Here's the original post:
My husband (40M) and I(34F) have been married for 4 yrs. I came into my stepdaughter’s (16F) life when she was 10. Both her and my stepson (now 12M) were somewhat neglected and had behavior issues when I met them. My husband and his ex aren’t bad parents but he travels a lot for work and she is a bit flighty and self indulgent.
My SD and I hit it off real well and I love both my stepkids. We all co-parented well, with me taking on a more active role in their school and other stuff. Both husband and his ex-wife were satisfied with me doing the grunt work for kids. They both travel a lot and I became the sole parent who was fully engaged.
I own a 3 bedroom house I had inherited from my parents, and husband and kids moved in to live with me. Kids love their rooms in our home and their lives in our town. The custody arrangement they have on paper is 50-50 but their mom doesn’t have as much space as I do, so the kids are here almost full time.
A few months ago, I came back from an overnight school field trip with my stepson to a very distraught SD. She found her parents together in my bedroom and was upset about the cheating. I was devastated to hear this from her. After some sleuthing I found out that their affair had been going on for months and possibly a whole year.
I’ve been trying to get pregnant for the past 2 years and we were having very frequent sex and realizing that my husband was sleeping with us back to back was especially nauseating for me. I have filed for divorce and asked him to leave. He doesn’t want this marriage to end and seems somehow convinced that I’ll change my mind. But he agreed to a separation and has moved out to an apartment.
My SD was mad at both her parents and wants to continue living with me. Neither of them are taking any steps to move out the kids who are still living in their rooms and living their lives as if this family hasn’t imploded. I’d have been happy with having the kids with me, but my problem is that both my husband and kid’s mom feel at liberty to come into my house whenever they feel like it because their kids are here.
She feels no guilt about the cheating and acts as if I am the interloper. She treats me like I am their nanny expecting me to continue taking care of things for kids and leaving me with instructions and criticisms. Meanwhile, my Ex frequently drops by under the guise of seeing the kids but keeps trying to cajole me into letting him move back.
I love my SD and I don’t want to do anything to hurt her further, but I can’t take living like this. The amount of hurt and anger I feel towards my husband and his ex-wife is too much and it’s painful to have to keep dealing with them. The absolute cheek of them to treat me like this is making my head explode.
But I don’t know what to do about the kids. Everyone in my life is expecting me to suck it up and do what’s best for the kids. I love them but this is becoming unbearable.
NTA. You have needs and boundaries that your husband and his ex are playing jump rope with. You are raising their kids, which they’ve opted not to do. This man is trash, don’t let him cajole you into anything.
Explain to the kids honestly and openly that you love them, will support them as best you can, but the family dynamic has changed and their parents need to sort out a new custody arrangement.
If you get push back, offer to adopt or foster the kids on the firm understanding that their parents don’t come on your property. Ever. They can park on the street to pick up for visits, but your door is closed (with changed locks and maybe cameras. A dog, if you’re open to it).
And if that’s the route, I’d obviously have lawyers involved - what your financial obligations are, what they’ll pay in child support, etc. Right now, they’ve got you feeling trapped and helpless. But you hold all the cards. Also, seems like your SD knows exactly who’s to blame. Your relationship may well survive and even improve.
My advice to you would be to have the kids move out, but see them on weekends. Have a sit down with them. Explain that you've come to love them very much, but since you are not their parent, nor in a relationship with one of their parents anymore it's just not right for them to not be living with a parent.
I'd let them know that you'll always love them and be here for then through anything, but unfortunatly they need to be living with their parents. Let them know they can call you etc. Once they realize and understand that they have to live with a parent call their mom and tell her to pick them up.
If you love them like It sounds to me. It's okay to maintain a visiting relationship, but you cannot maintain what is going on now. The father will also continue cheating on you with his ex if you stay because he's learned you'll put up with it and his ex will keep the secret
And callmrrental said:
NTA at all- I completely understand why you would want them to move out, even with their attatchment to you. however, i'm going to provide a teenager's perspective here (i'm 19)-
I don't know how exactly you can fight for custody of the kids- especially your SD. I'm not very well versed in the legalities of any of this, but I know if my parents cheated I would no longer want anything to do with them. From the looks of it your SD considers you more of a mother than her actual mother- so I think it is absolutely worth a shot to fight for custody if you WANT to.
however, if you don't want to- have a respectful conversation with SD and SS. SD is 16 and probably mature enough to understand your reasoning- her moving out also does not mean you have to cut ties with her.
Following the advice given, I talked with different lawyers to see what I could do to in this situation. What I found out wasn't very promising and the lawyer retainer fee for a custody fight is too high. With the separation my money situation is pretty tight and I couldn't afford to chase this issue legally.
I've been stressed and working late these days. The day after I made the post I was gonna be late home and had asked SD to reheat the frozen lasagna I had made for dinner. When I arrived home, it was to both the kids having a meal with the Ex and their Mom (I'll call her M). M had decided to turn it into a family dinner and set out the food I made, on my formal dining table, with my nice dishes.
She had created a pretty family moment with her and Ex under my roof. I completely lost it at that point. I regret to say I behaved abominably, screaming at her and my Ex and told them to get the hell out of my house. This happened in front of SS who was pretty shocked, so far I had kept him out of most of this mess.
After my breakdown I needed some time away, so I drove out to spend the weekend with my cousin. SD wanted to come with me and we left SS with his Dad. SD was so sweet to me and very understanding of why I was upset. She hadn't invited her parents, her Mom had shown up and then she invited Ex for dinner.
SD hadn't anticipated that I'd get this upset. Frankly, I am surprised too that I blew up like that. That's not the typical me.
After we got back I let M know that she shouldn't come over anymore and if she did then I'll report her for trespassing. M didn't believe me and showed up to talk and I lost it at her and this time I did call the cops. They nicely asked her to leave and she did. SS was very upset at me for this. M showed up again the next day acting all sweet and telling me that I am being unreasonable.
Unfortunately, I became pretty unhinged at this and swore and yelled at her. SS shoved me and screamed at me to shut up. I fell on my butt and was shocked into silence. M was pretty surprised too and left immediately, whereas SS ran and locked himself in his room. He called his Dad to come get him but he was out of town and M ignored his calls.
SS is a very loving kid so his reaction was very heartbreaking. I understand where he is coming from though. M is his mother after all. M is also a very pretty person who comes across as very sweet and delicate. She's the type of woman people jump to help. It is natural that SS would feel protective of her. I hadn't expected that he'd turn on me though.
The rest of the week was bad with SS angry at me and refusing to talk to me. When his Dad got back in town he came and got him. SS told him he didn't want to live with me anymore. A few days later Ex wanted me to take back SS, but the kid didn't want to come back.
I told Ex I will not force him and Ex got pretty mad at me. He wanted me to fix the situation somehow. When I refused to make SS stay with me, Ex became pretty mean. He said a lot of ugly things, the worst being that he's relieved I didn't get pregnant because I'd make an awful mother.
I was afraid of things turning out this way, but I've got Ex and M out of my house and that is a relief. SD is going to live with me till she moves out to college. Ex is struggling to find childcare for SS and is so angry at me that I think he'll not slow down the divorce anymore. I want to fix this with SS, but a big selfish part of me is afraid to do anything that'll bring his parents back in my life.
I really don't understand M's actions and motivations in all this. She wanted to sleep with Ex and I had walked out of the picture and it was all hers. If she wanted her kids, it wasn't like there was anything I could do about that. If she didn't want her kids, I was already taking care of them.
But she'd keep violating my boundaries with a smile on her face and be all surprised that I am not happy about this. Right now neither her nor Ex want to be the daily parent to SS, but he is angry at me enough that he doesn't want to chose me. I feel so crushed about that. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
A lot of people messaged me suggesting that I should let SD go and its not healthy to have her staying with me. That maybe so on paper, but its not something I want to do.
I met Ex a few years after my parents death. I was very close to them and they passed away one after the other. I suffered from a lot of depression from grieving. My boyfriend at that time dumped me and I lost a lot of friends. When we started dating, I was coming out of my sadness but was still very lonely.
SD and I became each others supports very quickly. She felt neglected by her parents and had resentment towards them and I suppose she loved the attention I gave her. I found her to be a loving kid and I liked bonding with her. SS and I were close too, while he loved his mom I did kinda assume that he was closer to me.
One of the resentments that SD held against her parents was that they were uninterested and dismissive of her extracurriculars that led to her failing in some activities she was very passionate about. She's into a sport I was familiar with and I spend a lot of time training with her and taking her to her events and classes.
She is very good at it now and it's going to be a source of scholarships for her and possibly get her into the college she is interested in. She is hardworking and ambitious and I want to support her as much as I can. She has promised to keep her parents out of our home and I hope she sticks with that till she leaves for college.
Ex has been very angry and ranting at me in messages. I have stopped answering his calls and I don't reply to his emails. I've told him the only subject I'll discuss with him is divorce and only through my lawyer. So he's been badmouthing me to a lot of our mutual acquaintances. A couple of people have gently chided me for abandoning SS.
One went so far as to say that women who become stepmoms should know what they are signing up for, and a real mother wouldn't leave her children. I am not good with conflict and haven't been able to respond properly. I've pretty much isolated myself from people so I don't have to listen to comments like these.
M is still blocked by me and she hasn't made any more efforts to communicate with me and that is a huge relief.
A week after the last post, SIL came down to see me. She lives 3 hours away so I was pretty apprehensive that she was going to drive down all the way over here to talk to me. I asked to meet in a restaurant and she agreed. I was also worried about talking to her because while she's been polite and nice with me, she was and still is M's friend.
She told me Ex had urged her to talk to me about SS and she completely disagrees with him about that. She said I've been a great stepmom to SS but he's not my responsibility. Ex was honest with her about his affair and she supports me getting divorced.
She said a lot of supportive things to me about moving on and looking after myself and also thanked me for taking care of SD still. That was nice, but then she went on to add that she wasn't surprised by the affair at all, she was surprised that Ex married me. She was like you should've seen this coming.
Though she didn't come out and say it, the insinuation was that M is so much better than me, she's prettier, more successful, more charming and Ex would jump on the chance to be with her. That was just great to hear, peachy! Though its easy for me to accept now that I am not the smart one here because I didn't see it coming at all. I was happy and in love with my family.
The upside to that meeting is that Ex has stopped harassing me. I haven't heard anything from him since and I think he has stopped talking about me to others too. I don't have anything on SS yet, though SD told me he's alright and waiting for summer vacation to start.
A few of you said that M might have been interested in taking my house. I don't think so. She does alright by herself and has a good career. She has a rather spendy lifestyle and lives in a very fancy 2 bedroom apartment in the city, while my house is in a child friendly but staid suburb.
I hope things continue to be quite because I need to get my head straight and focus on work or I may get fired. And my job is the one thing going for me right now.
We had a court date and the judge ordered mediation and put this off for a few more months. I was hoping this would be a wrap up, after all we don't have kids together and I want nothing from Ex. I didn't bring up custody for SD or SS and he didn't either. All I want is a divorce and to walk away with what I brought in - my house and my car.
Ex isn't fighting for those but he's still saying he doesn't want a divorce. WTH man. He's left me two messages asking to talk. I've ignored him. The mediation will be over Zoom which to me sounds more comfortable than in person meeting. SD and I are doing well living together. M is silent. Nothing from SS so far.
My guess is the Ex doesn’t want to deal with parenting… just like M. They like their freedom of being able to live their life but also want to be able say their children are well cared for and loved while not having to deal with the responsibilities.
OOP is too nice to ex and his ex. SD knows her parents are crap. I think he only married OOP to have a nanny free of charge for his kids.
Poor OOP and those kids. I hope they all heal from this, it seems like the dad just needed someone to watch the kids while he did whatever the f he wanted. So sad.
Ex is an absolutely huge AH. He wants the convenient home and childcare that OOP provides while wanting to bang his ex-wife. Nothing he does shows any care for his two children. The second largest AH is the ex-wife M, who thinks OOP is just the convenient nanny and food station.
The SD knows her bio-parents and sees her stepmom as the stable and better parent. SS doesn't see WHY OOP is angry at his bio-parents. I'm looking forward to the update where OOP is successfully separated from Ex, gets a restraining order for Ex and M, and lives in peace. I wouldn't be surprised if SD gets married, she only invites OOP.