03.04.2015

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They make policy together and speak with one voice, individually resisting any given child’s attempts to manipulate or to play one parent off the other to gain advantage.
They also keep confidences for one another and do not share private adult business with children. It is not so much that having this idealised boundary around the adults in a household is so great in of itself. When a child is allowed to split the marriage, the partners suffer, as you well know from your own experience. At the very least, this encourages selfish behaviour on her part and models a weakened marriage for her. It feels good to get what you want, but it is not always in your best interest that this should occur. It is especially easy for mixed families (families composed of members of prior families) to have boundary problems.Children’s loyalties are to their old families and new spouses in stepparent roles (whether this term is used or not) are not easily listened too. It is common in such circumstances that children will cling to their original parent and reject the stepparent. If your husband has enough insight to know the motive for his behaviour, he will hopefully also have enough insight to understand the boundary concepts and how his behaviour is not helping your mutual situation, but instead making it worse. What needs to happen here is that the two of you have to agree to strengthen the boundary around you that protects you from your children and vice versa, and protects your children from you both. You both need to set limits with the daughter and keep them, and make some protected time for yourselves.


If you both see the wisdom in setting limits on daughter, you can expect daughter to ratchet up her demandingness.
You both should be ready for daughter to throw fits and perhaps even move out (if she can). They wona€™t be able to contact you or comment on your strips and you wona€™t see their comics anymore.
In an idealised household, the adult couple functions as an integrated unit, at least as far as their children are concerned. It is as though a fence or boundary has been drawn around the adults, which functions to keep their secrets inside and to unify them in front of their children. It is just the alternatives to this arrangement are worse, both for the children and for the adults and the quality of the marriage. Her successful transgressive relationship behaviour here sets her up for dysfunctional relationships in her own future, as well, I believe.
The outcome, in your case, is that daughter becomes more of a selfish brat (albeit a brat who was probably wounded by her biological parent’s divorce and who is acting out at the present time), husband becomes daughter’s poodle, wife feels unloved and unappreciated, and everyone loses self-respect. Such behaviour puts pressure on the marriage and attempts to split it or break down the boundary around the new marriage, which likely has not had much chance to get well defined in the first place. My recommendation to you is to see about getting your family into a family therapy situation. It won’t take much: he can still spend a lot of time with daughter, so long as he grows a spine and tells her ‘no’ when that is the right thing to do, and so long as he stops neglecting you and the health of your mutual relationship.


This is to say, it is normal for someone who is used to getting her way to seek out ways to continue to get it.
If a little quilting used to get me what I wanted, but isn’t anymore, then I’ll just turn up the volume until it is loud enough again that I get what I want.
This is normal and will tend to subside once it becomes clear that the new limits you both set are not something she can manipulate. Households where children from prior marriages are combined are perhaps particularly vulnerable to this sort of thing happening, for reasons that will hopefully become clear in a moment. She is rewarded, essentially, for dominating her caregiver and comes to see her caregiver as weak.
If the whole family cannot go, then couples counseling for you and your husband could be quite useful too.
The structural problem in your marriage and family situation needs to be addressed and hopefully corrected.



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