*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Marrying a partner you love and starting a life together is a very exciting time when it's just the two of you with so many plans and goals for your family and home.
But what do you do when you meet someone who already has kids, then you decide to tie the knot, but you just can't get along with your stepkids?
Is that a reason to give up on the relationship, or can you just ignore them?
My friend Sandra has been married to her husband, Josh, for three years. She has one daughter from a previous relationship, Hannah, and she keeps in touch with her dad.
"My ex helps with expenses and comes by often to see Hannah. They go on day trips together, have nature walks, and he comes to see all her plays at school. I'm happy he's still involved in her life even if our relationship didn't work out," Sandra said.
When Josh found out she was a mom, he said he didn't mind being a stepdad, and he assumed the little girl would simply look to him as being a good friend.
"I didn't have any doubts about becoming a stepdad. Hannah's father is around, so it wasn't like I had to be a father figure to her; only a friend ready to support her if she needs it," Josh said.
As it turns out, things didn't go as expected, and he doesn't get along with his stepdaughter. And the issue is further complicated by Sandra insisting on being the only one who can tell her daughter to go to her room or do chores when she shouts at her stepdad.
"I love my wife; I can't stand the girl. If she doesn't like what I'm telling her, she will just shout at me and be disrespectful. I thought she needed more time to adjust to me living in the same place, but it's only getting worse. Most days, she won't even speak to me or even answer if I ask her something," Josh said.
He talked to her dad about it, too, and he hasn't done anything to improve things.
"I told him what was happening, and he only said his daughter doesn't have to like me just because her mom married me. And that he will stand by her if she wants to move and stay with him," Josh said.
It doesn't look like things are about to change anytime soon, and Josh and Sandra have argued about Hannah's behavior several times.
"As long as neither her mom nor her dad is willing to explain to her that she's wrong, there's nothing I can do. And I won't be shouted at in my own home. Maybe she should move with her dad," Josh said.
While his stepdaughter keeps getting louder, his wife still insists he shouldn't do anything to correct her. And the longer this keeps happening, the more doubts Josh has about his marriage lasting for a long time.
"It's not fair to have to go through that. If we're a family, we should at least be nice to each other. Having a stepchild who can't bear to be in the same room with you unless her mom is there too and she's having treats or been given a present is too much. If things don't change soon, I will have to reconsider my part in our family; it doesn't look like my feelings or opinion matter that much to Sandra," Josh said.
How do you think this situation should be handled? Is it ok for Hannah to keep ignoring her stepdad and shout at him just because she might like her dad more? Should her parents make her behave differently?
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