Dear Annie: As I understood it, your primary job as a spouse is to respect, protect and support your spouse in all things, to always be truthful and never ask the other to do anything that you yourself would not do. However, all of the aforementioned becomes moot, it seems, when it comes to getting married later in life to a spouse with grown children.
Before we married, we decided my wife’s domicile would be where we would live. I’ve been here as her husband since December 2004. I feel as though within these walls, we’re equal, and I think I do my best to be my best, most of the time. I do, however, resent the fact that her sons are able to do as they wish without regard for us.
Recently, without any recourse, her eldest son began to yell at me. He told me to shut up and not even look at him. I somehow ended up being the one at fault. I feel as though he should have been shown the sidewalk.
On another occasion, I “forgot my place” and told another of my wife’s sons how rude I thought it was for him to blow his nose (rather loudly, I might add) in the same room as his mother while she was on the phone with a client.
His response? “That was where the tissues were.”
Because I now refuse to be at “her home” during any family gatherings, it’s assumed that I hate her children, when in fact I just don’t like being disrespected any more than anyone else does. I find myself angry with my wife for not standing with me on the right side. At this point, I don’t want to spend holidays in a compromising situation, even though that would mean not spending them with her.
— Married My Wife, Not Their Mother and Them
Dear Married: Actually, you did marry them, too, in a way. When committing to a life with someone who has children from a previous marriage, you have to embrace the family as your own.
That said, I agree with you that your stepsons have said and done reprehensible things. Your wife shouldn’t have allowed them to speak to you that way. She needs to step up and mediate.
You have to do your part, too. Set aside your pride and let go of past resentments. If you want a happy marriage, you have no choice but to reconcile with them. No matter how foul their mouths, they will always be your wife’s baby boys. She will never choose you over them — and it wouldn’t be fair to ask her to.
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