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“My new husband hates my children”

I have two teenage daughters from my first marriage. My new husband has no children and can’t cope with mine. He has taken a specific hate to the eldest child and nothing she does is right in his eyes. He only allows the children a shower every other day. He once shut the shower down on my eldest daughter, saying she had been in there for too long. I told him to act like an adult not a child, but he just doesn’t seem to listen. I love him very much but I have told him if he makes me choose him or the kids I will choose the children, but I haven’t got the money to leave even if I wanted to. He has been made redundant and is doing training to update his skills. I pay him £400 a month towards the bills. He gets a pension that covers the mortgage and I’m building up a business – I feel enormous pressure to provide money for him and food. He argues with the kids who are stuck in a small room together in bunk beds. I gave up everything to move in with him and I’ve no house things left as we use his stuff and live in a house in his name. Can you help me to understand him? Joanna

Denise says:

I think he’s quite easy to understand. He wants his life to have in it only the things he wants and none of the irritating extras that may come along with them. I’m glad you realise that, if this situation doesn’t change, you will have to put your children first. To live through adolescence in the atmosphere you describe would be a recipe for disaster and could have very bad effects on their futures. However, given that you love him, it is possible that you can bring about change – but before you can do this you need to appreciate your own strength. You have intelligence and character on your side. You also have an income, part of which is helpful to him. He has as much to lose if you go as you have. And it is very possible that, as his wife, you have rights in the house, whoever’s name is on the deeds. Please consult a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau. Ask where you would stand in the event of a split, both as regards maintenance and benefits such as housing. Work out how you could manage if you have to and then, without anger, tell him that things must change or you will go. Emphasise that this is the last thing you want because you love him, but explain that you can’t see your children abused. Hopefully, this will make him abandon his childishness. Ask him if he is willing to go to Relate (relate.org.uk, 0300 100 1234), but emphasise that no action is unacceptable.

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