Four years ago, I divorced my ex after 26 years of marriage. He was extremely manipulative and abusive. He kept track of every mile I put on our vehicles and had to explain if I was ten minutes longer at the grocery store than he thought I should be. He also cheated on me for most of our marriage. He often told me that if I left him that he would turn the kids against me. For the last four years, he has tried to do that with no success. He is a terrible person and I still have to share custody of our 16 year old daughter with him.
I have since married a wonderful man who treats me and my daughter like gold. He loves my daughter like his own. He supports her with her financial needs (dates, sports activities, insurance etc.) He has not missed a single volleyball, basketball game, or track meet that she has played. He has never raised his voice to her.
My daughter is very happy and has never caused me or my husband any trouble. She is a great athlete and an honor student, and I often hear from teachers, coaches, moms of her friends what a good girl she is. I'm very close to her, and we have a great relationship.
What I am struggling with is my daughter will not allow herself to get very close to my husband, and he gets his feelings hurt, which I can understand. She is polite and respectful of him, and sometimes tells him thanks. When me and my husband are in the same room, she will walk by and tell me thanks or good bye without acknowledging him. He is a teacher at her school, and all of her friends talk to him and get a long great with him, but she barely acknowledges him at school.
When my daughter goes a few weeks without having to spend a lot of time with her dad, then her relationship with my husband is great. I know that my ex is still manipulating her, and cannot stand the thought of her having another man be a father figure to her, even though he doesn't support her or behave like a father in any way.
I am at a loss as to how to make it easier for my husband. He does all the father stuff, and my ex gets to be the one who dances with her at prom, and all those father/daughter activities.
One one hand, I think we are lucky that things are as good as they are. I have friends who are in a similar situation, and there is a lot of drama between the kids and step-parent. Is my husband expecting too much? How do I make him feel better about the sacrifices he is making for my daughter? My two adult married kids love him and are so happy that I married him.