TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 53 and 55, draw on their 23 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . .
Two years ago I remarried, aged 61. I feel fortunate to have found love and happiness after being widowed ten years ago. My husband, 11 years older than me, is wonderful in every way except he has no interest in or patience with my grand-children, aged eight and six.
I am very close to my only daughter and my grandchildren are my world. My husband has three teenage grandchildren of his own, with whom he has little contact. We had my grandchildren for the weekend recently, so my daughter and her partner could have some time to themselves. It was a disaster. My husband spent the whole time in a filthy temper, telling them to be quiet and not make a mess. He made a fuss about their table manners, insisted they made their beds and wouldn’t let them watch TV.
Afterwards he said he thinks they are spoilt and that I let them get away with murder.
They are lovely kids and I would hate to see less of them, but it’s clear he doesn’t like having them. How do I tackle this?
First, congratulations for having the courage to marry again after ten years of independent living. Learning to share your life with someone is hard under any circumstances, but after years of living on your own it can be doubly tricky.
I completely understand how irritated you must be by your husband’s attitude. His childish, petulant behaviour suggest he is not happy sharing you — even with your own grandchildren.
You have been married for two years now, which is time enough for him to grasp that your grandchildren are an important part of your life. It’s not as if you suddenly appeared with them; he knew they were part of the package when he married you.
He is clearly someone who enjoys peace and tranquillity, and you don’t get that when you have two children under ten charging around your house. However, his irritability and impatience are clearly pushing you away. And not just you.
I’m sure your daughter is perfectly well aware of his tricky character, as her children are going to go home with tales of grumpy, unwelcoming ‘new’ grandpa.
A visit to granny’s house should be a joy for children, but your new husband is selfishly ruining it. I can picture you frantically running around trying to keep them quiet, fearful they might upset him.
When wedding vows are taken, you vow to share every part of each other’s lives and that includes their entire family.
So here is what I suggest. Tell him honestly how you are feeling. Have specific examples to hand of times his behaviour has upset you or the children.
Be firm but gentle. He must feel you are a team together and that you really need his support in this.
I am encouraged that you say he is lovely in every other way — in which case he needs to extend that loveliness to your grandchildren as well, because right now he is just chipping away at a relationship that existed long before you met him.
I sense that you are a strong, independent woman and so — to steal a title from David Walliams — I think you need to turn ‘gangsta granny’ and ask him to stop being a miserable so-and-so, as he is hurting you and your family.
He has been lucky enough to find love with an amazing woman and, in the grand scheme of things, what is the occasional disrupted weekend or Sunday afternoon?
No one can come into a family unit and expect their life not to change. Nor should they actively set out to change the dynamic within it. He is displaying rather controlling behaviour and you’re not going to stand for that, are you?
So be strong. Tell him something has to change — and that something is his behaviour!
Yours is a rather sad letter, but I suspect you are not alone in this plight.
Small children are noisy and messy, and if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard someone say ‘my grandchildren are lovely but it’s wonderful to hand them back’, I’d be a rich man.
It can be tricky when children are not your flesh and blood. But it sounds as if your husband just doesn’t like grandchildren full stop, especially since he has no relationship with his own.
But you adore yours and it’s a shame he doesn’t seem willing to make an effort for your sake.
Given his age, one has to take into account eyesight and hearing. Does he wear a hearing aid? Is his eyesight poor?
If so, loud, boisterous children who fly around corners could be scary for him and perhaps that bad temper he seems to display is really fear.
From your description of his attitude, I would say he had a strict upbringing himself and, therefore, it’s not really his fault — it’s all he has known.
One option might be to spend more time with the grandkids on your own.
Something tells me a man with an attitude to children as old-fashioned as his probably isn’t great at fending for himself. Would it be possible to stay the weekend at your daughter’s house, so he is left to his own devices?
If he goes hungry, he might learn to appreciate you more and accept that you come with grandchildren and they will take up some of your time.
Whenever the children visit, perhaps you can pack your husband off to play golf, go fishing or whatever he enjoys doing. If he can’t welcome them into your home, then he misses out on time with you, too.
Your grandchildren bring you joy, and time with them shouldn’t be negotiable, so you must stand your ground.
If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: [email protected]dailymail.co.uk