Advice: We are living separate lives

Last updated 05:00 27/09/2012

She feels like she and her partner are living separate lives - and that she is always having to nag him. Does she deserve better?

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I have been with my partner for six years and we have a two year old daughter together. I love him but I feel like we don't have much of a relationship anymore. I feel like I am parenting on my own while he lives a separate life.

He is constantly on the computer playing games and chatting with his friends and I feel like I am constantly nagging him to help out.

I am starting to find him less attractive and I think it's because of these reasons. My question is: Is there hope for our relationship when it seems so one-sided? I don't want to turn into a nagging cliché but everyone I know (family and friends) tell me I deserve better.

Chris

There is definitely hope for your relationship and it is amazing what can be turned around when couples realise how much they can enjoy their relationship.

Having said that, it is great that you have reached out as the sooner you start to address these issues, the more chance you have of building the relationship up again.   

You are right to link the reduction in desire to your disillusionment and hurt about the relationship and it sounds as if the two or you have got into a really unsatisfying place in terms of your connection and intimacy.

It is very hard to keep love alive when there are few opportunities for connection, and the resentment and disconnection you are starting to feel is a real warning sign.

There is always hope to re-kindle things but it requires some honesty and sharing about what is going on right now in your relationship.

The trick here is to find a way to let him know you care about your future together and do love him, but are worried about how the relationship will end up if it continues as it is. 

It can be hard to start these conversations so it is worth thinking about what kind of setting, time of day and mood needs to be there for the conversation to be successful.

You don't mention the history of your relationship, but if there was a time when you were really happy together it can be useful to recall that time and see if he also remembers that time with enjoyment - chances are you were both behaving very differently together at that time.

Give short clear messages that let him know you miss him and want him back more in your life.  Ask if he is happy with the relationship now - and take the time to listen carefully to what he has to say without interrupting or trying to answer him. 

You will both have things that aren't working for you, so hearing from him is a good first step.  

Let him know you think you have both got into unhelpful patterns and you would like to figure out with him how to change them.

If the conversation goes well you may feel you  have enough to start making changes together, but your situation is one where I would recommend getting the assistance of an experience couple counsellor. 

With them you could both learn new skills to rekindle that connection and find ways you can be happy  as a parent and partner, and if that is not possible, to consider what next steps you need to take.

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.

- Stuff

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