Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My New Wife Has Driven My Daughter Away”

villtremaine

After several years of being a single (shared-custody) dad, I have remarried to a wonderful woman. Due to distances in the relationship, my 10-year-old daughter did not have time to get to know her well before the new wife moved in. After a couple of months, the two of them got into a spat about personal items in the shared living areas which ended with the new wife yelling, “I am your dad’s new wife, DEAL WITH IT!”, and so my daughter left my home to her mother’s apartment.

My daughter will not come back home unless the three of us go to a shared counseling session; however, my wife refuses to go because she thinks Americans are addicted to therapy. I have begged and pleaded with her to come to a session so that I can get my daughter back home; however, she is steadfast. Recently I have stated that our relationship is going to be in trouble should this situation persist, but the wife’s answer remains “No, not ever.” I love my daughter very much and the past three months have been torture without having her home. I can’t see any other way to resolve this. I feel like I must choose between being a husband or being a dad.

Any way out of this miserable situation? — Missing my Daughter

Wait, you have let this go on for three months? You married a long-distance girlfriend without first transitioning her into your and your daughter’s life together (did she need a green card, by chance?)? You call your new wife “wonderful” despite how shitty she has treated your 10-year-old daughter and, rather than kick her ass to the curb when she refuses to get any sort of professional help and guidance to smooth the rocky waters SHE created with your daughter, you have let your daughter stay away from your home all these months? My God. If you are being forced to choose between being a husband and a dad, it’s your wife who has given you that ultimatum, and, so far, you have chosen her over your daughter. You’ve chosen a woman who would rather yell at a young girl whose father just married a woman she hardly knows than, you know, act compassionately and maturely and lovingly with a brand new step-daughter who is probably freaked out by this sudden change in her family and lifestyle. Your wife does not sound wonderful. She sounds like a bully. And, to be quite frank, you don’t sound like much of a dad at this point.

I can only imagine you have been blinded by something about your wife those of us reading your letter can’t see and aren’t privy too. There must be something about her that has rocked your world because what you HAVE shared about her isn’t good. And the little you’ve shared about your daughter — that she, at 10 years old, has the maturity and foresight and commitment to you to suggest family counseling after being so slighted in her own home by this woman she hardly knows — suggests that, if you’ve always been such an irresponsible father (and I’m not suggesting that’s the case), then she must have one hell of a stable and loving mother, or the two of you as parents just lucked the hell out. Either way, your daughter has given you a chance to have her back. Don’t blow it.

Bottom line: counseling or your wife is out. If she won’t agree to it, the answer is pretty clear.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

68 comments… add one
  • fast eddie

    fast eddie December 19, 2014, 8:24 am

    This bitch is setting up a dominating relationship using your kid as a weapon. Get a lawyer ASAP and annul this marriage or your life will get much worse.

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    • avatar

      snarkymarc December 19, 2014, 9:35 am

      Serious question – In this context is it okay to call this women a bitch? I don’t use the word anymore but it always leaves me wondering. Btw, I hear it used by women probably ten times more than men.

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      • avatar

        savannah December 19, 2014, 9:54 am

        Yeah. I don’t love eddie using this word I gotta say. This women is clearly no good but its too gendered a word for me…I agree Snarkymarc though that women use it more than men.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. December 19, 2014, 10:42 am

        Well, the definition of the word does refer to a specific gender. I don’t have a problem with the word as Eddie used it. I see no problem with calling a spade a spade.

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      • avatar

        BreezyAM December 19, 2014, 11:25 am

        Ironically, I have a bigger problem with using the term “witch” to describe such women. Women can indeed be bitches, men can indeed be assholes, and well, I don’t have a problem with calling women or men the spades they are… but a witch isn’t necessarily bad by definition. I’m not a woo woo magic type or anything, but I know people who take that pretty seriously.

        I don’t get dads like this. I’ve known so many who are so conflict averse. I have not seen women do this in the same way (usually, sadly, when it does happen, that takes place more in the form of letting their boyfriends/new husbands inappropriately punish the child rather than all out casting them off and not caring). My father made clear his wife was to be shown respect because she was his wife and would be living in our home. On the flip side, he also noted his wife’s kindness and generosity and decency when choosing a new wife (I smell mail order bride all over this one) and when she was inappropriately selfish one time with my younger brothers (I, and my father for the record, understood her rationale, it was more about avoiding my father’s bitchtastic ex than anything against my brothers… but still) he did call her out on it and ask her to think how she would feel if HER sons were treated that way by some next wife he might have, and she got her shit together and acted like an adult.

        This woman seems to not understand she has a duty as a stepparent. The father seems to not understand he has a duty as a parent and a father. I think three months is inappropriately long for this to have gone on, and honestly.. I can kind of feel the wife here. I don’t see where this merits therapy. I just don’t. It needs some mutual respectful boundaries drawn, some understanding that yes even if you think someone is being ridiculous in how they want the shampoo bottles arranged, tough shit, just do it, it’s not the big deal you think it is. This makes parents more agreeable when it IS important, and when parents also find compromises for their kids to be respected and cared for, it makes the kids more agreeable when it’s important (in other words, tell stepmom to suck it up and arrange the fucking shampoo her way, the whole 3 minutes that might take, tell daughter to suck it up and put it back right, tell them both to have some good faith and stop the drama which dad has let continue far too long).

        However, my guess is any man who has let it go on this long is not going to be capable of commanding the respect that comes with simply stating “no, this is how it will be” in a way that lets the kids or partners know that he’s being reasonable and rationale and its just smart to listen to him.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki December 19, 2014, 11:43 am

        You’re likely right that this doesn’t merit therapy. But if that’s the only way to show the kid they care enough that she comes home, isn’t it worth it? I would like to see them all sit down as people and discuss the issues present without the presence of a therapist, but it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen. I suggested a mediator in my response. Its not therapy but its a 3rd party person to put the bullshit to the side.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. December 19, 2014, 12:10 pm

        I agree with you on the witch point, because I could be considered a witch by some, including myself.

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      • avatar

        Laurel December 19, 2014, 10:04 am

        I don’t like it (used by either women or men, in any context) but I think it’s a personal preference. I dated this guy who would call other women “bitch” and it was a huge turn-off, mostly because it made him seem like he couldn’t resolve conflicts/had anger issues/hated women.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster December 19, 2014, 11:35 am

        I don’t like it and I don’t think it’s a personal preference because, as savannah says above, it is a gendered insult. Even when it’s used at men, it’s insulting to women because it insinuates that a man is weak like a woman (as if). I’ve said this same thing on here many times- it’s unacceptable to call women bitches. The last time I called a male commenter out for referring to a woman as a bitch, he then called ME a bitch and Wendy had to ban him. I think it’s a good idea in general to steer clear of such loaded language to both keep it civil on here and avoid using sexist language. I love ya, Eddie, you often have great insight, and your larger point here is understood (and I agree with it), but using that term is not ok.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy December 19, 2014, 11:40 am

        Yes, let’s not call women bitches. I like the word “asshole” though. Or mother-f’er. Or any insult that is perhaps made for a man but strong enough for a woman works for me.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. December 19, 2014, 12:07 pm

        See, then I would argue that you’re being gender-biased towards men. If we’re going to ban the word “bitch” then we should ban them all. But good luck with that because I agree that the word “motherfu*ker” is very satisfying.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. December 19, 2014, 12:08 pm

        *against* men

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      • Lyra

        Lyra December 19, 2014, 12:27 pm

        Hmmm. Makes me wonder. Is douchecanoe gender neutral? ‘Cause I love that one…

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. December 19, 2014, 1:04 pm

        Hmm…the presence of the word “douche” would imply a female gender, however, canoes are very phallic. So I think it’s a tie.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo December 19, 2014, 2:25 pm

        Canoes may look phallic to you, but they are totally vulvic to me (top or angle view), even more than a taco. (Always appropriate to bring up tacos on DW, I figure…) I always took the canoe part to represent female genitalia – the boat that carries or possibly floats on the douche. Surely, you’ve heard of the “little man in the boat”? However, I find that douchenozzle is sufficiently phallic and insulting to be directed at guys. And yes, I’m aware how silly it is to argue this point – why else would I be doing it?

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. December 19, 2014, 2:37 pm

        Point taken. All boats look phallic to me. I guess it’s that old joke: what’s hollow and full of seamen? Anyway, I can appreciate your point of view on this. Perhaps it is a case of “men are from mars and women are from venus.”

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      • Diablo

        Diablo December 19, 2014, 2:18 pm

        Wendy, are you being a dick?

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy December 19, 2014, 2:45 pm

        yes.

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      • avatar

        Sara December 19, 2014, 12:08 pm

        For women, “bitch” can be an in-group word (used in a group that is the same gender, same general age, same general education, same social standing, etc). When it’s in-group, it’s not an insult – if everyone is truly in-group and agrees on this interpretation/use of the word. A lot of insults lose their potency in in-group situations.

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      • avatar

        snarkymarc December 19, 2014, 12:40 pm

        When words like bitch or the “n” word are used as terms to communicate shared experience, then yes, I think it can builds closeness and inclusion. But I’m not really talking about that case. I’ve made my mind up about “bitch” and don’t use, try not to think it, and actively encourage my daughter not to use it. But I’ve found that the biggest offenders are women. I’ve heard my daughter use it and she doesn’t understand why it is so detriment to her and all women. She only 15, but she’s bright, well read, and attends a strongly feminist all girls school. It’s an uphill battle.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 20, 2014, 11:37 pm

        Eh…. the fact that (apparently) nobody here can handle the word “bitch” just makes you all sound rather weak and fragile and pathetic.
        .
        NEWSFLASH! The woman in this letter is a FUCKING BITCH.
        .
        No ifs. Ands. Or Buts…
        .
        Indeed, it’s hilariously appropo that my favorite artist dropped not one, but two songs today with the very word bitch IN the title. Unapologetic Bitch and Bitch, I’m Madonna… At any rate, I think many of the youth of today are so PC and thin skinned that you’re all… well, what else can I say. FUCKING BORING.
        .
        Some insults are gendered. You know what? So are some sins. Making a man choose between being a husband and a father is something that frankly ONLY a woman can do…

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster December 21, 2014, 1:46 pm

        You know what’s FUCKING BORING? How sexist you are.
        .
        Not being able to “handle” the word bitch. LOL. What a lot of bullshit. “Waaaw why can’t people handle it when I call it like I see it!? They’re so sensitive!!” Nope. You’re the ones who can’t handle being told you are saying stupid shit and that your attitude isn’t edgy or logical; it’s pathetic and divisive.
        .
        Get a grip and grow up.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 21, 2014, 2:22 pm

        Yawn. How is it sexist to call a spade a spade? Honestly. Those who complain and whine about being called labels the most are more often than not the ones most deserving.
        .
        PS — Who is trying to be edgy? Is there even one fucking show on TV these days where some character hasn’t uttered the word bitch? Besides, trying to be the edgiest on here lately is a hollow victory. At best. It’s be like being the lone corner in a spaceship of circular rooms.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover December 21, 2014, 6:43 pm

        Why would you even want to use a word, that the group who it’s used against has said is too insulting? I just don’t understand people who insist on their right to hurt other people. I mean sure, go ahead, keep using it. It’s legal, no one can stop you. But you will also have to accept the consequences, which is that it will upset people who have told you they don’t like it.
        .
        I particularly don’t understand how someone from a marginalized group could do this to another marginalized group. I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if everyone on this site used “faggot” as a common insult. But we don’t, because we know it’s not acceptable. Maybe you can show us the same courtesy.

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie December 19, 2014, 3:08 pm

      Goodness gracious, my label has taken all the attention away from the LWs issue, sorry about that but I calls em like I see em. Let me be perfectly clear, from his description of her she’s a F’king BITCH CUNT that should be thrown out in the snow with only a light wrap for abusing a child and the loving father and deserves no consideration. He’ll only get hurt worse the longer he hangs on.

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy December 19, 2014, 4:17 pm

        Yeah I don’t think anyone was arguing that she doesn’t sound like kind of a terrible person in this letter. They were arguing that that word ‘bitch’ is a gendered insult and is kind of offensive. And I’d say ‘cunt’ is even more so (slang for women’s genitals used as an insult. Dude).

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy December 19, 2014, 4:19 pm

        Additionally – seriously? You’re just removing all of the responsibility from his shoulders for letting this continue? She’s not abusing a loving father – she’s being selfish and immature and he’s going along with it.

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      • Portia

        Portia December 21, 2014, 11:10 am

        I’m with stonegypsy, cunt is definitely worse. And painting the LW as a helpless being helps no one. Both the LW and his wife need to grow up, at least to the maturity level of the daughter.

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    • avatar

      Tammi December 22, 2016, 3:11 pm

      correct Eddie

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  • Lyra

    Lyra December 19, 2014, 9:16 am

    This is bad. Really bad. Just think how this looks to your daughter, who is still at a VERY impressionable age. She sees that you chose this HORRIBLE woman over her. I work with 10-year-olds on a daily basis and I can tell you that she is being VERY mature for a 10-year-old. You’re very lucky.
    .
    Your daughter comes first. Period. This woman is NOT “wonderful”. Your daughter should be your number one priority and right now she’s not. I’m actually surprised that she’s even willing to come back to you. Most kids that age wouldn’t even consider it. I really hope you make an effort to reach out to your daughter. She deserves that.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra December 19, 2014, 9:59 am

      PS Wendy I LOVE your choice of pictures for this particular LW.

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  • Lianne

    Lianne December 19, 2014, 9:26 am

    Has anyone heard of the show 90 Day Fiance? Maybe this is part of the show!!!

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      jlyfsh December 19, 2014, 9:39 am

      Oh that show! I’ve only seen the recap of season 1. I think I’ll just wait for the same for season 2. So crazy.

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      • Lianne

        Lianne December 19, 2014, 10:49 am

        It’s amazing. I am not one to get into trashy reality tv, but my husband and I both love this one.

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        Sara December 19, 2014, 12:10 pm

        Same in our house – we don’t really watch trashy reality TV… but we watch this one. We even watched last season because one storyline was in my former city and another storyline was a few towns over from us.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra December 19, 2014, 12:30 pm

        FIRST USE OF “HUSBAND” ON DW!!! Woot!

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      • Lyra

        Lyra December 19, 2014, 12:33 pm

        (I’m such a creeper, sorry Lianne! 🙂 )

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    • avatar

      karenwalker December 19, 2014, 3:06 pm

      I love this show! Some couples seem genuine. Some couples, one person seems clueless. Some couple, it seems obvious both are using each other.

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  • avatar

    MissDre December 19, 2014, 9:27 am

    Please listen to Wendy! My dad “chose” his new wife over me at that age and it affected my self esteem pretty seriously for years to come. Don’t do that to your daughter. She needs you at this very impressionable time in her life.

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  • gigi

    gigi December 19, 2014, 9:29 am

    Your daughter is wise beyond her years & you have not displayed much wisdom of your own. Wendy’s answer is spot on, please put your child first & get rid of this horrible woman if she won’t agree to go to counseling. Not only to go, but actually commit to working on her issues & being respectful of your relationship with your daughter. What a witch! Your new wife is my greatest nightmare in being a single mom, that my ex will choose someone who is nasty to my kids. The thought of that breaks my heart & luckily he has not. Step up here Dad!

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh December 19, 2014, 9:33 am

    I think your 10 year old is far wiser than either of you. The answer to your question is there is a way out of this miserable situation, but you’re not going to like the answer. And that is that the new wife will probably need to go, unless she can find a way to learn to communicate much better. And that communication should probably start with a big I’m sorry to the 10 year old. I’m sure 10 year old step children aren’t always the easiest to deal with, but at some point you have to step back and say I’m the adult I have to extricate myself from this situation and be the bigger person.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ December 19, 2014, 9:34 am

    Blending families is rough under the best of circumstances. Having one adult unwilling to go to family counseling is NOT the best of circumstances. LW, I get that you love your wife, but you need to love your daughter more. Especially since I seriously doubt your wife’s commitment to you or your marriage if she’s steadfastly refusing to make even the most basic of efforts to aid you in making your – and her! – new family situation work. Go to counseling with your daughter. If your wife won’t go, get a lawyer and get a divorce or annulment. Any partner this selfish, inflexible and immature will make your life miserable.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope December 19, 2014, 9:41 am

    Your wife’s unwillingness to allow any of your daughter’s personal items in HER living room is a rejection of your daughter in her life (and yours, of course). She’s insecure, immature and nasty. Your daughter, on the other hand, sounds mature beyond her years, open to accepting this woman in her life and very loving. I think it would horrible of you to choose your wife and reject your daughter.

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  • avatar

    Laurel December 19, 2014, 9:59 am

    Okay. I am a “child of divorce” but I am also going to try to be a little less…harsh with Dad. Clearly he’s upset and conflicted about the situation, and of course it’s easier said than done to up and leave someone. (Also if the wife is from another country…it might be even more difficult to logistically consider this.)

    That being said: Dad, the thing that really stuck out to me about this letter is that your daughter is *ten* years old. Ten is YOUNG. Ten is a child. In my opinion, it’s crossing a line to yell at a kid that way. I don’t know; I’ve (luckily) never been around a lot of yelling of any kind (so maybe I just don’t get it?) but that part just seemed really…wrong to me.

    The other thing that really bothered me about this is your wife’s extreme stubbornness about counseling, even though she’s very much involved in this whole situation. It’s one thing to think therapy is dumb or whatever, but why is she not at least trying it out because it’s important to YOU? That’s what partners do in good relationships. She’s not just disrespecting your daughter, she’s also disrespecting you — because you’ve made it clear that a good relationship with your daughter is important.

    I agree with everyone else about the “moving forward” part — either your wife makes actual changes here (I would say a big part is attitude changes) or it’s not going to work out. My parents got divorced when I was nine I think, and while it hasn’t always been smooth sailing (the divorce was basically about my dad’s mental health issues…) one think I look back on and am incredibly thankful for is that BOTH of my parent’s new spouses (people who had never spent much time around kids or had their own children, I might add) made a huge effort to have good relationships with us. They both recognized that for my mom and dad, being good parents was always a priority.

    I think that if you’re dating (or married) to a parent, regardless of what you think about kids in general it’s a sign of love/respect in the relationship to make a special effort with the child (or children). You’re acknowledging what is a huge part of that person’s life. Dad, your wife is not doing that.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo December 19, 2014, 10:01 am

    Wait, who’s the 10 year old here? Look, I actually get the “Americans are addicted to therapy” remark. (And I would lump Canadians in there too, in case anyone thinks I’m attacking the US.) Wendy and other columnists and comenters advocate therapy far more than I likely would. But here’s the thing. if you don’t want to do therapy, that doesn’t give you a pass to NOT address serious issues. If you refuse therapy, like I might, not wanting some outsider involved in my business, then you have to find a way to address the problems effectively yourself. You can’t just refuse to solve them. Surely, your wife knows that you will have a daughter forever. So if her attitude is that the 10 year old just has to get over herself, even though she is the intruder (and has not properly prepared the ground for moving in), then your wife is the problem, and like Wendy said, you have said nothing about her that makes her look like a catch. Give your head a shake, dude. You are going to lose your daughter. Forever.

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    • avatar

      Laurel December 19, 2014, 10:12 am

      ^Totally agree. I’ve been to plenty of…not-great therapy. Definitely don’t think it’s a cure-all. But it’s the wife’s completely dismissive ATTITUDE about therapy and, going along with that, any/all alternatives that could patch up her relationship with her step-daughter.

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  • redessa

    redessa December 19, 2014, 10:10 am

    “I feel like I must choose between being a husband or being a dad.” You don’t just FEEL like it, you do, in fact, have to choose between being a father and a husband. I get that you feel like you shouldn’t have to choose, but your “wonderful” wife has put you in that position. And so far, you’re making the wrong choice. As a parent, I cannot comprehend how it’s even a question in your mind – your daughter, your 10 yr old daughter (not even an adult child who is out on her own) – or this woman who is so intractable as to not even humor you with a therapy session so that you can have a relationship with your own child. She can’t give an hour of her life to something so very important to you. Then again, why should she? She’s winning. And however much you think this tears you up inside, it’s still your daughter who is ultimately losing. Get your priorities straight. Be a better father.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo December 19, 2014, 10:30 am

      In fact, and I am not disagreeing with you redessa, you don’t get to choose between being a husband and dad. You are both. You can choose not to be a husband – you’ve done that before. But you can’t choose not to be a dad. You can only choose to be a good dad or a crappy dad.

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      • redessa

        redessa December 19, 2014, 12:43 pm

        Good point. He has already fathered a child and can’t undo that. But he can choose whether he wants to keep being a dad or if he’s going to cut his child out of his life (he may not have flat out told her he doesn’t want her around, but his actions – or passivity as the case may be – is saying it loud and clear).
        .
        I’ll amend my previous statement to say he has choose between being a good, involved, loving father or continuing this marriage as it currently stands.
        .
        Hopefully, if he finds his spine, decides to do right by his child and makes it clear to his wife that their marriage is truly at stake (not just that there’s “going to be trouble”), she’ll be willing to step up and try to make things right with the little girl (and him).

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    Anya December 19, 2014, 10:12 am

    Annulment! ASAP. And if she needs a green card…then dude. She fooled you. Do not let this woman get between your relationship between you and your daughter. It’s a mistake I reckon you’ll regret for the rest of you life. This woman has already shown in those 3 months that she lacks compassion and love. You REALLY want to be married to her? Are you so blinded that you can see her true face that she has already shown you? If you’ve read Wendy’s advice and those of the readers, then you really can’t say that you weren’t forewarned.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth December 19, 2014, 10:17 am

    I would think that the choice would always be your daughter. Always.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 December 19, 2014, 10:37 am

    Your daughter is the only rational person in this relationship, and she is willing to go above and beyond for two people who choose each other over her. Your ex-wife must be really proud of her, and how she is handling the situation.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray December 19, 2014, 10:44 am

    Amen, Wendy. The answer is so obvious that part of me thinks this letter is a fake, but it’s probably not a fake, so I hope the overwhelming support for THERAPY and THE DAUGHTER really make things clear for the LW.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope December 19, 2014, 10:53 am

    Savannah–speaking of gender based words, I’m learning Spanish and all words (nouns) are gender based. What I can’t understand is how chocolate can be masculine (el chocolate) and pizza, femminine (la pizza). Who decided that?!

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    • avatar

      MissDre December 19, 2014, 10:58 am

      OMG this is why I couldn’t handle french!

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    • othy

      othy December 19, 2014, 11:19 am

      In German, they have 3 levels, masculine, feminine, and neutral. And it always bugged me that boy was masculine but girl was neutral.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray December 19, 2014, 11:51 am

      In French, penis is feminine.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki December 19, 2014, 10:59 am

    This entire situation makes me sad. Being a step-parent is hard. It is the hardest job I’ve ever done (and I used to run a halfway house for adult male sex offenders) and also the most rewarding. When my husband and I started dating, we set strict guidelines down between us and with the kids. We agreed on the level of parenting I would do and made it clear to the kids. We had some rough patches (Do I have to listen to her? She’s not my parent.) but ultimately it worked out. Sure, we still have issues here and there – but what parent doesn’t with teenagers?!
    .
    So LW – here’s what I have to say. I understand you’re trying to protect your new marriage. I understand that your new wife didn’t get a lot of time to adjust to being a step-parent (but that’s your fault for not making the transition as easy as possible for everyone). I understand your wife probably got frustrated because she’s not used to having children. But that excuses nothing. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes my husband yells. It happens. But we do what we need to in order to make it all work out. Either we apologize or we sit down and have a discussion of ‘here’s why I was mad.’
    .
    I happen to agree that we’re very dependent on therapy in the US. But. If this is what it takes to bring your daughter home? You do it. Call it something else if that helps – a family discussion with a 3rd party mediator. Hell, find an actual mediator if you want. Then it’s not therapy and you can work out the issues. If your wife won’t go, then that says a lot about her commitment to you, your child and your relationship. She needs to suck it up, stop acting like a child and do what’s best for your family as a whole. When you marry a parent, you marry their kids. And if she won’t go, you need to go to a counseling session with your daughter at least and try to make things right with her. I know what it’s like to have a dad forget me and choose other people over me. And it sucks.

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    • avatar

      BreezyAM December 19, 2014, 11:34 am

      I am wondering if the wife has cultural issues where children are expected to do anything a parent (or stepparent, or adult period) says without question ever under any circumstances. Or maybe just the childfree complex as such (not all childfree folks are like this but I have met more than a few who are just expecting all parents to have absolute total dictatorship over children at all times, and are shocked, just SHOCKED when kids are treated like human beings and not servants).
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      Not that this is an excuse. Just I am trying to figure out wife’s angle here. She may just be uneducated with a doormat of a husband, and not a complete bitch after all?
      .
      I’m in a relationship now with a man who never, ever wanted to have children, ever. It was a rule breaker for him and he wouldn’t even date women with children after his divorce because, well, he did not want kids or he would have had some during the previous 40something years. But he decided to try it out for me, because he really, really liked me and wanted something serious with me. But he did not just “tolerate” my preschoolers (my teenagers are practically grown and are the easiest teens on earth, really, zero trouble whatsoever, we relate more like adults to one another than parent/child); he got to know them and have fun with them and find what they liked and how to make friends with them. And this was honestly a struggle as being an adult around kids was just not something he was ever into, but he made the personal choice to do it and do it right. I’m pretty impressed to be honest (and so is the dad of my preschoolers actually!).
      .
      That’s how to do it “the right way” (least I think so…). This woman seems unaware she has a role to play and needs to create a relationship with this child in order to have a peaceful and happy home.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki December 19, 2014, 11:49 am

        I wondered the same thing about the wife. It could even just be how she was raised. My husband’s ex was raised (and is raising the kids) to be… well, to put I bluntly – irresponsible, spoiled and sheltered. They aren’t expected to handle the real world or learn how to be an independent and productive member of society. Apparently that knowledge is just supposed to magically appear when they go out on their own.
        .
        I’ve never understood the just tolerate system of step-parenting. My step-mom did that with me (even though she claims she didn’t and claims she raised me and whatnot). Why do that? I love my kids as if they are my own. I got to know them on a personal level and wouldn’t trade them for the world. I can’t imagine just tolerating them.

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        Eve December 19, 2014, 1:41 pm

        I see your point about the cultural differences, I hadn’t considered that.
        But I think this is where the role of the actual dad needs to come in – he needs to step up and be a dad first.
        However, yelling at the little girl “I am your dad’s new wife, deal with it” seems to show more of a competition between her and the daughter as opposed to just authoritarian style of parenting. I think if it was the latter she would say something like “You do what I tell you to do, because I am your dad’s new wife”.
        Either way, dad should be a dad, not a doormat to the new wife. He should set the ground rules about how his daughter is being treated.

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    snow.angel December 19, 2014, 11:37 am

    Yikes, the stepmom sounds like a charm. I can’t imagine ever saying something like that to a 10-year-old child. Poor thing. LW, this really isn’t a difficult decision. Your daughter should come first, and it’s appalling that you have let this drag on for three months. I don’t necessarily think therapy is the answer, because divorce/remarriage/blending families is always a transition, and people don’t always need to seek formal formal counseling to adjust. And honestly, if all parties aren’t on board for the therapy, the benefits will be severely limited. Your daughter sounds incredibly mature and insightful, she’s communicating her needs to you very clearly, so you and your wife don’t need a professional to help interpret what would make her more comfortable, your wife just needs to stop acting like a child and have some empathy for your daughter. However, since there have already been issues between you, your daughter, and your new wife, there definitely needs to be some sort of discussion between the three of you to establish some ground rules and boundaries to help the three of you with navigating your new blended family.

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  • avatar

    snoopy128 December 19, 2014, 12:51 pm

    I have to say, if the new wife is so therapy adverse, she should be bending over backwards to come up with other solutions to the problem. She should be suggesting other ideas or ways to mend the situation. This at the very least would open up some lines of communication and show she is trying. There is no mention of the wife being upset about this situation or trying to resolve it. This suggests she doesn’t care. Also, the fact that this has gone on for so long also suggests communication issues between husband and wife.

    I’d kick her out of the house until she starts showing an effort. Tell her to get a hotel room, invite your daughter over and start mending your relationship. If the wife wants back in, she can make an effort to have a good relationship with the child. This solution makes the girl the priority and the choice becomes the wife’s-either she step up, grow up, and make up, or she can walk away.

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  • avatar

    Eve December 19, 2014, 1:30 pm

    Cheez … I have seen this storyline very frequently in movies: parents divorce, step mum doesn’t like the little girl (it usually seems to be a girl), starts being mean, manipulating and turning the father against his own kid, father doesn’t even realise what’s going on and ditches his own kid.
    I never realised that actually happened in real life, I could never understand how a previously loving parent could basically turn against his own kid under the influence of another woman he didn’t know she even existed until recently.. Are women too good at this? Are men so easy to manipulate ?!!
    Sorry if that sounds too generalised / abrupt, I am just angry! Your new wife YELLED “I am your dad’d new wife, deal with it!” to your own 10-year old daughter, and you just sat their and watched this ?! What message is this given your daughter ?! “Dad chose his new wife who doesn’t like me and yells at me over me, instead of defending me and sticking up to me”.
    If you think what is happening is something transitory which will just go away, let me tell you that it won’t be for long, unless you quickly do something about it! Your daughter is at such an impressionable age, everything you do as a parents affects her. She WILL remember this, it WILL affect her perception of you, of herself, of the world, of love, of trust for good. The sooner you realise this, the role you have as a parents, how your actions affect this young girl’s life, the better.
    And, not that I have kids/am married or anything, but surely being a father should always come before being a partner ?! Your daughter is your child, your flesh and blood, and she will always be your daughter. This woman (and this applies to any partner), she may cheat on your tomorrow, may steal your money and leave, may decide she is bored of you. Is it really such a difficult decision who you have to stick up to ?

    I am beyond shocked!

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    Jennylou December 19, 2014, 2:43 pm

    I don’t have anything to add to what everyone has said above, except that this situation reminded me strongly of my friend Jim’s story. Jim had the stepmother from hell as well; his father married the woman when Jim was 12. Jim lived with his dad at the time. She hated the fact that her new husband had a child. She moved in, and immediately began treating Jim as if he was an inconvenience, as if he didn’t have any right to exist in his father’s home, and was verbally abusive to him. His father did absolutely nothing to remedy the situation. Within 6 months, Jim escaped by calling 911 after she slapped him. The court gave his mother full custody, and he moved 3 hours away to live with her. He rarely saw his father through his teenage years. 20 years later, he is still angry with his father for putting that horrible woman above him and allowing her to treat him so badly. He still hates his father’s wife, and rarely makes any effort to see his father. LW, if you don’t do anything to remedy this situation and get rid of this woman, your daughter will be able to tell a very similar tale of “why I don’t have a relationship with my dad.” Is that really what you want?

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    karenwalker December 19, 2014, 2:47 pm

    Oh my. Wow. I understand that your new marriage is difficult on your daughter, and is also difficult on your new wife becoming an instamom. While I know your wife is opposed to it, given the circumstances, therapy would have been wise before any conflict arose given the limited opportunities for your new wife and daughter to become acquainted. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, and I doubt your wife would have agreed if she is as opposed to therapy as you say she is.

    Your wife needs to be the adult here. Your 10 year old daughter not only feels uncomfortable with this new-to-her relationship, she also feels unwelcome in her own father’s home. I agree with her that a counselor is a great way to help mend the relationship between her and your wife. That your wife won’t agree is alarming. She may think therapy is something we Americans are all to willing to indulge in, but this is a clear step in repairing her relationship with your daughter. As adults, it is not uncommon to do things we don’t necessarily agree with – for example, when I’m visiting my parents, I attend Mass even though I am atheist – I do that because I know that me attending Mass means more to them than skipping Mass does to me.
    Attending a few therapy sessions for the benefit of the relationship you and she will share with your daughter should be more important to your wife than boycotting therapy based on her prejudice. The longer you indulge your wife’s refusal, the longer your daughter will feel betrayed by you – and you may not be able to earn her trust back. Has your wife proposed any alternative solutions at all? If not, that should also speak volumes about her character, and about how little she values your relationship with your daughter. She just might be the stepmother the Brothers Grimm wrote about!

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. December 19, 2014, 3:08 pm

    It’s always interesting to me that SOs/spouses who are described as “wonderful” by LWs seldom turn out to be wonderful. It’s like waiting for the shoe to drop. He’s wonderful, EXCEPT…wait for it…

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  • Portia

    Portia December 19, 2014, 4:46 pm

    I had a friend growing up who had a step-mother from when she was a little younger than the LW’s daughter. The step mother treated her like a second-class citizen (especially as compared to the two little “angels” the step-mother had with the dad, who were terrors). I tried to be a supportive friend, but we were in our early teens at that time, so there was really very little I could do except listen. Her mom was literally crazy (like institutionalized for a while, and what little I heard about her made me trust her that she was better off not in my friend’s life), so it was step-mother who hated her and dad who went along with step-mother, or nothing. She had some terrible self-esteem issues, was the first friend I knew with a boyfriend (really a long string of boyfriend starting at maybe 12 or 13), and was constantly rebelling. We mostly lost touch in high school (I tended to switch friend groups a lot), but her situation always kind of bothered me. I don’t know if she would have done better as an emancipated minor, but she was the only friend for whom I thought that might be a good option. I had plenty of friends who hated their parents, but even back then, I could tell she was not in a good place and it affected her on so many levels.
    .
    I think if her dad had listened to her concerns and backed her up, her life would have been a heck of a lot better. Thank goodness the LW’s daughter doesn’t have to just deal with this step-mother’s whims. The daughter seems like a good kid and is taking some reasonable steps, so I hope the LW chooses her well-being in the end and either goes to therapy on his own or with the daughter.

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