How would you react? Spouse/step-parent friction - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 10-13-2011, 07:14 AM - Thread Starter
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First off, my husband really is a good step-father.  He's attentive to what's going on with my kids (twin sons, freshmen in HS).  Being male, he sometimes "gets it" much better than I do.  In both elementary and middle school, he chaperoned multi-night class camping trips, because the twins are on the Autism spectrum and really needed someone from the family there with them, but their Dad was busy and I'm female and couldn't be assigned to their cabin.  He has volunteered at their schools in other ways, too, sometimes filling in when their Dad signed up for things and then got busy and couldn't follow through.  He attends Back-to-School nights, sports events and other special things in the twins' lives.  I never have to ask or "make" him do any of this.  Also, one of the main reasons for the major addition on our house (most of which DH has done with his own hands) is because we're not sure how independent the twins will be, as adults, and he thinks if they wind up having to live with their parents, they'll feel better about it if they have a cool, semi-separate "apartment".  So, that's what kind of guy he is.


But sometimes he's less-than-effective in communicating, esp. if he's bothered.  He may try to lead people from Point A to Point B, by verbalizing Point Q and assuming people will logically deduce their way to Point B, on their own.  This frustrates me, as I tend to be so exact in my wording that I drive people nuts with my verbosity!  


So, here is last night's situation:


* DSS (7th grade, lives with us full-time) attends our parish school.  The twins attend the high school that serves numerous parishes on our side of town.  There is a 2nd, 100% private, Catholic HS nearby.  Naturally, there's a lot of friendly competition btwn. the high schools.


* DH belongs to our parish Men's Club, which does major fund-raising for the parish and DSS's school.  DH likes being social and having a beer with the guys in the club.  But when there's work to do, he's pretty no-nonsense.  He feels irritated when critical meetings get side-tracked by chat-fests; and responsibilities always get channeled to the same few work-horses (DH is one).


* DH is still rather irritated because he has chaired 2 major fund-raising events this year and many Men's Club members talked about pitching in to help him - or just help sell tickets - but DH ended up doing nearly all the work himself.


* Last night, the Men's Club met, ostensibly to plan an upcoming event.  Instead, the men were split up according to the Catholic high school their kids attend (or that they themselves attended).  Then they were pressured to compete, to see which group would buy more seats for this event.  Each man was being asked to spend hundreds of dollars, "to show his school spirit".  

(This is not the most important part of American Catholicism, but it is a common - and ugly - side of it.)


* I am sure DH was thinking, "I already give more than my share of time and money.  You a**holes aren't going to shame me into forking over what I can't afford, just because you're all too lazy to market your event and sell seats to people outside this room, the way I do, when I host events!"


Instead he blurted out that he didn't attend - nor did he have a kid at, or any connection toeither high school; that he does things for the parish.  He said, if this was all about which high school you're with, they should hit up the twins' Dad and paternal grandfather instead; and he gave their phone #s and email addresses!


* DH came home still fuming about this.  He did not give me all the background info., but only told me the very last part.  (I've pieced together the rest of it, afterward.)


* I snapped at him:  If he felt they were asking too much of people, why didn't he say THAT?  Instead, he made it sound like he might have participated, if it benefitted HIS kid's school, but that he's not associated with the twins' school.  I reminded him of my various volunteer positions at DSS's school and that, when the wife of the Men's Club president recently asked DH if I'd chair a parish event, to raise funds for DSS's class trip to D.C., DH told her I would.  He didn't say, "My wife doesn't have a kid at that school."!!  Yet, he just announced to the entire Men's Club that HE feels no connection to MY kids' school?  WTH?


* Evidently, he had expected me to feel sympathetic, not embarrassed (even though he didn't explain to me all the annoying details of what went on at the meeting).  So, he snapped back that I didn't need to do anything for DSS's school anymore, he would take over my volunteer positions...which was TOTALLY not what I meant!!!


Obviously, he wasn't serious about that.  And obviously, I now understand better why he felt so upset about the meeting.  But I still feel so irritated about how he handled it!  He didn't tell THEM what was really bothering him, he said things that will make people think there's some sort of rift in our family!


In my shoes, would you call him at work and apologize for snapping at him (instead of waiting and discussing it more calmly the next day)?  Would you just let it blow over?  Or would you expect him to apologize?





One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:  
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... twin sons:
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(HS seniors) ... step-son: 
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 (a sophomore) ... our little man: 
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#2 of 4 Old 10-13-2011, 10:30 AM
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I would apologize and I suspect that your husband will apologize to you as well once he calms down and realizes how what he said was hurtful. It sounds like he is a real stand up guy who just got overwhelmed and blurted out some frustration in an inappropriate manner. I doubt that anyone at the meeting is still thinking about it. Good Luck!

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#3 of 4 Old 10-13-2011, 10:35 AM
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I wouldn't ignore it and hope it blows over; sometimes the smallest, seemingly insignificant things end up festering.  So I would go ahead and apologize not because you did anything that awful, but more as a show of good will and to get everything out in the open.  My guess is, based on the type of person he seems to be, that he will end up apologizing in return and you can both laugh at the miscommunication and the silly guys at the Men's club.


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#4 of 4 Old 10-13-2011, 04:40 PM
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I don't know that I'd call at work (I do sometimes email DH... he's a school bus driver and can't take calls when he's driving) but I think there should be a discussion about it. He might have felt a little awkward about pointing out that he already does more than his share of work... is he usually one to toot his own horn? He deserves credit for all he does, but he might have felt resentful or unappreciated when he was put in that position. What he said was wrong, it gave the illusion of a disconnection between him and DS's that would be upsetting to me if it were my DH and kids... I'd empathize with the position he was put in, first... something like "I wish you'd handled that differently, but I understand that it was a very uncomfortable position for you to be in. I'm proud of the dad you are and our family life. I wish other people would give you/us credit for what we do, but it's not your fault that they don't." If it was DH he'd probably say he doesn't care what other people think about our family, what's important is what I think and the kids think, but he's sorry he upset me. I'd probably say he's right about that, I'll try not to worry about what people think. He'd rather hear he's (at least partly) right than I'm sorry so it'd be water under the bridge at that point :)

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