Should She Marry Him if His Kids Hate Her?

Some posts just go on and on. Back on Oct. 23, 2021, I posted “Stepchildren Add Stress to Childless Marriages.” Clearly that was an understatement because the comments flooded in, and they keep coming. The one I received last week from “The Struggle is Real,” in response to a Jan. 10, 2017 comment by Struggling Stepmom, was so passionate, I decided to feature it this week. The comment has been edited for length.

To StrugglingStepmom,

This response may only come in four years too late and so I don’t know what situation you are in now, but I am in your situation right now (more or less) . . . and it is pretty painful.

I have been in a seven-year relationship with my partner, and he has two daughters from his previous marriage. The children live with their mother but come to our home every second weekend and during school holidays. His ex has disliked me from the start and has always called me names. I thought that would fade over time, but it hasn’t. I never knew why she hated me. I met my partner about a year after they broke up. Her hatred towards me continues, and she has always tried to influence the kids by saying things like, “Your father prefers his girlfriend over you.”

Lately the youngest daughter, a teenager, is going through a rebellious phase. She acts rudely towards her father and me. I once disciplined her, and it did not go down well (I never laid hands on her, I just lost my patience and started raising my voice and putting her stuff that was thrown all around the floor into the bin because she wouldn’t clean up her room). In hindsight, I probably should have left this task to my partner, as she is not my child. But my partner is so relaxed and he always takes the backseat in this whole parenting game. He is not great at communicating (like most men), and he always just ends up telling her off and yelling at her instead of trying to explain things to her. It’s like he almost doesn’t know when to explain and talk to the child calmly and when to get angry and set boundaries. This really frustrates me at times.

I have set some house rules for when they are here, but they continually try to test our boundaries and break these rules. Because the whole disciplining thing did not go down well that other time, I have tried to get my partner to be more proactive at disciplining them. The kids of course still don’t like it, and they test their father all the time. I think they feel that their father would be more chilled and relaxed if I wasn’t in the picture.

Their father is really busy at work, and given COVID, I have been working from home. He is more than happy to leave the children under my care when he is at work. I feel that if I’m in charge of them, then perhaps I should be entitled to disciplining them to a degree. After all, if they act rude or say rude things to me, and all I can do is shut my mouth and wait until my partner comes home, then they have even less respect for me. They see that I can’t even fight my own battles. That is the logic that I thought of, anyway.

Because of what happened when I tried to discipline her, his daughter hates me. She tries to ignore me when she’s here. She only talks to me when she wants something. She’s not interested in having conversations or chitchats and she seems to always be in a bad mood (maybe she’s going through puberty as well. Not sure). She also doesn’t talk to her dad as much and resists hugs and kisses from him.

I have never overstepped the boundaries or treated her in a rude and selfish manner. I organize everything, from Father’s Day to the children’s birthdays to Christmas. But like a lot of people here have said, they just don’t appreciate it and they don’t see you as someone that they want in their lives. A lot of things go by without thank you’s, and I certainly would never get a happy Mother’s Day card.

My partner and I are now engaged, and we are planning our wedding. However, deep in my heart I have doubts about the future. I feel that his daughters are forever trying to tear us apart, and that all they ever want is to have their father all to themselves and for me to be out of the picture. This is of course supported by their mother, who hates me beyond anything and therefore encourages them to behave even worse. I feel really disheartened and afraid of what’s next. I also worry about whether I should marry a man when his children do not like me. I feel incomplete, and I feel like I should only marry him if his children and I get along beautifully, but that is probably never ever going to happen. I love my partner to bits, but I don’t want a dysfunctional family where everyone pretends everything is great on the surface but hates each other deep down. As I’m planning the wedding, these questions and concerns are becoming more concrete in my head. I always thought I’d stay with him in the long haul, with or without the marriage. But now it is becoming a real concern. Maybe I am just channeling my bridezilla? I don’t really know anymore. What do I do? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

Well readers, what do you say? Things might get better as the kids get older, but they might not? I welcome your comments.


Guess what? The Kindle version of Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both will be on sale for only 99 cents next week. Visit the Childless by Marriage Facebook page after March 6 for details.

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7 thoughts on “Should She Marry Him if His Kids Hate Her?

  1. Run! Unless you love a life of constantly defending yourself with your husband and stepkids. Unless you love a life of being made to feel rejected and hated. Oh if I could go back in time! I would never have married. I’ve never in my life been so humiliated and trampled upon. This is the life you are willingly exposing yourself to. All my good intentions amount to nothing to them. They don’t see them.

    Love yourself enough to step back and cancel the wedding! You are worth it!

    Read “The Smart Stepmom” and “Between Two Worlds” for in depth analysis of what you are exposing yourself to.


  2. Short answer:

    No, you should definitely not marry him.

    Long answer:

    It sounds like you are doing the bulk of the emotional (and physical!) labor in this situation and that is not fair or right at all. You ARE allowed to discipline children in your own home. It is your home. You are the adult who sets the behavioral expectations. If your partner is “relaxed” and always “takes the backseat in this whole parenting game,” then you can count on that dynamic never changing. Where is he when you are being treated poorly? What does he say or do? They are his kids; he definitely gets to parent them. If he doesn’t know how, parenting classes are often available through community organizations. There should be reasonable, logical consequences for behavioral infractions. (Can you tell I’m a former teacher? Lol.)

    Just stop. Stop doing everything. It’s not being appreciated and it’s hurting you. Stop organizing holidays and birthdays. Stop trying to have a relationship with ungrateful girls who only care about hurting you. Stop trying to parent these teens when the parents aren’t even doing that. Trust me, it’s a losing battle.

    I had doubts about some important issues leading up to my wedding. I ignored my intuition. I am now divorced.

    I know it’s hard because you are probably in love with him, but you have to be practical too. Love is not all you need. You need an equal partner who will support you, especially when it comes to his children. Please think long and hard about if this is how you want to live the rest of your life because I don’t think anything will ever change. You are NOT a bridezilla. It sounds like you are starting to be really honest with yourself. It’s okay if you don’t want to be abused by his children. It’s okay to love him AND walk away.

    It sounds like you have a lot of love to give. I recommend giving your love to people who reciprocate.

    Wishing you lots and lots of strength, clarity, and healing! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. P.S. I could not have written my comment even a year ago. I have grown and changed so much. Growth is so painful, but it’s better than staying stuck. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself. It really helped me too. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am sorry to hear about your situation. Mine is very close to yours and I chose to marry. It has been over 13 years, and have been together for 18. After many battles, hurtful behavior and selfish actions, I am divorcing. It has not improved and his children/daughters just don’t care how hurtful they are.


  5. I am engaged to marry into the same story and came across this article when searching for answers.
    I love my partner to the moon and back, but his daughters and their mother make life a bumpy road. I’ve given them my all when we’d spend time together, spending all day absorbed in their interests with them. I am a calm and peaceful mother to two boys and have boundless patience.
    One visit a few months ago changed everything. The oldest was tormenting our dog, playfully, but too rough and the dog started to panic. I asked her to stop calmly several times before the couch flipped over, her screaming and the dog with terror in her eyes. I yelled at her. I said “For Gods sake, will you STOP!” That’s it.
    Total meltdowns from both his kids, they alienated me, they said abusive things to him, and they’ve spent the past 6 vengeful months destroying his life and their relationship with him/us.
    Last night his youngest made contact with my oldest son and texted him awful messages about how her dad is abusive and not to let me marry him. It’s all a lie, but she’s spilling her poison into my family.
    Same as you, now that we are planning a wedding, I wonder why I would want to be chained to this cycle?
    When the girls are distant we have the most beautiful relationship, but when they circle back their antics often send him into periods of pain and despair. And most importantly, I don’t want my own children to have these unhealthy step-siblings in their lives.
    Writing this has helped me gain some clarity, and I hope everything worked out for you. Thank you to all the other commenters, it’s been a very valuable read for me.


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