Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – Inappropriate relationships No2

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I’ve had a long email from a wife asking for some more help having read my previous post about ‘Inappropriate Relationships’.

My answer is basically ‘Yes’ that woman is a wrong un, but I thought I’d include the whole email with my comments all the way through in red to help guys understand the general nuance when dealing with situations like this:

Email 1

I came across your website when looking for information on cross sex relationships as my partner of 25 years has recently struck up a friendship with a female co-worker, he has known her for couple of years but has only just recently got to know her better and she has also recently confided in him with a lot of her emotional problems. When the friendship first became known to me I wasn’t sure what to think as I did not know this girl he has befriended but he told me that she was confiding in him about her marital troubles and was telling him personal things that she did not share with her own husband.  He also told me that she confided in him at work about her life and problems initially also and that they had the occasional work lunch out of the office, although my partner tells me he does this occasionally with other work colleagues too.

OK so generally it would be crazy to say that our guys can’t have female friends, plus there is some sense about talking to a guy about marital problems for their different perspective.  But there is a limit to it – so it’s about the quantity of the asking for help that starts to fall into problematic waters here.  

Lunch out – hmm I would say that as a one off that’s OK, but frequently it would be odd to go out with only ONE person for lunch regularly if they were of the opposite sex.

The biggest NO NO is that she is confiding in him and NOT her own husband.  Without meaning it your husband is therefore worsening the problems with the husband.  She should have been talking to her OWN husband.

My partner has said that he has best advised her on her marital problems as best he could but has learnt that he can only say so much and now says that they are past those issues and have more of a normal friendship now that doesn’t involve so much talking about her problems.  In the meantime though, they both text message each other regularly and have struck up a friendship separately from me because they go running together after work, where they go for a casual run and chat and then a further chat and drink after before he comes home to me.  A few weeks ago, I did meet this girl and her husband and we all went out for a meal together and since then have also been on another night out but my partner arranges to do ‘runs’ with her and then includes me or me and her husband for the rest of the evening to do something all together.

Running I get, but going for a drink with a woman – again is something I wouldn’t be comfortable with.  If he wants to go for a drink with her, I would wonder wether it would be an idea for you to ‘pop down’ to meet them.  Show her that you are aware that he is of value – just a very gentle ‘female territory marking’ situation.

I like the fact that you have all been out as a foursome though – but that isn’t any kind of ‘protection’ from trouble.

Re the text messages, if it is every day, and first thing in the morning or evening, then it definitely isn’t quite right.

I just wanted to obtain some advice on whether I should be worried or not about this relationship that has formed between this co-worker or not, because initially I felt this woman was vulnerable because of her marital problems and the fact she has confided in my partner.  He was also trying to make her feel better by the way he spoke to her in text messages and I felt it should be her husband talking to her like that and not my partner.  I have told my partner that I feel uneasy by some of the words he was using and he has said he will be more careful about that.  I did read up about emotional cheating also though and did feel and wonder if that was what she was doing by befriending my partner in this way.  To give you some ages, I am 42 years old, my partner is 48 and the married co-worker is 29.

Hmmm that’s a big age gap. 

I have felt like the text messaging has become way too invasive, she and him would text every couple of days and felt like he was always checking his phone for messages.  He would tell me this is how you maintain friendships though and she was just a texty type friend.  I have since asked him to share what the messages contain so I do read them now and although they are just chit chatty messages a lot of the time I don’t fully understand why she has to text him quite so much and often late in to the evenings, in the mornings and have found it annoying when I’m out with my partner for a meal and he is there texting back to her all the time.

OH NO PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN HERE!  I don’t care who is texting him, he doesn’t reply when he is out for a meal with you! 

When I confront him about this, he says it is not harming our relationship though and she is simply a friend.  In my head I have been worried that by letting him have one on one time alone with her though, that this could develop into something more.  I used to see him come back from doing his runs with her and he seemed to be on some sort of emotional high, he would then text her and says what a great time he had enjoyed with her.  I felt hurt when he said this, even though he says she is just a friend.  When I ask him about the risks of having such a close personal female friend, he says that he is in control of his feelings though and knows what he wants (that he would never ‘go there with anybody else because he is happy and secure with me’,) and that although he thinks she is an attractive woman, he would never let anything happen and says he doesn’t get any vibes off her whatsoever that she has any romantic interest in him either.  He is therefore telling me that I should have faith and trust in him and that it wouldn’t be fair of me not to let him have a female friend because of what happens to a lot of other people who do become romantically involved through similar friendships.  I have said to him I would be fine to go out in group situations, but that I don’t like it when they arrange to perhaps have lunch together at her house and I still don’t really like the fact that she asks him to go for these runs with her and he seems to have all these happy fun times with her.

The whole ‘you should trust me thing’ – that’s messing with your head, so suggest he doesn’t say that one again.  Tell him instead that it just means that you are not taking him for granted, and that it is healthy for you to be aware of the fact that he is an attractive man.

Lunch at her HOUSE – no no no!

He is not understanding the female rules of territory – this woman is crossing them big time!  Explain to him that she is dodgy – no woman would think that it was OK to do this.

Am I being unreasonable and paranoid for no good reason.  My partner is a good man and I do trust him, but I still feel uneasy about this for reasons I can’t explain, my partner just thinks I’m being jealous of their friendship!!

That’s fine – a bit of jealousy is wise.  Just own up to it and don’t try to pretend that you are not.

Thanks for any help…

Other info as requested on your site about me:-

I am 42, reasonably fit, gym 2 or 3 times a week, my partner is fit too although losing lots of weight through his gym work and running…

I don’t work but my partner works full time, we don’t have any kids, just our house-bunnies!!

This concerns me a little, as it leaves you very reliant on him.

Have been in relationship for 25 years, sex life has been difficult as I’ve had some issues and got an awful condition called ‘vulvodynia’ a few years ago which has been a battle to get over, I believe I am doing well at the moment but not completely cured yet.

Ahh I can understand you being a little insecure due to this.  I would concentrate on yourself and getting healthier.

We are  ok financially, neither of us excessively drink, we do drink lots of water, sleeping patterns usually fine and both healthy except for the above condition for myself and my partner has medical condition called ‘Colitis’.

He needs to be careful with the weight loss and the Colitis – that’s a tricky illness.

Email 2

Firstly, my partner is still very much friends with this female co-worker, but last week he told me she confided in him again and told him she had been having an affair quite recently.  Apparently, she had been talking about the male in question previously and kind of sub-consciously told my partner that this is what she had done but without saying the actual words.  She went and told him he was absolutely correct in his thinking and that she had in fact had this affair with another man (who is married also and with kids).

SEE!!! Sorry I didn’t reply before your second email – SERIOUSLY – she is a VERY Selfish woman if she has messed around with a married man with kids.  I think that she is a bit of a victim.

I was horrified to hear this and told him what I think about her, ie, that people like this are out to potentially destroy other peoples marriages and although he agrees how awful it is, he seems to be able to put all this negative aspects of her aside and still says he likes her and wants to be her friend.

Fair enough, but hope he now sees that there are reasons for you to not trust HER and that there should be clearer boundaries on where and when they meet.

She actually came round to our house last week also as my partner still does ‘weekly’ running sessions with her (one-on-one time) and in the morning on the day she was coming round, I discovered a note my partner had put in our bathroom cupboard for her.  The note read ‘ How well do I know Thee’….  I felt my blood boiling up and the note annoyed me so much to think he had put this in a cupboard in our bathroom for her to find.  He knew she would be using our shower later after they had done their run.  I rang him up at work to explain the note and he said it was a jokey note to make her laugh as she had previously said how she apparently goes nosing round other peoples cupboards, so, the thought it would be funny.  I felt so mad with my partner, not only for writing what he did but for then also saying he wanted to make her laugh or whatever as it’s like he wants to have this private joke thing going on.

The note is funny, it’s the use of the word ‘Thee’ that is worrying.  I do think that he is overly fond of her.

He is on a work course this week and parks his car at her house and walks to the course with her in the morning, he said yesterday she confided in him again and wanted to talk about her problems.  I have a big problem with this as it just sounds like she is pouring her emotions into him all the time.  A while ago, my partner said that bit was over and they were more just friends again, but this is clearly not the case because of what she has just told him and how she keeps confiding in him.

Hmm she is relying on him a lot – where are her female friends?  Why doesn’t she have any?

On top of all this, she invited him to stay over at her house this Thursday as both her and my partner are attending a Works Christmas Party and they are getting taxi back from the place to hers.  Her husband is apparently there too, but I also hate the idea of them both having fun, drinking etc and then going back in a taxi to her place as I do not trust her and not sure I even like her that much as a person now anyway… She also gets repeatedly drunk and told my partner she was hungover this weekend also after attending a party on Saturday night.

Alcohol is a real problem.  I know of people who managed to be unfaithful in the same house as their partners.  He needs to come home honey. 

I’m not sure I see her situation improving as my partner tells me she is still in contact with this married man she had an affair with (although she thinks he won’t leave his marriage and kids) and she’s not happy with her husband and apparently threatened to leave him at the start of this year.

To be honest, I’m not sure there is much to like about her and I don’t like her hanging around with my partner, but he still declares he likes her and because of their shared running bond still wants to continue their friendship.  He says he is being even more guarded with her because of what happened but I just feel uneasy about it all.

 

OK so to summarise …

Tell him that she is really crossing lines that women know not to cross.  It is very worrying that she doesn’t have girl friends to rely on, and she has shown herself as lacking a value on marriage.

So if he wants to remain friends with her fair enough.  But he needs to make it MUCH clearer that there is no chance of the friendship changing by being clearer in his ACTIONS.  So no meetings for lunch alone or drinks – that is unsuitable.  Reduce the texting and make sure that it isn’t interrupting your conversations.

What could you two do in the evenings that might curtail his time with her?  It sounds like he wants to be needed and looked up to.  How could you fulfil that need in him?  Could you guys do more together?  What exercise could you enjoy together?  

Also, I wonder wether you are sitting at home for him a bit too much?  What do you do for your fulfilment?  I would like you to concentrate on you a bit more – show him how valuable you are, and that he wants to come home to YOU.  Be a bit less available for him honey – he is taking you for granted a bit.

Also stand up for yourself a bit more.  It’s OK for him to say that he feels a bit unhappy about you questioning him.  But he is not allowed to make you question how you feel – that is a no no – he is making you question your sanity and that is NOT allowed.  In fact he owes you a bit of an apology now that she has shown herself to be untrustworthy.

I really hope that this helps?

Please can you update us in a little while to tell us how you are doing?

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – Stressed out mum with fertility problems

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I received this email a couple of days ago:

Hi Lisa

I’m a big fan of your blog and practical approach, so wondered if you could help me at all?

I am 40 next week (!), mum of a 4 year old boy, who is in nursery 3 days and off to school in Sept. He’s lovely, mostly pretty good and generally very lovable and entertaining.

When he was 2 we decided to try and have another baby.  It took about 15 months to get pregnant, and then when we went for the 12 week scan realised we had lost the baby.  I spent a gruesome few days in and out of hospital while I “passed the pregnancy” and was pretty devastated – the 1st pregnancy had been text book, so I wasn’t expecting anything like that to happen.  We decided to try again, but when nothing had happened after a few months I went to our GP, we got referred for tests.  In June I was told that I couldn’t have any more children, unless we went for IVF using a donor egg, which would have to be done privately.

While all this has been going on, last year (before I got pregnant) I took voluntary redundancy from a job that I had grown to hate, and had knocked all the self confidence out of me.  After a bit of time just being a housewife, I’ve built up a freelance client base, although I am now feeling that I have taken on too much.  I’ve been doing a bit too much juggling, and trying to work when spending time with my son. I do squeeze in a couple of visits to the gym and a singing lesson each week, although I’d like to do more exercise and practise singing between lessons.

My husband runs his own business and has been really busy, which is great because that pays the bills, but we have hardly had time to talk about whether we go for IVF.  We were on holiday last week but seemed to spend much of the time avoiding the big conversations and focussing on our son.  Our sex was (for me anyway) totally focussed on having another baby, so has rather drifted off in the last month or so.

I have days when it’s fine, I have good friends and a happy life, and I can cope with it all, and days when I really just want to cry all day.  I know I should feel grateful for what I do have, but I feel like I am still grieving for the baby we lost.  I can’t seem to move on and worry I’m missing out on what time I do have with my son, whois growing up too fast.  I have a spare room all full of baby clothes, cot etc, which just makes me sad, and I haven’t the energy to do anything with it.

Today is a bad day, and probably tomorrow will be better but how can I stop feeling so desperate and sad?  On the worst days I want to leave my marriage, quit all my work and walk out of my life.

Thanks for listening!

J

My Answer

Grief of losing a baby

What makes me mad is how blasé the world is about the loss of a baby – it’s like it’s some kind of renewable resource because ‘you can just have another’ – argh!  I might not have lost a baby, but I do know grief and I do know that you need to be more gentle on yourself lovely as it wasn’t so long ago.

 

Becoming 40.

What a time of change for you.  You are turning 40 and your son is going to start school soon.  Just wait for the midlife crisis between 41 and 43; it’s a very important time in a woman’s life!  You need to roll with the changes and try to not react to them.  It’s more a time to watch and listen to yourself, than make sudden decisions.

In a way things will get easier when your son goes to school – so some of what you need to do is ‘manage’ the next couple of months and then enjoy the slightly more freedom you get when he is settled.

 

Re Not Being Able To Have Children

I was told that at 19 – look at what happened to me at 36 and 40!  The key to my unexpected success (which would also help with IVF) was:

  1. Nutrition (follow the GI diet as it helps the hormones).  (check out my ‘healthy eating for rubbish cooks’ posts).
  2. Pole Dancing lessons – girly, fun and spinning is good for the ovaries!  alternatives would be belly dancing, salsa or something fun and creative.
  3. Stress relieving stuff – you need to look at the grief and maybe get some help for it.  I did a post about different therapies here and a list of my favourite books here.  I’d also recommend my book (which is a bit cheeky I know!) but it helps with sorting out the things that you have control over, thus reducing your stress and enabling you to tackle the bigger issues.  Plus I’m releasing the 2nd edition in the next 2 weeks and you should get an automatic update.
  4. Look into alternative therapies – medical herbalism, reflexology and EFT would probably be the ones I would recommend to you to help with this whole process.

Take a month off from thinking about, discussing, or doing anything about becoming pregnant.  You are on a ‘getting pregnant diet‘.  You are NOT allowed to talk about it at all.  Take a month off lovely, and when you’ve spent some time looking after yourself come back to it.

Then you can come back to it.  Book a talk with your hubby out somewhere – maybe dinner or over coffee and chat to him about it.  Think about adoption as an alternative (as I believe philosophically that those children have chosen us as much as the biological ones).

 

Time Mgmt

There are lots of time mgmt posts on my blog, but the book is a more polished version.  You need to make a list, dump a pile of stuff that isn’t really important to you, delegate loads, and then do or delay the rest.  With clients, you can spread them out more and be less available – don’t tell them it is to spend time with your son, just say you aren’t available.

Things don’t get easier when kids go to school, but I think that the one thing that does get easier is having a bit more time for ourselves and having the time more clearly ear marked.  I recommend really ENJOYING this summer with your son.  Sod the work – just cut back for a bit.  Then pick it all up with renewed vigour when he is settled in reception.

 

Sex

It might not seem romantic – but book a date night and have some sex!  It’s only been a month of it being so-so, that’s OK.  Have some fun with it, text each other during the day to build up the interest.  Sex for creating babies isn’t fun and often isn’t successful in my opinion.

 

No beating yourself up

Yes, we could all be more grateful, but don’t beat yourself up.  If you read my book it will suggest finding 3 things a day to be grateful about.  But I don’t want you to hide away the sadness and hurt.  There is a section on writing down the problem and I would really like you to go for it and journal all your sadness.  Then maybe follow up with a coffee with a really good friend.  I so understand why you would be feeling sad at the moment lovely, and why you would want to walk away – it’s a natural reaction and not something to be ignored.  Instead you need to listen to yourself more.

 

I’m sorry this is such a fast answer – but I wanted to get you something as soon as I could and I’m a bit stretched for time.  But do please keep in touch.  If things don’t work out with the fertility then I have lots of ways that you can get your head around it (although I feel that all you need is some time out).

I’d love any comments from my readers to let J know how normal her feelings are, especially stories where you came through the other side?

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – How to ask for help when you have been self-sufficient?

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

 

I’m so glad that this regular reader of my blog has asked this question, partially because she ACTUALLY asked and partially because it’s brilliant.

How DO you ask for help, when you’ve been self-sufficient and looking after yourself for 60yrs?  

But at the same time helping others and helping your community?

Here is her full question:

I have a subject you might want to write about, it’s how to ask for and to receive help.  You are the first person I am asking for help.  My husband will go home from the hospital tomorrow.  As you know he will need my close attention for several weeks as he recovers from 7 broken ribs and a broken wrist and we need to avoid pneumonia by walking and getting him to breath as deeply as possible.  I am not working so I am available 24/7.  Still it is a lot to cook, clean, care for him around the clock and try not to worry about money.

I have a couple of communities of people that he and I are involved in, but not many close friends.  I have always been self sufficient and since I am a person who has devoted myself to my family and I recharge by being alone, I have not had to ask for help much.  I do enjoy cooperation and I do help other people when ever I can, but again I am not a really social person.

So now I will need help and I want to receive it.  I feel fear about it.  I fear being viewed as thoughtless, inconsiderate or something else undesirable because I ask for something wrong or make an assumption somehow, or put someone out and they feel uncomfortable.  I can’t be responsible for other people’s responses, but I am not perfect either and may make mistakes.

I don’t know what is okay to ask for.  Food seems okay, but there are four people in my house (my husband and I, my 32 yr old son and my 11 year old granddaughter).  Should I just suggest a pot of soup?  Not everyone knows there are four people to feed, do I have to say it or just be grateful for whatever they bring to share?  How do I handle this when they volunteer to bring food or when I want to ask for them to cook something?

What work should I do and leave for others to do while I sit with and care for my husband; mow the lawn, watering my flower pots and garden, cook, clean the bathroom, do the dishes?  I feel caring for him myself is my top work priority.  Seems icky to ask someone else to clean the bathroom.  Yes, my son will do some of the housework, but his idea of keeping house is a lot different than mine.  I am thinking of asking my son to take on keeping track of the meds and doing most of the walking with him (my husband cannot fall with his ribs broken).  My husband is walking fairly well, but we must be careful.

I get embarrassed if my house is dirty and cluttered when people come, and it is not an easy house to keep clean because it is over crowded, cluttered and needs new paint and flooring in the kitchen and bath so it looks dirty easily.  I feel the state of the house reflects on me.  How can I get myself not to feel ashamed or embarrassed?

Could you please give me some advice?  Maybe your advice could help others as well and maybe even you your self.

 

The Gift Of Asking

Presents
The right present

Lovely, lovely J, from your posts, and questions I know that you help out the community a lot.  But you have not been giving your community the gift of a chance to help you!  This is not fair to them.

Think about it this way, by helping you they get:

  1. A guilt free chance of asking you for help in future.
  2. Or asking someone else in the world of ‘what comes around goes around’.
  3. The satisfaction of knowing that they have a purpose and did something useful.
  4. The opportunity to get closer to you

 

Not Being Really Social

Phone
Call us!

Don’t be daft – you built up a friendship with me over the internet having not even met me!  We are all social, in our own ways.

I know a lovely mummy blogger who believes she is not social (in fact several will now be wondering if I’m talking about them, as there are so many!).  But she is ‘social’.  Maybe she doesn’t go out lots, but has an active community online.  Maybe she is nervous and shy, but nervous and shy people make good friends.

In fact the other day I purposely called my ‘not social’ brother, because he is just that – quiet, reflective and a listener.  I’m not sure that he actually said much, but do you know what; talking is very over-rated!

 

Being Judged For Asking

Rubbish Mummy Cook
Rubbish Cook in ‘real life’ action

People who are nervous of asking for help will probably judge you.  In fact 50% of the world will always be judging you negatively.

Focus on the ones who wont be upset about it, and who will be chuffed by it – look at me, despite being up to my eyeballs, I’m so chuffed you asked, that I have written a blog post immediately for you.

The people who would judge you are frankly pants (hmm I think pants are trousers in american – I mean knickers!).  Smack your hand every time your worry about them, because they are not worth it!

It is not something to be proud of that you are capable of doing everything!  It’s not good for you!

Yes, there are people who I feel ask too much.  It’s when they ask, and then don’t make any changes to their lives that I get tired of it.  Or when they moan, but don’t want to do anything about it.  This is not what you are doing; you have a specific reason, specific problem, and need specific help.  It’s not like you are intending on throwing him off the roof once he is better so that you can do it all again!

 

Who To Ask and What To Ask For

Chance for a cuppa
Cup Of Tea and a chat is good for the soul

Keep an open mind on who to ask for help.  And regularly journal how you are feeling so that you can work out what the problem actually is.

For example, asking me is a perfect way to ask for help over the internet.  Keep doing that – we might not be able to offer practical assistance, but if we can reduce your emotional burden it will all go a lot more easily.  Plus you can ask for healing and prayers, which have been proved to help massively.

YOUR SON – it’s not helping him to let him get away with not understanding what you mean about housework.  He is a grown man.  So sit down and have a think about it and write very specific lists.  When things are specific about what to do and what the end result should be, he should be able to get it.  Yes, it is ideal to work to his strengths, but don’t let him get away with that male excuse of ‘oh but I’m not really any good at it’!  If you think that he will absolutely keep your husband from falling, especially as he is stronger than you, then this is a good job for him.  However, the role of carer and the forethought required is difficult; if he doesn’t have that skill then he will have to do the practical things.

Your grand daughter – I ran a whole household (3 brothers 20yrs older than me) when I was 10yrs old and cared for my sick mum; this was too much, but do not underestimate the self-esteem and experience she can gain from doing really helpful things around the house.  She can cook, she can tidy, she can clean, and she can help your husband keep his spirits up.

Your community:  I would ask for rest bite – times when people come to watch over your husband for an hour every week so that you get some time to YOURSELF.  Otherwise you will only make matters worse by getting sick yourself!  It is also wise to find new friends at any time of life, in fact it’s something I’ve been focussing on for the last 6 months and I can tell you it’s been a wonderful boon to me.

Food – a great idea.  All you need to say is that if anyone could possible help in the next few weeks, you could really do with some soups, casseroles, stews, pies etc for ‘My family and myself’ – at that point they should realise that they are making for more than 2 people and give you a bit more.  Weren’t you involved in a local food community?  Is there a chance that there are people growing lovely vegetables and fruit that they could bring round for your son and grand daughter to cook?

 

Housework

Getting our kids to do their chores
Hoover that floor child!

Yes, you will have to reduce your requirements of what gets done and how often.  Again see the ‘pants’ comment above for anyone who would dare to judge your house whilst you are nursing your husband.

Here is a list to give you an idea:

Bathrooms – once per week.
Kitchen worktops – every day.  Rest of kitchen – once per week.
Hoovering – if you don’t have animals like mine, I bet you can just hoover half the house every other week.
Dust – seriously, dust just comes back!  It doesn’t need doing every week.
Bedrooms – definitely can get away with once a month at a pinch.

But you do have the right to space.  You do have the right to ask your son and grand-daughter to keep their stuff in their space.  For example, you could ask that the main ‘visiting’ areas are on a daily basis cleared of ‘stuff’; the hallway and kitchen perhaps?

Tackle the decluttering later – I can help you with that too!

 

Finally

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug

Just so you know you are not the only one, I have written about asking for help before.  These posts might help:

Be careful the types of people you ask for help, they aren’t all ‘ideal’.

A time when I needed a mate to help brainstorm a problem and reduce my stress.

A time when I had to ask for help from in-laws and strangers

A time when I felt guilty about asking for help

 

I’m so glad and touched you asked!  Give other people that chance to help you and get close to you.  Remember:

No man is an island!  (Or woman for that matter!).

 

To my readers: do you have any tips or similar experiences that you can share with J?

 

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: Is It Selfish To Want To Leave My Partner?

The Problem

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I don’t really know where to start, you asked if my unhappiness is affecting the atmosphere, well I’m sure at times it does, I know I can be lost in my own thoughts and feelings and sometimes snap at those around me unduly. 

I met my partner when I was 16, though we didn’t get together until I was 21, he was a recovering addict at the time but shortly after the death of our son about a year later he started using again. Then he stopped. Swapped for alcohol etc, had a terrible time. I’ve supported him through so many therapies, 3 failed rehab attempts to get him off the methadone, he’s walked out after afew days each time. The last time killed the last bit of love I had for him. That was dec 2011. 

See as he’s had these problems he’s not worked, so has been around a lot for the kids and has been very involved and despite everything he is an amazing, attentive and devoted dad! Which in a way makes it harder for me, a lot of dads work, have little interaction, doesn’t leave a big whole in the childs life if they’re not living together day in day out. Whereas I feel like splitting with my partner is going to be a bigger and harder blow to my kids because he’s so involved with them. 

As everything stands, I know I’ll be ripping everyone lives apart and causing such heartache just because I’M unhappy. And that feels so selfish and heartless. I come from a long long line of couples that stayed together forever. Its a very deep-rooted introject I have that you stay together no matter what. And that’s hard to shake!! 

Like I said before, if I could see my unhappiness was affecting my kids then I could be out as I’d feel Id have a justified reason. As it stands I feel like I don’t have a leg to stand on. But I’ve been unhappy for years, and feel things are getting to a point where I just cant keep it all in anymore, somethings got to give, I need ot make a decision and stick to it and get through it. But I can’t make a decision. Feel like I go round and round in circles, and it always come back to the same question ‘what type of mother puts their happiness before their childrens?’ I don’t want to be that bad selfish mother. But I don’t want to be unhappy either. 

Here’s some more information I got from her:

  • They get on well at home, but when they argue it is physical from both of them and the kids have seen it once.
  • The kids are doing well at school
  • She has Fibromyalgia and is now 29
  • He is still lieing about things, which she has found out by snooping, but hasn’t confronted him

 

My Answer: The Worm Has Turned

 

I have thought about this long and hard lovely, I’m a big fan of marriage, but not at any cost, so I’m also a big fan of divorce.  It is a very tricky situation and I totally see why you are struggling.

This is very typical of what I call ‘The worm has turned syndrome’.  Women will take so much, over and over again, that often men think they can keep behaving badly (and vice versa).  But we can switch off VERY suddenly and very TOTALLY.

You seem to think that you are being selfish, but I think that you are STILL turning a blind eye to behaviour which is not acceptable from him.

You have been with him so long that you can’t see the difference between what is ‘normal’ (i.e. no man/woman makes the perfect partner) and what is unacceptable.  My parents were alcoholics, and although he is a great Dad, it may not be as ideal as you think for them to be growing up with him.

Plus being an addict, he is probably deeply manipulative and knows exactly what buttons to press.  I don’t think it is helping him to let him keep getting away with it.

Someone can be a wonderful Dad, but terrible partner.  He can still be a wonderful Dad when he’s not seeing them every day, but he won’t be a terrible partner any more.  (I’m not underestimating that there are downsides to this as well, as the grass is never greener).

The bottom line is that your relationship is emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically abusive and bad for your health as Fibromyalgia is proved to be stress related; you will be initiating the fight/flight response in your body permanently whenever he is in the house.

I think that you should look on the fact that your kids have had a very good and close start with your husband as a good thing.  It means that  whatever happens and however he behaves in the future with his addictions, they will always have that as a good strong foundation and know the good side to him.  This will be important as they grow an adult relationship with him.

Plus is sacrificing everything that makes you who you are, an example you want your children to follow?  Or staying in a relationship which will be exasperating the illness that you have?

I always say “it takes as much work to leave a relationship as to stay“, the problem is that you are in a nowhere zone at the moment.  From what I know of you I think that you would be up for some relationship counselling or coaching?  I reckon it would be a really good idea to get an objective party in to help to explain how you feel to him.  It might not fix it (probably not, although stranger things have happened), but it will give you some support and a mediator during a difficult time.

Don’t panic about time.  Something else that I say is ‘a relationship isn’t over until it is over‘; there’s no point rushing out, because issues need to be dealt with.  No decision should be made in panic; but that doesn’t mean that a decision shouldn’t be made.

 

The steps I recommend are:

 

1) Talk with a friend and write a list of what is unacceptable in his behaviour; you need the friend to highlight to you what is not acceptable and make a list of the things that you need to change.  No you can’t promise that this will make you fall back in love with him again, but it’s worth doing, and if they are reasonable requests they will probably do him good anyway.

2) Focus on yourself, getting stronger, feeling better about yourself; that way there is no wasted time.  Work out what you are not doing because of him or where you are being held back and get it started.  Stop being held back.

3) Explain to your partner that you are very unhappy, and that it stems from that time a long time ago and that if there is any chance of lasting you guys will need help.

4) But whenever talking to him about it, make sure you DO NOT use the word YOU.  I talk about it in this post about how to turn around a disrespectful relationship.

5) Start going to relationship counselling/coaching together.  Not necessarily in order to stay together, but to make sure that your issues with each other are resolved and if you split that it is not acrimonious.  You can sell it to him as how important it is for him to be able to retain as good a relationship with the kids as he has now, which would be badly affected by the split being acrimonious.

6) If he says no to counselling or coaching, then that is a deal breaker; you are not happy with the situation and you need a third party to monitor his behaviour because of the addictive and manipulative personality.

7) If he says yes, but then there is always a reason to not be able to go; that’s a deal breaker too.

8) Hubby needs to get a job!  Even just a part-time supermarket job; just something that gets him out and about.  If there are no jobs, then he needs to volunteer somewhere.

9) Set a deadline of when you will call it a day if there is no progress; probably 1yr.

10) Make some practical plans and do some research about how to go about divorcing him.  This doesn’t mean that you aren’t putting in the effort to the relationship, just that it will stop you panicking about wasted time.

11) It will be tough, there is no doubt about it.  And it WILL be tough on him as he has been with the children day to day.  There is a daddy blogger who was a stay at home Dad who you can read to see the reality of it.  Not to stop you.  But so that you know.

12) Very gradually when the opportunity arises chat to your kids and show them examples of where it has worked when parents divorce.  After all it can be very good for them to get proper quality time with each parent separately and there are many, many success stories.

13) With the whole ancestors pressure I would like you to take each couple in turn and write down the DOWNSIDE for each of them and their families that they stayed together.  You need to see that there are pro’s and con’s to staying or going.  But the important thing is doing what your heart needs, because a person with a dead heart is no good to anyone.

14) To help you feel like your life is making progress, sit down and think about 3 things you what DEFINITELY to have achieved when you are on your death bed.  Yes, it maybe selfish, but is staying in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship really what you want one of them to be?  When you have picked your three, remind yourself of them every morning; this is a little trick I teach in my book ‘6 Steps To A Sparkling You‘ as it keeps you focussed on what you want.

15) Write down the DOWNSIDEs for your children for you to stay with your husband with the relationship as it is.  There ARE downsides, because there are downsides to everything, even chocolate.  I just want you to get a more balanced perspective on the situation.

 

Keep in touch lovely, and let us know how you do; you can always add an anonymous comment.

Plus check back in a few days as I’m sure that this story will hit the hearts of many Mums out there who will be able to add their twopennyworth to my ideas.

We’d love to hear back from you in 6-12 months time to find out how your story progresses as well.

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: Should I let my partner have a baby with someone else?

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I received this very sad message from a Mum the other day.

Here is her question (you might want to not read this with anything in your mouth that you could spit out when choking).

Good day Lisa,

hope all is well with you and your family.

I just have a small problem?

My significant other wants to have a baby with another wommen, and wants all three of us to raise it.

You know that I’ve had chemo and radiation and six more months of preventive chemo, so what ever the treatments did took away my eggs and my menstrual.

I’m so weak in that department of men that I’m a little weak to throw him out! Im very upset and stressing about it, will u give me some advice? I know.I’m not on your pay roll and I apologize for that but will u help.me please.

 

My Answer (first the rant)

I hope and pray that me saying this will help you and that you will hear me.

KICK HIM OUT RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!

Only a bully would suggest this to you at your lowest.

He is attempting to make you feel even worse.

He is NOT helping with your recovery.

There is something so twisted about this suggestion that he is very lucky that he lives in a different country to me, because quite frankly I would like to go out and buy an extra specially large frying pan and take it to him so many times that he is scared of kitchens for the rest of his life.

Although cancer has it’s causes in the environment and chemicals that we eat, there is undoubtedly a part to play with stress.  You have just had the all clear.  But seriously, how long do you think you would stay ‘all clear’ with this scenario?

 

My Second Answer (sorry got to be honest)

I’m pretty sure that this man is the reason why you lost contact with your daughters?  Am I right?

In that case he SHOULD NOT BE HAVING CHILDREN anyway.

Children are vulnerable and are there for us to protect.  In anyway helping this man bring a child into the world is just plain wrong.

You told me that you desperately wanted to get closer to your daughters and from what I’ve seen that is improving?  Does that make you feel better?

How do you think they will react to this idea?

I suggest that if you don’t throw him out, they are likely to throw you out.

If he was a decent man, who desperately suddenly realised he wanted children, he would now be suggesting adoption or surrogacy, not ANOTHER WOMAN.

Picture this:

At the end of your life, do you want your children there with you, loving you and wishing you would stay, or do you want him?  A man who has bullied, mistreated and abused you?

If you can get to the end of your life having broken the pattern of abuse, then you will have the right to be VERY proud of yourself, whatever else you do or don’t do with your life.  You will know that YOU did it.  You.  The scared and frightened YOU.  Managed something very difficult.

 

My Third Answer (being more practical)

Saying that, there are probably millions of women in your position, and it is not easy to leave or kick an abuser out.  I totally appreciate that.

However, you have friends, and you have family.  They will help you.

I’m afraid I don’t know much about the states, but I know that in the UK there are places that vulnerable women can go for shelter and help in your situation.  There must be something similar in the states.  All you have to do is ask, and I know that your twin will get onto google and find you somewhere.

 

My Fourth Answer (how to do it)

Right, lets give you some things to do to help you get in the right state of mind.

1) FACE THE FEAR: write down all the worst possible things that could happen.  At the moment you are just paralysed by the fear, you haven’t actually thought through what you think will happen if you leave him or kick him out.  You need to dig down into the fear and think ‘Ok, so this might happen, and that would lead to this and that would lead to this etc etc’.

2) Tackle your assumptions: for all the worst things have a look at them and think ‘will this really happen?’ (lots won’t), ‘if it does, will it be so bad, after all at least I will be free’.

3) Write 250 reasons why you are strong enough and will have a better life without him.  Again dig deep think ‘without him it means that <abc> will happen, which will mean that <qpr> will happen, which will mean that <xyz> will happen.

4) Write 250 reasons why you deserve to have a good life and BE ON YOUR OWN FOR A BIT.  You have very low self-esteem and a lot of guilt going on.  You need to look at this in more depth at some point and tackle your issues.  But in the meantime think about all the things you have managed, achieved and the people who love you.  Think about what you could do with your life.  Open your eyes lovely to the lives around you and realise that you could have such a life too.  You have good genes in you lovely; it’s time to make the most of them and get your gorgeousness out into the world!

5) I suspect that you think that he has done things for you, so you ‘owe’ him; he will make you feel as guilty as he can.  When he does that remember that he is MANIPULATING THE HELL OUT OF YOU!  For everything that you think he did/gave you, write down what he got in return from you, until you can see that you don’t owe him anything.

6) BEWARE jumping into a situation were you are reliant on someone else.  We aren’t looking for you to jump into any kind of ‘helpful’ or ‘rescuing’ relationship with someone else.  The objective is to build a strong, new you.

 

 

I know it is very easy to say all this.  But I hope with all my heart that you will hear it and believe me.

I’m sending you all the strength I can.

If you find the exercises difficult, then I know a certain person who looks just like you, with the same gorgeous freckles, who can get you through them on skype!

Keep in touch and let me know how you do.

(ooh and these books will help get you strong and deal with feeling down/depressed, plus you have my book don’t you – keep up the daily exercises)

 

 

 

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: When the Mum is supporting the family.

Agony Aunt for MumsSo many people I know have been affected by redundancy like us.

It is now a FACT OF LIFE and something that no one should be ashamed of (easier said than done).

This guest post is from a lovely blogging friend of mine Muddling Mummy.  I’m sure many Mums who are having to work at the moment feel the pressure, especially when they are the only income.  Maybe this is how many Dads feel too?

I’m going to put some ideas to help her out at the bottom, but I would love you to include your tips too or stories to show her that she’s not on her own.

 

Redundancy – 11 months on

This isn’t a post I thought I would ever write – both of us had assumed that, even though the jobs market is super grim, that he would find another job – he had a few leads, people were making positive noises and all in all it didn’t look too bad really

Roll life on another 6 months and it doesn’t look terribly rosy – whilst we can talk a good talk in front of family and friends there isn’t another job on the horizon and we are looking at going into another year with this hanging over us

People are interested in what is happening with him – they say how well he looks, ask after what’s he is up to and worry about how he is coping about this whole thing.  Nobody ever asks me if I am ok, nobody ever notices the pressure that this situation has created for me

We are lucky that I kept on working after the girls arrived – partly because I wanted to carry on with my career, partly because we knew that two of us working in the same, vulnerable industry meant that having two earners gave us flexibility and the chance that we’d have at least one income if things got sticky.   My income is ok, we can manage ok on it but we are seriously considering that I move back to a full time contract – the hard won 80% seems like too great a luxury at this stage and the money would definitely come in handy

I’m also having to face head on that it is my career now that needs to be pushed ahead – I’m having to have difficult conversations about promotion and starting to have to really push onto the career ladder.  I don’t mind, in fact a small part of me relishes the chance, but I do regret that I am being forced into doing something that I am not quite ready for.

Again, nobody has mentioned that they notice that I am working longer and harder and that I am the breadwinner keeping my family together – I feel as if I get zero credit for this and all the stick from not fitting in with the largely stay-at-home mummy group at my daughter’s school.

All of this is made harder by my husband not having really picked up terribly much on the home front.  Following Lisa’s tips for helping to deal with redundancy we spent a few evenings in the first grim week writing down ideas for things he could do in this unexpected break – we have tried to view this time as a sabbatical and a chance for him to spend time doing fun things.  Again I am beginning to feel that whilst he has had an extended period of doing what he wants to, I find myself still picking up a lot of things on the home front and having to work harder – I can feel resentment starting to bubble up and his blank lack of understanding of the small, boring things that make up running a household doesn’t help

I honestly don’t know how to fix things – I feel as if we are on different sides of a widening chasm and I don’t know how to build bridges across – another part of me is upset that it has to be me that notices that things aren’t right and that has to fix this.  That has to fix this on top of everything else.

Who knows how long we could go on like this – the job market looks worse not better than a year ago – I can see a future where I have to embrace being the sole earner, I have to really work at my career and I will be the one supporting the family but I’m not sure I can see a world where my husband changes his spots and starts supporting me emotionally and practically through that.  That expectation gap worries me because I can see it slowly pulling us further apart

I just wish that someone, anyone acknowledged that this is hard for me too and gave me some credit for all I have done and am doing – it sounds selfish, it probably is but the bottom line is I don’t think we can carry on like this and I don’t want to be another statistic of a marriage that failed when a job fell away

 

My Answer

Oh honey I know you were worried that you were being too self-centred.  No of course I don’t think that.  I just think that you are feeling unappreciated and stressed.

I’m so glad that you contacted me, it’s time to do something about this, because the resentment is bad news for your health and relationships.  Sorting it out now before it all goes pear shaped is a good plan.

BUT, because I love you, I’m going to give you some tough love.

You need to stop being so blinking competent!  You need to stop giving the impression that you can handle everything.  I know you talk more honestly on your blog, but I’m less convinced about how ‘honest’ your mask is in real life?

I’m a good example of what happens when you ‘keep on keeping on’ and I promise you, you don’t want my Fibromyalgia as an eye opener to how much you need to take care of yourself more.

I wonder how many men feel like this all the time?

I bet loads of other women are feeling exactly like you at the moment; forced by the recession, debt, bills, divorce or redundancy in their other half to work more than they want to.  You are not alone.

The good news is that we had exactly the same problem with the length of time before a job came along the first time that the Big Hairy Northern One was made redundant.  This time round the search for a new job was a lot quicker, but that was down to a couple of things:

1) Our previous experience of how long it can take, so how important it was to get over the wallowing stage more quickly

2) The Hairy one’s openness to new ideas landing him a fabulous 4 day pw contract that is giving that ‘time out’ option at the same time as providing for the family.

So the ideas I have for you are to help you:

1) Reduce the resentment so that you can talk openly with hubby

2) Get the ball rolling on the job front.

To reduce your resentment:

Is it possible to have romance and kids?

1) Write 50 (that’s FIFTY!) reasons why there is some kind of benefit, silver lining, upside or something you are getting from the fact that you are the only earner and may potentially have to go back to work full-time. (Go deep, each time you find a benefit then ask yourself ‘and because of that I get’ or ‘and that means that’).

2) If you get too excited about working full time, then write 50 downsides to the fact that you are having to work, I want you balanced, not one way or the other.

3) Think long and hard (maybe chat with a mate too) before considering giving up your part-time status.  It will be difficult to get back.  If you are considering a 3rd child I would be very wary to give this up.  Easier to cut back on spends and have a tight budget, than to give this up.  At the same point in time having a career is important to you, and if you decide this is your opportunity to have an ‘excuse’ to go back to work full-time with a focus on your ambition, then go for it.

Chat with hubby:

1) Write a list of the things that you would like help with around the house or with the family.  Facts work with men, so keep it as factual as possible.  Avoid all statements like ‘You have done xxx or You have not done xxx’.

2) Tell hubby that you really need a chat about how things are going and ask him when and where he would like it within the next week.  (Go out for coffee or somewhere else, not at home if possible).

3) Explain that you are overwhelmed, and how you feel.  Not using the word ‘You’ in the conversation, i.e. not loaded at him for putting you in this position, just sharing whats going on with you.

4) The plan is that he listens, and you can then share your list of what he can do to help.

5) Then you guys come up with a plan of action of something that he does every day to progress the job search: contacting people, updating CV’s, thinking out of the box about options etc.

Next Chat with hubby:

Book to then have a weekly chat with him once a week in an evening, to see how things are going, how you are feeling and how he is progressing.

If at this point he doesn’t pull his socks up, then it’s time to get the frying pan out.  No, I’m joking!

But it is time to do an ‘intervention’ and explain to him that he needs to get his act together and get a job.  Sometimes being ‘nice’ doesn’t help people.  Sometimes they need to be told sort their act out.  Even if he is suffering for depression or lack of confidence, that’s understandable, but he needs to DO SOMETHING about it.

After Christmas

If there is no increase in support, and no change in his behaviour, then find a local relationship counsellor (I would pick someone with experience in CBT too and go private rather than wait for Relate).

I am not a fan of counselling, but it has it’s place.  One thing is that it gives a safe place for you guys to talk about how you are both feeling, and the other is that it can help people HEAR things that they don’t hear when their other half says it.  It won’t cost lots, probably only £30-£50 per session.

Tell me and we’ll come up with another plan!

But hopefully you’ll be all sorted and much happier by then!

 

Readers Ideas/Stories

Anyone else with a similar story to share or ideas for MuddlingAlong Mummy, we’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: Lost Myself and Can’t Find My Feet

Agony Aunt for MumsThe Problem

I received an email from a Mum a week or so ago that reminded me so much of what many of us feel at times in our lives:

I feel like I’ve lost myself and really can’t do anything, be a good mum, work or even decorate our house which we moved in last year. I don’t really think I’m depressed, but just can’t find my feet. 

 

I got a little more information from her, and here are the cliff notes, which I bet many of you can relate to as well:

  • 2.5yr old daughter who is not a good sleeper and goes to nursery two days per week
  • started her own consultancy business that her husband joined, but stopped working when had daughter and now feels unneeded in the business, although does some admin for it.  Can’t think of what to start instead and doesn’t have the confidence in herself as feels she is out of date now.
  • about a stone heavier than before having baby, size 14, doesn’t drink enough enough water, doesn’t priorities exercise each week
  • does wear makeup, but doesn’t spend much on self
  • organising building work on house
  • no nearby family support, a few friends
  • closeness is lacking with husband and intimacy is limited

 

Such a classic situation don’t you think bless her heart?

 

My Answer

Don’t feel bad lovely, this is such a normal way to feel and place to be, it doesn’t mean you have done something wrong or aren’t a good mother.  For a start having children changes our priorities and values, which can be very discombobulating.  It means that things that were once important to us aren’t anymore, so we have a bit of an identity crisis. We also lose power in our relationships because we often feel like we are contributing less.  Plus we have to do a pile of stuff that is just plain boring and doesn’t light our fires.  Then we add to that whole mess by not taking care of ourselves, and so the spiral continues down and down.

I like to work within our limitations, rather than rage against them.  So the idea is to find you ways of improving how you feel whilst you are still the major caretaker of your daughter, as things naturally shift when they start school.

 

There are several issues here, and this is the priority that I would look at them in:

1) Health and Fitness

2) Beginning to research ideas for work that can blossom when your daughter goes to school

3) Spend more time with husband

4) Sort out intimacy

 

The reason I’ve put them in that order is because if you gain confidence in yourself, the relationship will improve, if not disappear altogether.  The key is to start with yourself, even if all/some of the problems seem to be ‘out there’.  The key to when we are feeling so low is to give ourselves a fighting chance by strengthening the body; it’s amazing how that can help with how we feel emotionally and mentally.

When you says you are not ‘depressed’; hmmm who knows where the thin line between being down and being depressed really is.  I would warn you that you are close to that line.  I’m going to assume that you are well enough to be able to sort it out yourself when given clear action steps to follow.  HOWEVER, if this doesn’t work, please come back to me and I’ll give you a way of motivating yourself.  If that doesn’t work then I’ll know what to do, so don’t worry; it just means we need to tackle a few confidence issues directly.

 

Action Steps

 

1) Supplements

You are that tired that I think you might need some supplements.  Pop to a health food shop with a shop assistant who knows lots about it.  Also read my posts about getting more energy and supplements.

 

My favourite immediate energy boosters are:

  • Blueberries – magic little creatures!
  • 2xcup Epsom salts in bath – buy a BIG bag from health food shop when you are there.
  • Floradix – magic in a bottle
  • Omega 3,6 & 9 – otherwise my brain doesn’t work

 

2) Hydration

Your body can’t take in all those lovely vitamins and minerals unless you drink enough liquid.  It’s like trying to run a car without oil.  So you need to reduce the coffee by 1 or 2 cups, and not drink after late afternoon and drink more water.  Check out my post about why hydration is so important.

My top tips for adding water into your day is:

  • Drink water when you and your daughter brush your teeth – that’s three extra glasses.
  • Have a bottle of water in the car for when you go on the nursery run or to the shops.
  • Have a specific time of day mid-morning where you have a glass of water.

 

3) Nutrition

It doesn’t sound like you need to lose weight, but I reckon your eating isn’t helping the situation.  There is lots more information in my section called ‘Healthy Eating For Rubbish Cooks‘, but here are the most important points:

  • Eat 5 fruit and vegetables a day (one with breakfast, one for snack mid morning and mid afternoon, then one or two with dinner and/or lunch)
  • Use a good fruit juice not from concentrate (counts as 1x5aday)
  • Eat different colours of fruit and vegetables
  • Eat something for breakfast however small
  • Eat a balanced meal with Protein AND Carbs AND half a plate of vegetables/salad (or fruit for dessert)
  • Cut back on the sugar – it’s a big downer (I’d say the same for alcohol if you were drinking much)

 

4) Exercise

A certain amount of exercise will get you healthier, a bit more will get you fit.  I know that you are running around with your daughter, but that won’t give you the endorphins or fun that exercise can give you.

  • On the days when she is at nursery your FIRST priority is to go to the gym or somewhere and do a fun class like dance/zumba or something that will calm your worries like yoga.  No cleaning or admin for the company until this is done!
  • EVERY day go outside for a 15 minute walk – even with your daughter

 

5) Ideas To Blossom

You aren’t ready to ‘find something to do’ yet.  So let’s get realistic and let’s get you researching ideas as your confidence improves.

  • Get yourself a notebook and write in it every idea you’ve ever had on what you could do.  DO NOT discount any ideas, even if you think you are unqualified now or you think they are pipe dreams.  Then keep adding ideas.
  • For each idea write the Pro’s and Con’s down.  There should be the SAME number of Pro’s as Con’s.  If not, you need to think a bit more about that idea to find more.
  • Also write what qualifications, skills or experience you have that might help and the additional training or experience needed that you don’t have.
  • Get into the habit of counting 3 blessings every night, even on a bad day there might have been a lovely rainbow, or good cup of coffee or hug from your daughter.  You can write them down if you like.
  • Get some of the rubbish out of your head and onto paper 1-5 times per week by writing all your worries and stresses down.  3 pages minimum.  Do it at least once per week.
  • I’m really not keen on you doing the ‘admin’ for your company, considering you started it initially and a virtual assistant is £20ph.  I see the logic in your doing it, but I don’t think that it’s good for your psychology.  We’ll chat more about this next time!

 

Then

Come back and let me know how you are doing regularly (you can comment on this blog anonymously).  Once you are feeling stronger in yourself, we are going to look at subtly shifting the power in your relationship with a clever trick that I know and getting you more sparkly.  Then we can look at your relationship itself – I have a few blog posts scheduled that you are going to like, so make sure that you have subscribed to my blog by email as well!

You might want in a week or two to buy my book ‘Six Steps To A Sparkling You And Enjoying Being A Mum‘.  I’m in the middle of writing version 2 (with just a few minor changes and tweaks) which will also be out in paperback.  Once that comes out I’m raising the price from 89p!  (Remember you can read a kindle book without a kindle).

What do you think?

I’d love to know what you think, whether you are the originator of the question or not?

Have you felt like this too?  Can you let her know that it’s normal and only temporary, especially if she starts to take care of herself more as I suggested?

Or do you disagree and think she should go straight for sorting out her work and relationship?

Got a problem of your own?  Submit it to my problem corner.

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: My daughters don’t want to see or talk to me

This weeks question corner is very difficult and sad to answer. In a blog post I can’t give a complete and total answer, but I can give guidance on where to start.

Background


A few weeks ago I was approached by a mum who was wanting to ask the American courts to see and talk to her teenage daughters more often. They did not live close to her and were living with their uncle and aunt. It was a complex situation and because it went slightly beyond the remit/ability of a question corner and I wanted to make sure that she was really up for change (I often get approached by people who are desperate, but stuck and how ever much you assistance you offer, they are so stuck in being victims, they won’t do anything, they just want someone to come and wave a magic wand. It’s not wrong to be like that, but I don’t haves time to write a blog post in those cases). So I asked her to do some coaching exercises first, but although she may have started, she didn’t complete them.

Yesterday she wrote that she had heard from one of her daughters that they no longer want to see or talk to her.

Answer

First let me say that you must be feeling terrible. However, I’m here to help, not sympathise, so here we go.

For your daughters to say this they must be pissed off and hurt. That can change. However, you MUST focus on the long game, and basically as hard as it is suck it up and deal with it over the short term. I warn you now, if you push now and for the next couple of years, you will do yourself and your relationship with your daughter’s harm . Whereas do it right and you can regain a relationship with your daughters in the future.

In my past we called my mum the wicked witch of the west, and there was a time when I felt terribly betrayed by her, and just the thought of seeing her gave me a migraine. We had 10 very difficult years, but after me doing some serious work on it, we did get close again, and I know she died feeling loved. So I have personal experience of the other side of the story, and can definitely offer you hope. But I know plenty of people who don’t get back with their parents, so don’t take it for granted, you will have to do some work on it as you can’t count on them sorting themselves out as I did.

Guilt doesn’t help anything. However, I do think that it is important to take responsibility for our part in situations. So ask yourself honestly, and ask the people around you. Why are the girls so hurt? Do they trust you? If not why not? Is there a reason why you might have to prove yourself to them? How much are you willing to do to prove your love for them? How much or who are you willing to give up? How much of your own baggage and emotional crap are you willing to face and deal with?

 

So what to do?

  1. Politely and shortly let them know that you will do as they request. But that you do need something in return; maybe that they or their uncle/aunt give you fortnightly updates on how they are.
  2. Potentially say something like ‘I understand that for you to not want to see me I must have hurt you terribly, so for now I will do as you ask, and I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you’.
  3. Do NOT add a defense or explanation of why you did whatever it is they didn’t like e.g. ‘but … Blah, blah, there is a reasonable explanation blah blah’.
  4. Make sure you don’t give up your legal rights.
  5. Still make sure that you send cards for any birthdays etc coming up soon.
  6. It is likely that they are getting biased, if well meaning advise from other people. Don’t worry about this and keep your focus on the long game.
  7. Remember that they are teenagers. Basically their brains aren’t wired up right at the moment, and even a slightly difficult situation is massive for them. Be realistic in what you can expect in terms of wiseness and understanding from them at their current age.
  8. Do NOT get into the blame game and start trying to show them that other people in the situation have also done things ‘wrong’.
  9. Focus on sorting yourself out simply first by following the ideas in my book (luckily this mum is a beta tester for my new book which currently has a working title of ‘six weeks to a sparkling you’). So that’s what you are going to do for the next 6 weeks. When you get chapter 6 you will get another years worth of stuff to do!
  10. I will give your twin sister the beta copy of my book too, so that she can help you focus.
  11. After the 6 weeks, start looking honestly at how this situation got created.
  12. Create a plan of action of how you can show that you are a mentally and emotionally healthy mum, who has dealt with her baggage, and empowered herself. So that your daughters don’t have to listen to words, but can see factual proof of changes and that they can now trust having you close to them again.

Keep in touch xx

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: Tips for dealing with being intimidated by other mums at toddler group or school gate

A lovely Mum I know posted the following tweet oneday ‘Hate that I’m intimidated by toddler group. Need to grow some balls. Figuratively speaking.’ so I offered to do a question corner post for her, because what she doesn’t know is that we are all scared shitless of walking into those places (well 99% of us!).

She was ill during her pregnancies and has fallen into the habit of being a bit of a recluse, which has of course affected her confidence terribly.

Now the great thing is that she has volunteered to be a guinea pig for my new book ‘Six Weeks To A Sparkling You’, so I know that there is tonnes in there to help her out generally speaking.  But I wanted to give her some extra exercises, that I have done myself, which really help.

I too have felt nervous when walking into classes or toddler groups.  But there were two situations that I found more difficult than usual.  One was going to a church toddler group in order to meet up with a busy friend of mine, so I also had to face her extremely long term friends who belonged to the church.  I felt extremely awkward, because I knew I didn’t know all the politics and set up.  I remember making one awful faux pas at a party with them, and being very nervous afterwards!  The other was when Curly Headed Boy started at his second nursery, where the ‘Yummy Mummies’ were a massive step up from the ‘Yummy Mummies’ I’d met previously; I was terrified!  The good news is that getting myself more confident in that nursery situation got me prepared for the school gate, which would have been way worse otherwise.

Rules About Life

So first a couple of rules about how life works ….

1) You can never please all of the people all of the time: in fact you are going to appeal to about 50% of the people, so never worry about or attempt to be liked by everyone in life, as you are going to FAIL!

2) There are always people who are obviously, or quietly supporting you, whilst other people are being unpleasant or unfriendly.

3) If you don’t know why they would like you, then don’t expect them to know.  They will either think that you are nervous, shy, or at worst unfriendly, awkward and stand offish.  Hardly any will take the time to stand for a moment in your shoes and wonder how you are feeling.

4) Everybody is cliquee: It’s about numbers, that’s all.  I’ve found the Mums who are better dressed and richer can be unfriendly, but so can the more ‘normal’ ones.  Even you have been cliquee and scary to some people at some point in time!

5) No one is perfect, we just try to hide it, but if you look hard enough you will see the chinks in everyone’s armour.

So what to do about it?

1) If you are clearly ignored, disliked or blanked by some of the Mum’s notch them up to that 50%!  Now look around for the others.  They do not all like each other.  Stand back for a while, and watch.  Look for the body language and the cracks in the friendships.  Look for the people who are also nervous or shy.

2) Actually decide you are going to go, but be really quiet and watch for a while.  You must actively watch the other Mums, get there early and leave late.  Stop looking at your shoes; This way you will start to get to know what’s going on.  I’m amazed at the Mums at school who don’t do this, and turn up at the last minute, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they are shy, but they miss out on becoming friendly with the other shy Mums.

3) There are some exercises that you can do.  Get a cuppa and a notebook (you will want to be able to remind yourself of the answers sometimes when you lose your confidence again).

Changing Your Perception And Outlook

Step 1: Face Your Fears

You are worried, but what of?  Sit down and think about what the worst thing that could happen is?  For instance, they don’t talk to you, you spend the whole time alone, and no one wants to play with your son.  Apart from being a quiet and lonely hour, it could be quite chilled to not have to make polite conversation?  Look at it and see if it’s really as bad as you think?  Don’t exaggerate though, the likelihood that no Mum will ever talk to you and no child will ever play with your son is 0% (see previous points!).

Step 2: Work Out Why You Are Fab

  • Why are you interesting?  What have you done in your past that is unusual?  Where did you go?  Who did you meet?  What was/is your job?
  • What are you good at doing, that might help them out?  What are your skills?
  • What are you really interested in, so have spent time learning about?  You might have tips on meals, crafts, sewing, classes, what is it?
  • Now don’t argue with me, because I know that you are interesting and fabulous as everyone is; you can’t possibly be the only person in the whole wide world who breaks that rule!
  • If you struggle, then ask a partner or friend to help you get going

Step 3: Stop Being So Intimidated By The Other Mums

So you think that those other Mums are so amazing do you, in fact so amazing that they wouldn’t want to look at you?  Well I want you to look at the other side of the coin.  If you can see where they are great, you can also see where they are not so great or where their lives are not quite as perfect as it appears on the surface.  I don’t want you to do it until you don’t like them, just until they are not as scary as you think and you can see that they are just human beings.

Look for the obvious things: the week when they look more tired than usual, getting stressed with their kids, scuffed shoes, puke/snot on their clothes, being late, being too skinny, being over-weight.  Are they really stand offish, or maybe shy?  Are they divorced, is the husband away a lot, are they working.  If you can’t find it, it just means that it’s more deeply hidden, but it’s there: everyone has problems and everyone has weaknesses.

It’s not about being friends with everyone in the world.  It’s about not being intimidated or scared, and making great friends with the people who will really suit you and your son.

I’d love your comments or questions on this; feel free to post them below or on my facebook fan page.  If you would like to post your own question corner check here for more info.

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: 15 Signs a friendship could be inappropriate

This question was logged by one of my male readers (I know I’m the ‘mummy whisperer’, but as I’ve been talking about Sex a lot, I’ve gained quite a lot of male readers too), and I have to admit that at first I kind of thought ‘well isn’t it obvious?’.

Then I realised that firstly we aren’t all socially savvy and secondly even when we are, we can be naive as well, including us women who are meant to be much more capable of understanding these sorts of things.

Plus, women have rules of engagement that we understand, like lionesses marking our territories, however men probably don’t notice these subtleties at all.

The question I got was:

‘I keep having friendships with women that seem to cross some kind of invisible line that my wife can see, but I don’t see.  I really don’t want to be upsetting her, but I’m not as capable of seeing what is obvious to her.  Do you have any tips for recognising when a friendship is just that and when in female terms it goes too far?’

So reading between the lines a bit, I suspect that hubby is a flirt, and wifey knows that he is too naive about the intentions of the women he is encountering, as one of the key attractors to a women is not being single but being with someone else.  Athol Kay describes it as ‘pre-selection’; i.e. that the fact that someone else has already vetted them and thinks them Ok relationship material.

Now don’t shout at me ‘but what about sisterhood’ or ‘but they shouldn’t’; I deal in realities and the reality is that pre-selection exists and women can be very determined to get what they want.  Other people will shout at me ‘but you should be able to trust your man’; again I point you to reality and the fact that trust can very easily turn into taking for granted;

So here is my answer, feel free to add any more tips you might have from your own experiences.  On their own, none of them are obvious signs, but they are all potential markers of a friendship that could change in nature and if many of the points are true, then it’s much more worrisome …

 

1) If it was the other way around:  

The first big rule is what would you think if your partner was having the same friendship with someone else?  So if the shoe was on the other foot.  This is one of the best measuring methods of whether the friendship is inappropriate.

2) Opposite sex:  

I’m not saying don’t have friends with the opposite sex, but this is a good clue to their being a potential problem ;o)

3) Many years age difference:  

Having a close relationship with a girl many years younger, or a guy who is much older (and of course it can go vice versa in this new world of the Couga!) is definitely a bit of a red flag, as it goes against normal social

4) Time of the messages:

Text/facebook (or whatever social media you use) messages first or last thing at night are a big red flag, because they show that you/they are the first or last thing on each others minds.

5) Frequency of the messages:

If you/they are in touch a great deal more than with other people, then it shows that the friendship has greater significance.  For example, if you are in touch with them more than your own partner, then that’s definitely not a good sign.

6) Degree of innuendo:

It’s often considered quite normal for their to be innuendo within the office or social situations, and peer pressure can mean that people ignore what may be crossing the line, so I refer you back to the ‘shoe on the other foot’ rule!

7) Discussing partners:

You might think that this means that the friendship is safe, because you are clearly pointing out the fact that you are taken.  But in fact it is a sign of pre-selection.  If they don’t know your partner and you haven’t or wouldn’t introduce them, then you need to think twice about the friendship.  Plus, if you are discussing things about your relationship with this friend and not your partner, then it is definitely going in the wrong direction.

8) Slagging off partners:

This is a big no no.  If you are talking to someone of the opposite sex, they might be sympathetic to you because you are friends, but they should also be giving you an insight into the mind of your partner.  If they are slagging off your partner, then this friendship is definitely detrimental to your relationship.

9) You/They are not happy in your relationship:

If there are already problems in yours/their relationships already, then be really careful.  This friendship could be really helpful and give you insight into the other side of the story, or it could be with someone who will eventually take advantage of the problems.

10) Excitement about talking to them:

Now we get to the more obvious signs, which are when you miss talking to someone or look forward to talking to them.  This should be highlighting the question as to why you are’t sharing this with your own partner.

11) Arranging to meet in a different scenario:

A friendship normally starts in a particular social setting, e.g. with friends or at work.  So it’s a sign that there is a change in the air if you arrange to meet elsewhere for example coffee outside of work or lunch without your partners.

12) Fancying them:

If you ‘would do them’ as a male mate of mine used to say, then I can pretty much be sure that your partner won’t approve of the friendship.

13) They have a history of affairs:

If this person has a history of having affairs with other people, then a big red flag is waving at you!

14) You already have a history with them:

If they are an ex, then they could easily become a ‘present’!

15) You are tempted to keep it secret:

If you are tending to keep the conversations and meetings secret for some reason, then you know that internally you think your partner wouldn’t be happy, at which point I direct you back to point 1!

 

I’m all for having friendships of both sexes, because it helps to give us insights into the opposite sex, and because they will give us such a different viewpoint and approach to life.  The key is to make sure that the boundaries are kept in place and that you aren’t naive; you know the saying ‘never say never’.

Of course, it is only inappropriate if you or they are in a relationship, if not, then heh ho!

If you are worried a friendship that you have could be crossing the line, or you are worried about your partner’s friendships, feel free to get in touch or pop a comment below (it can always be anonymous).

If you liked this Problem Corner, then you would definitely be interested in one two years later, where a wife was concerned about the friendship between her husband and a co-worker.