Tell Me About It

Tell Me About It: My partner wants us to split, and I blame her new friends

These two female friends have developed a reputation in the area and on social media for outrageous behaviour.

PROBLEM: At a school disco almost three decades ago, I met my life partner and the amazing mother of our two children. Three years later we welcomed our son, and 12 years ago our daughter.

Throughout our time together we have experienced bereavement, sickness and financial struggles, but in the main we have both worked hard and built what I have always thought was a decent life. Recently our small business has gone from strength to strength and we have managed to buy a really nice home.

However, about one year ago my partner started to go on frequent nights out with two of our female neighbours, both of whom were recently separated. Both these women have developed a reputation in the area and on social media for outrageous behaviour.

My partner’s friendship with this pair never bothered me, and I encouraged her to go and enjoy herself.

But two months ago she announced that she wanted to separate. She denied any affair but said that she missed out on nightclubs and romance and wanted that in her life. She rejected my pleas to give her all that.

Our young daughter became distraught on hearing of the separation. I moved out of the family home, as neither of us wanted her to overhear arguments.

I am now back living in the box room in my parents’ house. I miss the life we had.

I do not feel angry towards my partner, but I blame these two friends for leading her into a life that I think may destroy our family. How can we resolve this and get back the life that we had?

ADVICE: It sounds as though you are a successful person in that you have a business that is doing well and you have a capacity for seeing the bigger picture, for example putting your daughter’s needs before your own.

However, it might be that you have an overly simplistic approach to your break-up by putting it down to the influence of two “outrageous” neighbours. The breakdown of a serious relationship is usually complex, and the signs are often there (perhaps unseen) for quite a while before the actual event that brings the relationship to an end.

It would be good to take time to reflect on what the relationship was like before its demise; your partner seems to suggest that there was a lack of romance and excitement. She may well be trying to relive her youth where she settled down early and did not have the experiences of many relationships, and is now seeing, through her new friends, the fun side of this life.

However, most people do not give up on their primary relationship of almost 30 years without serious consideration, and it seems to me that you do not have the full story. It could be argued that you deserve to know how and why this has happened and if there is any possibility of reuniting.

I wonder if you have been fully heard on your argument for staying in the relationship. Or maybe you need to take some time out to look at what your life needs, too?

It is true that people can outgrow each other and that a couple can get into a routine with each other that is staid and boring. We need some mystery to keep romance and interest alive, and this requires that we have separate interests or self-development that stretches the relationship and keeps it vibrant.

It might be that you now need to look at your own life and check if development has only happened in limited directions (for example, the business) and how you might expand yourself in other ways, including intellectually, socially and emotionally. This would increase your attractiveness and might pique your partner’s interest should she be open to this at some stage in the future. This assumes that you are going to fight for the return of your relationship, but it is not a simple task.

First, you would need to understand fully where the relationship failed and then take the time to understand each other, which might involve some couple counselling to.

In the meantime you are going through grief and loss, and this can be a long, tough process. Living like a child in your parents’ house might contribute to your sense of helplessness, and this will not assist in your attempt to be a strong suitor for your partner. Your current living situation assumes that your separation will be short term, but it might also contribute to what has created this situation: your sense of hopelessness.

It is time to re-evaluate your life and take charge of what it needs. When you are feeling in a stronger place, you might find you are in a better position to make decisions based on what is best for you rather than just going back to the status quo.