Agony Aunt Annie offers advice to a male reader who thinks it’s unfair that his younger wife has brought her children into the marital home…

Dear Annie

Please can you give me some advice on how to deal with my current family situation. I married a younger woman and she is great. If it was just us, it would be great.

Other than two French bulldogs that are like my children, I have not been around kids since my own two were young. Even then, their mother and I were divorced when the boys were very young and I saw them on alternative weekends, when work allowed. We always had an au pair to help, so that as adults, we could still have a life.

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My boys are actually similar in age to my new wife.

The problem is that she has three children who live with us

They are five, seven and nine years old. We clash constantly over the kids. When they go to their father on alternate weekends, we are relaxed and happy.

Don’t get me wrong, they are good kids. I just don’t think that it is fair that I’m saddled with putting up with constant clutter and noise.

I want to sit quietly and read when I get home, not hear their constant bickering and shrieks. I made it very clear from the start that I was not prepared to be their father. My wife understood that, or so she said.

I think the best option would be boarding school, but she is stubbornly refusing to even consider that option. I have suggested that the kids spend more time with their father but that is not happening either.

How can I motivate my wife to be reasonable and to compromise?

Isn’t that what marriage is all about? She is always complaining about my bulldogs sleeping on the bed when I insist that the children not be invited into the marital bed. The dogs have slept on my bed, which is king size, since they were puppies.

They are not child friendly anyway as they are elderly. I have told the kids this so, as far as I am concerned, the children should know better than to come near them.

This problem is not just going to go away as the kids are still young

I am wanting to go to Greece over the next holiday. You would think that my wife would be thrilled, but as usual the kids come first and she won’t send them to their father for the holidays. My mother has suggested that the children stay home with the housekeeper and she has undertaken to look in on them when she can. My wife won’t hear of this suggestion either.

I am very frustrated with the situation and I would appreciate advice on how to handle things.


Dear Stuart

Thank you for your letter. I’d say, that it sucks to be you but I would never be so sarcastic, not so briefly anyway.

Normally when you marry a single mother who has children who permanently live with her, they continue to live with her until they have become independent and can live alone, or they move out to varsity or college. Sorry to break it to you, but in your case, you’re looking at at least another decade.

I’m not sure what your expectations were other than that?

Think an expensive set of encyclopaedias that you’ve invested in, rather than library books that are on short loan.

Children are ideally kept at home and not shipped off for the sake of quiet to read

The children are, in all likelihood, still going to be around after the elderly, grumpy bulldogs are no longer around to sleep on the bed (that the children are not allowed to climb on).

You do not need to fill the shoes of their father in order to invest in their lives. You clearly did not have a hands-on approach with your own children and I am guessing that, although you paid the school bills, the emotional bills went unpaid.

You clearly did not have a hands-on approach with your own children and I am guessing that, although you paid the school bills, the emotional bills went unpaid

You have a chance here, to more than barely tolerate. You could develop deep and meaningful relationships with unique, growing, inquisitive and loving little beings. Consider the opportunities you have to impart wisdom, life lessons and have some fun!

One day when those children eventually marry and have children of their own, those grandchildren would never have known life without you. They won’t just be your wife’s grandchildren, they will be just as much yours.

What is your legacy? The things you own? Those grumpy bulldogs?

Not everyone gets a second chance at being a decent human being

I suggest that you embrace the opportunities that you have in your life.

If you are not able to more than tolerate the pieces of your wife’s heart that are shrieking around your house, you can be sure that your portion of her heart will begin to shrink.

Perhaps the next book you pick up should be the autobiography: The Grinch, or maybe tips on good step parenting will suffice.

Be beautiful, because frankly it is a choice that you CAN make.
Love and blessings