His daughters' ruined our love

Posted on: 21 January 2008 by

Sue’s partner said she shouldn’t let her daughter ruin her life - so why are his girls doing just that now?

Sue Writes:

When I met my current partner four years ago, he begged me to let him move in.  I went through hell with my then 11-year-old daughter, but he kept telling me I shouldn’t allow her to rule my life and spoil my chances of happiness.  When I asked how he thought his daughters, aged 24 and 28, would react, he just laughed and said they were adults!

We endured 15 months of my daughter’s tantrums, but finally she not only accepted him, but they got on really well together.   He hardly saw his own girls and I didn’t meet them until our second year together.  They hated me from day one.  As he saw them so rarely, only three or four times a year, he suggested we should:  “Give them time”.   Then they told him they were missing him and wanted to see more of him but made it clear that they wanted to see him alone, and without me. 

As they live 200 miles away, we would book into a hotel for the weekend and he would go off for ‘his time’ with them, alone.   They arranged to meet more and more often, always alone. His daughter got married and although I wasn’t invited, I sent a wedding present.  His other daughter had a baby and I sent a christening present, although I wasn’t invited to the party.  I never had a thank you.  I sent Christmas presents, but they continued to ignore my existence.

The situation began causing rows, and I reminded him of what he’d said about parents having the right to a life of their own and not allowing children to rule lives, but it would seem that the rule he applied to me and my daughter did not apply when it came to him and his.   He now visits alone frequently, can’t phone me when he’s with them because he feels it’s ‘not fair on them’.  Yet he returns moaning that when he’s with them he feels in the way because they simply carry on with their daily lives.  

I’ve written to the girls, pleading with them to acknowledge me and to see how the way they are treating their father is hurting him.  They don’t respond and it’s making me feel so worthless, as though I’m engaged in some kind of secret and sordid affair, which of course I am not.  The other day, I lost my temper and told him to go and live with his precious daughters.   He refused, saying he can’t leave his job here and that if we split up, I should be the one to leave.  My daughter is 16 and will be leaving school soon.  I feel so confused.  Why is he being so selfish?

Andy Advises:

As you may have noticed, I used your question on the site last week, because it sounded the sort of problem that others might share with you.  I'm sorry you are having such a rotten time.   It sounds to me as though your partner wants to have his cake and eat it! 

He clearly feels he gets in his daughters' way when he’s with them and I think he’s suffering from some sort of guilt complex where he is concerned about not being around earlier in their lives.  That's why he's being so insistent on seeing them now, even though they treat you (and him by the sound of it) so badly   There’s no excuse for their rude behaviour.  They sound like a pair of selfish, stubborn brats. They obviously resent you playing such an important role in their father’s life. 

So if I were you, I’d stop wasting my time trying to please them.  It’s costing you a great deal both emotionally and financially.  You are worth thousands of these possessive, silly, ungrateful young women so stop feeling useless and worthless.  You’ve done more than any woman in your situation could reasonably be expected to do, and you did it because you love their father so be proud of yourself for going so many extra miles.

As for your man, it sounds as though the two rotten apples haven’t fallen far from their father’s tree.  He clearly has one set of rules for you and one for himself.  You might tell him that he lost out on his own daughters’ young womanhood because of his selfish behaviour and that as your daughter has grown to love him as a surrogate father, he is in danger of losing that part of her life too.  And there won’t even be a blood tie to coerce him back later.  You might even suggest that she might end up treating him as his daughters have treated you, and deservedly so.

Point out to him that since he was the one who moved to be with you in your home in the first place, and not the other way round, he must be the one to leave if anyone is going to go. Tell him firmly that you are not prepared to jeopardise your daughter’s exams and her future by disrupting her at such a vital time in her life with a move and emotional split that is bound to upset her.  Tell him to get out, go and rent a room somewhere and give you back the chance of happiness you deserve.   You sound so lovely and warm and generous that you truly don't merit the treatment that's being dished out to you.  Please let me know how you get on.

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