I MET my partner, ten years ago, when I was 17 and he was 42. I had a pretty bad childhood – my dad left when I was a baby and my mum remarried when I was ten and had another family, so I grew up feeling that no one really cared much for me. My partner had just come out of an unhappy marriage.
I didn’t have any confidence and he made me feel good about myself. We quickly had a couple of kids and things seemed good. For the first time, I had a security, a proper family. He was happy and was always encouraging me to follow my dreams and has pushed me to do things, like going to college, which I never thought I would do.
Now, though, I feel torn as I have met someone my own age at college, who I am attracted to and seems more exciting. I love my partner and don’t know what to do.
Sometimes we go into relationships hoping they will make up for things we never had in the past. Meeting your partner was a turning point and being with him helped heal some of the hurt of your past.
For you there had been no security, while he felt rejected. You probably both felt lost and abandoned. When you met, you craved the security he provided, and this helped you develop into the person you are now. The relationship has helped you become someone different, and the sadness is that what you gained from being with your partner is not the same as what you want now. You met him when you were unhappy and he helped you change. Is the person you are attracted to offering the same – a solution to you feeling unhappy?
Talking to a counsellor would give you time and space to look at your life and see where you are now in relation to your partner, and examine what might need to change in your lives.
I feel trapped in my marriage. It’s not that I don’t love my partner, it’s just that I don’t want to be the person she wants me to be. We had a wonderful baby boy last year, who means the world to me, but it scares me that being with her and him are all that my life is now. I still want to go out with my pals – I know it’s selfish and I do want to be a good dad, but I don’t think I can settle down like everyone tells me to.
I didn’t really think about what marriage meant, and then she got pregnant and it all raced along. Now I feel stuck in a place I don’t want to be.
What we imagine something is like and the reality are often different. Adjusting to real everyday life can be difficult, and sometimes we say, “No thanks.”
You went along with the wedding without thinking about what would have to change afterwards. When a baby arrives, change has to happen. It’s not just about loving your son, you have to become a dad and a family. It may all seem scary, but counselling could help.
• Anne Chilton is joint head of professional practice at Relationships Scotland (www.relationships-scotland.org.uk)
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