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"My Stepdaughter Is Coming Between Us"

Ann thinks the bad relationship with her stepdaughter is ruining her marriage, but Bill thinks it is Ann's fault and can't understand why she can't just get along with his daughter. Can this marriage be saved?

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Her Turn

My stepdaughter Kim’s wedding two months ago should have been a joyous time, but it’s brought nothing but hurt feelings,” said Ann, 45, a preschool teacher in Florida with two kids from her first marriage, Kara, 23, and Jake, 18. “She and I have always had a rocky relationship — she was just 11 when her dad and I got together 13 years ago, so naturally she felt threatened — but the tension has been unbearable ever since her engagement to Greg.

“During the months of wedding planning my opinion was never sought. My husband, Bill, said, ‘This isn’t about you.’ I realized that but felt like an extra in a movie! Kim and her mom made every decision and even left my name off the invitation. Among all the wedding photos, there’s not a single one of me.

“Things went further downhill after Kim and Greg got back from their honeymoon. Against my wishes, Bill let them rent — at an absurdly low price — the three-bedroom condo we bought as a weekend getaway. They’re both graduate students in South Florida, and our condo is a short drive from their school. I thought they should find their own place, but Bill kept saying there was nothing decent in their price range. In truth, they never bothered to look. Why would they? Our place cost roughly an eighth of what they’d have paid on the open market.

“So they moved in, with two stipulations: They would keep the condo neat and clean, and we could still visit for the occasional weekend. Two weeks ago Kara and I drove down for a long weekend. I nearly fainted when I saw the place. Dishes with congealed food were piled in the sink and pizza boxes littered the coffee table. Both showers were clogged with hair, their dog had chewed my throw pillows, and their computers were on my new glass dining table. Plus, Kim and Greg treated us like interlopers.

“After a year of stifling my resentment I’d had it. I wrote Kim a long letter listing the conditions that she and Greg had to meet if they wanted to stay in the condo. I thought she and I should work this out, so I asked her not to mention my note to her dad. Well, she immediately called Bill, who was so enraged he wouldn’t even let me explain. That was more than a week ago, and he and I have barely spoken since.”

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