Friday, October 30, 2015

An RfMer says, "I hate my TBM father's wife..."

I have been hanging out at RfM less often lately, mainly because my life is evolving and going in a different direction.  I used to read for hours every day.  Now I just pop in for an occasional brief session.  This morning, I happened to come across this post...

The very short post I linked to comes from someone whose father has remarried.  She hates her dad's new wife of one year.  She says she may be planning a wedding in a couple of years and can't bear the idea of the wife attending.  She finds the woman annoying because she's "playing grandma" with her sister's kids and her dad tried to "force" her to have a relationship with her.  I think those reasons are pretty lame for deciding to hate someone.  Hate is a strong word, after all.  But as someone whose husband's kids seem to hate her, I guess I can understand the sentiment.  It took me a long time to get to the point of hatred, but I think it's fair to say I may be there now.  And I know that stepchildren often hate their stepparents.  Sometimes they have very good reasons to hate them and sometimes they don't.

I don't know this poster at all.  In fact, I am assuming it's a woman who wrote it, so I am going to use feminine pronouns as I write about this.  I explained to her that the feelings she has might be mutual.  It could be that the new wife won't even want to attend the wedding.  Indeed, in 2004, when I was "ordered" spend Christmas with my in-laws and my husband's ex wife, the kids, and her third husband, I didn't want to go.  And I didn't go.  People were pissed off at me that I missed the holiday, but they would have also been pissed if I had shown up.  It was a no win situation, because most of them were upset that I even existed in their world.  I made it better by not attending and at least saved us some money.

My guess is that this woman's "stepmom" is feeling awkward and trying to figure out how to fit in.  Many stepparents overcompensate and try to force themselves into an established family unit because they think that's what they are supposed to do.  On the other hand, if you do what I did and bow out, you'll get criticized for "not making an effort".  My husband's ex wife played it like I had snubbed the family when I chose not to spend Christmas with her.  But if I had shown up, she would have been upset about my being there because, in her eyes, I'm the interloper.   I am the interloper even though she divorced Bill and he was totally free of their marriage before we even met in person.  My guess is that this poster feels that the new wife is also an intruder into her family, invited by her dad and no one else.  She didn't get a say and she's angry about it.

I also think that the poster is probably really pissed off at her dad.  However, because he is her dad and she loves him, she focuses her anger at his wife.  His wife may genuinely be obnoxious and annoying, but for some reason, the poster's father loves her and chose to marry her.  He rejected the poster's beloved mother in favor of this new woman whom the poster sees as inferior and trying to take her mother's place.  The reality may be that the stepmom may just be struggling to figure out what her role is.  Or it could even by that her dad even told his wife to "make nice" with his children and try to take on a motherly role.  It could be that the new wife may not even want to hang out with his kids or try to bond with them, but feels an obligation to try.  And it's coming off as fake and forced, which annoys the poster.

Blending families is very difficult under the best of circumstances.  Add in Mormonism and it gets especially sticky, given their beliefs about eternal families.  I don't know what the situation was between the poster's parents and why they split up, but I do know that even when religion isn't a factor, new relationships are hard... for everyone involved.  I don't know this poster or her family.  I have some empathy, though I think the poster lacks perspective.  She is too close to the problem and can't see that there are other perspectives she may not have considered.

I have my own emotional shit after being married to Bill for thirteen years.  While it's sad that his kids disowned him and he grieves the relationship, he also realizes that they have their own lives now.  He has to live his life.  I fit into his life because we are compatible and love each other.  His kids don't have to love me in order for Bill and me to have a relationship.  They don't have to love me to have a relationship with him, though if they want to visit my home, I would expect them to at least show me a modicum of respect.  They may think they rejected him and it was their choice; it wasn't, really...  but I'm sure it's easier for them to believe that it was their decision to shitcan their dad.  The reality is, they lost him.  That's a tragedy.  Someday, they may be able to reclaim him, but they have lost many years with their perfectly awesome dad over really petty bullshit.

I hope the poster at RfM doesn't lose her dad because he made a decision to marry someone she doesn't happen to like.  I hope she understands that it's his life.  And I'm sure that as an adult, she wouldn't want someone trying to tell her whom she should or shouldn't marry.  The best solution for her is to try to get along and be civil... and realize that her dad has the right to marry the person of his choice who also wants to be married to him.  If she wants to have a relationship with her dad, she will need to respect his choices, even as she has the right to be upset with him.

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