My wife had a daughter years before we met. I was good friends with her and her husband before they emigrated many years ago. They now have four children, but the problem is my wife completely cuts me and our son, who is a teenager, out of their lives. She can spend an hour on the phone laughing and being granny to the kids while I sit there in the room with her. She will never even acknowledge that I am there.
would like to be a little part of their lives — especially since they intend to return to Ireland soon. I tried to mention this to my wife once and she got all defensive and angry.
I wouldn’t recognize the children if I saw them now. I am extremely hurt by this and am at a loss to know what to do. Don’t tell me to confront her because I can’t.
Mary replies: I can understand that this must be very frustrating for you, especially as you were such good friends before they emigrated. It is a good thing that you are trying to get things moving now as they are coming back to Ireland. Your son will be meeting his step-sister, probably for the first time, and also his cousins. I am presuming that your wife doesn’t intend to keep you all apart when they return as I see no reason for this.
I wonder why your wife got so upset when you told her how you were feeling about your exclusion for all her conversations, and why you cannot talk to her about it. The word ‘confront’ is quite strong and perhaps when you spoke about it previously it may have felt like an attack for her.
There isn’t any need for confrontation, but at the same time she should be made aware of how you feel. A good way to do this is by owning your feelings without blaming her. Tell her that you feel quite sad, lonely and isolated when she is speaking with her daughter and grandchildren, and that you would love to be included, even for a few minutes, because you consider her daughter to be a good friend. Don’t think of it as confrontation, but rather see it as a way to stand up for yourself and your feelings and having your opinion heard. You could also suggest that after you have a short conversation with them you will leave the room and leave her free to talk for as long as she wants to. I say this because most people do not feel very comfortable if someone else is listening to their conversation, no matter how trivial it is.
It would be a very good idea to suggest a Skype or FaceTime call, whereby you could all see each other and then the children who are coming to Ireland would at least know what you and your son look like. Is there any reason why you cannot set this up yourself? If there is, then there is something more going on with your wife than is immediately evident.
The problems that blended families encounter are quite varied. Sometimes things go without any difficulty but for others it becomes a minefield. Yours is not quite a blended family but you are somewhat in that category and will become more so when your wife’s daughter and family return. Indeed, it strikes me that when they do come back they will no doubt be visiting your family home and the situation may right itself. You will then be able to renew the friendship with the daughter and get to know her children without the help of technology. I hope things work out for you all.
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