"My Teenage Daughter Is Ruining Our Marriage"
"I adore my husband, John, but my daughter is making us miserable," said a weary Lisa, 39, who's been married for six years and has two children, Ali, 16, and Cara, 12, from her first marriage. "Ali was 5 when her dad and I split up, and the divorce was rough on her. Now, 11 years later, Ali's still acting out, being disrespectful and insensitive to other people's feelings.
"Ken, my ex, is making matters worse. Suddenly this irresponsible father wants Ali to live with him. He tells her he won't impose a curfew the way John and I do -- a perfectly reasonable 11:30 p.m. on weekends. He's even promised her a car! This kind of pie-in-the-sky nonsense is so typical of him.
"Ken and I got together at 17, married at 21 and divorced at 28. At first I was too young, or too infatuated, to notice how immature he was. Even after I wised up I struggled for years to make our marriage work. I wanted to get counseling, but he refused. Yet he was shocked when I left. That says it all.
"He has never remarried, and I think he's still mad at me for leaving because he never misses a chance to make my life difficult. To this day he'll promise to take the kids for the weekend, then never show. I can't count the times I've driven them over to his house only to find him gone. Or he'll drop the girls off hours behind schedule, throwing a wrench into our plans. This infuriates John, who then gets pulled into absurd arguments with Ken.
"The irony is that I tried so hard to do everything right. I met John four years after my divorce. He was charming, generous, and successful -- he owns a printing business here in New York City -- and I knew immediately I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. But when it came to introducing him into the kids' lives, I took it slowly, as the experts advise. Cara is crazy about John, but he and Ali butted heads from the get-go."