My wife and I were married about 9 months ago, both of us had been married once before, and my wife had a daughter by her last marraige, age 5. Now I find myself in a situation, where my wife lets her by with murder, and when I punish her, my wife turns on me, and always over-rules me in front of my stepdaugter, my wife says that all I ever do is punish her, and that if I loved her I wouldnt do that, but I only punish her when shes bonifiably mean, or dis-respectful. Now, its got to the point where my 5 yr old step daughter literally tells me what to do, and my wife expects me to do it. She will disrespect me, and laugh right in my face, this of course makes me terribly angry, and when I go to punish her, me and my wife end up in an argument.
Also, if she sees that my wife and I are talking, or just spending quality time together, she will interupt, or jump right into the middle of it, its got to the point that I cannot say 3 words to my wife, or kiss her without, My little girl jumping into the middle of it, I feel that my wifes mouth is firmly planted on her daughters butt. and I resent my stepdaughter for that, because of her my wife and I get no time together. I guess Im just as jealous as she is, and maybe this is childish, but its got to the point that I feel, and have observed my stepdaughter pitting me and my wife against each other.
Because of this, my marraige is crumbling, my wife is un-willing to make time for me, and by the looks of this, its dragging us all apart, and I love them more than anything, its just I' ve tried everything, and im so frustrated. well that about sums it up, maybe I am childish, but I dont think wanting some quality time with my wife is wrong, or is wanting to be looked at as an equal to my stepdaughter in my wife' s eyes.
Dr. Romance responds:
Step parenting is a very difficult thing to do, and you and your wife made a big mistake by not working this out before you married. I strongly suggest you and your wife go to counseling, to help you work out an agreement about who has the right to discipline the daughter, and how and when it is to take place. Use my "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely" I also think you should take some parenting classes together so that you' ll have a similar understanding of what good, effective parenting is. Your marriage counselor can recommend local classes.
It' s normal for all of you to be anxious, but taking such a negative view is not helping the situation. You' ll do better if you see this as a test of whether you and your wife can become partners, a team, and work together in your marriage. If you can' t figure out how to parent your step-daughter together, then the marriage probably won' t work. Fighting over it is the worst possible thing you can do.
I know you think you' ve tried everything, but it sounds as if you haven' t sat down with your wife and discussed how the two of you can work together. That' s why I' m suggesting a marriage counselor -- someone who can help you have a productive discussion of the issues and the solutions.
The real issue is not competition between you and a small child, the real issue is -- how well can you and your wife work together? Read my book, Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage which shows you how to negotiate issues like this -- you might find it helpful. The most important thing you can do is drop the struggle over who' s right or wrong (that will lead nowhere) and begin a discussion about what you can do that will work for BOTH of you.
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