House of Pain

05/28/2009 08:38

Hey there –

I have been married 12 years. We have a mixed family… I had 2 children from my 1st marriage and he had 1 from his and now we have a child together. Approximately 5 years ago his daughter moved in with us and caused major problems (she was 12), not just between my husband and I, but between my husband and my son. My children had rules (who my husband has raised since they were 2 and 3), and when his daughter came, he wanted her to love him so much that no rules applied to her.

We both had crappy first marriages (so of course in the back of our minds, TRUST ISSUES), and I think we have been on the defensive with each other for so long, that we don’t know how not to be anymore. The teenage years have been hard…he definitely was too hard and I was probably to soft (especially with my son). My ex really didn’t have much to do with the kids (so I felt guilty).

It’s been approximately a year since my husband’s daughter has left and went back to her mother, and I feel like he resents me for that. And I resent him for the fist fight with my son and for telling me all the time how terrible he was (is). We are all starting to come around now…my husband with my son… me and his daughter. I just don’t know how to get past these feeling we have – the resentment and going on the defensive, no matter what we are talking about. I feel like we are stuck and there is no way out… all we do is fight anymore!! I am almost at the point where I can’t fight anymore and that scares me!

Please help!



 What Mary Says...  What Crystal Says...

Dear Anonymous:

Oh dear, there’s a lot going on here. Mixing two families is never an easy thing, no matter how seamless the Brady’s did it. Children act out because they don’t know where they fit in. Adults act out because nothing is going as they planned. And you love everyone so much but don’t understand why they “can’t all just get along,” to use that hackneyed adage.

How about … just letting all the resentment go and try to start from the beginning?

By holding onto past resentment and grudges and constantly remembering the hurtful things that happened you’re hurting yourself. And I’d bet you’re lashing out at your husband (and he at you) at every second to remind each other that you’re both still really pissed off.

Hey, don’t beat yourself up too much; we’ve all been there. I am still resentful that my mother threw out my Nancy Drew mysteries.

But being hurt and angry won’t make anyone change, not you, your husband, and not your children who are witness to all of these spiraling emotions.

By letting go I’m suggesting a heartfelt talk without attacking. Listen. Talk about things that have happened and how you’ve been feeling, even if you have to admit you’ve been feeling helpless. It’s OK. I bet your husband is feeling a lot of your same emotions and doesn’t understand how he can help you or he might not understand how much you care. We take it for granted sometimes, I think, that our spouses know exactly what we’re thinking and feeling.

Now, I’m not suggesting you completely forget everything that has happened. That would be impossible (but if you figure it out, let me know). But try looking at the situation from a different perspective: How is it affecting me to act this way? How does it make my children feel? My husband? Is it worth it to carry this resentment and anger forward? Can I forgive not only my husband but myself?

We’re all just human and life is short. If you still have love in your heart for your family you can work it out.                                                   




















Dear Anonymous:

How to shed resentment is the million dollar question, though I’m sure knowing you’re not alone doesn’t make you feel any better.

The more we’re with anyone, whether it be family or friends, husbands or wives, we grow to commandingly wield our resentment club, grown heavy from years of carefully tallied behavior. Knowing why the resentment spawned is essential to figuring out how to come up with resolve. And from what it sounds like, you’ve already identified all of your particular building blocks – trust concerns from previous relationships, guilt over parenthood, anger over fights and inequality, and mental and emotional fatigue. You’ve gathered the insight – you know the why. Now, you must deal with the resolve. And you’re really only left with two choices. You can forgive and forget, or you can choose to end the relationship. Your psyche and your relationship are hemorrhaging, my dear. You simply must put a stop to the bleeding.

A man once said, “To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.” By staying in a relationship and continuing resentment, you’re slowly killing yourself, the relationship, and the family through the misery, bitterness, and anger of past transgressions. Your children learn from your behavior, at 8, 18, or 80, and if you let poison continue to infect you r every day dealings with one another, so will they. Too often we sit and we wait, hoping that one day it’ll all just be different. That one day, we’ll wake up and those feelings won’t surface or a person will have changed. But that just doesn’t happen. Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a choice you must make in all consciousness, and one that you must remind yourself of every single time you feel yourself slipping back into the anger, the pain. You can’t forgive one day and then bring all that resentment back up the next. To forgive is forever. And if you can’t do that, you have to leave. You have to give yourself, him, and your family the chance to heal, and that can’t happen with the situation as it is now. You have to make a decision - a hard one at that. 

I must note that you should remember that just because you’re ready to move on, either physically or spiritually, it doesn’t mean he is. If you need a break and want to reunite later, it doesn’t mean he’ll be willing. The choices you make now are ones you will have to accept, regardless of his reaction. If you forgive and he doesn’t, you can’t then resent him for it. And there is a big risk that if you choose to leave, he will be angry. The choice you make now has to be one that you can stand by - for you and for the well-being of your children. It sucks and it’s hard. But it has to be made. 

It’s time to move on, no matter which way you choose to do that. 



















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