The ex-stepdaughter has a good career, and enjoys leading a life that rarely includes her son. My wife enables this by caring for the child whenever asked, and often in our home.
If I voice any complaint, I am cast as the jealous malcontent.
I like the child but do not want the encumbrance at this stage of my life. Am I wrong to want more from a relationship with my wife? What do you suggest?
Answer: Of course it's not wrong to want more of your wife's company.
But the child's needs trump yours. You just don't push aside kids because you're owed a cruise, and you don't judge a child for his mother's failings. He's innocent.
I have to believe - and not just because it fits my thesis - that your wife will be more open to giving you more attention if you stop resenting her compassion, and instead praise it.
Then: "I'd like to help you more." Surely that's the cure for your sense of exclusion? Attachment where resentment now lurks?
Then: "I'd also like to draw some lines" - X days a week for sitting, Y weeks of the year for traveling, etc. - "so that we're supporting Stepdaughter versus flat-out doing her job." To get what you want, understand who you want it from.
E-mail Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.