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ASK ELLIE: A reader shares her cautionary tale

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When an adult child manipulates/controls the parent’s next marriage, the partner should consider leaving them both. - 123RF Stock Photo

Reader’s commentary regarding the letter-writer who couldn’t understand why her boyfriend wouldn’t stand up to his adult daughter about the couple’s relationship plans (May 5):

My husband and I were deeply in love and had what I thought was a solid marriage of 12 years (following five years living together common-law).

When I raised the topic of a will, he finally revealed that his house in the Caribbean was being willed to his two children.

This response was after we married without a prenuptial, after I’d put my inherited funds into a joint bank account and spent $250,000 to totally renovate that island house.

He told me not to worry because his daughter is very sweet and if he died before me, she’d let me use the house.

His son wasn’t even considered in this discussion because of his health issues.

I felt deceived and betrayed by my husband. I felt that my own children should at least get the $250,000 when we both passed, with his daughter getting the house.

When she learned of all this, I received an email so full of hate and venom, calling me every awful name and including ugly accusations.

She wouldn’t allow me to attend family celebrations or see her baby, my step-grandchild.

This went on for over two years with my own children supporting whatever made me happy, telling me they didn’t care about the house or money and not to break my marriage up for that.

My husband outright said there wasn’t a bit of truth in his daughter’s horrible verbal assault of me, but he wouldn’t stand up for me even slightly.

We went to marriage counselling for many months, but no matter what advise was dispensed regarding his daughter, he couldn’t implement it.

The counsellor told him there was one too many women in our marriage, but my ex couldn’t get it, even when the counsellor asked, “Why don’t you just marry your daughter?”

After years of incredible hurt, I finally left. My husband didn’t have my back at all. His daughter got her wish and her house.

Now he’s miserable, lonely and missing me, and I’m slowly recovering from utter despair.

That poor woman who wrote to you, who wondered why her partner keeps her and their plans a secret from his daughter, may have deeper problems than she knows.

My ex couldn’t stand up for himself, me or us. Now I understand why they had closed-door meetings all those years. I was never included in any in-depth or problematic conversations.

Step-daughter Came First

A – It’s a manipulative relationship between adult children and their divorced fathers or mothers that’s heard too often by professional therapists.

But it’s often a harsh surprise to the next spouse.

Call it the manipulative child syndrome (or the jealous and manipulative daughter in this case), but you’re describing a campaign by your husband’s daughter launched way back, with you too polite to question their closed-door discussions.

It often starts with the parent’s guilt, which is more common when a father moves out from the family home.

The ex (wife or husband) may be the kids’ model for exercising power – refusing access, changing visitation days, etc. – and the daughter (or son) a quick study.

Unsurprising, the fight for control escalates when there’s money sought through a will or outright gifts, often unknown to the innocent spouse, as in your case.

Better to be free of them all.

Feedback regarding her own letter written in a poetic style for emphasis about the relentless scourge of COVID-19 in infections and deaths and the effect it causes on those staying isolated at home (May 11):

Letter-writer: Thank you for publishing my thoughts on COVID-19 and for today's follow-up about it (May 12).

Yes, I’m very aware of the statistics (In Canada alone: 68,848 confirmed cases, 4871 deaths, as of May 10, the day before her letter appeared).

And I appreciate your advice about the rest of us remaining positive.

I was saying to seniors, Time is not on our side anymore. Trying to remain positive is almost next to impossible with so much evidence to the contrary.

Young people have time to wait this out. Seniors don't. I wish the best for all of us – those who’ve lived their lives and those whose lives are yet to be lived.

Ellie’s tip of the day: When an adult child manipulates/controls the parent’s next marriage, the partner should consider leaving them both.

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Ellie Tesher
Ellie Tesher

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