My new husband doesn’t like my daughter

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    My husband (I’ll call him B)  and I have been married 6 months- together 3 years. The other night he confessed that he was having some anxiety and was very stressed out. He opened up to me about some financial issues he’s worried about and I reassured him that everything was OK and that he didn’t need to worry. Nothing serious- just a couple of bills that I have covered.

    After we talked about money issues, he started to tell me about his other major stress factor- my daughter. She’s 18 and splits her time between our home and her dad, who only lives 5 minutes away. She is a very shy and quiet teen- she keeps to herself mostly and isn’t a big talker. She’s never been mouthly or disrespectful to either of us and in fact, is always very polite and spends a lot of time doing her homework or working as a barista at the local coffee shop. She is a responsible and kind person.

    His issue is that the two of them have never really “bonded” and he feels that she should be doing more to involve him in her life.  It’s true that she does sometimes avoid him because she’s shy and she really doesn’t see him as anything more than my husband. She and her dad are very close so she doesn’t want or need another father figure.

    B also thinks it’s rude that she will sometimes come and go and not say “hi” to him or engage in conversation. I also find it rude and have talked to her about it.

    Everything finally came to head when he told me he doesn’t see her as “family” to him and he’s done trying to be part of her life- he’s given up being her friend. Obviously this hurt me very much and I told him exactly that. This didn’t sit well with him at all and he got very agitated with me that he came to me with his problem and I “shamed” him for opening up to me.

    I didn’t shame him at all. I simply told him that I was very hurt by that and how can we fix it? He said there is no fixing, he is done trying and that is that.

    He’s now very upset with me and I feel like I’m stuck in the middle and it’s making me so sad. I feel like he is the grown-up in the situation and if truly loves and cares about me he would try to at least make an effort. I can’t stand that my husband doesn’t view my daughter as part of our family. I am heartbroken.

    Any words of encourgagement or advice would be so helpful.


    Thank you xoxo


    Dear Eriads

    Your daughter was almost grown up when you started dating B ( you do not say how old your daughter was when the split with her father happened or whether her father has remarried etc) and now she is legally an adult. She is lucky to have an on going relationship with her father.

    You can’t force people to feel more for each other and some relationships take longer to  flourish. As long as you do not accept the current situation you are putting pressure on you, your daughter and your husband, which will hinder  a making of  healthy relationships.  At the moment politeness and understanding should be the starting point for all concerned. It must have taken a lot of bravery for your husband to show his vulnerability to you. Maybe your husband’s original expectations of a”happy family” were not met and he is now resigned to the reality of this family life. I guess within the next few years your daughter will fly the nest and so it is important that you & your husband stay well connected to each as you are going to need his emotional support when your daughter puts down roots elsewhere.

    I wish you all the best



    Dear Eriads,

    His issue is that the two of them have never really “bonded … It’s true that she does sometimes avoid him because she’s shy and she really doesn’t see him as anything more than my husband.

    B also thinks it’s rude that she will sometimes come and go and not say “hi” to him or engage in conversation.

    If your daughter sometimes avoids your husband and doesn’t want to say hi, it tells me she does feel certain resentment towards him. But the question is what is the cause of this resentment? There can be plenty. Just an example (I am mentioning this not knowing any of your background), it can be that she resents you for remarrying, it can be that her father doesn’t like that you remarried and she solidarizes with him. Or maybe she feels a certain pressure from your husband to be friendly with him, which she doesn’t like.

    Also, the fact that the two of them never really bonded can be due to multiple reasons. Maybe it’s because you started dating him 3 years ago, which is at the beginning of covid, so you couldn’t really travel and spend fun time together? Or she lived with her father during covid? Or your husband prefers certain activities during leisure time, which your daughter doesn’t like? Again, there can be a number of reasons.

    I think you should think about the possible reasons for your daughter’s distance and resentment, because that will give you the clue about how to deal with it. It could be a combination of more factors. It could also be that your husband is too sensitive and has too high expectations, so he kind of exacerbates the problem instead of acting like an adult (as you pointed out too) to seek resolution?




    It sounds like your husband had expectations for his relationship with your daughter that have not been met.  I found it interesting that he would hold her accountable in some way for this lack of bonding.  I think your current situation has more to do with some complicated and uncomfortable feelings your husband is experiencing around what it means to be a family.

    When I married my first wife, she had a 4 year old, and it was fairly easy to bond with him because I primarily took care of his little person needs.  I can also share, though, that I often felt that I had the burden of adjusting and integrating into an established family unit. I was the odd person out, and just expected to fit in to the routine.  Your daughter is not the problem here.

    If you can reopen a discussion about what “bonding” and “family” means to both of you, then I think you will be able to untangle the salient emotions – for both of you – that surfaced during that hurtful conversation. My bet is that your husband is struggling to put his feelings into words and, as I have been known to do, shut down – out of frustration, anger, humiliation, etc. Find a way to coax him into a comfortable head space, acknowledge your recent mutual hurt, and ask for a reset.  “Tell me more about what it would look like if you and my daughter had a stronger bond.” “What are some ways that you can take the initiative in your relationship with my daughter? What’s holding you back? ”  And, so on… he has to process his own situation. And, ultimately, he has to initiate time with your daughter (maybe on one of their new outings for coffee or ice cream?) and learn from her what her expectations are for their relationship. There’s no magic wand.

    And in terms of your hurt (which is real), I think the reset conversation may deliver a genuine and heartfelt apology from your husband for the way he said some things. I sense that he’s one of the good guys!  Hope I wasn’t too preachy!


    ~ Josh

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