Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

I feel disrespected by husband

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  • #1109652 Reply

    My husband and I have been married for 6 years, together for nearly 10.
    We have 2 children together and he has one child from a previous marriage who is 9 y/o.

    I recently saw my name appear on a text from his ex partner (his child’s mother). I didn’t say anything at the time, thinking that my husband would mention to me what had been said, but he didn’t. so I looked at the text thread myself while he left the room the next day, I don’t usually do this as I respect his privacy but I was curious as to why my name was mentioned and he hadn’t told me.

    She wrote him a long text saying that their child had referred to me as her stepmother to somebody, and she was disgusted by this as in her words “she does not have a stepmother, I am her only mother, allowing her to call *my name* her stepmother is crossing the line” and a lot more but that was the general problem.

    For context my husband has always appreciated an easy life and although his ex has created problems in the past he will often try to diffuse the situation/ignore her rather than stand up to her/say what he really feels/stick up for our relationship.

    The problem here is that I feel so disrespected because his response was that he has never heard their daughter call me stepmother before and that if she did then she was never encouraged to do so. To me this sounds like he is agreeing with her in the fact that it is a problem. Why would he not feel happy or want to encourage that relationship between us (his daughter and I have a very good relationship)?

    It was bitter sweet to me, reading the text, where I felt overjoyed that my step daughter feels that I have earned the title “step mother” in her life. But I was also extremely disappointed that my husband had just fed his ex’s ego and told her what she wanted to hear rather than actually saying that it shouldn’t be an issue and if that’s how their daughter feels and how she wants to address me then we have been together for a long time and that should be fine?

    I don’t want to talk to my husband about this because I’ll have to say I looked at his phone which was wrong of me, but I can’t get over the hurt I’m feeling about this.

    I can sort of see his POV that he doesn’t want the aggro or repercussions of saying anything that contradicts her, but simultaneously why at this point does he feel the need to still please her to avoid a fight?

    Thank you and sorry for the long message

    #1109653 Reply

    My apologies, we have been together for nearly 9 years, not 10.

    #1109655 Reply

    I mean, you literally are her stepmother, so I’m not sure why this is an issue. But okay, he’s conflict avoidant and doesn’t want to deal with his ex’s pissy comments so he just goes along with it. Would it be nice if he stated calmly that you are in fact his wife and the girl’s stepmother? Sure, but would it change anything for you? Is everything great but he just doesn’t bother getting into arguments with his ex which means not standing up for you? Or is there more to it? Because you can’t address this without admitting you snooped, but maybe there are things you can address with him head on. There appears to be some kind of trust issue if you’re looking closely at his texts and reading them when he’s not around. If this is truly a one-off thing, I’d let it go. If it’s not, I’d find a way to discuss things with him and not make it about this text. You cannot win with that.

    #1109657 Reply

    LW — your post would be a lot more understandable if you had said what the custodial arrangements are between your husband and the birth mother.

    You have a choice to make. You can decide to make yourself a big part of this problem, or you can just let this slide. You have a good relationship with your stepdaughter. How is this possibly going to be improved or kept as good as it is if you get into a fight with birth mom over this girl. Worse, how does it possibly help this girl for you to push your husband to get into a fight with his ex over whether or not you are the girl’s stepmother? The whole tenor of the ex’s comment seems to be that she fears being supplanted by you. That means just about anything you get your husband to reply, even something as obvious and seemingly innocuous as “she’s my wife, which makes her de facto stepmom” is clearly going to incite her.

    Co-parenting after a divorce can be excruciatingly hard and divorce is very hard on the children. Please don’t allow your insecurities to make this situation worse for everyone involved, especially this young child.

    Your husband did exactly the right thing by deflecting and smoothing over. But you seem to be itching for a fight. Why? It’s not at all unusual for first and second wives not to get along, especially with a child involved. Don’t make this all about you. And don’t snoop.

    #1109667 Reply

    Because he wants to avoid the fight, that’s why he agreed. It’s a lot easy parenting with someone who isn’t always angry at you.

    Like her daughter didn’t even call you “stepmother,” she was upset her daughter used that term to refer to you, probably casually and that’s the proper term. So just let it go. He was just smoothing it over.

    I feel like the “he has a nine year old daughter” and “we’ve been together for nearly nine years” might be part of the reason she’s not so fond of you? Maybe meet her with a little more empathy if you can.

    Stop snooping. You feel disrespected by him but you actually did disrespect your husband by snooping in his phone. Why don’t you trust him? Why don’t you feel comfortable being honest with him about what you saw and your feelings about it?

    #1109668 Reply

    Anonymous: I misssed/glossed over the “I feel like the “he has a nine year old daughter” and “we’ve been together for nearly nine years.” part.

    So, LW likely was a big part of the breaking up of the ex’s young family. That puts a deep shadow on her current jealous/selfish feelings.

    #1109670 Reply

    That’s an A+ observation, and could it be that the LW has trust issues in part because this guy left his ex wife with an infant for another woman?

    #1109672 Reply
    Avatar photoCopa

    Everyone else nailed it on the head, but +1 that he was smoothing things over with his ex-wife, not agreeing with her. For the sake of his daughter, it’s great that he’s trying to be courteous and civil with his ex-wife. As her stepparent, it’s a shame you can’t feel the same.

    Annnd yeah, while we don’t know the specifics of how his relationship with you began, the math is shady. I assume you went into the relationship with eyes wide open about what kind of situation you were getting yourself into/what kind of man he is, yet here you are a decade(!) later still feeling insecure, jealous, and not trusting him. Maybe therapy would be a good idea, too, tbh.

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