Am I being unreasonable, wanting to know when my step kids will be home?

Raye - posted on 10/08/2014 ( 17 moms have responded )

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I am a stepmom with no kids of my own. I love my step kids, and I don't have a problem having them home when their mom cancels her visitation days. But, I get so upset with my husband when he doesn't tell me about schedule changes. If I have been looking forward to an evening alone with him, and I get home from work and the kids are there, I feel blindsided. We text several times during the day, and I don't see why it would be hard for him to send a quick note saying the kids will be home so I know what to expect when I walk in the door.

It's not just the kids schedules that he doesn't communicate with me. For example: He had planned on attending a funeral and didn't tell me we were going until 2 hours before (I know he talked to his ex about it 4 days before). We were supposed to go to an event with his parents, for which they had the tickets for weeks, and he didn't tell me about it at all. His mom told me the night before. It's these kinds of things that drive me crazy, because I think it would be simple for him to mention these plans to me. It would avoid him hurting my feelings, and make it so I'm not always rearranging my plans at the last minute and putting aside my wants to accommodate him and his family.

I understand that sometimes people forget. I also understand that schedules can change at the last minute, especially with kids, and that's okay too. But, I'm talking about the times when he knows in advance and chooses not to tell me. We're supposed to be partners and I think it's disrespectful of him to wait til the last second for me to find out what's going on. This is really the only thing we fight about on a regular basis. I've talked to him about how important it is to me for him to keep me in the loop, and he doesn't even seem to be trying.

What can I say/do differently to make him understand? Or should I just try to deal with the (avoidable) chaos?

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Chet - posted on 10/08/2014

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Don't just say you need to know because you need to know, or you need to know for your mental health. Can you also try to give practical, logistical reasons why the entire family will benefit from you knowing?

"I wish you'd told me because I was looking forward to being alone with you, and I need time to adjust to the fact that I won't have you to myself as soon as I get home" doesn't sound the same as "let me know the kids are going to be here and I can plan something fun for us all to do after supper", or, "text me that the kids are coming so I can try to get home early to spend some time with them before supper".

It shouldn't be that difficult for him to tell you, but underscore the value of him telling you in a positive way may help.

Raye - posted on 10/08/2014

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Okay, folks, my mental preparation was not to allow me time to "get into character as the loving mom". My love for them is not an act. I meant that having notice would be for me to get over any other feelings that had nothing to do with the kids (disappointment over lack of alone time, upset that their mother bailed yet again, etc.) so that those feelings would not be in the way or be misconstrued in any way as me being upset with them.

It's like being in a fight and waiting until you cool down to talk rationally about the issue.
It's because I love them.

Does that make sense, or am I digging a bigger hole?

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 10/08/2014

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I'm sorry, but if you have to 'mentally prepare' yourself to 'be more loving toward them', then you actually DO mean that they cramp your style.

Yes, it is reasonable for your partner to let you know of things/events/activities that he's committed you to attend with him, and he should, at the time that he commits to the event, text or call you right then to let you know.

But with the kids? Assume that they'll be there. You've already stated that mom's less than stellar about keeping her visits, etc, so you should plan for them to always be there, and then, when she does keep to her schedule, you can view that as a surprise opportunity, rather than viewing the kids as an inconvenience if they're there on what are supposed to be 'mom' days.

Chet - posted on 10/08/2014

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You need to address the deeper issues here. I don't know which ones are between you and your husband, and which ones are yours to deal with yourself, but this is clearly about a lot more than text messages when the kids are coming.

If I had to guess, I'd say that he's withholding information in a passive aggressive way because there are things bothering him or that he finds difficult to bring up (are you genuinely thrilled when he says the kids are coming?). And I'd say that you're so annoyed and taking it so personally because you're actually bothered by a lot of other stuff.

Something this simple is normally super easy to resolve. You point out practical reasons why you need to know when the kids are coming, and he agrees to do his best to tell you because you've made a completely logical case for why telling you makes sense. He forgets to tell you the kids are coming, or it's really sudden and he doesn't have time, but you let it roll off because it's nice to have them for a few extra hours.

Of course it's crazy for him to consistently not tell you this stuff! But your case for why you need to know makes his kids sound like they cramp your style, and are guests in your home instead of family that is always welcome.

If you're having trouble adjusting to lots of changes in your life, merging into one household, becoming a step mom, dealing with kids and the chaos and clutter they bring, you need to deal with those issues directly... not make a big fight out of something minor.

Chet - posted on 10/08/2014

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I'm going to be completely honest...

I fully expected to say, "absolutely, you need to know when kids are coming" because you need to prepare for kids. You need to be organized, and pick up things when there's extra people for supper, and you might need to make sure everybody's bed is ready, or plan an activity to keep the kids entertained, or put out extra towels, or whatever.

And yeah, you want to know about a funeral so you can get a card, make a donation, make sure your clothes are ready to so you're dressed appropriately to show respect, etc.

The thing is though, the tone of your post sounds really self centred. You need to know his kids are coming so you can mentally prepare to see them when you get home? That seems sort of cold. Like they're visitors and not immediate family. Somebody died, and your feelings are hurt that you didn't get enough warning about the funeral?

So I wanted to say yes, you absolutely need warning and to be in the loop so you can be organized and prepared, do you best as a step mom and a partner... but your motivation seems kind of off.

It can be very difficult to communicate things in a short post. I absolutely apologize if I'm reading this in a way you didn't intend it. When you're talking to your husband I would steer clear of things like, "this hurts my feelings", "it disrespects me", and "your kids blind side me", "I need warning if I can't be alone with you" and I would give him very practical reasons that you need to know about schedule changes.

I'm not saying you can never have hurt feelings, I'm just surprised that you're taking this stuff so personally rather than complaining it causes logistical problems and gets in the way of your ability to be loving, supportive, prepared, organized, etc.

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Raye - posted on 10/08/2014

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Yes, Chet.
Just telling him I need to know this stuff has not worked, even though he agreed with me that he should keep me in the loop. However, it's hard to stop and think about where the feelings come from or what would be more practical reasons to help explain things to him. I'll give it more thought. Thanks for your input.

Chet - posted on 10/08/2014

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Whatever the case, communicate practical reasons why you need to know these details.

Even if you have the very best of intentions, to him, the things you're saying may come out sounding like the his kids cramp your style, are only visitors in your house, etc. I realise it isn't just about the kids, but even with the funeral there are practical reasons to want to know as soon as he knows. Focus on logical reasons that you'll all benefit from his passing this information along to you. If you're complaining that he's disrespected you and hurt your feelings by not telling you that may just sound like you're being overly sensitive and want to know just because you want to know.

Try to think how this stuff sounds when he hears it. I need to mentally prepare to have your kids in the house is something that a lot of parents would be put off hearing.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 10/08/2014

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Totally makes sense, Raye, which is why typing on the internet can cause miscommunications! No worries!

In that light...I'd keep slapping hubby upside the head until he realizes that it takes 2 seconds to text. LOL. Men just don't always think in the same patterns. I know that mine thinks I can read his mind (which, after 25 years, I almost can...LOL), and I still have to remind him that he needs to vocalize.

Dove - posted on 10/08/2014

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It sounds like there is a serious lack of communication w/ your husband. That is a much deeper issue than rather or not the kids will be there. I think you could 'mentally prepare yourself' that the kids will always be there... since it sounds like mom isn't too great at keeping visits... and then when you come home and they AREN'T there... be pleasantly surprised that you might have some alone time w/ your husband to try and tackle the serious lack of communication issues. Because that has the power to completely destroy a relationship in time.

Raye - posted on 10/08/2014

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Sarah,
I don't know if it would be ADD. He's really just the opposite with the kids. He'll make promises that they'll do like 5 things next week, and then only get around to doing 2 of them because we "ran out of time". So, he tells them too much of what he wants to do, and tells me nothing of what he wants to do. And we all end up disgruntled. ??? I'm just confused.

Sarah - posted on 10/08/2014

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I don't mean this to be disrespectful but does your hubby have ADD? Mine does, and he does some of the same things as your hubby.
He isn't trying to be mean, or passive aggressively control me. My husband seems surprised when he'll tell me "we are going to my mom's house for dinner" and I respond, "Huh? I have dinner in the oven!" He doesn't insist that he told me, I think he thinks I can read his mind sometimes. We have busy lives, he works nights and we have four kids in a bunch of different activities. So for us, daily calendar alerts and Sunday planning for the week helps a lot!

Raye - posted on 10/08/2014

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Chet,
The kids don't "cramp my style". If I am disappointed by not getting alone time with my husband, I don't want the kids to misinterpret that and feel like I'm disappointed in them being there. Because I'm not. A little heads-up by the hubby would allow me to "mentally prepare" (as you say) myself so I can be more loving toward them. What's selfish about that?

And as I said before, it's not just about the kids. It's all the other stuff that he neglects to tell me, too.

Raye - posted on 10/08/2014

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Heidi,
Your idea of a weekly planning meeting may help some. I'll try it and see what happens.

Raye - posted on 10/08/2014

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Sarah,
I got a large wall calendar and suggested we both use it to coordinate plans. We went through it once and wrote stuff down, but he hasn't touched it since. His phone calendar won't work with my phone, and he hasn't helped me find one that will work on both. I doubt that he really would use any tool like that, since he could text me just as easy as entering something on the calendar. As I mentioned before, we usually text several times during the day, but he never mentions schedule changes or plans he makes.

I think I'm so stuck on him doing this because my life feels so out of control most days, and having some idea of what to expect on the bigger events would offer a bit of equilibrium to help deal with all the other little stuff.

I don't know why he leaves me out. I don't feel he does it to be mean. I just think it doesn't occur to him to tell me.

Sarah - posted on 10/08/2014

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Some good points have been made; Heidi offered a tip of asking on Sunday what the week looks like, and on Thursday or Friday asking about the weekend. We use a shared calendar that is on both of our phones and alerts when either person makes a change. Also, we hash out on Sunday who will drive which kids to what activities and when and it is tagged to the event on the calendar.
Chet makes good suggestions in how to approach talking to your husband about how you feel. If you come at him with negative feelings and complaints, he will be more likely to get defensive and you will end up not fixing the issue.
Yes, it is inconsiderate of your husband to not tell you what family plans he has made. Why do you think it happens? Is he really busy? Does he just forget? Is he truly oblivious that it bothers you?
There will always be a degree of unavoidable chaos in any family. Maybe get a huge calendar, the kind you lay out on a desk (they still exist) and write out every activity for the week/month. Ask your husband to make his additions and maybe that will prompt him to remember plans he has made for you and the family? Then, if something happens (like the funeral or big family outing) and it isn't on the calendar, you have something concrete to show him.

Raye - posted on 10/08/2014

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Chet,
I appreciate your honesty. And the reason I asked the question is because I feel a little like it may be more my problem than his. But I do feel it is inconsiderate of him because this is the only thing I ever ask of him. I'm not a nagging or needy person. But, he knows this one thing bothers me and he still does nothing about it. If we're supposed to be sharing our lives, why can't he share plans that he knows about in advance so I don't have to scramble last minute or drop whatever I wanted to do?

I don't think it's so selfish, because I gave up my house, my personal space, my privacy, most of my belongings, etc. when we moved in and got married. I have no say in disciplining the kids. I have little control over the disaster of toys and crap all over the place. I keep my mouth shut on a multitude of other "sins". Is it so bad or so selfish to want a little advance knowledge of what to expect, if he has the information to give?

Heidi - posted on 10/08/2014

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I would suggest asking him, maybe on Sundays, what are the family plans for the week? And towards the end of the week ask what are the plans for the weekend. Hopefully this will trigger his memory and bring up the conversation of what's going on for the week. My husband does this with me because my kids are much more active than his and I don't always tell him what's going on because it usually doesn't involve him, but he still wants to know. He works a lot and so I do a lot of activities with all of our children by myself. Blending families is one of the hardest things I've had to deal with as a divorced parent. Sometimes I think maybe I should have just stayed single/alone until they grew up.

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