June 1, 2023

Dear Bunmi, my step-daughter’s hostile

Dear Bunmi, did my husband infect me?

FEW weeks ago, I attended my step-daughter’s wedding with my husband of 20 years. As usual, she did subtle things to let me know I wasn’t welcome.

For example, she addressed the invitation to only her father and feigned surprise that I even attended the engagement ceremony.

She’s coming for a visit soon to thank her dad for his financial support and my husband said he would like me to be there, when I made the excuse I had a prior engagement.

I can already imagine how uncomfortable I will feel. If I don’t point out her shortcomings, he pretends not to notice.

I’d always hoped his daughter would grow up and we could be friends but, after the wedding, I reached my limit.

I’m sorry my husband is caught in the middle, but what am I supposed to do?

Charlotte, by e-mail.  

Dear Charlotte,

You call addressing an invitation to only one person in a couple subtle? I wouldn’t call it that at all!

I think that’s an intentionally in-your-face message that says, “I don’t want you around.” I can understand why you’ve had enough.

Your husband ignores his daughter’s insults because he’s afraid to jeopardise his relationship with her. He doesn’t seem to realise he has other options.

Like any adult, your step-daughter has a right to pick the people she surrounds herself with. Sure, most of us fantasise about being part of a perfect family, but it is her prerogative not to like you, and her father can’t make her.

It’s time to put an end to the pretence. He needs to spell out that anyone who disrespects his wife is disrespecting him. An insult to you by an omission, exclusion, or outright hostility is an insult to him.

Ideally, your husband should get on board with you. It’s your call as to whether you want to see your step-daughter.

So, if the prospect makes you uneasy, don’t be around when she comes by. When you find yourselves in the same place, do the decent thing and be polite.

 But there’s no need to force the issue. 

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