Thickness of blood, water, and marriage

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2006
Thickness of blood, water, and marriage
Tue, 09-18-2012 - 12:37pm

I am courting a woman with a 16 yr. old daughter whose father is deceassed with and no other relatives who are 'overly' concerned about the daughter. Hence, her mother is all she has and they are very, very close which I can appreciate.

I have 4 kids, ages 14-23, and I don't foresee my exW creating any real problem for me regarding this second marriage.

However, I want my new W to put me ahead of our collective brood and I want to do the same for her. Basically, just like any married couple would/should do if all of the kids were biologically shared between them. The woman I am courting agrees but I'm questioning whether or not she realizes just how enmeshed that she is with her only daughter.

What are the potential barriers to accomplishing 'spouse first' and what might facilitate it?


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Thu, 09-20-2012 - 8:41am
Hi Glenn--

FWIW (for what it's worth---just my thoughts, as someone who was once 16---although a LONG time ago, LOL....) re:
unless the daughter herself were to consent to such an arrangement so if an impasse were to arise regarding her daughter, I would be going through her mom (via mom's authority) to get the desired results

If I were 16 yo D, and wanted A.......talked with my mom about it and she wasnt opposed, ....but then Glenn wanted B,.....and mom changed her stance to B.......
...........................I would be resentful Glenn was in my/my mom's life and interfering with my life . And, if I were the MOM in this situation, I would begin to be unhappy that my relationship with my DH is causing a rift between myself and my child.

And another FWIW (just my feelings), to mull over.......
I, personally, would NOT like to be living in a situation where I am frequently feeling "pulled" between my new husband and my child.
I would get real tired of having to be a peacekeeper because of that.

(and....last "FWIW", ...IMO, ......YOU will most likely get tired of situation as well...., eg, ---->. if seeing her parenting bothers you....IMO, ... it's gonna distress you even more with front row/living together view......)

Not sure what denomination you belong to, but I'd suggest asking your pastor re: workshops/resources re: blended family resources that you could work on with your DF. Quite possibly they have pre-marital workshops that address these issues as well?

Gonna be out of town for a few days, but will check back later---


Are you widowed as well?
The fact that she's widowed vs. divorced places a somewhat different dynamic on things as well.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Wed, 09-19-2012 - 5:32pm


We still have a joint account, but things have settled down in that department.  We had a HUGE fight not long ago because I had given in too much and my resentment of doing so finally blew.  We almost called it quits at that point, but after a long talk, we now know that we need to just support the other one in what they do with their own children without compromising our own future goals as well. 

I commend both you and your DF on your high morals and values.  It's so refreshing in this tainted society!  I'm afraid suffering a horrible divorce and being brokenhearted by the man I trusted the most, I'm a bit jaded myself.  Therefore, I moved in with dh a year before we actually married.  So, yes...I did have the luxury you don't.  It doesn't make it right, but it is what it is.  I wasn't ready to get married (he asked), but I was ready to be in a very committed relationship.  To me, marriage meant opening myself up to another divorce which is the last thing I wanted. 

As for my DDs...some of the problems have had to do with my rolling over to my dh, but many also have to do with the fact that my DDs are closer to my ex and his family than they are to mine who none live around here.  None of them truly make an effort to reach out to me or make time for me.  So, it has more to do with the divorce and their unfairness of time with me than anything else along with the fact I've had to say "no" to them in regards to money and their father continues to pay.  Can't compete with that and am done trying.  Luckily, there are no issues like that with your DF and her DD since her ex has passed. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2006
Wed, 09-19-2012 - 2:42pm

<< Listen to Laurena...she gave MUCH good advice. >>

I'm still chewing on all that good stuff.

Do you have separate accts. now and if so, did it solve any of the conflicts from being joint?

<< ... waiting until your DF's DD is moved out of the house to get married. >>

You may have a luxury that we don't... being sexually intimate without marriage. If that were our case, I may not even be getting married.

<< Anyway, because of what I've done, I'm not very close to ANY of my DD's... >>

Is this entirely due to your 2nd marriage and the dynamics within it?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Wed, 09-19-2012 - 1:46pm


   Listen to Laurena...she gave MUCH good advice.  Keeping separate accounts is a MUST, I think in a 2nd marriage when there are children involved.  My dh insisted on a joint account because (and he's admitted), he was afraid I'd spend my entire income on my 2 younger DD's who are still in college.  He makes 4 times what I do, but he knows how I feel about helping my DD's.  Anyway, we have had more fights than I can count over kids and money and disagreeing with the other.  So, take this to heart.   

Laurena also mentioned possibly waiting until your DF's DD is moved out of the house to get married.  I can tell you from personal experience that I wish I HAD!  I now live with dh's lazy 19 year old son and don't like it.  Because my own 4 DD's went to college and were out of the house by this age, I assumed HIS would be as well, but noooo.  He's not college material and won't join the military.  He lost his license and totaled his car and has major DOT fines, so has no way to start out in life without our help. 

As for putting your spouse first...I actually HAVE done that since dh and met.  He makes decisions solely based on practicality and I on emotionality, so we've come to blows over decisions regarding money & kids.  I have made 3 decisions since we've met that I basically caved on to keep the peace and my DD's have not cared for them at all.  They see him as controlling, but I'm a peacekeeper, so do tend to give in to his ways more than the other way around.  I pick my battles...let's put it that way.  My DDs are adults and I just felt that it was MY time to live MY life as they are theirs, so my decisions shouldn't effect them, but unfortunately, they did.  Anyway, because of what I've done, I'm not very close to ANY of my DD's and they don't think much of my dh or me probably.  So, my suggestion to you is to stay out of your DF's and future SD's relationship and let them do their own thing.  You don't want her DD to view you as my DD's view MY dh.  It's not good.   


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2006
Wed, 09-19-2012 - 12:42pm

Wow, lots to chew on there and thanks for the warm welcome.

Another thing that I should probably mention is that, once married, we plan on practicing the biblical model of deference of the wife to her husband if we should ever reach an impasse. I do not plan on exercising any such dynamic with her daughter (being a young adult) unless the daughter herself were to consent to such an arrangement so if an impasse were to arise regarding her daughter, I would be going through her mom (via mom's authority) to get the desired results.

So I guess one of my main concerns is can I trust mom to follow through on this peace keeping procedure (willing, familial, female submission) when it comes to conflicting emotions regarding her daughter.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2006
Wed, 09-19-2012 - 12:18pm

<< Where do you see areas that conflicts might arise where you feel that she might choose what her DD wants over what you want? >>

I don't like to borrow trouble but it seems like an inevitability that such things will arise (be they large or small) on a regular basis. Where two or more are gathered, there is politics, no? 

As I said, the woman I am courting and I agree on the principle of prioritizing our spouse over our children but I would like to bring as much detail into the discussion as possible so that neither of us can claim ignorance when the time comes.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Wed, 09-19-2012 - 9:41am
Hi Glenn--
WElcome :smileyhappy:

Youve got alot to respond to, and i've got limited time this am, but here are some thoughts:

1. It's good that you're looking ahead, seeing possible issues ahead, and trying to figure out how to navigate.

but she makes decrees? that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, she will relent on and when I ask her about them, she just says that, 'I am a woman and you are a man. There should be a difference.'

1. In my situation---I'm like you. When I make decisions re: my kids---I keep them (except ?? possibly?? rare extenuating circumstances---although I really cant think of any). I'm slower to COME to these "decisions", ....but, once made---I stick to them. Why? Because I dont think the kids will believe/take me seriously in future if I dont. So, ....that's what I've always done.
My SO/DF (we've been together 10 years, living together 8 1/2 maybe now), is the kind who says what he will/wont do---what consequence is--------then......doesnt follow through. AND....especially wont follow through if kids pressure him not to. So.......................why would they ever believe he will follow through,....AND....why should they then NOT pressure him to rescind his decision----as, he always WILL rescind/change his mind------>they simply have to bug him enough.

This used to bother me alot----he'd vent to ME re: how "consequences dont mean anything" to his kids---WTH? ---geesh! try ENFORCING your consequences----he'd agree with it for a few months---then not. Back to square one.

Keep your finances separate. That way, when spouse is (over) spending for his/her kids---it's not affecting YOUR life together/expenses--------that has probably been the only way I/we survived this.
Beyond that------I had to learn to simply "not care" re how HE chose to raise HIS kids.

2. This CAN be more troublesome than just $ $ $, however, if kids are similar ages, spending residential time at your place, and parents have different rules for each child. (eg, one 16 yo allowed to go out all night, have BF over, etc, while other isnt...........that type of stuff)-------so, depending on what resident/custody/age/similiarities in kids is, this would need to be addressed some how..........................................but, MOST important to keep in mind:

3. She raises her kids/you raise your kids.
You two can agree on HOUSE RULES, which can/should be posted and discussed TOGETHER with all (eg, dirty dishes into dishwasher, etc stuff).....and you CAN *remind* of those things-----but other *stuff* and other "discipline", etc of her kids needs to come from HER.

If you feel her style of parenting will be VERY distressing for you to have a front row seat (living together, you'll have this)--------------then,....DD is 16-----I'd suggest waiting til DD graduates HS (and moves out) before living together.

OTHER SUGGESTIONS I THINK ARE IMPORTANT (and I should have probably listed at top of post, because probably more useful than what I've already said):

1. Look for a "step parenting" workshop-----I went to one years ago, and it was VERY helpful,------you both go, and I guarantee you it will be helpful to you-----IF NOTHING ELSE, it gets you discussing situations and potential situations both between yourselves AND with other couples in similar situations. VERY useful/helpful.

2. (and this is probably most important thing I wanted to reply to):
Her situation with one DD (I'm guessing) IS very different than yours with the 4 kids. First of all, she's a woman with ONE child/daughter----many parents with only child are (it seems) much closer to that one child, and, especially since she's single parent, I would offer possibly closer yet. It's not right or wrong---it's just how it is (often)----and, it seems certainly so in your case.
This is who she is-------------do NOT expect this to change.

Like I had to learn with my SO------he WILL renig on his "consequences" for his kids. He will. That's who he is. I've psychoanalyzed "why" he does this, he maybe does this somewhat less now than he used to? Bottom line---doesnt matter----THIS IS WHO HE IS, AND THIS IS WHAT HE DOES. For my own mental health, I JUST NEED TO ACCEPT THIS, ...........because,....he's really not changing.

Hope this helps... :smileyhappy:

Looking to hear more from you--

BEST WISHES---and keep us posted :smileyhappy:
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 09-18-2012 - 10:54pm

I think we've had a bunch of discussions on here about whether the spouse should come "first" or the children or different variations on that theme.  I think I'd go more for a "separate but equal" kind of thing.  What I mean by that, just by the nature of having children, sometimes the children's needs do have to come first.  I think we all know times that as parents we sacrifice either money or time to do what the kids need, but I don't look at that as being "against" the spouse.  I also remember our former leader Pam saying that if the marriage is good, the kids get the benefit of seeing a good role model of a relationship--and I also think that if the marriage is put first, then the partner who is the stepparent wouldn't put himself in a position where the bio parent feels that she has to choose between the child & spouse.  I think that's the big difference in a 2nd marriage.  When you're in a 1st marriage & all the kids belong to both of you, it's pretty much taken for granted that even if you have differences of opinion on what to do about the kids, both of you love the kids & have their best interests at heart.  I was in a situation for my 2nd marriage where a lot of times I felt in the middle between my 2nd DH & my kids from the 1st marriage because I felt like he resented them or was acting childish -- like not wanting me to spend money on them for instance, where he never questioned how much money I was spending on clothes for myself (I worked and made just as much money as he did, so it wasn't like I was spending "his" money)--where I would never question how much money he was spending on things for his DD.  Or he would do little mean things to my kids behind my back.  But hoping that you would be a normal person who would care about your DSD, I think you need to think of specific scenarios to discuss w/ your future DW, like what would happen if you had a difference in opinion about how she made rules for her child?  Are your kids going to be spending time at your house also?  What happens if both of you in the past had different types of rules for your own kids?  How do you decide what should be done?  We had a lot of problems which were caused by not discussing things before the marriage--I just assumed (and you can never assume) that I'd take care of my kids & he would take care of his as far as rules, but then he wanted to come in & change the rules for my kids.  Oh and he'd complain that I was too lenient &I'd think he was too strict--so you really need to talk a lot about your expectations for your (sets) or kids.  Where do you see areas that conflicts might arise where you feel that she might choose what her DD wants over what you want?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2006
Tue, 09-18-2012 - 6:11pm

We have been dating for a year and even though we have discussed the arrangements regarding kids to a large extent, I'm sure that things will arise that we did not think to discuss in advance.

About the only thing that concerns me is that she doesn't back up all of her words with action. Don't get me wrong, I've been known to have a change of heart now and again regarding my kids but she makes decrees? that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, she will relent on and when I ask her about them, she just says that, 'I am a woman and you are a man. There should be a difference.'

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Tue, 09-18-2012 - 5:08pm

How long have you been dating your future wife?  Is there anything in how she parents her daughter that you have disagreed with?  From everything I've read on these boards, spouses get into trouble when one disagrees with the other in regards to how they parent their children.  I can understand the closeness your SO and her daughter share.  Your concern is valid, but have you seen something in their relationship that causes you concern?  Do you agree with her style of parenting? 

Dh and I have 7 adult children between us (ages 19-30) and we have almost broken up more than once due to our differences in parenting.  If they had been younger when we had met, we never would have made it, but because we were so close to being done in that regard, we hung in there and are almost there.  We both know blood would have won out...our kids come first to each of us.