DH and I don't fight often, but when we do, ten chances to one, it's about his daughters. Last night in the heat of an exchange, he said something to me that really stunned me. He said, in frustration, "You treat your friends better than you treat your family" (by family, meaning his daughters.)
Um. Well, yeah. Of course I do. My friends are my friends precisely because we're compatible. I like and respect my friends, otherwise they wouldn't be my friends.
As for family, the only member of my family I get to choose is my husband. Everyone else, from my brothers and sisters to aunts, step-daughters and in-laws, I inherit as part of the package deal. I don't subscribe to the notion that you have to like everyone in your family just because you have some genes or other tenuous connection in common. I believe that every individual needs to prove their worth... not necessarily their worth to me, but their worth as a person in general. They need to demonstrate traits that I find admirable before I like them; they need to do something worthy of my respect before I respect them. TANSTAAFL.
The fact that I hold each individual responsible for their own worth should be no surprise to my husband; for many years my adoptive brother and I have been distant; I disapproved of his lack of direction and purpose and his general fecklessness, though as of late we're getting a little closer as he matures and shows ambition and drive.
Likewise, my step-daughters have (thus far) failed to impress. There was a brief span where they seemed to shed the self-centeredness of childhood and a glimmer of the women they were to become gleamed through. I genuinely enjoyed their company for those few months, and looked forward to the relationship that I saw might be possible. However, then the hormonal tides began and it's been frankly awful since. They are sulky, deceptive, devious, conniving, thieving, vindictive, selfish, whiny, lazy and spoiled rotten... typical young teen girls. I see nothing worth liking or loving about them 90% of the time, and the 10% when they are sweet isn't enough to carry me through.
Perhaps it is asking too much to expect children of 13 and 14 years to be likable. I don't know. What I do know is that we're at a bit of an impasse; my husband expects that I love/like them just because we're "family" and I won't pretend to like them all the time in order to smooth things over.