Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I’m Jealous of my Fiancé’s Daughter!”

My boyfriend of seven months, whom I am engaged to, has recently reunited with his four year-old daughter from a previous relationship whom, because of factors beyond his control, he has not seen in a year. Ever since the reunion, he has begun hanging his daughter’s pictures everywhere (pictures of just her and pictures of the two of them together). I know this is awful, but I feel jealous of their relationship. Not only do I feel that I don’t fit in with them, I actually don’t have a desire to fit in, although that may change later on in our marriage. I have been sick to my stomach ever since the first picture went up with the accompanying: “Daddy Daughter” caption. He takes her to all types of kid-friendly places and makes a genuine effort to bond and entertain her. As awesome as that is for them, I can’t help but notice that he doesn’t put that same vigor into planning our outings. He has been down in the dumps lately, but when he is around his daughter he is all smiles. Do my feelings of jealousy have merit? Should I reassess the relationship and future marriage since I’m having so much difficulty with this? Is it smart to marry someone who has a previous child out of wedlock? What does this say about the type of person I am that I am jealous of my fiance’s child? I was accustomed to being the most important woman in his world and as his future wife I would hope to continue to be that person, but it seems I am second best at the current juncture. — Jealous of Daddy’s Girl

I wouldn’t worry so much about what being jealous of your fiancé’s daughter says about you; your relationship, which you believed was between two people, has suddenly, without any warning, expanded to include three people and it’s natural you would experience some growing pains. What I would worry more about is the idea that you don’t seem at all interested in growing into your new three-person family relationship. Like it or not, this little girl is going to be a part of your life forever if you marry her father, and the time to “fit in” with her is not after you get married; it’s now. Waiting until you’re legally hitched before maybe forging a relationship with your stepdaughter is like waiting until after you get knocked up to consider your birth control options.

Your fiancé and his daughter are a packaged deal now. For whatever reason, you didn’t seem to understand that when you said ‘yes’ to marriage. Although it’s strange that you may not have even considered that a man’s daughter might be part of the picture eventually, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your fiancé didn’t make explicitly clear that he had a daughter, which in itself is kind of shady. But now that you know that he does and you know he’s going to do everything he can to be part of her life forever, you need to alter your idea of what you thought your marriage was going to be like. Before you make any wedding plans, you need to live with this new idea of your marriage — one that now includes a four year-old — and see how it sits with you. You aren’t a bad person if you decide it isn’t for you; but you would be at fault if you decide it’s not for you and you get married anyway.

This is the time to test the waters. The jealousy you feel is natural and human, but you need to push it to the side and try to embrace this child. If your fiancé is down in the dumps around you it’s probably because you aren’t encouraging his involvement with his daughter and you aren’t showing any interest in getting involved yourself. Can you imagine how he must feel being engaged to a woman who doesn’t give a lick about his kid? Who isn’t excited for him that he’s finally been reunited with her while she’s young and they still have most of her childhood ahead? A true supportive partner would put her own feelings of jealousy aside and be excited for him! If you can’t find it in your heart to do that — to at least fake it until you feel it — you should do all three of you a favor and MOA. Marriage can be hard, in large part because we often have to put our own feelings and desires aside for the good of our partner and partnership. If you already know you have trouble doing that and aren’t interested in changing, it’s probably wise — and kind — to bow out now.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected].

50 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Emma February 2, 2011, 9:12 am

    I agree with Wendy, but this person is being extremely selfish. It makes me wonder how old the LW is. Because she is acting like a spoiled child who was forgotten about. Suck it up and try to accept the daughter, or leave him so he can find someone who will accept everything about him, ESPECIALLY his daughter. She needs to think of how hard it was for him to be seperated from the lil girl for so long, and now he is trying to make up for lost time and then some. Not many people would do what he is doing, and that shows a wonderful characteristic in his peronality. I think she needs to MOA now and let the man find someones who loves everything about him.

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      Amber February 2, 2011, 10:02 am

      I feel the same way, I have a hard time being at all nice to this LW. It doesn’t say in the letter if she’s been supportive at all or tried to talk to him about the changes in their relationship recently either. She has to realize he’s going to be pretty excited to get to spend time with a kid he hasn’t been able to see in 4 years!

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      Jessica February 2, 2011, 10:43 am

      They’ve only been dating for seven months.. I mean, obviously she didn’t have the idea of spending her life with this man and his child. It probably wasn’t discussed.
      But I hope she finds it in her heart to either accept the relationship as it is now, including his daughter, or give him the respect and move on.

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      • avatar

        Amber February 2, 2011, 10:53 am

        Maybe not with the child but they are engaged, so she had thought of spending her life with him. I guess I felt the tone of the letter held sort of a stomping her feet two year old who didn’t want to share. I definitely agree she should move on if she really isn’t ready to have children. But, if she was ready to marry this man then you would think she’d want to put a little more effort in to the relationship.

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    TheOtherMe2011 February 2, 2011, 9:18 am

    As Wendy has pointed out, It will not make you a bad person if you decide that this new arrangement is not for you.

    If you say you ” …have been sick to your stomach ever since the first picture went up with the accompanying: “Daddy Daughter” caption”

    To me that is a BIG RED FLAG.

    I suggest you hold off on the wedding, you have been dating for only 7 months. Spend time with them as a family and get to know where you fit into all of this. Would you honestly want to spend the rest of your life with a man who “doesn’t” put his child first ?

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    • avatar

      TMSC February 2, 2011, 9:34 am

      This last comment stuck out to me “Would you honestly want to spend the rest of your life with a man who “doesn’t” put his child first?” I agree completely, when there is a child involved, the child should ALWAYS come first. Wendy’s advice is great, and I also agree that you would not be a bad person to decide this relationship is not for you. But you could look at it as a sign that this man will make a great Dad in the future if you are planning to have children with him…if you can work on getting past your feelings now and creating a loving relationship with him and his daughter.

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    • avatar

      baby.blanka February 2, 2011, 10:33 am

      Totally agree – I think Wendy gave amazing advice but I would also like for someone to point out to the LW that his efforts could directly benefit his future children as well. The LW didn’t mention if they had already agreed to have/not have children once they are married, but seeing him with his daughter is like getting a sneak preview at how great he is with kids… it should almost be like a relief to you to know that he is so able to be a good father. I WISH my father would have been (or would be) half that selfless, this little girl is a lucky one and I don’t think anyone in the family would appreciate the LW undermining it. It really comes off at the LW being needy and bratty almost (sorry).

      I would most definitely take Wendy’s advice and go from there to decide if this is really the life you want.

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      • avatar

        Woman of Words February 3, 2011, 12:07 am

        Besides being a sneak preview to see what sort of a father he would be, her behaviour is also giving HIM a chance to see what sort of mother she might be… No wonder he is down in the dumps.

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        Kate February 9, 2011, 4:19 pm

        That’s not fair. Just because you’re not accepting towards someone else’s kid doesn’t mean that she won’t be a good mother. Personally, I seriously dislike a ton of children. So many kids I come into contact with are ill-mannered, bratty, spoiled, obnoxious, etc. I know this has a lot to do with parenting, but I can’t help but feel resentment towards the child when it’s screaming in line or flipped around staring at me from the other booth when I’m eating dinner. However, I’m planning on having kids and know I will be a good mother.

        The asker may be young and not ready to have children, much less taking on a child from another mother that is now taking up her fiance’s time, energy, love, and affection during a time where most couples are on a whirlwind of romance and couple-time. This, however, doesn’t mean she won’t be a good mother.

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    MissDre February 2, 2011, 9:21 am

    Speaking as someone who has been in the daughter’s shoes, I completely agree with Wendy’s advice: “If you already know you have trouble doing that and aren’t interested in changing, it’s probably wise — and kind — to bow out now.” When I was a little girl my father married a woman who wasn’t happy about having me in her life and her new marriage… and she made my life hell.

    My dad was no longer allowed to tuck me in or read me bedtime stories, or take me out for ice cream. Worst of all, when I got hurt (badly!) she demanded that my father take her side. So by age 11 I cut my father out of my life. And guess what, their marriage fell apart anyway!

    Now, I’m definitely not saying that this woman would ever hurt a child, but jealously does some crazy things. She may find herself trying to come between her man and his daughter. He sounds like a good father, so he’d most likely end up resenting her.

    If this woman believes this is something she can get over, then do as Wendy said. Fake it til you feel it. If she gets involved in their activities, she may just find herself falling in love with the kindness and innocence of a beautiful little girl. And if not… MOA!!

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    • avatar

      MiraGeauxRound February 7, 2011, 2:44 pm

      This happened to my best friend. Her father did this to her the entire time he was married. Now my bff has a husband and three children of her own. Her father and he’s just now making the effort to be back in their life but feels bad because of how the wife affected their relationship and he wasn’t there when she needed him the most. Do you know that woman didn’t like my friend and when she was a little girl forced my bff to call her mommy? That was the first deal breaker for her.

      Thank goodness for the heart of this little girl’s father. There should definitely be more men like this. MOA lady because there are a lot of single women who would be clawing at his door. She should think of how she would feel if she were the actual little girl. Bet she might think twice about the way she’s acting.
      *end rant*

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  • avatar

    WatersEdge February 2, 2011, 9:36 am

    I agree with TheOtherMe, and Wendy, of course. If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. But there’s something positive in this situation… you know that the guy who wants to marry you will be an excellent dad. If you know that you want to have kids with this guy, then maybe you should consider how reassuring it is that he loves kids and wants to be an involved parent. If you aren’t sure if you want kids, or are sure that you don’t, that might be a contributing factor into how you’re feeling, too.

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    • avatar

      cdj0815 February 2, 2011, 9:51 am

      Watersedge, that is exactly what I was thinking, if he is taken this much with his kid, he most likely will be a good father to your future kids. I would put off the wedding for now until I get acclimated to sharing your life with a man that now has a child in his life. You may need to talk to him about this “uncertainty”. Which I hope this is what you are feeling along with the jealousy.

      Overall you may need to evaluate if you really love him or just what you thought you had with him when it was just the two of you.

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  • avatar

    Elmer February 2, 2011, 9:59 am

    As a man who married a woman who had a young child – and am still married 25 years later – I found the choice really being limited to just one thing: as long as the LW realizes that she will ALWAYS, first and foremost, be second fiddle, then she can adapt. The parent with the child will always put the child first. This doesn’t mean the LW will be ignored…she just has to accomodate if she wants the marriage to work. My step daughter and I did not get along from the time of meeting her (age 5 or so) until she got into her early 30s. Now the relationship is much, much better as we both have “matured”, if you will, in terms of seeing each other’s point of balance. If LW has some doubts, she needs to bail and the sooner the better.

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  • avatar

    spaceboy761 February 2, 2011, 10:02 am

    I would say that LW could break off this engagement pretty guiltlessly. When you accepted your fiance’s proposal, you knew nothing of his daughter (ostensibly). Having a four-year old in the picture COMPLETELY changes the terms of what you agreed to when you said ‘YES’.

    I don’t understand the ‘at least you know he’s a good dad’ argument. It’s not like he’s the only guy on the planet capable of being a good father someday or the last one you could ever meet. If you’re not ready for kids now, then what’s the point?

    Also, having a secret daughter is a pretty big red flag. Him being lifeless around you while his daughter isn’t around is a bigger one. At the end of the day, we’re only taking about a seven-month relationship here. There’s no shame in cutting your losses in what could wind up being a disaster scenario.

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    • avatar

      Wolvie_girl February 2, 2011, 10:31 am

      I agree that she is completely justified in backing out since this wasn’t the arrangement she agreed to commit to when she said yes. I don’t, however, think we can assume that this guy is so full of red flags. We don’t know why the girl is suddenly in his life now and wasn’t before. He may have previously had no or little hope of having contact with his daughter. She doesn’t say that the daughter was a secret, just that he had not seen her in a year. It seems likely that LW knew the girl existed, but that she wasn’t really a part of fiancee’s life.

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  • avatar

    Wolvie_girl February 2, 2011, 10:24 am

    When I read this letter, the one comment that stuck with me was “I was accustomed to being the most important woman in his world and as his future wife I would hope to continue to be that person, but it seems I am second best at the current juncture”

    If you are waiting for this man to choose you over his daughter, you can just forget about it. You can, and should, expect total love and devotion from your future husband, but you have to realize something: Relationships (even marraiges) come and go, but this girl will be his daughter FOREVER. If you can’t start sharing your life and love with your fiancee and his daughter, then not only don’t you fit in now, you will never fit it. A good husband and father will view his wife AND his daughter as the most important women in his life. If you aren’t willing to share the top spot, then you don’t belong in #2, you belong with someone else.

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    • avatar

      evanscr05 February 2, 2011, 12:17 pm

      @Wolvie_girl: COMPLETELY agree with this statement: ” A good husband and father will view his wife AND his daughter as the most important women in his life.” When I was 10, my parents split up, and at 13, my dad remarried. He never once made me feel like I was second fiddle to his new wife, and she never treated me like I was a threat. I have a pretty great relationship with my stepmother because my brother and I (as well as our stepbrother) were always included in major decisions as a FAMILY. My dad doesn’t play favorites with her and I and he regularly says “My two favorite women.”

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy February 2, 2011, 12:21 pm

        That’s a great dad!

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      • avatar

        evanscr05 February 2, 2011, 12:40 pm

        He’s AMAZING! It’s so easy to be a Daddy’s Girl when you have a dad like mine. He told me once, out of the blue, that he’s sad that he’s not number one in my life anymore, since I met my fiance. So in the same vein, even though I have another man in my life that I am head over heels in love with, no one can ever replace my dad. They are my two favorite men 🙂

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      • avatar

        Maritima February 3, 2011, 11:02 am

        I am so happy to hear about your loving, responsible father and the relationship you have with your step-mother. I think that too much credit is being attributed to the man in question being a “Great Dad” and the LW is being treated as a spoiled, petulant child.

        As someone who comes from a very similar situation as the LW, I can honestly tell you that it is NOT an easy choice to make, and that while she may understand in her head that the child “Always comes first”, she is still having to get accustomed to the fact that she was first and now she has been thrust into the role of “second best at best”, all because she didn’t know that she would have to be dealing with a child in the picture. It can really be devastating.

        Under no circumstances should she have to deal with a LOWERING of status; she is an adult and the daughter is a child and both should be treated as such, since they add their own unique value into the life of this man,as wife and child, just as he should be adding into their lives as husband and father, respectively. With time, they will be able to add to each other’s lives as a stepmother/daughter roles.

        The bottom line is that since she seems very jarred and very put out by this situation, she really just needs more time: time to grieve, time to adjust, and time to build a relationship with the little girl and build a relationship with deeper facets between her and her prospective husband. He needs time to gain some familiarity and comfort with having his daughter in his life, and no, it should not be at the exclusion or expense of his new fiance. Just as Evanscr05 so notably stated, he should make them BOTH feel loved and uniquely valued, and their family will grow from it.

        She is not being a petulant and bratty adult because she is reacting by going through the stages of shock and grief over her shifting family life. Remember that she is someone’s daughter too.

        In the end, love is ever-expanding, and there is no reason that the relationship cannot grow to fit EVERYONE involved. But it takes a lot of patience and commitment and a real effort of understanding of one another. I wish them all the best of luck.

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  • avatar

    Amanda February 2, 2011, 11:04 am

    I pretty much agree with everyone. This doesn’t make the LW a bad person if she decides she doesn’t want this life. If you’re accustomed to being the most important woman in his life this would be very difficult and I know that right now I wouldn’t be able to handle that (I’m only 24 and nowhere near ready to have kids).

    If you’re not ready to share your life with the little girl – nobody would blame you if you walked away now. But, before you decide that, communicate! Tell him how you feel clearly and, most importantly, without any blame. This isn’t anybody’s fault (now I’m going out on a limb and assuming there was some talk of a daughter).

    But, whatever you decided to do, do what is best for you AND for him and his daughter.

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  • avatar

    DS February 2, 2011, 11:21 am

    I actually totally understand the letter-writer’s pov. It’s like when you’re a kid and your parents have a baby. Whereas your parents may have doted on you, now they are excited by the new baby and you become second-fiddle to the newest exciting thing.

    The LW is used to being the center of attention with her guy, and now she’s not. I can understand her “not being supportive” – she’s trying to adjust to sharing the attention, time, and love that used to be just hers. She isn’t a bad person, and I don’t understand why some commenters are saying they are having a hard time being nice to the LW – what she is going through is only natural. The child isn’t hers, and is taking away the time and energy that used to be hers alone – thus, she is seeing it as competition.

    I do agree though that the LW needs to reevaluate her relationship before proceeding with the marriage. Sit down with her fiancee and maybe even discuss how she feels left out and unloved at the moment. He may be so caught up in this new relationship with the child that he is pushing his romantic relationship aside without really being cognizant of it.

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    • avatar

      baby.blanka February 2, 2011, 11:46 am

      I think the line is in between being un-supportive and being unrealistic.

      I, personally, see it as being very selfish to be SO unsupportive (although I agree that it is a big change for her and the adjustment period may be difficult). However, it is completely unrealistic to think that a loving father will ever stop paying attention to his daughter.

      It’s hard to see a POV where you are completely dismissive of your husband to be’s feelings towards his family and expect to be doted upon.

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      • avatar

        DS February 2, 2011, 1:45 pm

        She never said she wanted to be “doted upon”…and it certainly sounds like the husband to be is putting his relationship with the LW on the backburner – she states that she basically doesn’t feel that he is happy when he is with her. IMO, he sounds wrapped up and consumed with the daughter. Which I understand, however, the LW does need to feel valued and appreciated and loved in the relationship too, regardless of whether the other party is the husband-to-be’s child or not.

        It would be hard to be supportive and rah-rah-rah of his relationship with the daughter if she is feeling like the odd-man out. I know she said that she isn’t particularly interested in forming her own relationship with the child, but perhaps that is because she ISN’T being included. I think that instead of commentors putting the onus ONLY on the LW, maybe some of the onus should also be directed at the husband to be, since he is where the commonality lies between the LW and the daughter.

        The LW shouldn’t have to feel like she is intruding on the husband-to-be’s relationship with HIS daughter – maybe he should be trying to include the LW instead of us telling the LW to insert herself into their relationship.

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        baby.blanka February 2, 2011, 2:41 pm

        She ISN’T being included, because she has no desire to be. When you act that way, people do not include you – it’s like the little kid that bullies because he has no friends… a vicious circle. If she actually wanted to be included I don’t think the jealousy would have gotten so out of hand but as it stands now, she is wondering if there is room for the two of them. I read the letter and basically had a hard time believing she would not be jealous of other situations (long hours at work, a time consuming hobby he may have picked up, a new friend, etc).

        I understand situations where you have a hard time getting to know the child, or becoming accustomed to having a child around at all – and that just takes time. Her issue is really more about the attention she isn’t getting and I think that is completely unfair to the fiancée who is really now just getting to know his daughter. Like I said, I understand her position is tough, but the degree to which she is opposing their relationship is just silly.

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      Wolvie_girl February 2, 2011, 12:08 pm

      What she is feeling is natural, but she said at the end of her letter that she hopes to be his #1 again…this shows that she just doesn’t get it and really isn’t willing to accept his daughter.

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      • avatar

        DS February 2, 2011, 1:51 pm

        Why is it “not getting it” to want to be primary in your husband’s affections? I feel that the LW certainly has a right to expect to be primary – or at least to expect that her husband-to-be would be as attentive and loving and appreciative towards her as his daughter.

        In the vein of the LW’s letter, the husband-to-be is spending all day planning outings to fun things with the daughter but can’t be bothered to plan anything for her, I know I certainly would feel unloved. You would really be okay with your man telling you “yeah, I love you and all, but I’d rather plan and have fun with my daughter now that she’s around…but hey, thanks for being my back-up plan!”

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        Amber February 2, 2011, 2:12 pm

        For one thing he hasn’t seen his daughter for 4 years, in the beginning cut the guy some slack. Second, she doesn’t mention once that she’s talked to him about this. And she basically says she doesn’t want to be close to the daughter. Maybe he’s sensing that from her and not sure how to handle it. It seems to me that they both need to work on communciating with one another and she needs to realize if she’s going to stay in this relationship the child is going to be a priority. If she can’t handle not being the only focus of her husband to be’s life she needs to leave. It seems like the child will be in their life from now on and they need to figure out a way to become a family. If she can’t handle that, and it’s fine if she decides she doesn’t want a child, she needs to leave. But, first I think they need to sit down and actually talk.

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        convexexed February 2, 2011, 9:03 pm

        Well, the difference between the daughter and the fiancee is that that the fiancee is an adult, who I imagine is perfectly capable of participating in planning activities with her man (with or without daughter) instead of waiting passively and jealously for him to figure out how to divide his attention between a child and an adult who is being childish.
        Of course, Wendy and other commenters are right about ‘growing pains’. But, if we talk about this in terms of siblings getting used to new babies, we have to remember: the LW is not a child. She’s a grown-up, old enough to make the decision to enter a marriage. It’s on her to acknowledge her natural feelings and also to manage them. That might mean she feels jealous, and has to practice calling those feelings out for what they are: normal, but not helpful. She might have to choose between indulging in her private emotions, and undermining the developing relationship between all 3 people—or channeling those feelings into some serious self-questioning and the work it might take to swallow the pride and get to know the little girl her fiance adores so much. One way to guarantee you won’t win a chance to share that #1 spot in his heart is by showing disdain or disinterest in his precious daughter. That’s a pretty significant thing to refuse to have in common.

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        Wolvie_girl February 3, 2011, 8:40 am

        The LW said she wants to be #1 in his affections, she said she doesn’t want to fit in with him and his daughter, she said she got sick to his stomach when she saw the 1st picture of his daugther go up on the wall…from her own description of her behavior, this woman has been almost hotile to this girl as an “interloper” since day one. Of course her finacee is down in the dumps around her and lackluster in planning activities outings with her.

        She doesn’t say he doesn’t spend time with her anymore or make plans with her anymore, just that she feel he doesn’t put as much effort into it as he does with his daughter. Well of course he’s going to put more effort into spending time with his daughter, he’s got years of lost time to make up.

        LW is being selfish and immature. Sure, she was thrown an unexpected curve ball, but she’s not dealing with it in a way that shows she values and loves her finacee very much. So much time is spent discussing how much he loves her and if he’s proving that love, but how about LW’s love. If she wants total love and devotion from him, she should show total love and devotion TO him, and that includes supporting him. She isn’t supporting him, she isn’t showing him love, she’s pouting. She needs to step up or move on.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom February 7, 2011, 5:10 pm

        As for spending more time making plans for the child than for the fiance he probably has lots more experience planning dates with a woman than he does with a child and so it takes more time and effort to find things to do with a child.

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  • avatar

    plasticepoxy February 2, 2011, 11:22 am

    My boyfriend has a son from a previous relationship; I knew this going in and did all my soul-searching before I chose to move forward and date him exclusively. Since then there have been a few times I have been surprised by my own feelings of frustration. Not at my boyfriend or his son, but at feeling “left out”. They’re a unit w/out me and sometimes I do get ignored or our plans have to change last minute to accommodate his son.

    I hear some hurt feelings behind the LW’s jealousy and while her words ARE scary and sound like someone who isn’t ready to be in a relationship with a child, maybe she can find different ways to channel her hurt feelings that will help her deal with them productively.

    I’ve found that by interacting with his son, and not JUST my boyfriend, I’ve built a relationship with both of them and the feelings of being left out aren’t nearly as strong. I’m part of the fun instead of just an observer. I would strongly encourage the LW to try what Wendy suggested and show her boyfriend support by playing with him and his daughter, making plans for the three of them to do something kid friendly, and showing that she’s accepting of his daughter and happy for him that ALL OF THEM now have the chance to know each other. She could also try to find ways to plan “adult time” so they can enjoy each other when the daughter isn’t around (maybe she stays with her mom too?), it kind of sounds like she expects her fiance to be this super-person but he needs support too. It’s hard work caring for a child, especially at his daughter’s age and they’re so active. I bet he’d enjoy it if she made a special effort to plan something he would like to do.

    My boyfriend has done a wonderful job of making sure I understand that I am important to him and that he cares about me. It sounds like the LW could use some reassurance from her fiance that she’s still important and that he still cares about her too. I think the responsibility is her’s to show that she supports him and would like support from him as well as they both learn to navigate their new relationship.

    I wonder if it being a daughter is part of the problem and she’s having a hard time not with the CHILD but with another female presence.

    Also, I think she knew about her fiance’s daughter but never considered what it would be like to be in a relationship with a REAL father. Knowing your boyfriend has a child and being in a relationship with a PARENT are two totally different things. One of my previous bf’s had a son, but never got to see him, etc. He thought about his son, talked about him, etc, but his son was never a presence in our relationship.

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    • avatar

      plasticepoxy February 2, 2011, 11:22 am

      oh, goodness, it’s a novel!

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  • Public Pearl

    Public Pearl February 2, 2011, 11:56 am

    This is what pre-marital counseling is for. You need to discuss what your marriage is going to be like, both as a couple and as a family, and what your goals are as husband and wife and as parents. If you are not on the same page (or even in the same book), then it’s better to know that now.

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    evanscr05 February 2, 2011, 12:25 pm

    I can’t tell if the LW was aware of the daughter or not upon his proposal, so I have no opinion on whether he should have asked or if she should have said yes, but I certainly agree with other commenters that the nature of her future marriage changed the moment that little girl came back into his life. If she was aware that he had a daughter, then why did she not anticipate this? Surely she should have known before saying yes that there was a *possibility* that his daughter would be a part of his life again, and that once that happened he would have/want to make time for her. If a date has not been set for the wedding, then don’t set one yet. If a date HAS been set, well, delay it until you are 100% positive that this family is one you are ready to join. Being married is hard enough, but entering into it as a stepparent has so many more obstacles to face and it would be completely unfair to that little girl, her fiance, or herself to not give it a good faith effort to be a participant in his family. I completely agree with Wendy, as well, that no one would blame her if she had to back out. But I would caveat that with saying no one could blame her for backing out provided she actually tries to make it work. Who knows, perhaps she’ll fall head over heels in love with the little girl and learn a lot about herself and her mothering skills in the process.

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      bostonpupgal February 2, 2011, 2:44 pm

      Honestly, I wouldn’t blame her for backing out without trying to make it work if she’s so unhappy now. Having the maturity to say “I did not anticipate all the changes that would come when your daughter re-entered your life, I love you and I want us both to be happy, and given how the last few months have gone I feel we’d both be happiest if we weren’t together” is a totally reasonable response. Ending a relationship that you don’t feel your best and most fulfilled in isn’t selfish, staying in one and hoping he’ll change (and alienating his daughter in the process) is.

      LW, you’re going to have to accept that things will never, ever be like they were before. You will never be the sole recipient of all his attention now. You deserve a husband who loves you, and his daughter deserves a happy life with her dad, and if those two things can’t exist together than it’s totally OK to move on. If you think they can coexist, then you need to have a serious talk with your future hubby about making more of an effort with you (think weekly date nights, special valentines day) and in turn you need to make the effort to get to know, love, and accept his daughter

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        MissDre February 2, 2011, 3:14 pm

        I think you hit the nail on the head! I agree totally!

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    Wendy February 2, 2011, 3:14 pm

    I read this letter and felt the need to respond because I too had been a very similar situation.

    When I first started dating my boyfriend, he had gotten out of a very bad marriage, with his wife leaving him 2,000 miles away and taking their 2 year old daughter with her. On our 2nd date he told me all this- he was risking a lot by telling me the truth and leaving me to judge him, but I honestly didn’t think much of him having a daughter bc I didn’t know how serious our relationship would be.

    As I met his daughter over the course of the year, things were difficult at first. We didn’t immediately “bond”- she was only a year old, and was a total daddy’s girl. I was taking time to watch her while her dad was working, but we still didn’t “click.” I now know it was bc I was jealous of her and her dad’s relationship, and I felt completely left out.

    I spoke up to my then-boyfriend about it and he made a big effort in connecting me with his daughter. We’re now married, and his daughter is now 2 years old and I have to say she’s really taken to me. My husband does a really great job of making sure that we do ALL activities as a family unit- that way no one is feeling left out. His daughter now sees me as her daddy’s special someone- she’s too young to understand the complications of divorce and stepparents, but she knows that her daddy loves me and she’s really taken to me. There are no pictures of just her or him and her on our walls- just pictures of all three of us. We take care of her as co-parents and divide up all responsibilities. While she’s still desperately in love with her daddy, she knows I’m special too and her and I have formed a nice bond.

    You should be able to talk to your partner/fiance/husband about EVERYTHING, no matter how ridiculous you think you’re being. Be mature and speak up about your feelings- go above and beyond by telling your partner that you want to be PART of the family dynamic, and then act on it. Plan fun day trips! Plan yummy dinners with funny movies! The effort you put in will speak volumes to both your partner and his daughter. I know it did for me.

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      cdj0815 February 2, 2011, 4:04 pm

      I dated my fiance (he is now deceased) for 7 years. Because of his illness (he had MS), he pulled away from his two daughters. I suggested that he help them get use to the idea of thier father having a chronic illness. He did. They bonded better than they had before, with me included.

      When he spent time alone with them, I never felt jealous. It pleased me, because I did not meet many men who took to their children like this. I felt he loved me as much as he loved them. The problem was the ex. She was very jealous that they had come to love me as much as I loved them. I fell in love with them because I could see their father in them.

      At his funeral, they had to sneak hugs and kisses to me because they knew should would not like it. It is sad to say I could not keep in touch with them because of this.

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      Maritima February 3, 2011, 11:21 am

      I wish I could “LIKE” this a thousand times…

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        Maritima February 3, 2011, 11:25 am

        My mistake! I meant to leave the first comment for the post before this, but I want to tell you that my heart goes out to you and to your fiance’s family… It is my sincerest wish that you have been able to keep in contact with the kids…

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    Jenja February 2, 2011, 6:19 pm

    I disagree with a lot of the comments here. It’s always been a point of annoyance for me that your significant other is supposed to completely take a back seat to your child. The person you plan to marry is the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with and devote your love to. If you stick your wife on the backburner and lavish all your attention only on your child, you’re not honoring your commitment to her. It doesn’t make someone a bad parent if they love their partner equally. Heck, my father always tells me and my sisters that my mother is his wife and comes before any of us. The love between a father and daughter is different than the love between a husband and wife, so one does not need to take away from the other. It’s wonderful that he is such a good father, but that doesn’t mean he should stop being a good partner to the woman who loves him and wants to spend her life with him. He should give his romantic attention to his partner and his fatherly attention to his daughter.

    He is probably trying to make up for lost time right now and, with a little time, might settle into a comfortable balance and remember to give consideration and love to his partner as well as his daughter. I do agree that she needs to halt the wedding plans and see how this pans out. If he never learns to be both a good daddy AND a good romantic partner, OR if she is unable to adjust to the new addition to their relationship, than it’s time to move on.

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    Jenja February 2, 2011, 6:27 pm

    Just to clarify about my father’s comment: He’s not saying that he doesn’t love us, just that it is a different kind of love than he has for my mom. He loves her as his partner and equal and loves us as his children. After all, she is his wife and we’re his kids: If me and my sisters want Chinese for dinner and my mom wants pizza, guess what? We get pizza! I would never think less of my father for wanting to spend time alone with my mother. After all, they have a relationship! It’s about more than just raising kids.

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      Emma February 3, 2011, 8:34 am

      I understand what your saying, but i think the big issue is not her taking a back seat, the issue is she states she does not want to even try to get to know the daughter. I agree that the SO should not be placed on the back burner, but the lil girl doesnt need to be either. The LW needed to be more clear on the situation and i think we would all have a better understanding of where she is coming from. Did she know about the daughter? Was there a reason she didnt think the girl was gonna b in their life? and so on.

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    Leyahn February 3, 2011, 8:13 am

    The LW needs to understand that her boyfriend *is* making up for lost time with his daughter right now – that is natural and, honestly, the right thing to do. He needs to bond with and develop a relationship with his daughter before introducing “family activities” for the three of them. LW needs to be patient, express an interest in the child and meeting her, then go from there.

    If she cannot do that, and continues to feel jealous of the 4 year old she needs to MOA immediately. Those feelings of jealousy do not just go away – I have watched friends destroy their relationships because of jealousy of children from prior relationships. I have broken up with men who where jealous of the time I spent with my child.

    Life is short – she should not waste any more of her boyfriend’s time, and her own time, if she can’t open her heart to this little girl.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie February 3, 2011, 10:53 am

    Don’t beat yourself up for not liking the kid but don’t blame her for your wanting to be #1. My first wife had an infant when we meet and was a toddler when we married. I never bonded with the child and he amplified our conflicts. The marriage didn’t last a year and I got snipped immediately after the divorce. All three of you deserve to have your needs meet but that doesn’t seem possible so moving on seems to be best option for all concerned. You’ve only put a few months into this so cut your losses and chalk it up to experience.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom February 7, 2011, 4:59 pm

    One thing I know beyond doubt as a parent is that children are stressful to marriage. I don’t think the LW should consider marrying this man unless she loves the child unconditionally. If she can’t reach that point then the relationship will never work. Children require parental self-sacrifice from time to time and the LW doesn’t sound like someone who would be willing and able to do that.

    At the same time I don’t think the letter write should expect to be second rate in her marriage. Her and her husband to be need to be equal partners who are parenting a child. They both need to be included when making plans for their family time and she needs to willingly and happily make plans that include activities appropriate for a young child.

    As many others have commented, she needs to make the effort to fall in love with this child and if she can’t she needs to MOA. If she doesn’t move on she needs to take things very slowly which means no wedding for at least a year and better yet no wedding for at least two years. They all need the time to see if this family will work.

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    Toya February 11, 2011, 12:35 pm

    The writer should definitely do the right thing and call off the engagement if she has no interest in the daughter. It’s possible that her irritation might come from the fact that the girl is evidence of her fiance’s past relationship. If she decides to marry this man, she shouldn’t do so until she is just as much love with the girl as she is with her fiance because if she doesn’t, she will cause daily stress for everyone involved. And Lord help her if she has kids of her own. And I really hope her fiance is paying attention to what’s going on and would not be so dumb as to marry a woman that detests his daughter.

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    Theresa September 12, 2011, 6:21 pm

    I can understand how she is feeling, and I warn her that this situation can get worse-or better, depending on her fiance. If he fiance understand how she feels he will be able to be a good father and a good husband. After all, they are completely different relationships, father and husband. His daughter would be better served seeing them as a strong unit, seeing her father and her step-mother as a couple who cares for her. He needs to express love to his wife and give her attention as well.

    Or it can get worse. My story was one just like that. I met his daughter when she was 7. She was territorial with him and I was patient, because she was a child and did not see him every day. Since the age of 2 it was only him and her, and he took her to restaurants non-stop since he didn’t cook.

    He took pictures with her alone-that is an interesting sign-and would hardly include me. He would tell her he loved her in every phone call-and never me. He would be enthusiastic about making plans with her-and not with me. He would use affectionate terms with her like baby, dear, sweetie and honey-and never with me. He loved to do things with her alone, but rarely liked to do things with me. When she became a teenager, he and her would leave me home for hours-and even go to dinner alone. He started treating me badly when she was visiting, to show her that he did not really love me (so she wouldn’t get jealous). He would go shopping with her when she was 20 and buy her gifts while he complained to me he had no money. He used her as a confident for his marital problems with me-therefore making her feel vert powerful and in-between us. I many times explained to him how I felt as a second class wife. He never tried to make me feel more loved. I learned that blood is thicker than water for some men, and that the USA is very child centric (I was born in Argentina where the couple comes first, the kids second, kind of like Reagan marriage).

    One day I had it. She was 21, and acted like she was his mistress (and so did he). Even though she wasn’t around as much, our marriage also had other issues (he worked long hours in his business and did not include me in it-fear of me taking part of it in divorce-she was his heir). So I left him. Two years later I heard his daughter got a BF. Daddy felt left out, and started calling me again. But I was lucky to find a very nice man who never made me feel substandard (and he has two kids too, but boys). Not every experience will be like mine, and it all depends how the father will handle this, but my ex chose to treat his daughter like his mistress (maybe she reminded him a lot of his ex, who had left him and with whom he was in love with). I promised never to date a man with only one daughter anymore. Maybe other siblings would have helped, since the child learns how to share daddy’s attention.

    I hope your BF wakes up and realizes it is not good to be second fiddle. He can be both a great and loving Dad and a great and loving husband. It will depend on him (and you treating your step-daughter well). But if he continues to do what he is doing, it will generate a lot of resentment from your parr, naturally. And for the daughter it is not a good role model to see her father treat his wife badly. Look up “emotional incest”. That’s what happened in my story.

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