  I could tell how uncomfortable he was telling me.  He liked me coming over.  Thinking about this makes me realize that i never want my kids to feel that way.

 

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