Dear Annie: My fiance, “Clyde,” and I have been together for three years. We have a great relationship. We have lived together for two years, and my 5-year-old considers him “Dad.”
Clyde is divorced and has two daughters, 16 and 18. His marriage was destructive and abusive, yet he still goes to his ex-wife’s house three times a week to see his 16-year-old. Clyde and I have only one day together as a family with my son.
His kids want nothing to do with me, so they won’t come to our place. I’ve missed out on several family events because his kids didn’t want me there. I have asked Clyde repeatedly to stop splitting his life in two. His kids will make no effort to know me if he doesn’t insist on it. They are old enough to understand that they should respect our situation even if they don’t like it. And they would benefit from seeing their father in a healthy relationship.
The ex-wife continues to be controlling and nasty. She constantly asks Clyde for favors and says negative things about me to him and his kids. He doesn’t understand why I have a problem with this or why I feel like my son and I take a back seat to his past. I have discussed seeing a counselor, but he’s resistant.
I expect Clyde to be there for his kids, but why can’t he cut the strings with his ex? I have been loving, understanding, supportive and patient, but I feel that he’s taking advantage because it’s easier to disappoint me than to stand up to his ex. I make him a priority, and in return, he gives me the scraps. – Becoming Resentful
Dear Resentful: Clyde doesn’t want to risk losing the affection of his daughters, which is why he is easily manipulated by them and also by their mother. But you are right that they will not respect your relationship if he doesn’t insist on it. Get counseling, with or without him, and decide what your next step is.