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Relationship lessons from young people
We’ve looked at the results of a recent survey to see what can be learned from young people’s experiences of being in relationships. Looking back on the roller coaster ride of your own early relationships might fill you with a mix of fondness, amusement, and utter cringing horror. That shouldn’t mean you can’t learn from those experience but, if you can only bear to look through the narrow gaps between your fingers, then these insights from other people’s early experiences might help. Why relationship quality matters Love is complicated and it can take many forms – the love you feel for a sibling, is different from the love you feel for a friend, and the love you feel for your parents is different to the love you feel for a freshly baked marinara pizza. Mmmm, freshly baked marinara pizza. Anyway. When it comes to romantic partners, love gets even more complicated. When two people are in love, they depend on each other for support, but they also have to make each other feel special. Your lover may be your closest confidant, your source of safety and belonging, and the heart of your passion [1]. This isn’t an easy balance to get right. Relationship quality plays a huge part of our health, happiness and wellbeing. We all have ups and downs in life, and it’s the people we share them with that help shape the way we celebrate the good times and cope with the bad. As we enter adolescence, our closest relationships tend to be those we have with our romantic partners [2]. This doesn’t mean you should go rushing into a relationship with the next person who pays you the remotest bit of attention! Remember – it’s the quality of your relationships that makes the difference [1]. Learning from early relationships If you’re young and in a relationship, you might feel like you’ve found the one (and maybe you have – if so, congrats!) or you might be testing the water to find out what you want from relationships in the future. Either way, you can always work on the skills that will help you be a better and happier partner in the future. In a recent study, young people were asked what they’d learned from being in relationships. The most significant lessons these young people had learned from their early relationships included: Sensitivity. It’s important to keep an eye on your partner’s needs, without losing sight of your own. Realistic expectations. In the early days, we present our best sides. As we get more comfortable with each other, our quirks and foibles start to spill out. While this can lead to some relationships breaking down, it can also be a time when couples strengthen their bond as they start to see each other more completely. Honesty. Being honest and trusting your partner are essential components of any successful relationship. Compromise. A relationship is an ongoing process. You will both have to keep checking in on each other’s needs and making compromises, no matter how long you’ve been together. Balance. Many young people highlighted the importance of keeping intense emotions under control. Not just the negative ones like jealousy and anger, but also the overflowing excitement of falling in love in the first place. Freedom. While your romantic partner might also be your best friend and the most important person in your life, you both also need the freedom to be apart from each other. Stay connected to other friends and family members and remind yourself that you still have a life outside of your relationship. Communication. If you’re a regular on Click, you’ll know how much value we place on good communication. This is reflected in young people’s early relationship experiences too [3]. Whether you’re looking back at everything you’ve had to learn the hard way, or looking ahead to your next romantic adventure, take heed of these words of wisdom, and learn from the brave pioneers who went before you. References [1] Viejo, C., Ortega-Ruiz, R., & Sánchez, V. (2015). Adolescent love and well-being: the role of dating relationships for psychological adjustment. Journal of Youth Studies, 18(9), 1219–1236. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2015.1039967 [2] La Greca, A. M., & Harrison, H. M. (2005). Adolescent peer relations, friendships, and romantic relationships: do they predict social anxiety and depression? Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology: The Official Journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53, 34(1), 49–61. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15374424jccp3401_5 [3] Norona, J. C., Roberson, P. N. E., & Welsh, D. P. (2017). ‘I Learned Things That Make Me Happy, Things That Bring Me Down’: Lessons From Romantic Relationships in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Research, 32(2), 155–182. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558415605166
Article | dating, new partner
4 min read
Balancing work and childcare as a dad
When you become a dad, you and your partner will need to make some decisions about how to divide up your work and childcare responsibilities. This may prove to be a more complex decision that it initially appears. Even in modern families, many parents still tend to drift towards traditional gender roles with men returning quickly to work and women staying home to take on primary childcare duties. As a dad, this can leave you feeling like the backup parent, on hand when needed but never at the forefront of parenting decisions (Gao 2018). Take some time to discuss your hopes and expectations with your partner so you can each get a true sense of what the other wants. You’ll still need to make compromises, but it will benefit you to make the decision as a couple, and take on the roles that suit your family, rather than the roles you think you’re supposed to have (Jansen 2006). Getting this balance right early on can help you establish a childcare routine that works, and this can give your relationship quality a positive boost. Balancing your work and family lives It isn’t always easy to strike a successful balance between your work life and your family life. If you have to go back to work soon after your child is born, it can be a mixed experience. On the one hand, it may feel like a daily grind that takes you away from family life; on the other hand, the change of scene might sometimes feel like a relief from the stresses of home and family life (Brown 2017).  If you’re the one staying at home while your partner goes back to work, you may face a different kind of pressure as you remain on constant parenting duty without a change of pace. Whether you’re working, or on full-time childcare duty, you’ll probably have good and bad days. Try to remember that your partner is probably having a similarly tough time, even if you are tackling very different roles – you’re both going to need each other’s support. If both want to keep working, it can be a struggle to balance things. Good quality childcare is often hard to find and isn’t always affordable. This may affect the options available to you around the decision to return to work. One or both of you may have to work extra hours to cover childcare costs, or you may find that it makes better financial sense for one of you to stop working and cover childcare yourself.  It can make things easier if you’re able to arrange to work more flexibly. Under UK employment law, you are entitled to request flexible working arrangements, but your employer is not obliged to grant it (HSBC 2012) – it’s best if you can present the request in a way that benefits your employer as well as your family. Paternal leave  Dads are still more likely to go back to work sooner than mums, which can leave them feeling less confident in their parenting roles. If you’re not around the baby as much as your partner, you’ll have fewer opportunities to practise your parenting skills and you may worry about getting things wrong. If it’s available, an extended period of shared parental leave can give you both a chance to develop your parenting skills together. This early sharing of hands-on experience can set a precedent for a more equal involvement in long-term childcare, increasing your confidence and giving you a better understanding of what your partner is going through at home, if and when you return to work. All of this can help set up a more effective co-parenting relationship and, as a result, a happier couple relationship (Gao 2018) (Kolak 2007) (Rehel 2014).  If you can’t get the time off work, be prepared to learn things at a slower rate than your partner and try not to be put off by the fear of getting things wrong. Ask your partner to be patient with you. Explain that, even though you may not get things right first time, you do really want to help. By demonstrating that you’re willing to learn, you’ll be able to offer your partner more support in the long term. References Jansen, M. and Liefbroer, A.C. (2006). Couples’ attitudes, childbirth and division of labour. Journal of Family Issues, 27 (1), 1487-1511. Gao, M., Du, H., Davies, P. and Cummings, M. (2018). Marital Conflict Behaviors and Parenting: Dyadic Links over Time. Family Relations DOI:10.1111/fare.12322. Kolak, A.M. and Volling, B.L. (2007), Parental Expressiveness as a Moderator of Coparenting and Marital Relationship Quality. Family Relationships, 56(5), 467-478.  Rehel, E. (2014). When Dad Stays Home Too: paternity leave, gender, and parenting. Gender and Society, 28 (1), 110-132. Forsberg, L. (2009). Managing Time and Childcare in Dual-Earner Families: Unforeseen Consequences of Household Strategies. Acta Sociologica, 52(2), 162-175. Brown, T.J. & Clark, C. (2017). Employed parents of children with disabilities and work family life balance: a literature review. Child Youth Care Forum. 46: 857. https://doi-org.uos.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10566-017-9407-0 HSBC (2012). HSBC lends a hand to back‐to‐work parents: Employees guaranteed part‐time work after maternity or paternity leave. Human Resource Management International Digest, 20 (16-17) https://doi.org/10.1108/09670731211249341
Article | dad
6 min read
“Boyfriend watching transgender porn”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Me and my partner have been together and lived together for almost 3 years! 6 months into our relationship I come home from work as he left for work and he accidentally left transgender porn on his computer. I confronted him. He denied it and said it must have been a random video that was next lined up. I believed him and left it. Happened again another 4 times over the next year. He denied every one and had an excuse for each.i then found myself anxious and suspicious. I went through his computer and phone one night and found more than enough evidence of his interests. I screenshotted everything. That morning I confronted him. He denied it for a second then admitted to everything. We broke up then 2 weeks later we got back together. As long as he kept his promise to stay away from this kind of porn. As to me it is not natural.? i told him if I see it again we will break up again. I’ve just found more on his laptop and computer. And I’m so scared he might be gay or one day loose interest. I’m disgusted. I have confronted him again. He admitted to it. Although I mentioned why would he do it again if it meant loosing the relationship but he had no answer for me. Please help me.
Ask the community | pornography, rejection
“How do I leave him?”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I've been in a relationship with a borderline alcoholic with a narcissistic personality for about 3 and a half years. We live together but spent the last month apart. I went to stay with my mum with my two cats and left him the flat. His drinking has become a huge problem and a year ago I received a serious health diagnosis which I've been trying to come to terms with. The main problem is that he is more interested in going to the pub with his mates than helping me cope with all this. It got to a point where he was coming back late at night completed drunk, waking me up or making me wait up before I could cook dinner for us because he hadn't phoned to let me know he was going to be home late, tripping over the cats and being a general nuisance. My health condition was brought on by extreme stress and he is only adding to that. If I am suddenly ill and have to go to hospital, I can't rely on him to be able to care for me or even be sober enough to call for an ambulance. I'm back temporarily but I asked him to still give me my space. That includes sleeping in separate rooms. So far I've been packing my things down into boxes because I don't want to/can't afford to live in our flat anymore. I want to move back to my home town, which he has known about for a long time because I told him before our break. What I'm finding now is that he's not actually respecting my boundaries and is now actively looking for flats in my home town for both of us to live in. What he's not understood is the fact I don't want to be with him at all and I want to move on my own. I'm trying really hard to not disrupt the peace in our flat at the moment as it just creates a volatile environment for not only me but the cats too. I've considered just taking a day off work when I know he won't be at home and just moving all my stuff out. After that I'd tell him it was over when he can't do anything to stop me. Has anyone got any advice?
Ask the community | breakups, big changes
“Ugly divorce”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I'm 35 years old and currently in the first stage of divorcing after recently deciding that my relationship of 13 years (7 years married) had to end. In the last 3-4 years my wife and me really grew apart and have started living separate lives. Whereas we were able to have good conversations in the past, this has been completely absent in the last years, years where personally I needed to be understood by my partner as I was facing a lot of stress due to work and an international transfer. At the same point in time we got our first child together which obviously added to the stress levels, and changed the way we were around each other. I have tried many times to tell her that I was missing attention from her, even though I eventually (this took me 6-12 months after birth) understood that the dynamics of our relationship had changed due to the introduction of our daughter. Unfortunately things did not improve at all, and we got into more and more fights (with words only, never any physical action), which led me to take more distance from her at the end of last year. This increased distance opened the door for me to make a mistake I had never thought I would make, I had an affair for a good 3 months. The affair has now ended, as we had started to seriously talk about us in the last few month. A process in which I confessed to her that I had an affair, and that my reason of initiating it was that I had already given up on our relationship. In this period we spoke a lot about the feelings we experienced in the last few years, and tried our best to have more time just for us. (so arranging childcare to be alone together). But even though talking about everything felt good and helped to relieve built up stress, it did not help me to get back some of the feelings I had for her. In the entire period I had very sparse moments where I felt there was an opportunity to move on, versus the vast majority of the time feeling it had to end. Two weeks ago I took the decision of completely ending our relationship as I have no more feelings for my wife, and am unable to see us having a happy and good future together for the next 40 years. As we are too distant from each other and don't really have shared interests. This decision caused a massive change in her behavior towards me, and she hasn't spoken a normal word to me since. The few times I have tried to speak about things, this immediately (give or take 30 seconds) escalated into shouting from her side, even with our young daughter present. The only thing she will tell me is: speak to my lawyer. At present the situation at home can best be described as absolute hell, we completely ignore each other and can't even be in the same room without her starting to be hostile. Therefore I have started to move out to a room in the neighborhood, hoping that more time apart might help to settle things down, whilst still being close enough to be able to assist with anything if required. I want the best for our daughter in the future and feel we need to make good arrangements about everything in order to accommodate her as good as we can. But I really struggle with my wife's behaviour as this makes it impossible to discuss potential arrangements in good fashion. Probably I need to give her more time to calm down, but she want to rush things and get divorced asap to get rid of me. What are my options here?
Ask the community | breakups, big changes
“I am worried about leaving him”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My fiance and I met about 2.5 years ago, we quickly moved in together - shortly after moving in together I found him cheating several times with several different women, I decided to forgive him because it was still a new relationship and figured he just wasnt invested in the relationship yet. I also found out about drug use and quickly became responsible to take him to doctors appointments and paying for an opiate substitute monthly (which is not cheap). After about 6 months I got pregnant, we moved closer to our jobs once he got his license (had previously been suspended) and we began arguing everyday about any and everything. Fast forward to our son being born - I had been in labor for about 41 hours before it was go time, which at that point my fiance finally decided to join the room and help out, that evening he cursed me for a decision I had made about our sons care in front of nurses and family and leaving the hospital. We eventually went home after being cleared by the doctors and things seemed great again, and while I was overwhelmed by the flood of people in our home, I felt our relationship was finally in a great place. So, we bought a house together in a great, quiet neighborhood and within a month I became miserable, back to arguing every day, he took my name off of our cars purchased together and has his parents (who financed our home) take the house in their name so I would have no rights to it if I decided to leave. I have tried and tried with this relationship and want it to work for the sake of our child but I also don't want to raise our son in a volatile , argumentative environment - and I am now to the point where I feel stuck - I am not allowed to work because the cars are in his name so I cannot leave without his permission and I live too far from anywhere to walk. He has gone as far as going into my email and replying to jobs I have applied to telling them I am no longer interested... I have family about an hour away I could potentially stay with but I would still be stuck with no car or income of my own which worries me because I would be forced to go to court to fight for custody of our son... I just don't know if avoiding court, and completely restarting by staying here is worth my lack of happiness?
Ask the community | cheating, addiction, breakups
“His aspirations make me doubt him”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I feel my boyfriend is perfect for me. He loves me for who I am. He puts up with my antics. He is trustworthy. He is a great guy. But his aspirations make me doubt him. I have been with his for 4 years. I moved to another state to be with him. He lost his job and has been struggling to hold a job for the past 4 years we have been together. And even when he gets a great job interview something manages to blow it. The last job was because he failed to meet the deadline on a job questionnaire which was part of the hiring process. I can't be with someone who sets himself for failure. I, on the other hand, have been very successful. Our sex life is non-existent. I think it was after he lost his job that we haven't had sex so that about 3 years. I want to have sex with him but he doesn't pick up my signs. I do everything for him and support him 100%. Lately, I have been thinking of someone else. I have been tempted to tell that person how I feel but I can't stand the fact that I feel I'd be cheating. This guy is successful and I think I am attracted to him because of that. I don't think I want to be with the other guy. I don't see myself with him long term but the problems with my current boyfriend are pushing me away. What if my current boyfriend never becomes successful. If he would help me around more I think I would feel better but I do everything on top of being the breadwinner. I have told him I am stressed multiple times but I have to keep telling him for him to do anything. I am so confused I can't focus on anything. If I tell the other guy how I feel would it give me closure?
Ask the community | someone else, sex, sexless
Helping your partner find their dream job
Being in an unsatisfying job can have a negative effect on your overall happiness, and your personal relationships. Your feelings about your working life are closely linked to your relationship quality. If your partner is in a job they don’t enjoy, you will probably hear about it a lot. Your partner may find that your partner is more irritable, and complains a lot about their job and their colleagues. Your partner may also be too tired from long, stressful shifts to spend quality time with you. So how can you support them and help them get the job they’ve always dreamed of? Set aside time to help your partner apply for jobs. If your partner is still working, it might be tricky to find time for jobhunting. Set aside some time in the evenings or at weekends where you can help your partner apply for jobs. Plan in some time to search for jobs online, through newspapers, or at your local Jobcentre Plus. Encourage networking. If your partner doesn’t know anyone in the industry they want to get in, encourage them to join sites like LinkedIn where they can join groups for industry professionals and meet people in the field. If there are relevant events happening nearby, you could offer to go along with them for moral support. Make financial compromises. To get their dream job, your partner may have to take time out to study or go on a training course, which can affect your household income. Sit down together and work out where you might be able to afford to cut down on spending. You might find it helpful to read our article on talking to your partner about money. Be supportive. One of the worst parts of applying for jobs is the rejections. When you’ve spent ages preparing your CV and writing a killer cover letter, it can feel pretty disheartening to receive an impersonal email from the recruiter saying that your application was unsuccessful. If this happens to your partner, you’ll need to be there for them. What if the dream job is in another city or country? Some jobs may require your partner to relocate. If this is the case with your partner’s dream job, you will both need to discuss how this will affect your relationship and if you both want to move. If you have children together, you will need to discuss how it will affect them too. Think about whether you would both move, or just one of you, and have this discussion as a couple. These questions might help you get the conversation started: Where would you live? What is the cost of living? What opportunities are there for you in the new location? What are the pros and cons of relocating? What else is in the new location? If you have children where will they go to school? What is your shared vision for the future?
Article | work, finance
Why does someone become addicted?
A person with a substance use problem can behave in a way that seems reckless and selfish, causing chaos in their life and the lives of those close to them. If your partner has a substance use problem, it can be very worrying and you may wonder what’s behind the issue. Addiction isn’t usually a deliberate attempt to behave in a way that is out of control. Often, when someone develops an addiction, it’s an attempt to control how they feel about a situation that feels unmanageable, or to block out thoughts and feelings they find hard to cope with. Imagine you have had a really bad day. Stress at work, a row with your partner, or money worries may leave you feeling anxious, angry, and sad. Or, perhaps something upsetting in your past still disturbs you when you think about it. At these times, you might find that drinking, smoking, escaping into the internet, or playing a video game helps you to switch off and relax. For a time, it feels as if your problems have gone away. Escaping from the real world and forgetting your problems now and then is often OK. For example, a few drinks after work at the weekend can be fun. However, even those feelings of letting go of inhibitions can leave you wanting more… Just check that, whatever it is you are doing to escape, you still feel you can ‘take it or leave it’. If you feel powerless to deal with problems, you may find you crave more and more of whatever helps you escape instead. Unresolved problems often get worse. You feel trapped and turn more and more to your means of escape. This is when the destructive cycle of addiction can begin. By this stage it feels like the ‘take it or leave it’ option has gone. Stopping the addictive behaviour is scary because you feel so dependent on it. Addiction can damage your self-esteem and confidence, leaving you doubting whether you can ever break free and face your problems. The addiction may have caused problems in your relationships. You may feel ashamed to ask for help or be scared that others will refuse to help you. Maybe you feel your life is such a mess that you don’t know where to start making changes. It might feel like the only choice is to block everything out with the additive behaviour. Take it step by step – acknowledging that you have a substance use problem is a big first step. If you are experiencing any of these issues and are concerned it may be triggering addictive behaviour, a valuable next step would be to seek advice or support. Online support, information, and counselling can be very helpful in many cases. However, it may be advisable to seek face-to-face counselling from a specialist agency or via your GP, particularly if: You have a long term addiction problem. You are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Your problem involves cutting or physically harming yourself in some way. You are aware your addiction has been triggered by a traumatic life event. If you are worried about someone close to you, you may find it helpful to check out Relationship Realities which features real stories by real people who are affected by alcohol and drug use problems.
Article | addiction
“Post 16 court contact”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   We have had a court order in place for a number of years. The children have never missed a contact; however they are now 16 and 15 and have made it clear to me that they are "fed up" with spending their time with someone who - apparently - has little to say to them, and makes nasty comments to the kids all the time when he does open his mouth. It is almost as if the contact order is just being observed to serve his need to control them - it doesn't seem to be about spending quality time with 2 kids who are brilliant company. The kids have said that once the younger son gets to 16, they "are done" - I have told them things will get better, but after 6 years of this contact and support from me, encouragement and assurances it will get better, it just hasn't. It breaks my heart to see how angry they get when they come back and have had an unsuccessful contact. I am at a loss, and my ex will not speak to me (only via Solicitors and hasn't spoken to me for over 8 years). If they tell him they no longer wish to go, can I be dragged back to court? Should this come from them to him? I doubt he will listen as they have asked before for things to improve with him and he just laughs at them and says they are idiots. One time my elder son was poorly during contact and had asked to go home earlier; he refused and made them stay until the appointed time. My eldest is about to turn 17 and will be driving soon. He wishes to get a Saturday job, and this will prove impossible - the Court Order clearly states a Saturday, and we have persistently re-jigged our lives to make sure they attend (which we do because I want them to have a positive male role model). I am also bitterly disappointed that this could have been seen as a chance for my ex to build a lovely relationship with his kids, but seems to have used it as a controlling mechanism instead. I would have expected them to say they were having a great time and ask that they have extra time - which would have been great, but it just hasn't happened. I see other kids who have a great time with their dads and my heart bleeds for them. I never badmouth or speak ill of my ex - it was a shame it didn't work out, but the kids did not need to suffer the way that they have been subjected to such nastiness from someone who is supposed to love them unconditionally (regardless of the fact he hates my guts - I appreciate I am 50% DNA of the kids and I think that may be the issue). If they turn round and refuse to go once the youngest is 16, can I force them? Can I physically drag them to contact? My eldest son is a strapping lad now and this may prove difficult. If I get taken back to court if they refuse, will the court listen to the kids as they will be 16 and 17? I am worrying now that after all these years of being compliant and supportive, I may get jailed.
User article | breach, legal rights, contact
“I'm in love with him but it's complicated”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I met him about 4 years ago. We got along right away and became friends. He said he liked my friend but I kind of thought he liked me. After a while I told my best friend I liked him and she told me I should tell him so I did after I thought about it. he felt the same. It was so simple. Not complicated. It was too easy, I wasn't worried about girls liking him or him talking to other girls. It just worked. It freaked me out and I also wasn't ready for a relationship at the time. So I broke up with him. He was hurt. Really hurt. We continued to be friends and my friend started dating him with my permission. He then texted me one night and said “I still like you”. I wanted to say I felt the same but I couldn't hurt my friend so I just talked him through it. We continued to be friends. Some things happened that didn't have to do with him that caused us to be distant. We didn't talk for almost a year and he broke up with my friend and after a bit he started dating another girl. He didn't want to talk to me. I asked him why and he kept switching his reasons. I missed him. A month ago he texted me only saying "hey" I deleted his contact to help me get over him so I replied "who's this" he said a week later "this is" I replied "K?" He said "yes" we talked for a bit then I apologized for not being the greatest friend and the end of my sentence was "I want to say more but I don't think it'd do so much right now" hinting at me liking him. He said it wasn't my fault and that it was his. We were okay. We have been talking lots more. Last week we both went to a fire, he brought his girlfriend and he hugged me. He gave me these looks. And talked to his friend whiling looking at me. After he left I texted him and said "hey there", he replied "hey A!! It was nice to see you, how's the party going" we talked for a bit and then he said he had to go to bed an he would text me tomorrow. He sent me a good morning text. It was so nice to wake up to. He was flirting with me, he even sent a heart and corrected it to be a laugh face. I want to tell him but it'll hurt his girlfriend and what if he doesn't feel the same? Ugh. I think I should tell one of my friends that's good friends with him. Maybe he would know. What do you guys think?
Ask the community | someone else, flirting
Shared parental leave
Shared parental leave could be the answer to a number of tricky issues like sharing childcare and other housework, but studies have shown that it may not be as straightforward as first thought. Since April 2015, parents have been entitled to take 12 months of shared leave. In the past, dads could only take two weeks’ parental leave but parents can now choose how to divide up the first year between themselves. We know that the transition to parenthood is one of the toughest hurdles a couple can face together (though it doesn’t have to hurt!). Shared parental leave can make this transition easier, but there are some practical and financial factors to consider. Managing the demands of a new born baby, along with all the existing household chores, is a lot to ask of one parent alone. Shared parental leave means that both parents can sometimes be at home together and the load can be shared during the day. It can also help new dads – who often experience the transition differently to mums – adjust better to the demands of parenting [1]. One study showed that dads who take parental leave spend more time with their family, get more involved with the children, and take more of a shared role in parenting and other household tasks than those who don’t [2]. Your decision about whether and how to share leave is likely to be influenced by a number of factors, including which of you earns the most, and how parental leave is handled by your employers [3]. There are also a number of social factors such as the traditional gender roles of dad as breadwinner and mum as caregiver, and more practical needs like breastfeeding [3], all of which may play a part in your decision. Couples who reject traditional gender roles are more likely to take up shared leave [2]. But it’s not always easy to break down these barriers, and some dads may find their workplace culture getting in the way of taking parental leave. One study showed dads facing negative reactions from colleagues and bosses at the idea of reducing their working hours to look after babies [3]. This range of influential factors gives an idea of just how complex the decision to share leave can actually be. So, what does this all mean for couple relationships? Well, there isn’t yet much evidence about the effect of dads’ parental leave on relationships. But, what we do know is that shared leave can help dads be more involved with childcare and housework, and that people whose relationships have a more balanced share of chores often report feeling more satisfied [4]. Whatever you decide, you might find it helpful to read an overview of the law and your entitlement over on gov.uk. If you are expecting a new baby, you and your partner should consider these factors together and decide what might be best for you and your family. References [1] Wisensale, S. K. (2001). Family leave policy: The political economy of work and family in America. ME Sharpe. [2] Seward, R. R., Yeatts, D. E., Zottarelli, L. K., & Fletcher, R. G. (2006). Fathers taking parental leave and their involvement with children: An exploratory study. Community, Work and Family, 9(1), 1-9. [3] McKay, L., & Doucet, A. (2010).  Without taking away her leave: A Canadian case study of couples’ decisions on fathers’ use of paid parental leave. Fathering, 8(3), 300. [4] Kershaw, T., Murphy, A., Divney, A., Magriples, U., Niccolai, L., & Gordon, D. (2013). What's love got to do with it: Relationship functioning and mental and physical quality of life among pregnant adolescent couples. American journal of community psychology, 52(3-4), 288-301.
Article | parenting, work
3 min read
How to be a happy young parent
As teenagers, we are still figuring out who we are, and what we want from life. We are forging our adult identities, and our romantic relationships set the tone for the future. Finding out you’re going to become a young parent plunges you into another major life transition just as you’re figuring out how to deal with the rest of life’s struggles [1]. Ensuring you have the right support in place can make all the difference. If you’re in a relationship, the increased stress of pregnancy and raising a child can lead to putting extra strain on the relationship. One study found nearly half of young parents’ relationships had broken up by the time the child was a year old [2]. You can protect against this by knowing about the factors that keep relationships strong, and where to get extra support. Getting support Just having a partner can be beneficial to you as a parent. Studies have shown that young mums supported by their partners feel more satisfied with their lives, have higher self-esteem, and are less likely to be stressed [3] [4] [5]. They are also likely to feel readier for parenthood. However, if you don’t have a partner, you needn’t despair. Research shows that single young parents who have good support from their parents and other family members can also report feeling more satisfied with their lives, and are less likely to be depressed or anxious [5]. Even if you don’t have support from your family, you can still feel the benefits of external support by connecting with other young parents or expectant parents through online forums. This kind of social support and parenting advice is also linked to stronger wellbeing [6], so it’s worth seeking support wherever you can get it. Relationship quality To protect against the breakdown of a relationship, it’s important to think about relationship quality. Evidence shows that the good bits of your relationship not only protect against breakup, but also help you feel more confident as a parent [1]. This is true even if your partner isn’t the child’s biological parent [5]. A positive relationship between you and your partner is also good for your child, as they are less likely to be exposed to conflict and stress [7] [8]. A strong sense of mutual love and attraction can often be enough to protect your relationship, but if you want to do something to make things stronger, consider upping your relationship equity. This means that you both make an equal contribution to the relationship. You can do this by sharing chores and childcare, but also by showing equal affection and support [9]. If your relationship breaks down, and you’re not getting the support you need from family and friends, you can try visiting the young parents section of the Family Lives website or posting a comment or question on Click to ask for tips and social support from other young parents. References [1] Gee, C. B., McNerney, C. M., Reiter, M. J., & Leaman, S. C. (2007). Adolescent and young adult mothers’ relationship quality during the transition to parenthood: Associations with father involvement in fragile families. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(2), 213-224. [2] Sipsma, H., Biello, K. B., Cole-Lewis, H., & Kershaw, T. (2010). Like father, like son: the intergenerational cycle of adolescent fatherhood. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 517-524. [3] Dhayanandhan, B., Bohr, Y., & Connolly, J. A. (2010). Understanding the link between developmental tasks and child abuse potential among adolescent mothers living below the poverty line. In Poster presented at the Annual Meeting for the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia PA. [4] Gee, C. B., & Rhodes, J. E. (1999). Postpartum transitions in adolescent mothers' romantic and maternal relationships. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly (1982-), 512-532. [5] Stevenson, W., Maton, K. I., & Teti, D. M. (1999). Social support, relationship quality, and well-being among pregnant adolescents. Journal of adolescence, 22(1), 109-121. [6] Sherman, L. E., & Greenfield, P. M. (2013). Forging friendship, soliciting support: A mixed-method examination of message boards for pregnant teens and teen mothers. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(1), 75-85. [7] Cutrona, C. E., Hessling, R. M., Bacon, P. L., & Russell, D. W. (1998). Predictors and correlates of continuing involvement with the baby's father among adolescent mothers. Journal of Family Psychology, 12(3), 369. [8] Hetherington, E. M., & Stanley-Hagan, M. M. (1997). The effects of divorce on fathers and their children. The role of the father in child development, 3, 191-211. [9] Kershaw, T., Murphy, A., Divney, A., Magriples, U., Niccolai, L., & Gordon, D. (2013). What's love got to do with it: Relationship functioning and mental and physical quality of life among pregnant adolescent couples. American journal of community psychology, 52(3-4), 288-301.
Article | parenting, young
4 min read
Choosing to be childfree
Many couples are choosing not to have children, opting to focus on the couple relationship instead. But, according to a new study, it’s not a decision they’re making lightly. The study [1] looked at how couples arrive at the decision not to become parents. The term ‘childfree’, as opposed to ‘childless’, refers to people who have chosen not to have children. The study showed that the decision not to have children is usually a conscious one, rather than something that ‘just happens’. It’s usually something that’s arrived at over a length of time and it’s an ongoing choice. This is particularly true for heterosexual couples, who often have to choose to continue using contraception, and avoid unplanned pregnancy. How is the decision made? By the time couples are having their first conversations about children, they have often already given years of thought to the matter. If both know that they don’t want children, it may only take a single conversation to form an agreement. Reasons for opting out of parenthood could include wider factors such as: Increased reproductive choices. Since the feminist movement of the 1970s, more of us are free to make this choice in the first place [2]. More career options for women. Childfree women are more likely to be employed in professional and managerial positions [3]. Worry about jobs. In one study conducted during the recession of the ‘90s [4], many men said they had opted out of parenthood due to uncertainty in the labour market. Wider society. Women in particular referred to concerns about overpopulation when discussing their decisions [5]. But many also cite more individual reasons such as: Personal freedom. More opportunity for self-fulfilment. Keeping spontaneity, such as the opportunity to travel. Making the most of adult relationships. Experiences of other people’s parenting [6]. Focusing on the couple relationship. Many couples cited their own relationship quality as a major factor in choosing to remain childfree [7]. We know from other studies that the transition to parenthood is one of the biggest hurdles for couples. If you’re still undecided about whether you’re ready for children, or just want to know more, you might find it useful to read our article on managing this transition. Whatever your choice, take the time to discuss it with your partner, so you both know what each other wants and why. Talking about big decisions like this allows you, as a couple, to work together and pursue a life path that suits both of you. One of the childfree people in the study said: ‘‘I wish it were normal to decide whether or not you were going to have children’’.
Article | children, childfree
Getting help for alcohol addiction
Many people with alcohol addiction and alcohol use problems can function well enough in society. But, if you or your child’s other parent are struggling with alcohol, it’s important to seek help immediately for the following reasons: Your practical skills and judgements can be affected. Alcohol can leave you less able to control your emotions, and pick up on your children’s needs [1]. Your ability to form a secure attachment with your child can be impeded [1]. Attachment is all about to how securely cared for a child feels and it’s one of the most important factors in their development. Alcohol misuse is among the most likely reasons for children being taken into care [2]. These are quite extreme cases that are connected to ‘excessive’ alcohol consumption, but if you have an alcohol problem, it’s vital that you get support to avoid putting your child at risk. Impact on children The impact of parental alcohol use on children can be “severe and long lasting”, affecting “every aspect of [your] child’s development from conception onward” [1]. A parent’s alcohol addiction may have a negative influence on their children’s behaviour and emotional wellbeing, with their children being more likely to act out and be out of control [3]. Children become more likely to take part in other risky behaviours, often repeating behaviour they have witnessed at home – even very young children can learn to be combative and coercive if they are repeatedly surrounded by conflict [3]. In many families with an alcoholic parent, children find themselves having to take on a parental role to try and regain some control in an unpredictable environment [4]. Seeking help It’s best to address the problem directly. Hiding from an alcohol problem will not make it go away, and nor will it reduce the negative impact on those around you. As with many difficult issues, it’s important to keep an open communication with your children. Frequent communication is the key to reducing your children’s risk of developing their own issues in later life. Your partner may be a good source of support in figuring out how to start these conversations. Once you have identified an alcohol problem, the best thing to do is seek professional help. Research shows that any negative effects on children are decreased when parents go through treatment for their addiction [5]. There are currently over 800 agencies in the UK offering advice, treatment or support to people with addiction problems [1]. Often, the easiest route to support is through your doctor, who can talk through your specific needs and direct you to further support. You can also search for local services through the NHS. References [1] Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) (2011). Hidden Harm: Responding to the Needs of Children of Problem Drug Users. [2] Barnard, M. & McKeganey, N. (2004). The impact of parental problem drug use on children: what is the problem and what can be done to help? Society for the Study of Addiction, 99, 552-559. [3] Loukas, A., Fitzgerald, H. E., Zucker, R. A., & Eye., A. von. (2000). Parental Alcoholism and Co-Occurring Antisocial Behavior: Prospective Relationships to Externalizing Behavior Problems in their Young Sons. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29(2), 92-106. [4] Burnett, G., Jones, R. A., Bliwise, N. G., Thomson Ross, L. (2006). Family Unpredictability, Parental Alcoholism, and the Development of Parentification. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 34, 181–189. [5] Andreas, J. B., O'Farrell, T. J., Fals-Stewart, W. (2006). Does Individual Treatment for Alcoholic Fathers Benefit Their Children? A Longitudinal Assessment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(1), pp.191-198.
Article | alcohol, addiction
3 min read
“A mess of a marriage”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hello... My husband and I have been together 33 years. We have 4 children. We have both been to counseling in the past. I love my husband but I don't really like him. It has only been recently - in spite of all our counseling - I realize that a majority of our life and relationship are centered around him, his likes, what he wants, what works for him, with little-to-no-inconvenience for him (even though he would lead you to believe otherwise).I have told him that he is happy in our marriage as long as I keep my mouth shut and legs open. He denies this, of course, but it is how I feel. Then he gets angry and I try to explain even though he doesn't - say - that, it is how I - feel. I have stayed in the marriage because two of our children have special needs and I did not want to create more chaos and upheaval for our family by leaving. Now that our children are older I would like my husband and I to focus on working on our marriage. When I try to express what I need, or how something he does makes me feel, it usually ends with him yelling and being the victim. I find we cannot have a constructive conversation. I cannot say anything critical to him - no matter how calmly I say it, and I cannot be emotional. I have had two affairs while we have been married. They did get physical, but that is not what was important to me. What I really wanted was to matter to someone. I know the affairs were wrong and there is no justification for my behavior. I sometimes think about leaving my marriage, but still feel it would inflict so much emotional pain for everyone, and I feel strongly that our family has endured enough heartache and pain due to the circumstances of our two children with special needs. I also would be shunned for breaking up our family and I don't think I could endure that. I am wondering... do I just "keep my mouth shut and legs open" in order to stay in this marriage? And if I do that, am I justified in having an extramarital relationship (not physical) that brings me happiness? I am also wondering if anyone reading this has constructive things to tell me on what I can do to make this marriage work. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.
Ask the community | communication, abuse
Supporting a partner through depression
One in five people will experience a form of depression at some point in their lives [1]. If your partner is depressed, you can play an important role in helping them get better. Depression is more than just a low mood. It’s a prolonged illness, whose symptoms include a lack of energy, a loss of interest in things you might normally enjoy, feelings of low self-worth, and changes in sleep and appetite [2]. A sudden onset of depression in your partner can have an impact on your relationship. You may have to take on a temporary caring role, which can put unexpected strain on you [3]. Some of your partner’s symptoms can affect you too: Low mood. When your partner is feeling down most of the time, it can feel like you don’t have access to the person who is most important to you. Loss of interest and energy. Your partner may lose interest in the things you like doing together, like going out, cooking, and even sex. Concentration. Depression can affect concentration, even to the extent that your partner struggles to stay involved in a conversation. Sleep and appetite. You may notice changes in your partner’s eating and sleeping patterns, which can affect their mood even further. It can also disrupt your own eating and sleeping as established routines get lost. Low self-worth. You may notice your partner being more critical of themselves and possibly lashing out at you too [2]. You may also wonder if you are responsible for your partner’s mental health problems. While there are sometimes external causes, including relationship problems, depression can often come along out of nowhere [4]. You can play a positive role in your partner’s recovery [3]. One of the first things you can do is notice the signs of depression and encourage your partner to seek help. Often, the quickest route to support is through your GP, who can make a diagnosis and refer your partner to appropriate support. There are many forms of mental health support, but it’s likely that your partner will undertake some form of talking therapy. They may be given exercises to take home. You can offer support by encouraging your partner to complete the exercises or, if appropriate, by getting involved directly. Your partner’s doctor may recommend couples therapy, which has been shown to be effective for people with depression [5]. If this is recommended to your partner, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is in trouble; it just means that you are being asked to get involved in your partner’s recovery. Attending sessions together means you can be better informed and more involved. Whether you are directly involved in your partner’s treatment or not, there are many ways you can be supportive: Encourage them to seek support. Getting your partner into professional support is one of the best ways you can help. Learn about depression. Read up on depression and its symptoms. A good place to start is the OnePlusOne and NHS guide, ‘Depression and low mood: A guide for the partner’. Set aside blame. Accept that the illness is happening, and don’t blame your partner or yourself. It’s here, and it’s treatable, so just focus on recovery. Notice the signs. Be aware of your partner’s symptoms and the things that can set off an episode of depression. Get support if things seem to be getting worse. Solve practical problems. When someone is depressed, problems can be magnified and may seem insurmountable. You can help your partner by solving practical problems, which could be as simple as doing more than your share of housework for a little while. Listen more. Clear communication and active listening can help your partner to feel better supported and more in control. Do some exercise. Help your partner to get some gentle exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block. This can have the added benefit of helping with sleep problems. Get your partner out of the house. While it might seem easier to avoid social situations, it’s often best to try and turn up to things that they would usually enjoy. Even if you plan just to go out for half an hour, you can help your partner break out of the loop of depression and inactivity. Notice what helps. What usually makes your partner feel better – a morning walk? Cooking a healthy meal? Make a note of what works, and encourage your partner to do more of it. Keeping a mood journal can also help you to show your partner that they have been making improvements, as they may find it hard to focus on the positives [6]. Seeing a partner go through depression can be upsetting but, with the right support, even the most severe cases can be treated. As with any illness, you should seek professional help if you are worried. Recovery is likely to be gradual, but it is possible, and you can play an important part. This article gives just a quick overview of how you can support a partner with depression. For a more in-depth look, we recommend reading, ‘Depression and low mood: A guide for the partner’, co-produced by OnePlusOne and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. References [1] Bolton, J., Bisson, J., Guthrie, E., Wood., S. (2011) Depression: key facts. Retrieved from http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/depressionkeyfacts.aspx [2] NHS (2015). Low mood and depression - NHS Choices. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/low-mood-and-depression.aspx  [3] Crowe, M. (2004). Couples and mental illness. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 19:3, 309-318. [4] Hickey, D., Carr, A., Dooley, B., Guerin, S., Butler, E., & Fitzpatrick, L. (2005). Family and marital profiles of couples in which one partner has depression or anxiety. Journal of marital and family therapy, 31(2), 171-182. [5] Bodenmann, G., Plancherel, B., Beach, S. R., Widmer, K., Gabriel, B., Meuwly, N., ... & Schramm, E. (2008). Effects of coping-oriented couples therapy on depression: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 76(6), 944. [6] NICE (2009) Depression: The Treatment and Management of Depression in Adults (Update). NICE clinical guideline 90. Available at www.nice.org.uk/CG90.
Article | depression
5 min read
Depression during pregnancy
One in ten pregnant women experience mental health problems, and often go undiagnosed until after the baby is born. The pregnancy and parenting charity Tommy’s has produced a video encouraging pregnant women to seek support if they feel anxious or depressed. The short clip follows the story of a woman’s journey through pregnancy as she realises she’s not coping and finds someone to talk to. Around 10-15% of pregnant women experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression [1] but, despite antenatal depression being very similar to postnatal depression, many go undiagnosed and untreated until after the baby is born. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, and losing interest in activities that used to be fun. Most women feel more emotional than usual during pregnancy, but the video urges you to seek help if you notice that you’re unhappy more than half of the time, or if feelings linger for more than a couple of weeks. When you’re pregnant, it might seem like there’s a pressure on you to feel happy all the time, or to be flushed and glowing with the joys of impending motherhood. If this doesn’t describe your experience, it can be quite distressing and you may even feel guilty for not living up to the expectations of those around you. Your midwife or health visitor will understand. Speak to them and let them know that you need support. You partner, family, and friends can also offer support, by talking things through with you and offering practical support. Let them know you’re not feeling yourself and that you might need some extra support. If you can, hand some of your regular chores over to your partner, or ask someone to help out. Friends love to feel like they are helping, but sometimes need to be given specific tasks like popping to the shops or watering your plants when they come over. Try to eat as healthily as possible, take some gentle exercise, and rest whenever you have the opportunity. Getting regular sleep can have a positive impact on your mood. Take time out to focus on yourself and do something you enjoy. Allow yourself a chance to relax and ease some of the pressure. If you are worried about other areas of your life, such as finances, housing, or your relationship, look into the support available for these specific issues. If you can keep external factors under control, you may find it easier to cope with whatever feelings you are juggling. Keep talking to your partner. Help them to understand what you’re going through, what you’re doing to try and make things better, and what kind of support you need at home. References [1] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (2014). Clinical guideline 192: Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192 (Accessed July 2018) [2] Howard L.M, Molyneaux E, Dennis C et al (2014).  Non-Psychotic mental disorders in the perinatal period.  Lancet 384: 1775-1788.
Article | pregnancy, depression, postnatal depression
2 min read
Making the most of relationship counselling
Relationship counselling doesn’t have to be disaster management, and may even be more useful when it’s used to strengthen the foundations of your relationship before things get out of hand. It might seem like relationship counselling is only for couples who are in serious trouble, but couples who seek it out sooner rather than later are more likely to feel the benefits. A study into the effectiveness of relationship counselling found that those who entered into counselling early on when their issues were still manageable were more likely to have positive results [1]. This echoes what we already know getting help before things get out of hand. Around three quarters of the couples in the study experienced benefits to seeing a counsellor. In the cases where it felt less helpful, it was often because the issues were already too deeply entrenched to be resolved – particularly in cases of domestic violence, or where one partner was seeking a safe space to end the relationship. How to make the most of relationship counselling If you’re considering relationship counselling, you’re most likely to get things running smoothly again if you start as soon as possible. But, if you’ve gone into counselling when things are already difficult, you can still see an improvement, as long as you approach it with the right attitude. Bear the following in mind as you go into each section: The sessions are as much about listening and learning as about getting your own point across and being heard. You’ll need to look at things from your partner’s point of view to fully understand what’s going on. You’re more likely to solve problems by reflecting on your own behaviour, than criticising your partner’s. So, if you’re finding that conflict is difficult to resolve on your own, go and get some help while the issue is still small. Keep an eye out for warning signs and don’t be afraid to seek help with your relationship. Often, people can worry that going to a counsellor means they are in big trouble, or that it’s the beginning of the end but, if you go early enough, the opposite can be true! References [1] Hunter, C., and Commerford, J. (2015). Relationship education and counselling: Recent research findings in CFCA (33), retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/relationship-education-and-counselling
Article | counselling, therapy
2 min read
“A newfound love for my ex”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I've been single for over 6 months now and I feel over my past relationship. I'm no longer sad or angry about what happened and I've been able to accept that it's gone and I don't particularly want to pick it up where it left off as I wasn't in a happy place mentally towards the end (brought on by battling my mental health issues, balancing work and family, and then also trying to find time for us where I wasn't talking about work, family or mental health) and it was making my boyfriend miserable too. We ended things on a reasonable note even though I was distraught but he couldn't be both my partner and a supporter while I was mentally unstable which I completely understand and respect. He said that one day when I'm mentally alright again and have done all I've wanted to achieve (higher self esteem, physical fitness, confidence) then we could potentially try again as he still loved me and didn't want to lose me which I agreed to at the time and never expected it would happen (I was in a dark place and thought he hated me for some time). Fast forward to now, I have felt myself still feeling love towards my ex which I've been trying to ignore or pass off as platonic but I know it's not. Small things like seeing his name flash up when I get a text, messages that remind me of how we used to talk and how close we were, all sorts of things are making my heart flutter and melt like it did 3 years ago when we were very much in love at the beginning of our relationship and taking on the world side by side. When people mention the future I see him and it's very much unintentional, and when I fantasize about being with a man I always end up thinking of him again and I can't seem to stop it. I don't find anyone attractive or interesting enough to want to talk to them or to start a conversation with them, except for him (who I've luckily not seen in person for most of the breakup period). I want to see if the two of us have a chance to be happy together now that both of us have had time apart to care for ourselves and mature a bit more but I have no clue how to approach this at all. I feel somewhat idiotic for posting such a thing online but I needed to see if anyone else has managed to get back with their ex partner and how they went about doing it (besides the straight up "wanna date" route) and what suggestions you guys have for me in my situation. I want to start fresh with him and not dwell on the past but I need help and advice. Any help anyone can give me is much appreciated!
Ask the community | dating, new partner
“My husband has disconnected from me”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I feel selfish posting this, but I can't help but feel like I'm alone in my marriage. My husband is a good person and a decent provider, but he's not there for me emotionally. I know his work environment has gotten pretty toxic in the past year or so (his employer has been forcing older, more long-term employees out the door and hiring younger, cheaper help), and I know he worries about not making enough money if he were to leave and go somewhere less hostile (we would survive, we're not poor), and I have encouraged him to look elsewhere for a less stressful job, but he hasn't done anything about it. Because he is stressed about work all the time, he comes home every night, eats dinner and then either fiddles with his phone surfing the internet or he sits in front of the TV until he goes to bed. We never go anywhere together, unless it's the grocery store or some other mundane thing, we haven't taken a vacation in years, and he never wants to do anything. We have seen a marriage counselor before, but he only went a couple of times until he decided that I was depressed and should continue seeing the counselor alone. Yeah, I AM DEPRESSED because my husband isn't in our relationship. I guess the last straw was today, our 16th anniversary, and he came home from work and flopped down on the couch with his tablet. I purposely sat down with him and he ignored me for about an hour until he mumbled "Happy Anniversary" and went to the fridge to heat up leftovers for dinner. After he ate his leftovers, he watched TV and went to bed. It is my wedding anniversary and I'm sitting on the couch with my cat. I am so angry and sad and hurt by this behavior of my husband that I don't know what to do. When I try to talk to him about it, he either ignores me (the damn TV, the phone or the tablet) or he turns it around on me and complains about how bad his job is and how I have no idea what the working world is like these days. (Um, yeah, actually I do. I worked in corporate America for 2 decades until I left and started my own business 2 yrs ago, which wasn't exactly an easy thing to do, either.) Can someone please give me some advice? I'm so sad right now.
Ask the community | communication, mental health
How to see the best in your partner
Seeing the best in your partner can help keep you both happy, reminding you of the person you fell in love with in the first place, and putting your relationship in a positive light. It’s natural to want to compare your partner to other people but the way you do it can make a significant difference to how you feel about your relationship. One study found that comparing your partner to someone else can be a positive experience as long as you find a way to make peace with the comparison [1]. Making comparisons is one of the ways we make sense of the world. We choose our partners because we like them more than we like other people, so it’s understandable that we would keep comparing them to others. To take a practical example, if you notice that your partner isn’t as good at tidying up around the house as your best friend’s partner, you might start to find them lacking. But, if you accept that perhaps your partner doesn’t have as much free time as your friend’s partner, or that you’re happy to do the majority of the tidying, then you might be more willing to let it go. This kind of justification can help you to see your partner in a more positive light. It’s when you don’t, or can’t, justify the negative comparisons that you risk feeling more stressed and getting into arguments. One of the things that affects the way we’re able to make these kinds of justifications is the way we view our role in the relationship. If you see your relationship as a unit, and refer to yourselves as ‘we’ and ‘us’, rather than ‘I’ or ‘me’, you may be more likely to compare your partner favourably to others, and let things go. This is known as ‘self-other overlap’ and helps you see the best in your partner. When you talk to your friends about what you’ve been up to lately, try to notice whether you say ‘I’ or ‘we’. Saying ‘we’ might just be the key to seeing your partner more positively next time you find yourself comparing them to somebody else. References [1] Thai, S., Lockwood, P. (2015). Comparing You = Comparing Me: Social Comparisons of the Expanded Self in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41 (7).
Article | communication, trust
2 min read
One simple change to improve your sex life
If you are among the many couples who put so much pressure on themselves to have amazing sex that you are avoiding it all together, one simple change could make all the difference. In a poll of 6,000 people, nearly half said they were happy with their sex lives. However, that leaves more than half of us wanting something more. Just over half said they had not had sex at all in the last month. Researchers involved in the study suggested that simply changing your attitude can make all the difference to how happy you feel about your sex life. Many couples say they want sex to be more spontaneous but, due to the nature of our busy modern lives, it’s sometimes necessary to plan for our intimate moments. This may not be such a bad thing, especially as it can reduce the pressure you’re putting on yourselves, and help you enjoy the sex you are having. Another easy way to change your attitude is to recognise the good things you already have. Rather than trying to live up to sex you see on TV, or what you imagine other people might be doing, just allow yourself to enjoy the reality of your own relationship. Remember also that sex doesn’t always have to mean intercourse – it all counts, and the important thing is that you both have a good time. If you’re very busy or exhausted after a long day, sometimes just an intimate cuddle can be enough to help you feel close and remind each other of the connection you share. Psychosexual therapist Cate Campbell says: “It’s sad that so few people are sexually satisfied and put pressure on themselves to perform. Noticing what is going well, rather than dwelling on problems, is quite difficult when we’re all bombarded with messages about how sex ‘ought’ to be. “Sex definitely doesn’t have to be disappointing – there's plenty that can turn your situation around so you can enjoy a sustained, fulfilling sex life. What constitutes a satisfying sex life can vary wildly from one person to the next, so working out what makes you tick is a great starting point”.
Article | sex, communication
Managing handovers with your ex-partner
If you are feeling awkward or upset at the prospect of facing your ex, then handovers can be very difficult. You may have to exercise some self-control just to stay calm.If you still have very raw feelings about your ex, you may be tempted to use handovers as an opportunity to speak your mind. Keep in mind that children are very sensitive to the feelings and attitudes around them and that they will pick up on conflict between their parents. For your children’s sakes, it’s important to try and make handovers as pleasant as possible.Some handover etiquette: Be courteous. Turn up on time - let the other parent know if you are delayed. Make sure the children have everything they need. Keep difficult conversations away from the children. If you are struggling with this, consider alternative ways of managing the handovers so that your children are protected. Dealing with change over time Transitions are difficult for everyone, especially in the early days. Coming face-to-face with your ex and saying goodbye to your children can bring up some very difficult feelings. It can help to have something planned for the time immediately following the handover so that you can remain upbeat. While it’s hard now, you may eventually come to value the opportunity to have some space to yourself.Children have their own feelings to cope with at handover time. They will need time to settle down, adjust to being in a different home, and get used to their mum or dad not being there. Transitions can be sad reminders to children that their parents aren't together anymore and it's not unusual for young children to come home from a weekend with the other parent in a bad mood. Understanding this can help you manage your expectations, and cope with any changes in your child's behaviour.Follow this link for further information on children in the middle after separation.
Article | parenting apart, ex-partner
2 min read
Mediation Information Assessment Meetings
Attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is now a requirement for most people wishing to take divorce proceedings to court.Before you can start court proceedings over money, property, possessions or arrangements for children, you must usually have attended a MIAM. These meetings are designed to offer help and useful advice. How MIAMs work At the meeting, a mediator will try to work out if mediation can help both parties reach an agreement. Depending on your preference, you can attend the meeting alone or with your husband, wife or civil partner. During the meeting, you’ll be able to find out more about mediation and ask questions about the process. They can also give you advice on other services that may be able to help you. After the MIAM After the meeting, if you and the mediator feel that mediation can help you reach an agreement, you can start mediation sessions. If you are not going to start mediation sessions and you decide to apply to court instead, the mediator will need to sign the court form. When you won't be expected to have a MIAM The court won’t expect you to have attended a mediation meeting if: A mediator doesn’t think the case is suitable for mediation and has said so within the past four months. Either of you has made an allegation of domestic violence against the other within the past 12 months and police investigations or civil proceedings were started. Your dispute is about money and either of you is bankrupt. You don’t know where your husband, wife or civil partner is. You want to apply for a court order but for specific reasons don’t intend to give your husband, wife or civil partner any notice. The court application is urgent because someone’s life or physical safety is at risk or a child is at risk of significant harm. The order is about a child who is already involved with social services because of concerns over their protection. You’ve contacted three mediators within 15 miles of your home and are unable to get an appointment with any of them within 15 working days. Source: www.gov.uk
Article | mediation, divorce
3 min read
Marriage preparation
Religious weddings have often included a tradition of premarital counselling for couples, ranging from a day of personal exploration, to months of in-depth marriage preparation. As civil ceremonies overtake religious ceremonies in popularity, we offer a few examples of marriage preparation available in the UK.Click is not responsible for the content of external links and sites. While every effort is made to ensure the quality and content of external sites, no responsibility or liability is taken for external content. Bristol Community Family Trust http://www.2-in-2-1.co.uk/services/bcft/ Bristol Community Family Trust (BCFT) is a non-profit charity focused on the prevention of family breakdown. BCFT have been running marriage, relationship and mentoring courses since 1996. Insight is for couples who are engaged, recently married, or just thinking about it. Courses run every month, for couples getting married or newlyweds, and include a day of PREP skills training in the classroom followed by three to six private evenings going through the FOCCUS questionnaire with a mentor couple. BCFT also runs courses every month to train mentors. Mentors are ordinary non-expert married couples who want to make a difference. Couples getting married can suggest their own friends as mentors or accept mentors provided by BCFT. Care for the Family http://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/ Care for the Family is a national charity which aims to promote strong family life. The charity runs three different marriage preparation courses: 21st Century Marriage- an eight-session, DVD-based course which couples may find particularly relevant if they have already been living together for some time. Marriage by Design– a one-day course led by a licenced facilitator, presented in an informal and relaxed manner. From this step forward- this unique marriage preparation course will help you to build a strong relationship on which to build your stepfamily. Couples can use this course at home with or without the help of a facilitator. Marriage Care http://www.marriagecare.org.uk/how-we-help/marriage-preparation/ Marriage Care is a charity operating across England and Wales. Volunteers are mainly, though not exclusively, drawn from within the Catholic community. Couples can attend a group course or choose to complete the FOCCUS Inventory which is designed for use with individual couples. The Marriage Preparation Course http://themarriagecourses.org/try/the-marriage-preparation-course/ The Marriage Preparation Course is part of Alpha and, whilst the course is based on Christian principles, it is designed for all couples with or without a church background. You do not need to be getting married in a church to attend the course. The course takes place over five evenings and covers communication, commitment, resolving conflict, keeping love alive and shared goals and values.All participants are required to complete the FOCCUS questionnaire, which is a self-diagnostic inventory designed to help you learn more about yourselves and your relationship. Prepare-Enrich Programme http://www.prepare-enrich.co.uk/ The Prepare-Enrich programme helps couples prepare for marriage, enrich their relationship, or review and improve their co-parenting by taking stock of their strengths and growth areas. Facilitators help couples develop key relationship skills and communicate better on important topics. The Church of England http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/youre-welcome/preparing-for-marriage.aspx Tips from the Church of England on how to speak to your Vicar about marriage preparation. 
Article | marriage, religion
4 min read
Relationships and going to university
Starting college or university is a big life change. If, like many young students, this is the first time you are leaving home, it might be an exciting and daunting time. The prospect of studying, living, and partying in a new place with new people could fill you with a powerful mix of emotions.But nothing dampens the excitement of a new start like an existing relationship. If you’re in a long-term relationship, or even if you’ve just started seeing someone over the summer, it can be hard to know how to handle a move to college or university.If you’re both moving away to study, you’ll be meeting new people; if one of you is staying at home, it could bring up a whole other set of challenges. The impending change might force you to assess the relationship. You might start wondering what they future holds, and if you can cope with a long distance relationship. Talk it out If you and your partner haven’t talked about your plans, it’s worth initiating a conversation. Have a think about your hopes and worries, and talk to you partner about how you’re feeling. Ask them how they feel about the situation– their answer might surprise you, so be prepared to listen to whatever they have to say. Try a long distance relationship If you and your partner are confident that your relationship is strong enough to last, then you can try having a long distance relationship. Many couples manage this successfully, staying in touch by text, phone or email during the term and catching up in the holidays. Depending on how far apart you are, you may be able to visit each other more frequently.How often you communicate is something you’ll have to work out together. Some couples choose to have set times, which can help avoid conflict about who’s turn it is to call whom. When you are studying in a new place, you will need to take time to pursue new interests, make new friends and, of course, study. It’s important to make the most of these new experiences, but it can be difficult for your partner. They may feel left out or worried that you’ll forget about them.It may take a few goes to get it right, but once you start communicating with each other at long distance, you’ll find there’s a balance that works for you. If you can’t visit each other during term time, plan something special for the holidays so you’ve got something to look forward to. Think carefully before making any big decisions It can be easy to get caught up in the passion of the present. You may be tempted to choose a university that’s closer to your partner, or even give up your studies altogether. It’s important to remember that this stage of your education could have profound consequences for your future. If your relationship is strong enough, it will survive the distance. Your education may not be quite so forgiving. Stop think about which matters most to you before you commit to a decision.
Article | big changes, long distance
3 min read
Dealing with disapproval as a same-sex couple
Although attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples seem to be becoming more positive, many LGBTQ+ people still face a considerable amount of stigma, discrimination and prejudice.Same-sex couples often face unique additional difficulties which can include coming out, negative reactions from family and friends, fear of public displays of affection and homophobic abuse.Here, three same-sex couples tell their stories:  Kat (21) and Carly (20) Kat and Carly have been together for a year. Kat is out to her immediate family and they are accepting of her sexuality and her relationship with Carly.While being very happy in their relationship, Kat is not entirely comfortable with her sexuality. She keeps her relationship hidden from other extended family members including her aunt, to whom she introduced Carly as a friend. Kat worries about holding hands in public.Carly, on the other hand, is completely comfortable with her sexual identity and public displays of affection. Carly is helping Kat face her fears by holding hands in public, but she remains very aware of her surroundings and the reactions of others. Brendan (24) and Josh (23) Brendan and Josh have been together for three years. They have experienced verbal abuse more than once while holding hands in public. This has mostly happened on weekend nights. However, on one daytime occasion, as Brendan and Josh were walking hand-in-hand, a man in a white van slowed down and shouted homophobic abuse and expletives at them. Brendan shared their experience of this upsetting event on Twitter and received lots of positive support. Both Brendan and Josh say that homophobic abuse will not stop them from being themselves and holding hands in public. Lindsay (30) and Dana (31) Lindsay and Dana have been together for two years. Lindsay’s parents reacted very negatively to her coming out. They were verbally abusive, equating homosexuality with paedophilia, and disowning their daughter. This experience was heart-breaking and emotional for the couple, and Lindsay says it was the hardest six months of her life. Despite this, the couple feel they are stronger because they got through it by communicating, spending time together and seeking support from their close friends. Lindsay has since been able to repair the relationship with her parents to some extent, but they don’t associate with Dana much, which puts pressure on them both. Lindsay has accepted that her parents don’t like her relationship and believes her parents are missing out by not knowing Dana. These case studies come from a PhD research project by Danni Pearson of the Open University. The research is entitled ‘The Trials, Tribulations and Celebrations of Young Same-Sex Couples in Long-term Relationships’ and explores how young same-sex couples experience and sustain their relationships. The research is also connected to the Enduring Love project.
Article | same-sex, LGBTQ+
3 min read
“Loss of intimacy”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My husband and I have been married 3 yrs with 2 kids together (4 kids total). Our sex life has always been great but for the past year it hasnt been. We will have sex every now and then. Maybe every 2 weeks and sometimes every month or longer..I started to become curious as to why he lost interest and noticed he was watching porn on his phone. I knew he did off and on but noticed how often he was doing it for the past few months...he would even look at this stuff during his lunch breaks at work awhile telling me he was taking a nap. His addiction affected our marriage because he never desired sex with me anymore but every now and then. We got into a heated arguement one time and he admitted he had a problem. We decided to take internet off his phone completely so he wouldnt be tempted anymore but he still isnt being intimate with me... the sex still isnt happening as often and when I confront him he swears up and down there is nothing wrong with our sex life, with me or anything that he is just lazy. He will only initiate sex if I have complained that day about it. I finally decided that I wasnt going to complain or ask him for it anymore because I didnt want to get my Hope's up that we would have sex more...I dont know what else to do
User article | intimacy, sex
How addiction affects your relationship
A substance use problem often leads to changes in a person’s behaviour that can be damaging to a relationship. They may be emotional and unpredictable. They may feel ashamed or afraid of the consequences of their addiction being discovered. They will sometimes lie to conceal the true extent of it. If this sounds like your partner, you may wonder what impact it is likely to have on your relationship. Secrecy and deceit can cause a breakdown of trust in the relationship. As the partner of an addicted person, you may feel suspicious of the reasons for your partner’s behaviour. You might also feel confused, scared, or angry at the change in your partner and the unpredictable situation. “The worst thing when I discovered their addiction was that I’d been lied to”. A partner with a substance use problem may have highs and lows – they may be happy and positive one moment, and anxious, irritable, or depressed the next. They may be preoccupied and pay less attention to their partner. This unpredictable behaviour and mood can often cause arguments. If an argument starts every time you try to discuss the problem, both of you may give up trying to talk, leading to a breakdown in communication. A distance can grow between you, and there may be a loss of interest in sex or intimacy. “If I try to explain why I started drinking it turns into a row. It’s easier not to talk to each other at all”. However, problematic substance use is not always hidden. You might know that your partner has a problem but feel like you are walking on eggshells as you try to keep the peace. You might also fear that, if you rock the boat, you will drive you partner further into their addiction. Sometimes, people will take on more responsibility in the home, with childcare and finances, to compensate for their partner becoming unreliable. You might feel you have to take control of everything and even become a ‘parent’ to your partner. Children in the family can also suffer. The parent with the addiction may become withdrawn and lose interest in family activities. The other partner may be distracted because of juggling extra responsibilities. Children are often aware of arguments and tension in the home and feel scared and confused. If they get used to seeing addictive behaviour, they may learn and develop similar behaviour themselves. What to do when dealing with a substance use problem Facing up to a substance use problem can feel hard, as it often makes the problem seem more real. But, in a relationship where one person has a problem, both partners may be in denial. If you both feel powerless to make changes, it can feel easier to pretend nothing is happening. You may feel like you can’t talk to family and friends about the problem. You may blame yourself or just feel embarrassed that outsiders will see your partner or your relationship in a negative way. Your partner may have asked you not to tell anyone. There are then two people feeling very scared, resentful, and lonely within the relationship. Talking to an unbiased person outside of your relationship can feel a real relief and a step toward change. If you are experiencing problems in your relationship as the result of addiction, it may be worth seeking professional help. Online relationship advice such as our listening room, support, information, and counselling can be very valuable in many cases. If you are experiencing domestic violence or any form of abuse in your relationship or family, it may be advisable for you to seek support from a specialist agency. If the problem is long term, involves cutting or physical harm, or has been triggered by traumatic life events, it may be advisable to seek face-to-face counselling via a specialist agency or your GP. If you are worried about someone close to you, you may find it helpful to check out Relationship Realities which features real stories by real people who are affected by alcohol and drug use problems.
Article | addiction
4 min read
Moving on from addiction as a couple
The first step to moving on from a substance use problem is facing up to things together. When substance use is a problem in your relationship, you both need to take the same first step – you and your partner have to be honest with yourselves and each other that the problem is there. If it feels like the behaviour is just beginning to get out of hand, like drinking too much every Friday night, it may still be possible for the person responsible to try to cut down, particularly with support from their partner. However, if it feels like you are past the ‘take it or leave it’ stage, or communication between you has broken down, it may be time to seek professional advice, information, or counselling. It is often valuable for both partners to seek support. If you are not the partner with the problem, you may wonder why you need counselling. Living with an addicted partner can cause personal stresses and strains. You may have bottled things up, worried that you might upset your partner or make things worse. Counselling provides a safe, confidential space to talk through your thoughts and feelings. Attending counselling as a couple can be a great step forward. It can allow space and time for you to be honest with each other about your thoughts and feelings and to deal with problems that may have arisen in your relationship through the addictive behaviour. The counsellor will make sure you both have space to say what you need to say, and will support you in improving communication with each other. Often, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome after a substance use problem is the betrayal of trust. As the partner of an addicted person, you may have been on the receiving end of broken promises before. You may wonder, ‘How can I be certain this time it will be different?’. If the problem was hidden, it may feel harder to trust your partner, and you fear a relapse being kept from you. The partner who has stopped their behaviour may feel frustrated at the lack of trust, wondering, “Will I ever be treated as a responsible adult again?”. It may take time, but you can work together to rebuild trust. Every relationship is different. You should only try these suggestions if you think they might be right for you. Online advice, support, information and counselling can be very valuable in many cases. Sharing your story with the Click community may help you feel less isolated. If you are experiencing domestic violence or any form of abuse in your relationship or family, it would be advisable to seek support from a specialist agency. If the addiction problem is long term or involves drugs, alcohol, cutting or physically harming yourself, or has been triggered by traumatic life events, it may be advisable to seek face-to-face counselling from a specialist agency or via your GP. If you are worried about someone close to you, you may find it helpful to check out Relationship Realities which features real stories by real people who are affected by alcohol and drug use problems.
Article | addiction
3 min read
“When do I give up?”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My boyfriend and I have been on and off for the last six years. Most recently we have been together for a little over a year and at one point he moved hundreds of miles away from family and friends to be with me. However, recently we got into a fight which resulted in him moving back home the next day and us breaking up. It was an amicable split and I thought it was really the end of things because we both agreed we loved each other, but it just wasn't working. After a few weeks apart he texted me saying he wants to work on things and figure out how to be together. I'm frustrated beyond belief because I'm now in a terrible situation. We are back to being in a long distance relationship, and my friends and family are all happy that he's out of my life, because I haven't told them yet. He wants to pursue counseling and work on things together. I'm having a hard time because I really do love this man and want a future with him, but I don't want to go back to the way things have been in the past. In addition, we're only 20 and I worry that this is too young to already be needing counseling in the relationship for trust and communication issues. My question is, do I invest a little more time into the relationship in the hopes that we can resolve some of these things through counseling? Or is it finally time to let go?
Ask the community | communication, long distance
“Lazy, unemployed partner”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My partner (28) and I (22) have just moved in together, whilst also moving 150 miles away from my family (He as no connection to his). We have been in the new area for 3 months, but together for 3 years. However my partner still has no job. We are currently renting and my income pays for everything (barely). However I have recently sustained an injury resulting in me being off work for 2 months, and without anything to do. We are barely covering costs, and if it weren't for my car being written off a few weeks ago, we would not be able to meet our bills for the next two months. I have asked him on several occasions when he plans to get a job, and the short response I receive is "I've done a few applications today, but I don't want to do any more". I ask him if he is going to go to the agencies that are local and his response is "at some point". At the moment I am becoming increasingly stressed and anxious that he will not be "paying his way" so to speak. He presently sits on his laptop all day watching videos on YouTube and playing games. Very rarely does he take an interest in what I am doing nor seems to be making an effort to amount to anything. I have on several occasions tried talking to him about the money situation and that I cannot afford to support us both, but then I get calls from lawyers saying otherwise (from my car accident and a personal injury claim) I don't know what to do, or even to raise the topic again as I only receive coldness and short blunt answers in return. Many advice?
Ask the community | communication, finance
How getting married affects your finances
Getting married doesn’t affect your credit rating, but it may have some financial implications that you haven’t yet considered. If you have a joint account or a shared mortgage or bank loan, your credit rating will be tied to your partner’s, and affected by any changes. Most couples have at least one of these financial ties before tying the proverbial knot, so the act of getting married is unlikely to change any of this. Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk, says: “Your credit record won’t be affected just because you say, ‘I do’; it’s not until you apply for joint accounts that you become financially linked. It will impact your entitlement to Tax Credits though, and you may also get tax back if you qualify for Marriage Allowance; so, it’s worth telling HMRC [and] insurance providers – this is definitely worth doing because it could mean you pay less for cover!” Marriage Allowance was introduced by the government in April 2015. What this means is that if you earn less than £11,500 and your spouse or civil partner earns more than that (but less than £45,000), then you may be eligible to transfer some of your tax-free allowance over to them. This guide will help you learn how to take advantage of this. You can also make tax-free gifts to your partner. For example, if one of you receives a financial inheritance, you can give a portion of this to your spouse without being taxed. You may also be able to cut the tax you are charged on your savings interest. When you earn interest in a regular savings account, you are charged tax according to your income tax bracket. If your spouse is in a lower tax bracket than you, or if they aren’t a tax-payer, storing your savings in their name can save you money on the interest you earn. Of course, it’s very important that you trust your partner before taking this on! If you have a will, it will become invalid as soon as you get married, so you will need to update it or write a new one. Hannah Maundrell says: “Tying the knot doesn’t mean that your every worldly possession is half your partner’s… while you’re alive at least. The situation is very different if you die, so you need to update your will as a priority because your old one will be invalidated. It does mean that you could earn more interest on your savings if you trust them with your money and they’re in a lower income tax band than you”.
Article | finance, marriage
3 min read
“I cheated on my husband”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Last week my husband was in Korea to rap at a concert. i know very well he doesn't condone men in our home without him there. My best friend's ex called me and ask if i could discuss how to charm my friend back to him? l told him my hubby was out of town on business so i could not have him in my home. We met at local coffee shop. i sat across from him and he immediately sat next to me and put his arm around my shoulder and rested his hand on my breast. he is much bigger than me. i pulled away and admonished him about going overboard in familiarity. he said he noticed i smiled sexy at him last time he chatted with my hubby. he put his arm back around me and kissed me passionately. My husband was gone three days and i lustfully responded and so did not resist even knowing i should. he snapped a selfie clearly showing his hand caressing my breast. he said that he would not share it because he really liked me. we continued to make out and ended up going all the way at his pad including a couple of nudies after intercourse. i found out he knew my hubby was out of town so took advantage of me and hated my girlfriend anyway for breaking up with him.he had no interest in being with her just an avenue to get me alone. My husband is a great provider and loves my son and me. i feel so ashamed of my momentary loss of control with his best friend. i very scared if he found what he would do to me and his best friend. i think he would get very physical and emotional to both of us. i gone church twice and confessed my sins but still feel guilt. i don't think i will cheat again but not completely sure. should i bury this sin or disclose to husband or best friend? How can i know if i will be weak again? i asked him to delete naughty selfies and he agreed. i think from his perspective he would keep them as hot memories of bedding me and probably share to friends he bagged me when my husband was away.
Ask the community | trust, cheating
The father-child bond
Some dads fall in love with their babies as soon as they see them, but that isn’t everyone’s experience. If your baby seems like a stranger, you needn’t panic. Love at first sight is by no means common and, like all relationships, the bond between father and child takes time to develop. Lots of new dads feel under pressure to make all the right noises, but the reality of fatherhood can be different to your expectation. You may feel like a bit of a spare part too, particularly in the first few weeks when it seems to be all about mother and baby. Though it may be tough to admit to it, a little jealousy is completely natural too. Your bond with your child will grow as you spend more time together and get to know each other better. This will happen naturally over time but there are some things you can do to speed the process along. It may seem obvious, but try to keep in mind that you are dealing with another human being. Your baby has its own personality and moods, and that character will soon shine through. For many fathers, it doesn’t become clear how much personality babies are born with until the birth of their second child, and the revelation that they are not the same. So, how do you get to know a new born baby whose whole world seems to revolve around their mum? Here are some top tips: Give yourself some credit. Don’t be put off by the fact that most baby products and services are aimed at mothers. Be proud of the important role you play in your baby’s life. Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to feel. Becoming a dad is a shock to the system. Let yourself feel whatever you feel. Talk to your partner or a trusted friend; or, ask a professional like your health visitor, or someone from your local Children’s Centre. You could also make a post on Click, as there may be someone reading who has been through something similar to what you’re going through now. Take part in the baby’s routine. Get involved with feeding, burping, bathing, cuddling, carrying, changing nappies, and so on. Your involvement with the baby can just as significant as you make it, and this quality time will help you get to know each other. Be silly. Sing to your baby, and dance around to your favourite tunes. Invent games, and explore your inner child. You will soon learn what makes your baby smile, and when you do you won’t be able to stop. Smile at your baby. It sounds obvious but there is very little more rewarding than seeing your baby smiling toothlessly back at you. Hold your baby. Don’t shy away from physical contact. Having a warm baby sleep on your chest is a great way to relax. Cuddles and tickles help build bonds too.
Article | fathers, baby
3 min read
Friendships are good for your relationship
It’s great to love spending time with your partner and feeling like two peas in a pod, but mixing with other couples and spending leisure time away from your partner can be a positive strengthening force for your relationship. Having happy and supportive friendships with other couples can make your relationship more exciting and more fulfilling. It can make you and your partner feel more attracted to each other, giving you a chance to experience how other couples interact and resolve conflict, and helping towards a better understanding of relationships in general [1]. But, couples shouldn’t necessarily just rely on the friends they have in common. A study looking into Facebook friends [2] revealed that it wasn’t the couples who had lots of digital friends in common who had the longest lasting relationships or the most positive interactions. It was the couples whose friends were not connected to each other whose relationships appeared strongest [3]. It’s important to have your own friends, and even to spend some quality time with them away from your partner. Couples who pursue their own activities with friends and alone, as well as spending time with their partner, are tend to be more satisfied with their relationship [4]. Socialising and having friendships outside of your relationship is an integral part of maintaining your individual mental and physical wellbeing. Now it looks like we know they are good for the health of our relationships too. So get organising some double dates and some fun with friends, because time outside of the cocoon of your coupledom seems to be very satisfying for both partners. References [1] University of Maryland Baltimore. (2012, January 13). Couples' friendships make for happier marriages, relationships. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120113211028.htm [2] Backstrom, L., and Kleinberg, J. (2013). Romantic Partnerships and the Dispersion of Social Ties: A Network Analysis of Relationship Status on Facebook. Cornell University. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/pdf/1310.6753v1.pdf [3] Lohr, S. (2013). Researchers Draw Romantic Insights From Maps of Facebook Networks. New York Times. 28 October, 2013. [4] Crawford, D.W., Houts, R. M., Huston, T. L., and George, L.J. (2002). Compatibility, Leisure, and Satisfaction in Marital Relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64 (2), pages 433–449
Article | friends
2 min read
“Caught out cheating”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I went on a diving trip last year where I left my partner and her children at home. Whilst on this holiday I put sun lotion on another female's back and when I got home was asked why I was in pictures with this certain girl, I told her I didn’t know why we had just been in the same social group whilst on this holiday. She then asked if anything had happened, I lied and told her nothing had happened even though I had put sun lotion on her back. Few months later I exchanged flirty messages with this girl and one other I was working with at the time. I was caught out after my little girl was playing on my phone. My partner has tried to deal with this understanding that I would never do it again but she can’t trust me, and is no longer happy in the relationship, so she’s asked me to give her some space and move out for a bit, telling me that for me to be serious about the relationship I would do it, I have agreed and respect her enough to do as she has asked. However now I feel alone, I feel since I was caught out we’ve lost our communication in the relationship, so as well as her not trusting me I feel I need to be able to communicate with her better, but how do I get back to where we were happy in our relationship. I wasn’t expecting her to trust me straight away but I want her to be able to trust me again, I love her, and she tells m e she loves me.
Ask the community | trust, jealousy, cheating
“Married with a crush”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I have been married for over 10 years and together for around 18 years. We also have two children together. I have always been faithful and never strayed and nor has my partner. Over the past couple of years our sex life has gone downhill somewhat to the point it is now it probably once every two to three months and when we do it, its nothing special. I am finding myself spending less and less together and most days go by without even such a kiss or I love you anymore. We don't argue much and do generally get along pretty well together. Almost two years ago I joined a local amateur dramatics group and have done a few performances, I met a girl there and we get on great. I will admit I am attracted to her. The current show we are doing involves a long kissing scene and passionate cuddling etc, we are still in rehearsals at the moment but even during the read-through I could feel my heart racing at the thought of this kiss. We have now practised the scene a few times (yes my partner does know about this) and it is now all I can think about. I haven't felt so excited for a very long time now and long for the next rehearsal so we can kiss again. I sort of sense my fellow actor enjoys it as much a I do but she too is married and we haven't really discussed it and nothing has happened outside of rehearsals. It is tearing me up inside a millions thoughts going through my head, part of me wants to ask her about how the kissing scene makes her feel and let her know how I feel too. Or is it that I am longing to be loved something that has been missing from our relationship for a long time now. Your advice welcome.
Ask the community | someone else, flirting
Letting go of other people’s stress
You may have experienced days at work when your colleagues have been stressed, and you’ve started to feel that way too. This can also happen at home when your partner gets stressed. When people around you have strong feelings, it’s easy to soak them up and take them on as your own. You might even unconsciously adopt the body language and tone of voice from people close to you. If your partner is tense and agitated, you may become more inclined to dwell on your own troubles. This second-hand stress can make it harder for you both to relax and you might start arguing more. Long-term stress, when not addressed, can lead to greater problems like depression and relationship breakdown. So, what can you do when a partner, friend or colleague is making you feel stressed and exhausted? Take a mental step back. Breathe deeply and try to separate their stress from your feelings. You’ll find it becomes easier to recognise and acknowledge their stress without taking it onboard yourself. Walk away. Sometimes you just need to remove yourself from the situation until you feel more able to help. Leave the room, make a cup of tea, look out of the window, or even take a short walk until you feel calmer yourself. Offer support. If your partner is stressed, listen to what they have to say. Try to remember that a comforting ear may be more useful than offering practical solutions. Your partner may just need some stress relief before they get to a place where they can solve their own problems. Look for the positives. Remind your partner that they can lean on you for support and try to help them see the positives. Bring the topic of conversation back to something more light-hearted and personal, like planning something fun to do at the weekend or remembering a nice experience you recently shared. Stay calm. There’s no value in getting wound up or shouting at your partner if they are stressed. The calmer you are, the more easier it will be for them to see a way through to letting go of their own stress. Do something soothing. If you do feel yourself catching your partner’s stress, do something comforting like taking a bath, reading a book or listening to some relaxing music. This can help clear your head so you can support your partner better. Do you think stress is ‘catching’? Do you find it easy to keep your own feelings separate, or have you found yourself exhausted by your partner or colleague’s stress?
Article | stress
2 min read
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is an alternative to court where a separating couple appoints an arbitrator to make a decision on any financial or property-related issues.   It is different to mediation and collaborative practice because it will fix a final and legally binding outcome to the case (usually referred to as a ‘final award’), rather than the decision-making resting with you and your ex-partner. As with mediation and collaborative practice, you can’t be forced into arbitration. You must either agree who will arbitrate the issue, or have an arbitrator appointed from an independent panel. Once both of you have decided to use arbitration, the only way to stop the process before the final award is if you both agree. Generally, there is an initial meeting where information is given about arbitration and, if you both want to use it, the steps to the final award are fixed. Because the process is tailored to the issues involved, it is usually very much faster than the court process and can be a lot less expensive. The arbitrator can deal with very specific financial aspects of the separation, or with all of them. This is up to you. Arbitration is confidential and the time and location of hearings are flexible. Who are arbitrators? Arbitrators are usually barristers, solicitors, or retired judges who have trained and qualified as a family law arbitrator with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. They also must work to a set code of ethics as family law arbitrators. How much does arbitration cost? The cost of arbitration varies across the country and from arbitrator to arbitrator. If you choose to go down the route of arbitration, the cost will be something you and your ex-partner need to consider. Do I need representation? It is possible and sometimes easier to present your own case in arbitration than at court. The procedure is more informal but there are benefits in having support and advice through the process. You should bear this in mind if you are thinking about family law arbitration as it would be an additional cost. How do I find an arbitrator? You can search for arbitrators via the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators. What are the risks? There are risks with an appeal process, just as there is at court. Where an appeal process is needed, such as if the arbitrator has not acted properly or within the rules of arbitration, enforcement of the award may involve additional steps and therefore further costs. The risks and benefits are something that will be explained and can be considered at the first meeting so that you can decide if arbitration might work for both of you and your circumstances.
Article | arbitration, divorce
3 min read
Children and non-resident parents
Children benefit from being in regular contact with their non-resident parents but the frequency and quality of this contact can decline over time. A research paper published by The Ministry of Justice looked into the how a child's wellbeing is affected by the relationship they have with the parent they don’t live with. The report also looked at the courts’ involvement in settling contact and financial arrangements and the impact these can have on a child’s outcomes as they grow up. The study followed a group of children whose parents had separated by the time they were seven years old. It looked at levels of court involvement in parental separation, and the frequency and quality of the contact between the children and the non-resident parents. Researchers then looked at outcomes for children when they were aged eleven, paying particular attention to: Subjective wellbeing (children’s moods and emotions). Antisocial behaviours, like drinking, smoking, or breaking the law. Social and behavioural problems. How good they were at making decisions around risky behaviour. Contact declines over time According to the report, the level of contact between children and their non-resident parents tends to decline over time, in terms of both frequency and quality. Among children of separated parents, the ones that had the best outcomes at age eleven were those who had had the most contact with their non-resident parents. This can be harder to manage if you’re struggling financially, but it’s important to try and maintain regular quality time together. Even after a separation, you and your ex-partner continue to have a relationship as co-parents, so it’s really important to look after this relationship in as supportive a way as possible. Put your children first and, wherever safe, try to ensure they spend time with both parents. If you’re a non-resident parent and you feel like you don’t get enough time with your children, there are a few helpful things you can work on: Try to resolve your differences with your ex-partner, using external support like mediation where necessary. If you can’t resolve your differences, try to keep your disputes and conflict away from the children. Draw up a parenting plan. Stick to the agreed arrangements, particularly if these have been agreed by the courts. Use the time you do have together to work on developing a bond with your child. You may not love your child’s other parent anymore – you may even resent them or be angry with them – but maintaining contact can protect your child against the negative effects of separation. It might be necessary to set your own feelings aside, at least in the beginning.
Article | contact, non-resident
3 min read
“I have feelings for someone else”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I have been in an amazing relationship for the past 4.5 years. I love my boyfriend so so much. This past weekend was PRIDE weekend. We went out together to a few get-togethers with friends and had a blast. There is this guy who is a mutual friend that was also there at the parties. Hes a great guy as well. We all may have been very intoxicated. Somehow me and the other guy ended up alone in the basement. Yikes. He kept hugging me and whispering stuff into my ear about how he cares about me and those sorts of things. It made me smile and feel happy in the moment. He then tells me that if anything were to ever happen between me and my boyfriend that he has dibs on me and that if i ever need help he’s there for me. This really has my mind running in circles and it’s stressing me out. Why? Because I feel that I have the same shared feelings that he expressed towards me. I care about him and I’d be there for him if he needed. I’m just very confused about the whole situation because I clearly love my boyfriend and don’t want to hurt him or myself. Also my current boyfriend is the only boyfriend I’ve had. We met in high school and have been together since. I’ve thought about possibly trying to take a break to explore myself more freely, but once again that’s scares me to death. We have too much invested in our relationship. We have a dog. We live together. And we own a car together. And we have plans to move to a different state within a few years. I want to bring this whole situation to his attention but I don’t want to hurt him. What do I do? Thank you.
Ask the community | someone else
“I love a boy but he has a girlfriend”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   About two years ago, I met this boy at a party. And we started talking right away, but it was short because I was going home shortly after that. So the next day, he added me on all social media and we started to talk a lot, we later than started to hangout one on one. I was 18 at the time and hanging out with a boy one on one was something I had never really done before (but i have had a lot experience with boys in the past so this wasnt my first). When we hung out we would make out and stuff and just hangout and one time i actually slept over his house. Summer was coming and i was graduating high school and i found myself to like him more than he liked me. I was always reaching out to him, he was never answering and i eventually got the point (I also didn't see him a whole lot because he lived in the town next to me but def enough). So I went off to college and the next summer rolls around. We ended up hanging out with friends one night and my friends wouldn't stop talking about how flirtatious he was with me, and he was like that all last summer every time we would hangout. And It wasn't like the previous year, we connected so much and would talk for hours, i have never connected to someone like i did with him. So last summer we hooked up a few times, and he invited me over to his NYC penthouse, but of course it never happened. So I went back to school in the fall, and he gets a girlfriend. So this summer comes and I just basically forgot about him because he has a girlfriend and was taking summer classes. So I saw him last weekend for the first time in 6 months and he was hugging me like crazy and kissing my neck. We talked outside for about 2 hours and he was actually telling me about his girlfriend and how great she is and of course i was encouraging it because i would never want him to get hurt. and he told me that he would never cheat on her but he wishes he was able to just kiss me right there. And i wasnt even tempted to kiss him as much as i just wanted to become best friends with him. Its to the point where if i cannot be with him. i would do anything to just be best friends with him and hangout with him. I know I'm only 20 and still young but I feel like i knew from the second i met this boy that he was someone special. And i don't know what to do now because I cant stop thinking about last weekend (and we do not text, snapchat or anything) and i just really do love him. Should I let it ago and hope that in a few years after college maybe we can be something?
Ask the community | someone else, flirting
“Still a virgin after four years together”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hello, I'm 26 years old and have been married for 1.5 years. Before marriage I dated him for nearly 3 years. At the beginning of our relationship my partner was very much sexually attracted to me as he was stealing even little moments to kiss me or touch me and asked for photos and stuff but we never had full intercourse (due to cultural values), even though he liked it. Gradually I felt like he was losing interest in the sex part as soon as my mom passed away. He was obsessed in taking care for me and making me feel better. A year later we got married and moved to Australia. On our first night together and ever since I've tried several times to initiate sex but he does not want to. I'm a very shy girl in nature but I don't have any other option than initiating and trying. I make jokes, I tell him seriously that I want it but he makes jokes about it and that's it. I've began to feel desperate and during this 1.5 years I've argued and cried three times but he never answers my questions. Only thing he does is give me a hug that's it. I soon stop the conversation as I feel so ashamed of myself for being needy and sexually active. Unfortunately I feel like I'm sexually too active as I can't stop feeling desperate and I've started imagining things in my head with fictional characters. I've started watching love making videos and satisfying myself but I feel so empty. I want intimacy and during this 1.5 years we haven't even kissed lips. Whenever I try to kiss him on the cheek he laughs and pushes me away saying it tickles. Please help!! He is a lovely man and I love him!
Ask the community | intimacy, sex, sexless
“How to keep growing as a couple”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Many people in relationships have problems communicating, or are staying in dead-end relationships, becoming more disillusioned by the day. So how do you make things work? The answer is simple – growth. While the answer is simple, it's one of the most difficult things to carry out in practice. To grow means going through pain and discomfort. However, on the other side of this is the most fulfilling relationship you could imagine. Read these tips and apply them to your relationship. Take the utmost care of yourself first When you take care of yourself, the benefits will spill over into your relationship. In fact, you should think of your spouse or partner as your mirror. You affect each other and learn things about yourself through each other, so use this as a tool to get better, rather than to run from. Make sure that you're getting real about the things holding you back from being your greatest self. Constantly audit so that you're able to make changes accordingly. Give yourself a chance by starting with healthy life practice. Eat quality foods, workout every day and make sure that you're getting the best sleep possible. Studies also show that meditating for 20 minutes every day can have tremendous benefits for your health, mental sharpness, and overall well-being. When you're your best self, you will bring your best self to your relationship, making it a win-win. Get strategic with your seduction – then forget about strategy Most people don't put much thought into attraction. We feel as though love is supposed to be the end all, be all, and then feel guilty if we're not always on fire for our spouse. Trust and believe that attraction is something that has to be continuously cultivated. Start by waking up every day with the assumption that you are dating your partner all over again. When you don't take each other for granted, you will have fresh eyes and feelings and will treat them accordingly. Take the time to tease, flirt and build tension. Take time every day to engage in this dance, making sure that you're strategic about creating feelings in each other. However, once you're both flirty and on board with the dance, throw strategy out the window. The last thing you would want is to be robotic during the seduction process. Routinely change your scenery Finally, take time to get away for a bit sometimes. Even planning a staycation in a hotel you've never been inside before is better than getting stuck in a rut. Comfort is the best part about relationships, but at the same time, familiarity breeds contempt. Plan vacations, have date nights and do new activities together to keep things fresh. Consider these tips so that you can improve your relationship by leaps and bounds.
User article | Health
“I want to get away from my husband”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hi Please bear with me whilst i explain, but i really need some advice if possible. I have checked my husbands facebook this morning, i dont know why as i havnt for a long time and promised to stop doing it ( i used to as he has cheated several times in the past) and i have seen a message from someone i think he had an affair with years ago, but never could prove it. The message i think was her follow up to meeting him at work, where she has told him something, i dont know what, but she did say something along the lines of 'i hope your ok, i just thought you should know as its your marriage on the line, and i didnt think it was fair even if she didn't go through with it' i have no idea what that was referring to, but to me it sounds like he has been up to something with someone and its about to come out? its left me really confused, because looking through his facebook and he has been looking at hot tub getaways for us secretly (our anniversary is coming up), he says lovely things on facebook about me and doesn't seem to be having an affair? but i cant ask him what it is all about otherwise he will know iv been on his facebook again. The trouble is it is eating away at me, and i've come to realise today that i don't trust him, not one bit! Im a nervous wreck when he goes out and look for clues he may have been with someone, i hate when he gets drunk as he loses morals,and sometimes he will start being cocky and starts with all the insults, he gets at the kids who are autistic and its really unfair to them, and he is drinking a lot lately, every night in fact but most weekends are spent with him being drunk or hungover. His dad is an alcoholic and my husband is going the same way, i thought he was getting help but he wasn't turning up to the sessions, a letter came through the post saying they were sorry he couldn't attend but he denied it, and said they must have made a mistake. I've had enough and want to leave, right now! But i dont know how to, i have 3 kids, no money, nowhere to go, so i am trapped. I need to go away from him altogether, we have tried to split up several times in the past but he always sweet talks his way back. If i don't do it now then ill go on for the next few weeks/months with it all going round in my head and pretending everything is fine, then ill never do it, at all. i cant keep going through this but i just don't know how to break away, if i ask him to leave he will find ways to keep coming back, obviously the kids are one excuse for him, and i'm too soft with him. I don't want to take the kids away from him, i wouldn't do that, but i just need to be away from him for now, but cant leave him with the kids so i'm stuck. It might seem i'm being a bit hasty but i have had enough of this over the years, that message was the last straw, and the fact i'm still checking up on him says it all really. how do i break free? i really need some advice on where to start if possible. thanks in advance x
Ask the community | trust, jealousy
“Crushing on someone else”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I have a boyfriend, we dated for 7 months so far. He’s white, tall, gorgeous, pretty, nice blue eyes. But he is so clingy and he never had great relationships in his past. He always got cheated on with his past relationships. Pretty much every single one of them. I don’t kno why that happened to him. I think cause he is such a nice guy and very sweet and he’s sensitive and very clingy. And he can take advantage of pretty easy. Like 3 months later of dating, I met this other guy from work. And he is so cute. He is very cute. I had a crush on him. And he’s white also. Which that doesn’t happened to me. I don’t get white guys to like me or have an interest in me. My boyfriend is the first white guy I ever dated and I am shocked and surprised and I don’t wanna lose him cause he’s literally perfect but I don’t wanna be in a relationship. I wanna be single. I’m young , I wanna fun. I don’t wanna settle down. I never got the chance to be by myself and be single. I always been with a boyfriend then break up, then another right after 1 or 2 months, literally. I didn’t have time to be single for a good ass time since I started to date date. My first boyfriend was black, dated 9 months. 2 months later, I had another boyfriend, Hispanic, 9 months or 10, broke up, 2 months apart, got back together 10 more months then broke up. 1 month later, I met the guy I’m with now. So yup. The second boyfriend it was tough on me, I fell in love. He was my love. The love of my life. Even to this day he is still the love of my life. I’m not sure if I’m gonna fall in love again. It’s rare. But yeah, so the guy that I have a crush on. He likes me back. That never happened. A white guy. No. And me and him, we texted, talked on the phone. Etc. he doesn’t know I have a boyfriend, I don’t wanna tell him cause I think he doesn’t wanna deal with me no more. I don’t want anything serious with him. Just to have fun and hang. But I can’t do that behind my boyfriend’s back. That’s the thing , I don’t wanna be in a committed relationship but I love my boyfriend. I’m not madlyyyy in love. But I do love him. I don’t wanna lose him cause I know for a fact I won’t find someone else like him. He’s very gorgeous btw like a model. He could be one. So it’s hard to find a guy like that. I wanna be in an open relationship with him because I don’t want to cheat on him also I don’t wanna be nervous every single time when I text a dude or talk to a dude but I’m scared, I know for a fact that he won’t like that. I just wanna mingle other guys, but I still wanna have my boyfriend. And the guy I like, I have feelings for him and I’m scared to fallll for him. I can’t. But at the same time, I wanna be with him like hang out and do fun stuff. It’s hard. I don’t know why I got myself in this mess. All I want is life is to be alone forever. I wanna be alone . But I don’t really wanna be alone alone. Also one time my boyfriend found out I was texting a dude. He fucking went thru my shit. Privacy man. Like wtf. I was pissed. And he was like what is this? Who is this? Etc. and yelling at me and he said that he’s breaking up with me. But I stood my ground and fought for us. I was stupid. We should have broken up. It would be easier but also I don’t wanna lose him. I really don’t. And ever since then , the incident, he doesn’t trust me. At all. Like he wanna see my phone, messages , constantly texting back and forth 24/7. He wanna kno where I’m at and such , what I’m doing. It’s soooo annoying. I don’t have my freedom. I’m not 17 years old or 16. I’m 20. Like come on. So I can’t do anything behind his back cause he is soooo clingy and he is always behind my back so I can’t do shit. It just sad. My whole love life is sad. I can’t never be happy. I’m never happy. Which is okay. I have been thru so much worse. So I don’t know what to do with my boyfriend or the guy that I have a crush on. Basically the whole situation.
Ask the community | communication, arguments
Being parents to disabled children: part 2
In part one of “The positives of being a parent to a disabled child” we found that, despite facing greater challenges, parents with a disabled child often reported that their child’s disability had a positive effect on their lives.  “Indeed, irrespective of the child’s impairment type (e.g. ASD, cerebral palsy), approximately two out of three parents in this study agreed that, overall, having a disabled child has been positive for their family.” We drew from a study of 175 parents and started looking at what they meant by ‘positive’. Here’s what else parents had to say: “I’ve become a stronger and more compassionate person”  When care and attention is highly demanding, sometimes people find out what they’re really made of, and what their relationship is made of too. Demanding times often reveal the point where your resolve begins to wear thin, or where you start to buckle. As a parent in this situation, the love for your child and your commitment to caring for them could strengthen that resolve in a way that surpasses your own expectations. Just as athletes can tap into a hidden pool of strength in the final lap of a 10,000-metre run, parents also find energy, patience and, endurance they didn’t know they had. As a parent, you face the added mental challenge of knowing you cannot quit or duck out but, much like that athlete, it’s your team of family, friends, and support networks that enables you to keep going.  "As a result of having a child with a disability, our family unit has emerged stronger" This extra energy to keep going can show parents how much they’re willing to give of themselves, which may surprise them. Especially those that perhaps considered themselves to be less caring or compassionate in nature.  “I’ve been able to laugh more, and I’m less bothered by trivial things” Parents facing additional challenges can sometimes gain a focus and a perspective that others do not seem to share. And that perspective – what matters and what doesn’t – can become something that sets those parents free from the humdrum of daily life. This perspective isn’t easily taught either. As people who get bent out of shape over trivial things will tell you, to them they’re not trivial issues – they’re deadly serious ones. Perspective is also coupled with resilience. Having bounced back from a series of challenges, you’re more likely to know what is worth your energy and what isn’t. Without realising it, you’ve probably become very good at estimating the value of your energy, your effort and your time. This might explain why parents with disabled children can sometimes enjoy life more, and laugh at the silly things, rather than be upset by them. Now that you’ve seen what other parents have to say about their experiences and how it’s shaped them, we’d love to hear your story. Have you, your relationship, or your family been changed for the better through your experience? Either leave us a comment, or get in touch with Contact. References [1] David McConnell, Amber Savage, Dick Sobsey & Bruce Uditsky (2015) Benefit-finding or finding benefits? The positive impact of having a disabled child, Disability & Society, 30(1), pp.29-45.
Article | parenting together, disability
2 min read
Disabled children and interfering in-laws
When you’re the parent of a disabled child, there’s a lot of information to absorb. Some of this can be useful but, like all parents, you may also find yourselves on the receiving end of unsolicited tips, advice, and wisdom. When it comes from your in-laws, it can be hard to know where to draw the line. In-laws can be a be a valuable source of emotional, financial, and practical support [1]. Depending on where they live, they can be a useful source of childcare, and play a valuable part in helping your children develop new skills [2]. Many can represent a calming influence during new and stressful situations that they already know their way around. As a parent of a disabled child, the issue becomes more complex. There are medical, social, and educational factors to consider that your and your partner’s parents may never have had to deal with before. Even if their parenting expertise hasn’t gone out of date, it may not be relevant to your child’s specific needs. However difficult your in-laws might be, it’s worth remembering that they have raised children too – they even raised someone that you fell in love with! But that doesn’t mean they’re always right. If their attempts to offer support just lead to arguments, the support itself may not be worth the emotional price you pay for it [3]. As the parent, it’s up to you to accept or reject offers of support. While your in-laws may have some useful nuggets, you and your partner are the ones who have access to the full picture as to what’s best for your child. Annoying in-laws If your in-laws are constantly texting bits of unhelpful advice, or if they come to the house and criticise a routine that you’ve been working hard to establish with the support of your child’s care team, then you need to find a way to respond. While the most obvious and possibly most satisfying response is to tackle them directly, this could lead to unnecessary arguments. Even when you know you are right, you still run the risk of turning your in-laws against you and upsetting your partner. The most effective way to deal with interfering in-laws is to talk to your partner first [4]. Speak openly to your partner about how you feel and why you’re concerned. As with any difficult conversation, start by talking about your own feelings, stick to the issue at hand, and give your partner a chance to digest what you’ve said. Don’t criticise or attack your in-laws – your partner has had to deal with them a lot longer than you have, and you don’t want to provoke a defensive reaction! Differences of opinion When you become parents, your priorities shift and your relationships change. This can include a rise in conflict with your in-laws. If you get on very well with them, this might just mean a few tiffs but, if you’re already prone to rowing, things could turn very stormy [5]. This makes sense as there’s more at stake than before – the little things you used to be able to ignore now need to be addressed head-on. Like you, your parents-in-law want the best for your child. Unlike you, they’re not around every day to make fully informed decisions about what’s actually best. If they start getting more involved than you want them to, it can feel intrusive and controlling. This can lead to problems between you and your partner, as you battle to strike the right balance [5]. Creating an effective boundary can be difficult. You and your partner will have to decide what’s acceptable and what’s not. You might want to agree a strategy in advance – for example, any time your parents or in-laws offer tips, thank them, and let them know you’ll consider their advice. You and your partner can then discuss the advice in private and make an appropriate decision. Sharing information It can be very helpful to update your in-laws on any information you learn about your disabled child. This could include medical information, or any strategies you’ve learned from your paediatrician, speech and language therapist, or other trusted provider like a charity or the NHS. If you have this information written down or printed out, show it to them, or ask your partner to. Discuss the information to help them understand what you’re trying to achieve with your child. It may also help them understand that you and your partner are in touch with the authoritative experts so they do not need to worry constantly that you may be doing the wrong thing! Getting to know your in-laws better Being on good terms with your in-laws can have unexpected positive side effects. One study found that couples who have closer ties to their in-laws tend to be happier and more satisfied with their own relationships [6]. So, rather than shutting them out, ask yourself it it’s possible to get to know your in-laws a little better. Take the opportunity to learn more about your partner’s background; encourage your in-laws to talk about the family history and customs. These conversations can help you form a bond, and may even have a positive impact on your relationship with your partner [7]. If you continue to struggle with your in-laws, take some comfort from the possibility that things can improve over time. Even the most vocal in-laws are capable of changing and coming around to accept your way of doing things. References [1] Goetting, A. (1990). Patterns of Support Among In-Laws in the United States A Review of Research. Journal of Family Issues, 11(1), 67–90. [2] Enyart, S. (2012). The transition to extended family: Examining the links between turbulence and children-in-laws’ goals, topic avoidance, and relational outcomes. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. [3] Schober, P. S. (2013). Gender Equality and Outsourcing of Domestic Work, Childbearing, and Relationship Stability Among British Couples. Journal of Family Issues, 34(1), 25–52. [4] Rittenour, E. C., and Kellas, K. J. (2015). Making Sense of Hurtful Mother-in-law Messages: Applying Attribution Theory to the In-Law Triad. Communication Quarterly, 63(1), 62–68. [5] Bryant, C.M., Conger., R.D., and Meehan., J.M. (2001). The Influence of In-Laws on Change in Marital Success. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(3), 614-626. [6] [Timmer, S.G., and Veroff, J. (2000). Family Ties and the Discontinuity of Divorce in Black and White Newlywed Couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(2), 349-361.   [7] Serewicz, M.C.M., Hosmer, R., Ballard, R.L., and Griffin, R. A. (2008). Disclosure from In-laws and the Quality of In-law and Marital Relationships. Communication Quarterly, 56(4), 427–444.
Article | grandparents, parenting, disability
2 min read
Considering having another child
For any parents, having another child is a big decision that requires serious consideration. So, if you are thinking about having another child, it’s likely your discussion will be affected by the financial, social, and health factors already in play in your lives. As parents of disabled children, you may be feeling this even more strongly. Studies have shown that parents raising children with disabilities are more likely to experience mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression, (Stoneman, 2007) as well as relationship difficulties and problems at work (Simsek et al., 2015). One study asked parents of disabled children their thoughts around having another child. The main concerns included: Having less time to care for existing children Not having enough money to care for another child Risk of health problems in the next child (Simsek et al., 2015) Siblings You may also be concerned about what kind of life another child would have as the sibling of someone who requires regular extra care. You might be worried that your next child would have a stressful life, or that you wouldn’t be able to dedicate as much time to them as you would like to. This is certainly worth considering - some studies have shown that siblings of disabled children can experience increased stress in their lives (Murray, 2000) (Javadian, 2011). However, there is also evidence of siblings feeling a positive benefit of living with a disabled sibling. Children who are involved in the care of disabled siblings can grow up learning to be more helpful and compassionate than other children, and may also develop greater emotional awareness (Javadian, 2011) (Fisman et al., 1996). How will having another child affect your relationship? While parents of disabled children are statistically more likely to separate (Gardener and Harmon, 2002) (Patterson, 2002), many couples have a much more positive experience, and find that their relationship is strengthened and their bond solidified. Parents of children with additional needs have to rely on each other for support, and this can benefit your couple relationship, bringing you closer together (Simsek et al., 2015). It’s likely that you’ll have a lot to think about as you make a decision around whether or not to try for another child. However, depending on your experiences, you may feel more confident knowing that you’ve made it this far, learning and growing together. Whatever other factors you need to consider, the fact that you are thinking about it at all could be a positive sign about the strength of your relationship as a couple, and your capacity as parents. References Cahill, B. M., & Glidden, L. M. (1996). Influence of child diagnosis on family and parental functioning: Down syndrome versus other disabilities. American journal of mental retardation: AJMR, 101(2), 149-160. Fisman, S., Wolf, L., Ellison, D., Gillis, B., Freeman, T., & Szatmari, P. (1996). Risk and protective factors affecting the adjustment of siblings of children with chronic disabilities. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(11), 1532-1541. Gardner, J., & Harmon, T. (2002). Exploring resilience from a parent’s perspective: A qualitative study of six resilient mothers of children with an intellectual disability. Australian Social Work, 55(1), 60-68. Javadian, R. (2011). A comparative study of adaptability and cohesion in families with and without a disabled child. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 30, 2625-2630. Kearney, P. M., & Griffin, T. (2001). Between joy and sorrow: being a parent of a child with developmental disability. Journal of advanced nursing, 34(5), 582-592. Marsh, J. C. (2003). Editorial: Arguments for Family Strengths Research. Social Work, 48(2), 147-149. Murray, J. S. (2000). Attachment theory and adjustment difficulties in siblings of children with cancer. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 21(2), 149-169. Patterson, J. M. (2002). Integrating family resilience and family stress theory. Journal of marriage and family, 64(2), 349-360. Şimşek, T. T., Taşçı, M., & Karabulut, D. (2015). Desire to have other children in families with a chronically disabled child and its effect on the relationship of the parents. Turkish Archives of Pediatrics/Türk Pediatri Arşivi, 50(3), 163. Stoneman, Z., & Gavidia-Payne, S. (2006). Marital adjustment in families of young children with disabilities: Associations with daily hassles and problem-focused coping. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 111(1), 1-14.
Article | parenting, disability, children
2 min read
Co-parenting a disabled child
All relationships go through periods of change and challenge. Some parents find these experiences bring them closer together, while others are overwhelmed by the experience and struggle to stay together. If things have broken down and you have decided to separate, we have some hints and tips to help you carry on caring for your child, whether you live with them or not.No longer living under the same roof as your children will inevitably affect the level of contact you have with them and it will usually be necessary to agree contact arrangements with your former partner. Legally, a person with parental responsibility cannot be denied contact with their child without the intervention of the courts. Of course, it will usually be best if both parents can discuss and agree appropriate arrangements informally. You’ll need to work together with your ex to ensure you can provide the full support your child needs from both parents. Parental involvement is one of the most important factors in how disabled children integrate into school and social life [4] and non-resident parents play an important role in this [5]. As separated parents, working together makes you more effective at providing a responsive parenting role, and more likely to have a better relationship with your child [6].This kind of collaboration between separated parents is known as co-parenting. Communicating with your ex For some parents, having to maintain contact with one another and sort out arrangements for the children can be a huge strain. If you’re still upset with your ex-partner, you may be finding it difficult to communicate with them. However, it’s important to try and set your disagreements aside long enough to get your living arrangements in order and make a collaborative parenting plan that means your child has a stable environment or environments where they can get the best possible support from both of you [3]. Here are some tips to help you communicate with your ex and protect your children from any fallout from the separation:   avoid blaming yourself or your partner agree not to let your own relationship issues get into the discussion create some rules together about how best to manage meetings continue at another time if you feel discussions sliding into tricky waters don’t communicate with your partner through your child focus on child-related issues; it can help keep your dialogue clear and to the point work on a parenting plan together don’t argue with your partner about the children in front of them. This will only increase their sense of guilt and blame about the break up. Supporting your children Helping your child through a period of separation or divorce is challenging as you come to terms with your own feelings. But there are things you can do that can help. Keeping children informed about what is happening will help to prevent them blaming themselves and worrying unnecessarily. You can help children feel more secure by helping them to express their feelings, letting them know that you understand how they feel, and making sure they feel they can ask questions if they want to, will help. Children often feel a great sense of loss and letting them grieve is an important part of helping them to deal with the situation and to move on to accept the changes in their family relationships. They may also express anger towards you, whilst this can be hurtful, try not to take it too personally as it can be a sign they are finding it hard to cope. Denial is also a common response. A child will naturally have hopes and fantasies about the family, such as wanting you all to be reunited. Talking about these feelings, without raising false hopes, will help your child to move on. Avoid criticising your ex-partner in front of the children. It can be very upsetting for them and leave them feeling forced to take sides. Mothers and fathers Research has shown that mothers and fathers of disabled children can experience stress differently. Mothers’ stress tends to be focused around the daily caring tasks [7], while fathers are more likely to worry about their emotional attachment with the child [8]. If you are the parent with the main caring duties, you may need to ask for some extra support from friends and family to help you stay on top of daily care. If you are the non-resident parent, you may want to schedule in regular phone calls between visits to help stay in touch and maintain the connection with your child. Working together As a co-parent, you still have a parenting role to perform, even if you don’t live with your child. While you may not be in a couple relationship anymore, you and your child’s other parent will need to maintain a co-operative parenting relationship to give your child the maximum benefit of your care. If you are the resident parent, part of your role will be to share information with your child’s other parent and, assuming it is safe and meets any court requirements in place, ensure that they have access to your child. While it can be hard to let your ex-partner into your routines, it’s important to be open and welcoming for the sake of your child, particularly when there is important information to share about medical care and other additional needs [1]. Face-to-face visits are the best way to maintain good quality parent-child relationships but if you live a long way away from your child, frequent contact through emails, phone calls, or video calls can help make up for some of this distance [9]. Staying in touch with your ex can also help you plan for unexpected events, like your child leaving something they need at the other parent’s home. You don’t necessarily have to spend intensive time together, as long as you both commit to the agreed arrangements and stay in touch about important decisions. If you are struggling to maintain a good relationship with your child’s other parent, you can use the free parenting plan at Splitting Up? Put Kids First to keep on top of parenting arrangements without having to interact directly. References [1] Newacheck, P. W., Inkelas, M., & Kim, S. E. (2004). Health services use and health care expenditures for children with disabilities. Pediatrics, 114(1), 79-85. [2] Roberts, K., & Lawton, D. (2001). Acknowledging the extra care parents give their disabled children. Child: care, health and development, 27(4), 307-319. [3] Shandra, C. L., Hogan, D. P., & Spearin, C. E. (2008). Parenting a child with a disability: An examination of resident and non-resident fathers. Journal of Population Research, 25(3), 357-377. [4] Pascall, G., & Hendey, N. (2004). Disability and transition to adulthood: the politics of parenting. Critical Social Policy, 24(2), 165-186. [5] Amato, P. R., & Gilbreth, J. G. (1999). Nonresident fathers and children's well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 557-573. [6] Sobolewski, J. M., & King, V. (2005). The importance of the coparental relationship for nonresident fathers’ ties to children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(5), 1196-1212. [7] Pelchat, D., Lefebvre, H., & Perreault, M. (2003). Differences and similarities between mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of parenting a child with a disability. Journal of child health care, 7(4), 231-247. [8] Cohen, M. S. (1999). Families coping with childhood chronic illness: A research review. Families, Systems, & Health, 17(2), 149. [9] McGene, J., & King, V. (2012). Implications of new marriages and children for coparenting in nonresident father families. Journal of family issues, 33(12), 1619-1641.
Article | co-parenting, parenting apart
5 min read
Children in hospital
When your child has a disability or long-term illness, hospital stays might be a familiar part of your life. But hospitals can be stressful places, and managing a stay can be tough for you as parents [1], both practically and emotionally.  You may worry about leaving your child in the care of hospital staff, particularly if your child has communication difficulties and important decisions are being made [2]. Younger people with learning disabilities can often find it difficult being understood in hospital settings [3]. Dealing with hospital staff If you’re having difficulty accessing the support and services your child needs, it can have a significant impact on you and your partner [4]. It can sometimes feel like hospital staff don’t know how to offer the care your child needs [5] and you may find yourself going over the same things as you are passed from one practitioner to the next. One way to ensure your child’s needs are properly considered is by using a hospital or communication passport for your child. A hospital passport is a booklet that you can use to pass on crucial information about a child or young person with additional needs. It contains information about their condition, medications, likes and dislikes, and essential information if an emergency happens. This can ensure that all the professionals who come into contact with you and your child have the same information without you having to keep explaining things. This can be particularly useful for children with a learning difficulty.  The charity Scope have a template for a communication passport on their website. Look under ‘Free hospital communication resource’ at www.scope.org.uk/support/tips/health/hospital-stays. Mencap also have a hospital passport for children with a learning disability on their website: www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/health/our-health-guides. Even the most well equipped hospitals cannot provide the round-the-clock care that many severely disabled children need, so children might be completely dependent on others to stay comfortable and happy in hospital. As their mum or dad, you may need to be by their side for much of the day to pick up the extra care that nursing and clinical staff can’t offer. This can include practical things, but also just talking to them, and keeping them reassured and entertained. You may need to ask hospital staff to have patience with you. Having a child in hospital can be draining for parents [4] and you may not be at your best when trying to communicate important things to the staff. When you feel that hospital staff aren’t very understanding about your experiences, it can leave you feeling unsupported, and worried about the decisions that are being made while you’re not there [5]. At times like these, you and your partner might need to make a special effort to support each other. It can be helpful to spend five or ten minutes at the end of the day, talking about what you’ve found difficult and what has gone well. This can help give you a better understanding of each other’s experiences, while getting emotional support from the person who is going through this with you. It can also give you a chance to gather your thoughts and reflect on the day. Support while your child is in hospital Having a child in hospital can sometimes open the door to services and support you may not have accessed before. Make sure you enquire about specialist support. Some charities work in hospitals providing condition-specific nurses, such as Roald Dahl nurses who can visit and support you, and provide follow up care when you’ve left the hospital setting. There are also charities who take applications for financial support, like grants to families with a child in hospital. See www.contact.org.uk/general-grants for a list of grant-giving charities, or contact the helpline for a copy on 0808 808 3555 or helpline@contact.org.uk. The hospital’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can offer parents confidential advice, support and information. They can help you with health-related questions and help resolve concerns or problems when you're using the NHS. You can usually find their office in or near the main entrance of the hospital. Contact has parent advisers based at six children's hospitals across the UK, providing families with emotional and practical support. Parents can drop by the information stands or ask someone to come to the ward. Contact currently work at: Birmingham Children's Hospital. Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. Alder Hey Children's Hospital. Great North Children's Hospital. The Evelina Children's Hospital. Great Ormond Street Hospital. The Contact website has details of available days and times. Leaning on friends and family If you are stressed, it can have an impact your child’s health and behaviour [1], so it’s important to make sure that you and your partner are well supported. One of the best ways to cope with stress is to lean on your friends and family [1] [6]. Sometimes talking to someone outside of the situation can help you let off steam in a way that talking to your partner can’t. You may also be able to ask for practical help, like lifts to or from the hospital, picking up other children from school, or helping you out with the housework for a while. It can be hard to ask for help, but try to be kind to yourself and remember that lots of people enjoy feeling needed and will be happy to support you when they know what you’re going through. Staying with your child If your child is having a long stay in hospital, you can help them by keeping things as normal as possible, like making sure they have access to schoolwork and home comforts [1]. If your other life commitments allow it, you may be able to stay in or near the hospital with your child. Most hospitals allow or even encourage this and some have funded schemes to offer low-cost accommodation nearby [7]. There are also centres like Ronald McDonald House which have been set up specifically to allow your family to stay together while your child is in hospital.  Staying close to your child can take some of the worry out of the situation [7] and help you feel more confident about the care your child is receiving [2]. It may also put you in touch with other parents who are in similar situations [7]. Looking after your relationship However you decide to manage things, you and your partner will probably have to make some compromises. Set aside some time to work things through as a couple – make a list of what needs doing and work out where it’s possible to free up time and resources to make things work. You may be able to divide things up equally, or one of you may have to do the majority of the heavy lifting while the other keeps working. Agree a strategy that works for both of you and make a plan to review it and check if it’s working. Talking things through can help you see how each other is involved, and give you both a greater sense of fairness. Coming home Before your child comes home, make sure you contact the hospital social work department to arrange your child’s care needs when they are discharged. The hospital should liaise with your local authority to make sure you and your child have everything in place. If your child’s care needs have changed, be prepared to start a new routine rather than trying to recapture the old one.  No one can pretend that having a child in hospital is anything but a stressful experience, and it’s normal for feelings of stress and worry to continue even after your child is discharged [8], so give yourselves a chance to adjust afterwards.  References [1] Commodari, E. (2010). Children staying in hospital: a research on psychological stress of caregivers. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 36, 40. http://www.ijponline.net/content/36/1/40  [2] Gumm R, Thomas E, Lloyd C, et al. (2017) Improving communication between staff and disabled children in hospital wards: testing the feasibility of a training intervention developed through intervention mapping. BMJ Paediatrics Open 2017;1:e000103. doi:10.1136/bmjpo-2017-000103 [3] Care Quality Commission (2017) NHS Patient Survey Programme.Children and young people’s inpatient and day case survey 2016: Statistical release. http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/20171128_cyp16_statisticalrelease.pdf [4] Care Quality Commission (2012) Health care for disabled children and young people. A review of how the health care needs of disabled children and young people are met by the commissioners and providers of health care in England. https://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/health_care_for_disabled_children.pdf [5] Hagvall, M., Ehnfors, M. and Anderzn-Carlsson, A. (2016) Experiences of parenting a child with medical complexity in need of acute hospital care. Journal of Child Health Care, 20(1), pp.68-76. DOI: 10.1177/1367493514551308 [6] Kersh, J., Hedvat, T.T., Hauser-Cram, P. and Warfield, M. E. (2006), The contribution of marital quality to the well-being of parents of children with developmental disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50: 883–893. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2006.00906.x [7] Franck, L.S., Ferguson, D., Fryda, S., & Rudin, N. (2015). The child and family hospital experience: Is it influenced by family accommodation? Medical Care Research and Review, 72(4), 419-437. [8] Wray, J., Lee, K., Dearmun, N. and Franck, L. (2011) Parental anxiety and stress during children’s hospitalisation: The StayClose study. Journal of Child Health Care, 15(3), pp.163-174. DOI: 10.1177/1367493511408632
Article | parenting, disability
8 min read
Agreeing on medical treatment
What is happening? For many separated parents, as their relationship with their partner comes to an end, their parental partnership continues forward. Even if there’s no love (or at least, no romantic love) left between one another as parents, the shared love for your child remains and grows. But of course, such parental partnerships are rarely easy or straightforward, and for many parents of disabled children, extra stresses and complexities are likely to pop up. These can cause friction and disagreements.These disagreements will vary parent to parent, often depending on the condition of the child. But, according to research, the two main points of disagreement for separated parents of disabled children are [1]: The medical treatment their child’s needs The educational approach for their learning needs “If parents disagree on treatment or educational approaches for their special needs child, separation and/or divorce usually magnify these differences.”[1]                                                                                  In other words, if you struggled to agree on these subjects when you were a couple, there's a good chance it will be harder to agree when you're separated.  How can I help? If your child’s medical treatment is being discussed with a doctor, a specialist, or healthcare member, make sure that you encourage one another to attend appointments together wherever possible. It can be helpful to carry the mind-set that your partnership needs work and effort in the same way that your relationship once did. So, if it feels uncomfortable to attend medical and healthcare meetings together, it may be worth pushing through the awkwardness and the tension for the sake of improving the partnership. Consider using an online parenting plan with your ex-partner, and choose one that allows you to customise it for specific issues. Parenting plans like “Splitting Up? Put Kids First” will allow you to choose your own category, e.g. “Medical treatment for our child”, where you can write down your suggestions and proposals. Your partner would then respond and either agree or disagree with what you’ve put forward. Eventually, you can reach joint decisions and make agreements while keeping emotions and friction to a minimum. Whether you’re talking face-to-face, via a parenting plan or through a series of texts, try to place a real emphasis on respecting one another and using clear communication. It’s going to be difficult to separate your emotions, but your child and your parental partnership with your ex will benefit from your efforts.     If you’re going through a separation or a divorce, you can help to minimise the negative effects that separation can cause on your child’s development and well-being by focussing on the partnership with your ex-partner and the shared love of your child. And, by being active and finding ways to work together as a partnership, your ex-partner may be more responsive and agreeable, knowing how much you want to make the parent partnership work. References: [1] Pickar, Daniel B., and Robert L. Kaufman. “Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children: Applying a Risk-Assessment Model.” Family Court Review 53, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 113–33.
Article | disability, parenting
4 min read
Agreeing on parenting styles
If you follow the news, or if you’ve recently picked up one of the many celebrity magazines that thrives on Hollywood breakups, you’ll know about the divorce between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. According to the A lister couple, they made this decision because they couldn’t agree on their parenting styles. Whether or not this is the actual reason is another matter, but it raises an interesting question about the impact that parenting styles can have on couple relationships. Before we explore that, let’s just brush up on parenting styles. What are they? Well, broadly speaking, they’re just choices that you make as a parent for raising your child. And these choices can be wrapped up and categorised as a style. Here are the four most popular style categories [1]. See if you think any of them relate to your own parenting style. You may find that you don’t resonate with a single style, but perhaps fall somewhere inbetween.  1. Authoritarian parenting Authoritarian parenting is a style that is demanding and rigid. The parent puts strict rules in play and expects them to be followed, which echoes a kind of military approach. There’s little room for children to question why the rules are in place. “It is often effective in the short-term but children often rank lower in happiness, social confidence and self-esteem” [1].  2. Authoritative parenting This style is all about rules and guidelines with high levels of parental warmth mixed in. Parents still view themselves as authority figures, but are also responsive, caring and loving. It’s considered the most effective and beneficial style for children. “Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to their questions. They also concentrate more on nurturing than punishment. This style of parenting is generally thought to elicit the best outcomes for children and they are likely to be confident, more autonomous and more socially responsible” [1].  3. Permissive parenting Permissive parents tend to let their children have control most of the time, with little use of routine or boundaries. They don’t tend to view themselves as authority figures. Parents with this style are typically warm and loving and are extremely responsive to their child’s needs. “They tend to be non-traditional and lenient, often taking the role of a friend rather than a parent. This type of parenting has been linked to childhood adjustment difficulties.”[2].  4. Positive parenting This parenting style is authoritative, but it’s about empowering children, fuelling their self-esteem and giving them positive vision for their own future. While there is no agreement as to what constitutes positive parenting [3], positive parenting has been described as “accepting, warm, involved, sensitive, responsive, caring, and empathetic; social-emotional and cognitive growth fostering; and directive” [4]. "So, if me and my partner have different styles, is that a bad thing?"   Not necessarily. As long as you manage your differences by talking them through together and making your decisions together as a couple – your differing parenting styles don’t have to be a bad thing. Of course, this does rely on your communication being very good. If you’re struggling to talk about your relationship issues without falling out, then differing parenting styles could easily become another source of conflict. "So if we have the same parenting style, we’re good?"   Not exactly. You and your partner might share an “authoritative” style, but that doesn’t mean that all of your parenting decisions will align. There are still plenty of parental decisions that you might disagree on, and there are still lots of variations to an authoritative style. For example, you might believe that a child’s bed times needs to be routine-based, and your partner might believe that your child should go to bed when they feel ready to sleep. You both still see yourselves as authority figures, and you’re both adopting a loving approach, but you’re not in agreement here. All that being said, if you’re adopting the same style (in this case authoritative), then in general you will probably find it easier to make compromises and reach decisions together. "What about my child who’s disabled? Doesn’t that change the game for parenting styles?"   Often it does. Sometimes you can’t adopt the approach that you’d like to, perhaps because of different emotional reactions from your child, or because of the way that your child’s behaviour needs to be managed. This means that parents need to be even stronger with their communication, because with all these additional factors being thrown into the mix - it will be even more difficult to reach decisions together. This will require both of you to work hard, but the rewards of solid communication will justify the investment ten times over. This includes being reflective on what has worked and what hasn’t (tip: be critical of your own approach - it can change the dynamic of ‘my way versus your way’). "For disabled children, is one style proven more successful?"   Every disability is different and no two conditions are the same. But in the studies, the research revealed two interesting things.  1. Parents found that the authoritative style was less successful as the children got older. “This may be due to factors related to the children’s disability, the amount of repetition needed, the limited success that may be achieved, and other demands on parental time and energies" [6]. 2. Parents found that “there is an overall beneficial effect of positive parenting upon the functional outcomes of young children with developmental disabilities, regardless of disability type” [5]. In summary, positive parenting scores points across the board, and authoritative parenting scores points in the early days only. But of course, this isn’t by any means a ‘thus says the Lord”, but it’s a worthy discussion point to have with your partner. Talk with your partner about parenting styles, and make it a conscious thing in your relationship. Even by just thinking about one another’s parenting styles, you can get closer to making those decisions together that ultimately will shape your child’s world and your family dynamic.  References [1] Diana Baumrind (1991) [2] Benson, Buehler, & Gerard, (2008) [3] Russell and Russell, (1996) [4] Bornstein, (2003) [5] Dyches et al., (2012). [6] Woolfson and Grant, 2006
Article | parenting styles, disability
4 min read

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