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My Husband's Daughter...

Question:

I am married to a man who has two adult children. One is 30 and the other is 28. My husband’s first wife died of cancer 9 years ago. I am struggling with my relationship with the 30 year old daughter. She is married with 2 children, and also a fundamentalist Christian. She is not comfortable expressing feelings, and does not know how to express them. When I try to seek her feelings out during conversations, many times her answers resort to reflections about Jesus or praying. This is fine, but sometimes it leaves me no where to go in our conversation, because I am not very religious – but consider myself spiritual. Basically, the problem I have is with her passive-aggressive behavior. Examples include only referencing her Dad in conversations with her children, still having a framed photo of her Dad and her mom with no photos of me (her father and I have been married 4 years), making painful references about good times my husband had with her mom, sending thank you notes after a visit addressed only to her Dad, and sending only her Dad a Christmas present. I feel I have been a good and generous person to her (acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), loving to her kids, and I have tried my best to be patient with our differences. In other words, I feel I deserve more, but also realize I’m dealing with a strange and somewhat troubling personality disorder. I need some help knowing how to deal with a passive aggressive personality and advice in knowing how to proceed in such a painful relationship. I’m getting to the point where I don’t even want to talk to her on the phone. Do you have any words of wisdom for me? My husband has confronted her, but I’m tired of putting him in the middle.

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

It sounds to me that she is still mad about her mother’s death and is taking it out on you. She probably feels that you are trying to take her mother’s place. Maybe she has some unresolved feelings that she is having problems expressing. She needs to cope with her mother’s death. She also needs to understand that you are not trying to take her mother’s place. She may need to seek some professional advice on how to deal with her unresolved anger.Perhaps your husband would be willing to go with her. She is going to have to want to resolve her feelings toward you, and it sounds as though the only person that can persuade her to do so is her father. I know you do not want to involve him, but he is the one thing you have in common with her. Don’t be afraid to ask for his support and assistance. Sincerely, – Anne

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