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Parenting Stepchildren/husband & stepdaughter ruining marriage


Hello. I am a 52-year old woman who has been married to my spouse for nearly 9-yrs. normally we have a beautiful loving relationship. We support each others careers, we are Christians, live our families and each other. When I met my husband he was in the process of his then 3-year divorce. His ex was an awful person and probably still resents us to this day. I have an adult son and he and his wife have a 4 year old. My husband has 4 adult children and the ALL have children as well. Here lies the problem. My husband is very partial when it comes to his youngest daughter. He thinks the sun rises and sets on her and she knows this. This same daughter has always been a drama queen, mainly because she's spoiled and never listens. We pleaded with her NOT to get pregnant but to no avail. She recently broke up with the father of her 2-yr old and my husband and I have been constantly fighting because he wants me to neglect our lives to accommodate her requests for babysitter at a miment's notice. He has even gone so far as to drop our plans without consulting with me do she can carry out her plans. Mind you this stepdaughter has always been a huge issue for us because he puts her before our marriage and he has a problem telling her no. He has on 2 occasions allowed her to move into our home without talking to me first. When I retaliate it just gets worse and we end up not speaking for days, which is the case now. He even suggested we make the sacrifice whenever she called to for a sitter. I couldn't believe my ears. I'm not allowed to say anything about her because he says that's his baby girl. She on the other hand knows she can manipulate her father and does. He still needs to prove to her that she is number 1 and this his marriage is second. I'm so hurt and disgusted because I dislike his daughter and he is largely the reason. I feel I have to sneak to see my grandson because she is watching so she can place more guilt in him. I have tried to like her but she exhibits ways and character that I can't identify with. It's caused a beautiful marriage to literally crumble at the seams. He wants his daughter and granddaughter practically living in our home and I can't stand the thought of this. She is 23-years old and looks to be in late 30's. She dresses like a prostitute and has visible tattoos everywhere. She disregards me and he lies and goes behind my back to accommodate her every request. His eldest daughter has 3 children and he never mentions them, or the other 3 between both his sons. He wants me to dote in this daughter andbi can't stand her.

What do I do? My marriage is falling apart right before my eyes and I know this what his daughter wants. I live my husband but I'm thinking of leaving because it's physically taking a toll in me.

Hello Jacquiline - your step[family story is a common one. You mates have several concurrent problems:

1] All 4 of you co-parents (including your ex) have probably inherited significant psychological "wounds" and unawareness from your ancestors:

If true, some or all of your kids have inherited these wounds and unawareness from you parents.

2] Two things you adults were probably never taught are [1] how to communicate effectively [specially relationship-problem-solving], and [2] stepfamily basics.

3] your surface marital problem is a common - divisive - stepfamily "loyalty conflict" in which your wounded, unaware [guilty?] husband puts his youngest daughter and grandkids before your marriage. Frequently this happens because the parent denies or ignores being a step family:

It's estimated that over 60% of US stepfamily couples like you break up because of the combined stress from these problems.

If you and your husband wish to save your marriage and spare your kids from another breakup, I respectfully urge you BOTH to patiently study this free online course:

This is a LOT to absorb, so take your time with it. If either of you have questions about these resources, Jacquiline, please ask!

Compassionately, Pete

Parenting Stepchildren

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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about remarriage preparation, stepparenting, stepchild discipline, child visitation, grieving, stepfamily norms and myths, mission statements, stepparent job (role)descriptions, communication skills, loyalty and values conflicts, stepfamily identity problems, common pitfalls, ex mate and relative problems, stepfamily merger and adjustment tasks, name confusions, choosing an effective counselor, resolving money disputes, co-parenting support groups, and the family effects of court (legal) battles. I can`t answer questions about medicine, family law, legal stepchild adoption, or financial planning.


I have studied and worked with stepfamilies clinically since 1979, and I have been a "step everything" personally. I was invited to be on the board of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA) by it's founders, Drs. John and Emily Visher; and later was re-invited by president Margory Engle, PhD. For more detail, see this.

Former Board member, Stepfamily Association of America (SAA)
National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC)Experts Council

Hundreds of Web articles on ; I've uploaded over 150 self-improvement videos on YouTube; and have self-published 6 books. My ad-free Web site offers a unique, practical 7-lesson self-improvement course.

Stanford University BSME (1958) George Williams College MSW (1981) Hundreds of post-graduate seminars on a wide variety of "mental health" subjects

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of appreciative emails and comments on my Web site and videos from people all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked clinically with over 1,000 midwestern divorced and remarried family members, and have had over 800 stepfamily students in various seminars and courses since 1981

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