Problem-solver Fiona Caine offers her perspective on a woman who has lost the ‘spark’ in her marriage, and a girlfriend who resents her partner for planning a holiday without her.
Q: I’ve lost the ‘spark’ I used to feel for my husband, even though I still love him and want to be with him. I feel a growing resentment for him, and it’s causing a wedge between us – even though I’m pretty sure he’s oblivious.
We had twins together four-and-a-half years ago and, for the first two years, it was really hard because one of them suffered health issues. I rarely got any sleep and I felt like I had no help from my family, even though I was struggling with two babies and a young son who is now seven.
My husband works six days a week, but I have to admit – he did help out a lot when he was at home. In the early days, before we had the three children, he used to work the odd Saturday which drove me mad, as we weren’t able to spend time together.
I do all the extra Saturday activities with my three boys and I enjoy it, but I think my resentment at having to do it alone has driven away the chemistry in our relationship.
He was always aware it was hard for me at home, but that was just the way it was. We still do family days on Sunday and go out on forest walks and to parks, which I should be grateful for, but I still have this lull in my stomach.
FIONA SAYS: YOU NEED TO COMMUNICATE:
A: You say you resent your husband, but you also say you didn’t get any help from your family when you needed it. I wonder if you’re directing your resentment the wrong way?
It sounds like your husband is aware of how difficult life is for you - he’s working hard to support you and three small children, and still manages to find time for family days.
Life is hard for you and, with a young family, you don’t have a lot of time for yourself. Perhaps you resentment is really about that?
You’d probably feel very guilty if you said you resented your children but many young mums do - you wouldn’t be the first and you certainly wouldn’t be the last. So, perhaps you’re channelling your frustration at the person who is already doing his best to help.
You’re probably too tired for intimacy whilst you are managing such a busy life and that’s almost certainly telling on your relationship as well. Instead of building barriers, you need to find a way to communicate before they become insurmountable. That means you and your husband have to talk about the way you’re organising your lives.
Does he really have to work six days a week or could he, perhaps, work from home sometimes? Could you have more time together, as a couple - perhaps by approaching a family member directly for help? Just because they didn’t help before doesn’t mean they won’t help now.
Surely one or other of the grandparents would enjoy some time with the children? If they won’t oblige, could you find a friend who would take your children for 24 hours?
Spending time together – just the two of you – would help you to rediscover your relationship and strengthen the positive feelings you seem to have for one another.
All this can only happen if you talk to one another, and that’s the crux of what causes so many relationships to break down: a failure to communicate.
You say you still love him so please don’t let this love go to waste.
WHY CAN’T MY NEW BOYFRIEND CANCEL HIS HOLIDAY?
Q: For the past few months I’ve been going out with a really nice guy and we’ve grown very close, very quickly. I’ve been looking forward to spending more time with him so I was really upset when he told me about his plans for his summer holiday - which didn’t include me.
I tried to hide how hurt I was, but he must have guessed because he apologised. He said he hadn’t expected to be in such a serious relationship when he booked this holiday last year, but that this trip means a lot to him because it’s the first time he has ever been whale watching.
I’m not sure I can believe him though. Surely if he genuinely cared for me he’d either cancel or find some way to include me? Do you think this is his way of giving me the brush off?
FIONA SAYS: YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO TRUST HIM
A: I think you’re overreacting a bit here. He hasn’t said anything about not seeing you when he gets back, nor has he tried to hide the holiday from you.
You can’t do much whale watching around the UK, so a trip like this does take planning. It might be exactly as he says - a holiday that was booked before you knew him and one he doesn’t want to miss. Why do you find it so hard to give him the benefit of the doubt?
If you want this relationship to last the distance, perhaps you should place some trust in him now and see what happens. If you don’t, and you try to pressure him into changing his holiday plans, you might just lose him anyway.
Wish him well and tell him how much you’ll enjoy seeing his photos, then organise a trip of your own – perhaps at the same time if you don’t want to miss him too much.
HOW CAN I STOP MY DRUNK FATHER FROM RUINING OUR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY?
Q: For as long as I can remember, my father has got drunk at parties and upset everybody around him.
It’s our wedding anniversary next month and we’ve organised a big family party, but I’ve been in a real stew about it for weeks now.
My husband’s parents are coming and he upset them at our wedding, so I’m dreading him doing it again. He’ll probably start singing dirty rugby songs by the middle of the afternoon and accuse everyone who doesn’t join in of being boring.
I wanted my husband to warn his parents, but he thinks that’ll just make them anxious.
I’m now dreading what should be a special occasion for us and it’s making me feel quite ill.
FIONA SAYS: LET HIM KNOW YOUR CONCERNS
A: To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised you’ve invited your father if he makes you feel like this. I believe you should talk to him and tell him that other peoples’ idea of fun isn’t the same as his; remind him this celebration is important to you and you’d be grateful if he didn’t drink as much as he usually does.
He might take offence or try to brush your concerns aside, but stand firm – he needs to understand you’re serious and that there will be consequences if he lets you down.
On a practical level, put someone you trust in charge of serving drinks and tell them to limit your father’s intake – or, indeed, water it down. Without alcohol, he should be easier to manage. You could also get someone to keep a close eye on him and, if necessary, take him away if he starts upsetting you or any of your other guests.
Finally, while he might upset and embarrass you, I suspect most people won’t care too much, especially if they know what he’s like. You’ll have done all you can to control him, so try to relax and enjoy your party.
MY SEPARATION HAS LEFT ME DEPRESSED
Q: Just over a year ago my husband left me for another woman and I still feel hurt and rejected. Our son spends every other weekend with his dad and I still get upset when I see them go off together.
I can’t stop thinking about what might have been and whether my son would be better off living with his dad and the new woman. I still love my husband and miss him terribly.
I get very depressed and cry a lot, although I’ve tried not to let my son see this as it would only make the whole situation more confusing for him. I would have thought that by now I’d be over the worst of this, but I still feel miserable. What’s wrong with me?
FIONA SAYS: YOU’LL GET THROUGH THIS IN TIME
A: The break up of a marriage can be very much like bereavement, and the grieving process can be just as lengthy. I’d like to be able to tell you how much longer you’re going to go on feeling like this, but the simple fact is, I can’t.
It will take as long as it takes and nothing will be gained by placing unrealistic expectations on your road back. I can only assure you that a time will come when the pain seems less intense and you’ll feel as though you can live positively again.
It might be worth talking to your GP as it’s possible the depression you feel can be helped either by counselling or by medication.
Finally, don’t begrudge your son the time spent with his father as it’s important he maintains a relationship with you and your husband. He needs you both.