...Sure, I understand exactly what you are feeling. If you haven't already seen it, go read today's Dear Abby. She addressed feelings towards step-children.
Step children aren't any different than any other humans. You will like some and some you won't. The best advice that I can give you is twofold. First, act as if you DO like them. You're an adult and I'm sure that you can do that. They never, ever have to know about your feelings, which by the way, are quite normal so don't beat yourself up over it. Secondly, don't even bother trying to discipline them unless you have their father's full support. If it doesn't affect you or your kids, walk away and let their father deal with them.
When Rick and I first got married, it was very difficult for me to like his kids. As adults, they aren't so bad. They treat me with respect and that's good enough. But, at first, I had a very hard time dealing with them because I had rules for my kids and I expected the step kids to follow them as well. At that time, Rick was (in my opinion) trying to be a great dad and make up for the time that he didn't have them. So, he went overboard in the leniency department. It made me angry and I took it out on his kids. Like you, I thought that they were brats and even if I was right...it wasn't their fault. Their mother was a despicable female and treated those boys like dirt. It was pathetic. She continues to do so today.
Rick and I argued about the kids quite a bit. Especially after he would do things that were blatantly unfair, so much so that the kids all saw it. One weekend morning the kids were rough-housing and coming to snicth on each other over and over again for at least an hour. At one point, Rick said, "The next person to tell on another is going to be spanked." Well, his son ratted out one of mine and rather than keep his word, Rick spanked my son. I wasn't perfect either...but I learned quickly what I was doing wrong.
I was punishing two little boys who needed two thoughtful, parents who cared enough about them to take the time to teach them how to live in society. I was making their plight even worse and the entire situation was a huge strain on my marriage. So, at one point, I decided that I had to keep out of it and let their parents do what they wanted to do, they sure as hell wouldn't listen to me. All attempts that I made to help the boys were taken as me being the wicked step mother when I just wanted to teach them some manners and encourage them to be productive, in school and out. I honestly believe those boys wanted that...I really, really do.
The younger one was a challenge because he was very smart at manipulating his father. If ever he and I would pass each other in the hall or some place private, he would bolt to his father screaming that I had hit him in the head. Luckily, Rick acted like he believed me. One day I passed the kid in the hall and smacked him upside the head. I kept walking and he went crying to his father...but at this point, Rick believed me so the kid couldn't get any attention for that, as a matter of fact, he got punished for it. And, I HAD smacked him...that boy never cried wolf again.
Early in our marriage, I learned that I should just keep out of it unless it affected me or my kids. If you're honest with yourself, you can easily discern between things that really do affect you and things that don't. Just keep your mouth shut. Life will be much easier on you and your kids. You do have to find a tactful way to explain any differences in the rules, but it's worth it if you want to save your marriage.
Ideally, you and your husband would be able to discuss your strategy as parents. Not during an argument, but you should have a well thought out plan. Go out to dinner a couple of times like business people do and discuss your ideas of how you two should raise your new family. You've both been parents for a while, you know the sorts of things that the kids do that deserves discipline. List them and come up with the best way to handle things. You don't have to get all particular, just decide who will handle what and what punishments are acceptable to both of you.
There will be some things that you'll have to compromise on, but once again, you're adults, you should be able to do that. When you come to something that you disagree with, put it aside for later...like when you take a test and answer the questions you know first and then tackle the ones you don't. If you don't cover everything over one dinner, save some for another night out.
Occasionally, you may come across something you hadn't even considered. There's nothing wrong with letting the kids sit in their room while the two of you discuss it rationally in another room. The kids should never hear these discussions which, by the way, should never turn into arguments. They should know that the two of you will consult each other when these things come up and should perceive you two as a team. They should never be encouraged to play one against the other.
I have to say this before I sign off, when you find yourself disliking the kids, ask yourself why. If their behavior makes you dislike them, try to find some sympathy in your heart for these kids who aren't lucky enough to have a REAL PARENT to guide them through life. Think about what the future has in store for them.
Both of my step kids ended up doing time in jail for a few minor crimes...I think they've learned their lesson. They haven't been in trouble since. But they weren't prepared to live by the rules because they really never had many. Their despicable mother kept the child support and kicked the boys out before they ever had a chance to finish high school. Turning 18 doesn't necessarily make a child fit to leave home. These kids were kicked out much sooner than that. And yes...in the Commonwealth of Virginia it is legal to kick your kids out and still demand, and receive, child support. When I tried to complain they said, "She has custody, she can let them live wherever she wants to." I got no further than that.
So, they boys are doing relatively well, from what Rick tells me. But they suffered a lot from not having any type of thought put into their upbringing. That's too bad.
Oh well, I guess that's it. Just remember that feelings are what they are...you can't help what you feel. They aren't good and they aren't bad...they just are.
And remember to raise your children the way you see fit...no matter what. They are your responsibilty. Your responsibility to the step kids is what your husband expects of you, within reason. If he says he wants you to help and then makes it a nasty situation when you do, gracefully bow out of the situation knowing that you have your own kids and they are the ones who deserve your best.
Well, I am exhausted and it's time to go to bed. I'll check in with you guys later.