Relationship Connection: My stepdaughter won’t let me see her new baby

Question

My husband and I have been together nine years. We were both married before and ended up cheating on our spouses, which is how we ended up together. Even though we both regret doing that to our families, all of these years later, we’re happy together and have a good marriage.

We’ve tried to make amends with his children, but they still treat me like “the other woman.” We have gone through years of small, loving, slow steps, where for the most part, I still have been rejected, kept away or kept at-bay. We’ve moved forward, hoping that time will heal, provide forgiveness, and soften their hearts.

We’ve supported his children’s relationships, finances, marriages, and now, the first grandchild. His daughter only wants him to come visit their new child. He told her that “we” would come visit the grandchild, which was upsetting to her.  My husband and I have had many talks and feel his children are being disrespectful to him, his life, and me. We feel he needs to have a face-to-face with them so we can have a truthful and realistic starting point for where to go from here and what’s acceptable and what’s not. But it just isn’t happening for him. He says he will talk with them, but does nothing so he doesn’t stir things up while they might be getting better. I know this man truly loves me but is admittedly conflicted about taking a stand for us. I feel uncared for with regard to this and don’t know how to help move us out and forward.

Answer

Even though nine years seems like a long time for his children to hold a grudge against you, it’s important to stay accountable and honest about what really happened. You both were a significant part of dismantling the family his children counted on for safety and stability. This isn’t something that heals quickly.

You were able to move forward and redefine your life with your new husband. This was something you both controlled. On the other hand, children who go through divorce are completely powerless. They don’t get to have a say. Their parents make the decisions about where they will live, who they will spend time with, and what their life will look like. From a child’s point of view, divorce is the most unfair thing that could happen to them.

I recognize that some divorces are necessary. However, after counseling with couples and families for over fifteen years, it’s my belief that most divorces are preventable if adults would take personal accountability for their behaviors and do the work necessary to build a healthy marriage. I don’t know the circumstances around your divorces, but I do know that infidelity is a choice that produces a train of consequences that don’t always disappear after nine years.

Instead of demanding that these children respect you, try having some compassion for what it must be like to have their dad with another woman. Having a new grandbaby dials up some strong feelings of family loyalty that aren’t easily shared with an outsider. Even though you’re connected to your husband, his children obviously don’t feel the same way about you.

If you really feel compassion and sorrow for the impact this affair had on them years ago, then I recommend you support her wishes with her new baby and show her that you don’t have one ounce of entitlement. This moment doesn’t have to be about your husband making a stand for his relationship with you. You guys already did that nine years ago when you formed your relationship. You had your time to show the world that you were a couple. Now, it’s your time to make this about her new little family. Don’t put your husband in the middle of having to choose between her and you.

If you want her to feel close to you, then show her the appropriate accountability and respect that she needs to feel safe with you. She needs to know you’re not a threat to her and that even though you’re going to stay married to her dad, you understand how hard your presence in the family still is for her. My guess is that she’ll eventually warm up to you, but it may not happen as quickly as you had hoped.

Stay connected!

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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

 

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15 Comments

  • My Evil Twin October 29, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Look lady, you are “the other woman.” That is where you, (and your husband,) put yourself many years ago. You have absolutely no right to any respect, (nor does your husband,) from the kids that were affected by your actions. You made your own bed, now lay in it.

    • My Evil Twin October 29, 2014 at 8:52 am

      Just a bit more here. Obviously, your own wants and desires were all you were considering those many years ago. Obviously, your own wants and desires are all you are considering today.
      Leave those kids along, to try to make something out of the lives that you certainly helped to wreck. How about doing something that is not quite so self centered for a change. There are lots of volunteer things you could be doing to help people in this community.
      But oh no, you want to concentrate on yourself. You really should be ashamed of yourself.

  • ladybugavenger October 29, 2014 at 9:22 am

    You and your husband don’t deserve your children’s respect. Once you get that through your head and heart you’ll stop crying about not seeing your grandchild, but you’ll respect your step daughter. Other woman you are and always will be- that’s the consequence of the choice you made. Stop your whining, other woman. Start respecting how the kids feel….starting thinking about others and not your selfishness.

  • Just Me.... October 29, 2014 at 9:47 am

    This is the true cost of infidelity. You might feel that and your husband were meant to be together but the foundation of his first family was destroyed in order to create the foundation for this marriage…not to mention your own marriage. You left one heck of a debris field in your wake. That might be more than you can overcome in one lifetime. The damage with your husband’s children is the collateral damage that the two of you saw as an acceptable expense back then. You can’t expect anything of them now. I’d back way off and just accept that there is no relationship. Why you insist on one might be a point of marriage counseling for you and your husband…are you trying to create another layer of bonding with him? Does this create tension in your relationship? My guess is that you feel badly about his pain. He’s a big boy and he owns what he did too. Move forward and let it ride for now. JMHO

  • Graf Von Koolaid October 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Is there some religious involvement here? Some religious nutcases feel compelled to disown their own family for refusing to be one of the cult. Is your daughter one of those religious nutcases? Also, maybe you should have your son check the DNA of that baby. If he doesn’t have the balls to stand up for his own parents, where did he ever get any balls to make a baby?

    • Visiting Anthropologist October 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Good grief…

    • Dana October 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Graf, Are you reading the same article as the rest of us? Or perhaps your comprehension skills went out the window this morning. Are you a product of the failing Utah educational system? If so, that explains your comment.

    • AND JUSTICE FOR ALL October 29, 2014 at 10:30 pm

      There are also some nonreligious nutcases out there. I am starting to think you are one of them. Do you ever leave your computer? The carpal tunnel syndrome you must be experiencing must be intense. Do you have a social life outside of message boards? You are the king of irrelevant comments and unproductive conversation. Your unending, unintelligible comments make me want to Drink Kool-aid from the Jonestown batch.

  • Visiting Anthropologist October 29, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Divorce can shatter children, no matter how old they are. My father and a stepmother I dearly loved (after my mom died) divorced when “another” woman came into the picture. I resented that woman until the day she died even though I was not a kid. I’ve been divorced myself and understand wanting to be with an adult you love, but all adults must take the consequences of their actions and, in the best cases, do this with grace. The woman in this article seems to want to have her cake and eat it, too – a very difficult trick to manage.

    • That Other October 29, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Resented her until the day she died. Did you also conveniently blame her for your mistakes and failures, such as your failed marriage. Try to understand things through that other person’s vision. There are secrets kept from children, things not disclosed about a parent’s porn, alcohol or drug addictions, verbal or physically abusiveness, lazy and demanding, or being frigid, non-responsive and indifferent to his or her spouse. Children might receive attention and affection that the other spouse never receives. That alone may cause one to seek another’s affections. Children may have unjustified bitterness toward the “other” man or woman, not knowing the full story or those secrets kept from them about the parent they adored. What you see as a child and what you know as an adult are sometimes world’s apart. Should a child or adult become bitter or hateful toward me, I only have my own self to answer to and measure my being with those around me, the company I keep. Any child who maintains a lifetime of bitterness and anger toward someone will ultimately experience problems and failures. But that “other” can always blamed for those failures. How convenient.

      • My Evil Twin October 29, 2014 at 5:01 pm

        In other words, you either wrote the letter to Geoff, or you are in exactly the same boat. No point in talking to you, as you are way to self centered and selfish to realize the harm you have done to others. You are the definition of the word loser.

        • That Other October 30, 2014 at 11:46 am

          What things do you learn when you listen to and observe other adults? How often have you heard a divorcee making vicious comments about the ex in the presence of their children, things you know aren’t true, because you know the ex, and the ex is too mature to play that game. Then you hear the child repeating those lies to others while growing animosities toward anyone establishing a relationship with the other parent. Never seen it? Is your world that perfect or that sheltered, or are you ignorant toward it? I too often overhear this very same drama in public places such as restaurants, stores, gyms, parks, wherever the drama queen can increase the vocal decibels to have an audience in audible range. Some people thrive for attention to some perceived drama in their lives. Perhaps I am too hardened to bother with the childish and immature behavior of someone’s adult child bother me and draw me into their world of drama. I would simply go on with living my life, free from their drama and animosity.

  • Just an opinion October 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Great advice. So tired of the whining that goes on with weak adults that are selfish and self centered. I am with you, good relationships are a choice. When both parties are not making that choice a good relationship is not possible. Why was it ok for two adults to be selfish and self centered but when a young woman that is in a very important part of her life and wanting to do her family her way it is not ok. She owes them nothing and they should be forever grateful that any of their children have agreed to share there life with them. If my parents would have behaved like this my new life would not have included these two.

  • Herd October 29, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Obviously they’re not of Utah decent otherwise they would be familiar with that age old practice of one man and many, many, many women, some of whom were young girls (children) or wives of other men. You’re in Utah now. Get accustomed with that pioneer spirit.

  • S Steed October 29, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    That is an awesome answer to a sad question. It is so good to have you suggesting accountability and empathy. I believe that for any problem I have, I also have the solution; I just need to be creative and trust my intuition to find it. Beautiful and inspiring response.

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