Question: I am a 40-year-old woman and mother of a 14-year-old girl. I recently got married to a man who also has an 18-year-old daughter. Although the alliance took place with the consent of both the children, it seems that they are now not able to accept the new parent in their life. I am facing serious problems because of compatibility issues between my daughter and my husband. They do not talk to each other and despite several efforts, my husband has flatly refused to make any attempts to improve the relationship. Also, he remains very biased towards his own daughter, for example, the AC can be on only if she feels it's ok. She will not let us use any space in the house if she does not like it but nobody has ever objected to her such kind of behaviour. Whenever it is family time neither my daughter wants to join nor my husband wants her to join. In such a situation, I feel very distressed and torn apart. I have started feeling depressed all the time and my health has started deteriorating for the above reasons. Please advice and help me. —By Anonymous
Response by Rachana Awatramani: Congratulations on your marriage . It can be challenging to remarry and sometimes becomes difficult when children are involved and dislike their step-parents. I am glad that you are sharing your concerns here.
Firstly, your daughter is a teenager and might be going through certain hormonal changes, and adjusting with a new parent and a sibling can be challenging for her. I would recommend that you discuss with your daughter and express your concerns to her. Second, ask her what is bothering her and how does she want you to help her improve the situation. Lastly, show faith and trust in her that she will respect your decision of marriage. Give her time to cope with the changing situation.
You stated that your husband also has a 18-year-old, and he has been discriminating between both the girls. This is where you need to take a stand and you will also need to take care of your health. This is a challenging situation and I am sure you can cope with this as you might have seen bigger challenges in your life before this. You can create ground rules for both the children with the help of your husband. Discuss with your husband and express your feeling of stress and worry, share with him what you are observing and you can share your expectations with him also ask him what is he expecting from you. Work as a team towards this concern. You can also consider marriage counseling to manage this situation better.
It is difficult, and feeling torn apart is normal in this situation as your daughter and your husband has been creating a stressful situation for you. I would highly recommend that you spend some time with yourself, meet a counselor and address your concerns before speaking with your husband getting a mental clarity of what you want and how would you want the ground rules to create an equal environment in the house.
Ms. Rachana Awatramani is a Counseling Psychologist at Insight Counseling Services in Mumbai
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