Need help breaking free from addiction?
1-888-993-3112
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Ad Info & Options

I'm His 2nd Wife. Am I Destined To Play Second Fiddle To His Daughter Forever?

Question:

My husband and I met when he was in the midst of divorcing his first wife, and his daughter was still in pre-kindergarten. His daughter and I got along quite well and he and I became best friends. He proposed to me nearly three years after we began dating. When it’s just the two of us together he’s very supportive and I feel like I’m the most important person to him. But when his daughter is around I feel like I’m pushed to the wayside.

Of course, when his daughter was young, I understood that she was his top priority. He was only granted visitation every other weekend and his ex-wife was stingy about letting him see her any additional days. But she’s in college now. Even though she and I still get along, we’re nowhere near as close as when she was little.

My husband’s primary focus is on her when she’s home, and because of that, I feel like a third wheel. Example: several years ago my husband had to travel for business and said that he’d be missing my 40th birthday. I was very hurt that he wouldn’t be able to celebrate my milestone with me and asked if he couldn’t change his travel dates just that once. He told me that if he did he’d miss more of his visitation and he didn’t want to do that. Needless to say, I was extremely hurt that something so important to me didn’t matter to him.

Recently, that incident came up and I said that I definitely want us to celebrate my 50th birthday together since we couldn’t celebrate my 40th together. He flew off the handle when I brought that up and stated that his daughter will always be his top priority and, as his second wife, I should have known that. So, is this true? Am I always going to be second place to his daughter? Or am I not that important?

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

Of course you are “that important” so that your husband should share important birthdays with you. It is unfortunate that he keeps putting his daughter first. At this point, when she is older and much more independent one would expect that he would give you more time and consideration. What is holding him back?

It’s an important question to ask rather than simply villifying him. Perhaps the fact that visitation was so very short that he continues to feel frustrated about seeing his daughter more frequently. However, not that she is adult they should be able to see one another as frequently as they like regardless of what his ex wife thinks. In any case, I think it’s important that you try to understand what might be going on with your husband about this. Perhaps you could discuss it with him. It may date back to when he was a child and disappointments he might have felt with one or both of his parents. Only by talking could you ever know and by knowing feel more forgiving of him.

In addition, you might point out to him that of course his daughter is his priority and that is why he’s a great Dad. However, you might remind him that he can be a great husband as well and that it’s normal to celebrate your 50th birthday because it’s a landmark in anyone’s life. In other words, his daughter might be top priority but you are also a priority. There should be room for both especially since his daughter could celebrate your birthday with both of you (if that is ok with you). Perhaps he needs to be reminded, but not in an angry way, that you are not his “second wife” but his wife…period.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

Comments
  • Julie

    I am experiencing the same kind of issue with my husband and his daughter. My situation is similar to yours because my husband gets his daughter every other weekend and in addition to that, every Friday too. Whenever his daughter stays with us for the weekend, my husband caters to her every whim. I get pushed aside and I feel like a third wheel when his daughter is around. My husband puts her on a very high pedistal that I cannot compete with. I should not have to feel like it is a competion between her and I, but it really is, though. His daughter is only 10 years old, but he treats her like a sixteen year old when she is here, allowing her to do things that she is not permitted to do at home with her mother like cooking/baking, staying up all night long with the tv on, among many other ways that I can't think of right now, but basically he caters to her, and I know that her mother does not cater to her like he does. one example of what I mean by catering to is my husband and I were watching tv in the living room together and his daughter was in her room. She wanted to cut something and she yelled from her room, "daddy!" He said, "what do you want?" And she just said, "come here." So he gets up off of the couch, goes into her room and asks her what she wants and she says, "I need a pair of scissors", and so my husband goes into the kitchen, opens up the drawer and gets a pair of scissors for her" she could have just gotten up and got them herself, but she is so accustomed to him bending over backwards to please her and give her whatever her heart desires, etc. But that is just ONE example of many. It is really annoying to see my husband being manipulated and taken advantage of by his daughter, but the bad part is he really doesnt mind her expecting him to jump when she says jump, so if he does not have a problem with it, then how can I do anything to stop it?

Close

Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.

Close

Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand