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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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I am about to get married to the most loving man. His previous

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I am about to get married to the most loving man.
His previous marriage broke up 5 years ago when his then wife left him with 3 teenage children, two dogs and a cat.
We have not lived together as we live in different states but I will be moving to his home after the wedding as my job is very mobile and his is not.
Two of his daughters have moved out to live with their boyfriends.
The one remaining daughter who is now almost 20 lives there with her boyfriend and her room is pretty squalid - he often finds stacks of dirty plates and dirty clothes all over the room. If he challenges her about it she dumps it all in the living space!
Additionally, the current rented accommodation is very small and I feel it is inappropriate to have so many animals in that space. During my last visit I got a very bad allergic reaction to the cat and it has now developed into asthma.
I feel that in principle his ex-wife, who now owns her own property should now take responsibility for the animals. I know from what the children have told me that my fiancé was adamantly against getting animals but his ex-wife brought them home for birthdays for each of the girls - ignoring his protests.
How do I manage this, keep well, avoid a fight with the ex and looking like the wicked stepmother? Currently I have an excellent relationship with his children. I have my own home which my own grown up children live in and due to maintaining that cannot currently purchase another property interstate.
Many thanks

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am very sorry to know about this very concerning and frustrating situation.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

What you describe here is very serious since it shows how your partner has been enabling his adult daughter and her boyfriend all this time, to the point of not being only very irresponsible but also neglectful and abusive.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Now you have decided to build a family together and this means each of you should be willing and committed to respect, support and take good care of the other as responsible and sensitive adults...

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

But you also report that he keeps these animals he did not want in the first place for his daughters, but now they are all adults and only one living there, which is not even respecting basic boundaries but creating a huge mess in her room and in the house. Also you have developed asthma because of the animals, then it is very obvious and a matter of common sense, to come to terms with the fact that keeping the animals there would not only continue to hurt your physical and mental health but your life together.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

If you try to please his ex-wife expecting that would help you and your relationship, that would never work for sure, since it would be a very codependent approach enabling further manipulation, control and abuse.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Does it make sense?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Please feel free to reply for us to dialogue about it, or if you have any further questions or to follow up, since I am here willing to support you as much as possible.

Seeking expert testimony is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

I do not know what happened but I had been working on this question for 10 minutes and somehow another therapist got on as a chat question.

Hopefully, I can start over and give you the answer that you deserve.

You have a very complicated situation here with several issues.

Let us deal first with the 20 year old daughter.

You do not want to become the wicked stepmother by getting into the middle of the family dynamic so you must proceed with very cautious and positive energy.

Your fiance' is not very forceful or authoritative with his children and you will not change that.

I suggest that you voluntarily, without making an issue, tell the daughter, without making an issue, "oh let me do those dishes for you, I was just about to wash the others" and then do it with loving cheer at the appropriate moment.

You will be working towards a higher goal.

At a certain point she will feel obliged to do the dishes herself. If she does not, then you are not losing much at all by doing this. Never act as if it is a favor or if she is obliged to you. Let her come to that realisation.

The bigger issue is the animals, particularly the cat. This will have to be dealth with before you move in. This is something that you can deal with by enlisting the help of the father and the children to find an answer.

For health reasons you cannot currently move in, and probably should not.

Ask them what can be done. You already know what has to be done, and that is to find a home for the cat. However, it is up to THEM to suggest it, and not you.

You need to understand how to work with this family without becoming embroiled in their issues and relationship issues. You can easily become enmesed with them and you do not want to be, not on this negative level.

I am sure that they will find the solution for you and make it easier for you to safely move in with the father.

You may have some follow-up questions on this issue. Please get back to me as needed and I shall do my utmost best to help you finish resolviong this very sticky situation.

Warm regards,

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks so much for your wisdom,


I have always taken the stance with the girls that you suggested - I once spent a weekend washing and sorting all their clothes that were strewn all over the house and called a family meeting and asked them cheerfully to decide which of the clothes they still wanted and which of them should we take to the charity collection. Similarly I spent a week recently clearing out all the kitchen cupboards and sent down some of my own furniture to make the place look more homely. They were very appreciative and they have made a noticeable effort in the kitchen.


I am concerned because I am a very busy professional myself but have always enjoyed cooperation from my 3 children. My children are concerned that I will become very depressed in that home.


Warm regards




It seems that your stance, which I support, has already paid dividends have already created posiive results.

You are planning on moving into an environment that you did not nurture or create, and is already damaged by previous history. You are doing well to make some changes but there are going to be underlying issues that are going to arise.

The question that you cannot answer (nor can I), is whether or not you can endure the pressure and make enough changes without draining your own emotional resources and falling into depression.

You children have real concern for your well-being and that reflects the strong family values you have instilled in them.

It seems that you are mobile and you are not giving up a home to move into these new quarters.

First you must solve the allergy problems. You must do a lot of soul searching (and you can help by making a serious list of pros and cons about this upcoming venture). That will help you focus your thoughts.

You have come this far and are extremely fond of this genelman, so it seems that you take the plunge when you have passed the soul-searching test, and see how it works.

You could discuss this with your boyfriend, for he should be aware that you have some reasonable misgivings and that he will do his best to take positive steps to insure your emotional comfort in this environment..

You do have the option of leaving if it does not make you happy and you have the option of backing out right now if you are convinced that it will not work.

Do that soul-searching and enlist the wisdom of your children.

PLEASE get back to me on this question if you have further need of my comments.

Warm regards,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience: 35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you so much.

May God bless you.

Warmest regards,


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