I have a son, and my husband has a ten-year-old daughter. She only visits us on weekends and holidays, but when she is here, my husband practically ignores me and my son. He even walks next to her when we go out. I have told him how I feel, but he doesn’t agree with my point of view.

Sadly, all of our weekends are filled with disagreements because the girl manipulates him in many ways and… because he tells me that he wants my son to change…. In spite of everything, I do things for his daughter that I shouldn’t have to…. But his attitude is filling me with resentment.

Dear Friend,

We are sad to hear about the difficulties in your family. However, even though it sounds uncaring to say so, we believe that your problems are the natural consequences of marrying a man with a child. You chose to marry him knowing that he had a daughter. And he chose to marry you knowing that you had a son. As a result, you will have plenty of disagreements and misunderstandings regarding your respective children. You should have realized that before you decided to get married.

We always advise the single parents of children or adolescents to wait until their children are adults to begin dating. Of course, many people disagree with us and think that we are unrealistic. However, statistics show that the failure rate of second marriages is extremely high. While those second marriages are failing, children are forced to endure the bickering and the distress that their parent is going through. Many times, the parent is so consumed with marital problems that he or she is unable to meet the children’s needs. Our advice is based on what is best for those children.

We believe that a single parent has a moral commitment to put the children’s needs before his or her own romantic interests. But when a parent marries and makes a commitment to a new spouse, the new commitment to the spouse and the previous commitment to the children will often conflict with each other. And there are no easy ways to resolve these conflicts.

If you want this marriage to last, you will have to change your attitude. Your husband obviously wants to be a good father to his daughter. His love for her does not threaten his love for you. He is with you all week, and only sees his daughter on the weekends. Why not let him walk with her and pay attention to her? She will grow up and be gone, and then his chances to be with her will be much more limited. You, on the other hand, will be with him for a lifetime, unless you allow these issues to drive you apart.

We have no way to know what issues your husband has with your son. But it stands to reason that he wouldn’t treat your son the same as his daughter. You should have never expected your husband to treat the two children equally. Those expectations have been very unrealistic. They are going to contribute to the end of your marriage unless you determine to do the best you can with the problems that you have brought on yourself.

We wish you the best,