Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective for a woman whose husband is acting distant and a mother whose children won’t stop fighting.
QUESTION: Soon after we got married, my husband’s firm offered him a well-paid promotion. It was too far away for him to commute, so he rented a room during the week and came home at weekends.
His job made him really tired, but we managed like this for three years. Eventually it became too much for him and he persuaded me to give up our home to move in with him.
I was sad about it because I knew I’d miss my family and friends, but I thought it was worth it for us to be together. The problem is, now we’re living together full-time, he seems distant and lacking in affection and he’s even suggested we sleep in separate rooms.
I don’t understand why he wanted me to move if he didn’t want me around and I’m not sure how to get the love back into our marriage.
FIONA SAYS: Trying to maintain a relationship when you’re forced to be apart is difficult, and couples have to have a solid foundation based on trust, flexibility and understanding.
It seems you two never really had a chance to build that foundation and I sense a great deal of resentment from you about what’s happened.
That’s hardly surprising, as your husband is now distant and cold, but perhaps he has concerns too that he hasn’t expressed to you?
There is no reason why you can’t rebuild the trust you need. I cannot know what is making him act as he does – he may be upset about your resentment of the move, worried about his new job or he may have health worries.
Clearly, in order to find out what’s wrong, you both need to be honest and express your concerns. Getting him to open up may be difficult if he’s not used to doing it, so choose your moment – probably at the weekend when he’s not going out to work – and tell him you want to talk.
Be honest and tell him that you did feel upset about having to give up your home, but that you thought it would be worth it to be with him.
Don’t get angry or accuse him, but say that now you’re with him, you’re unsure if he wants you there and ask what you can do to change things.
Please don’t wait too long to do this because, clearly, cracks are already appearing in your marriage and you need to act if you want to make it work.
Whatever else is going on in your lives now needs to be put aside and you need to prioritise your marriage – you both have to stop thinking about the past and work towards a future together again.
You need to express yourself and share your feelings because intimacy is what keeps love alive, but be kind – he has feelings too, so don’t hurt them by saying things you’ll regret later.
Finally, try and put some fun back into your relationship – do things that you both enjoy and, ideally, make you laugh together. That’s often what’s missing when things break down.
If you need help then contact Relate for guidance on how to start this process and especially, how to start talking together again.
QUESTION: We’ve been trying for a baby for almost three years and have visited all sorts of specialists. The whole process has been upsetting and embarrassing, but we’ve tried to be patient.
What I’m finding particularly hard, is the advice to coincide lovemaking with times when I’m at my most fertile. It makes the whole thing seem more like a routine surgical procedure rather than making love like we used to.
I miss the spontaneity of our chemistry, but what can we do?
FIONA SAYS: When sex becomes merely a means to conception, then it’s not surprising that some of the spontaneity, pleasure and sharing is lost.
Add to that the concerns you’ve probably both got about your fertility and the stress to your relationship increases enormously.
However, whilst it’s sound advice for you to make love when you’re at your most fertile if you want to conceive, there’s nothing to say you can’t make love at other times too.
Sex can continue to sometimes be spontaneous and pleasurable which will, I hope, take some of the pressure off the way you feel now. One in seven couples in the UK have trouble conceiving, so you’re certainly not alone and there is help available.
If you haven’t already done so and you feel the need for support or advice, you might find it helpful to contact the Fertility Network.
QUESTION: My two sons – aged 10 and 12 respectively – fight all of the time. It honestly feels like they haven’t stopped arguing and winding each other up since they were infants at school together.
Sometimes they’re just tussling, but other times, it’s like they really hate one another and I’m afraid they’re going to injure themselves.
There are endless arguments about who started it and, although this has been going on for years, lately it’s really got to me.
I thought it would get better as they got older, but it hasn’t, and what I don’t understand is that they seem to want to spend time together.
I’d have loved a brother or sister, so why can’t they see how lucky they are?
FIONA SAYS: Fighting between siblings is common, even amongst girls, so please don’t feel that your sons are any different to most other youngsters of their age.
There could be any number of reasons why they fight, but the fact that they like to spend time together is a good thing – they will probably grow out of it eventually.
It sounds to me like you’re doing the right things – you rightly step in to prevent physical harm. I suggest you separate them and send them off to different rooms until they’ve cooled down, ignoring any arguments about who started it.
It may not seem like it now, but I’m sure their fighting will decrease as they get older and make a wider circle of friends. If you find their behaviour getting to you or you need someone to talk to, Family Lives (familylives.org.uk) will help.
Just carry on doing the best you can and try and be consistent in the way you treat them both. You never know, as they get older, they may even grow up to be the best of friends.
QUESTION: I have a great relationship with my boyfriend, except for one major issue. Whenever his cousin turns up, he gets really silly and flirty with her and he acts like she means a lot to him.
If I say anything, he just laughs at me and says I’m silly to be jealous because she’s more like a sister to him than anything else. My brother doesn’t act like that with me, so I’m wondering if you think I have any reason to be jealous?
FIONA SAYS: Families act in many different ways and, while you and your brother may not have a particularly close relationship, it could be your boyfriend really is close to his cousin.
That doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything between them that you need to worry about. However, what is worrying is that your boyfriend does so little to reassure you.
Jealousy is an emotion that’s hard to control and he’s acting in a way that makes things more difficult for you. If he’s genuinely fond of his cousin, he won’t want her to feel excluded when the three of you are together.
Could you make a friend of her? By talking to her, you could gain a better understanding of her feelings towards him.
Try to also get your boyfriend to understand that jealousy isn’t something silly, it’s something that grows out of insecurity, which you can’t help as long as he is making you feel insecure.
Perhaps if he understood this, he’d find ways to make you more confident about his feelings for you.
Write to Fiona Caine c/o Elise Brewerton, 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour, Portsmouth PO6 3EN or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence, nor pass letters on to other readers.