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Health and relationships
The quality of your relationship with your partner (and with friends, colleagues and family members) affects both your mental and physical wellbeing. Similarly, how good you feel emotionally and physically can affect how you get on with your partner - perhaps even more than you realise. |[profileDataBundle id=1]| Improving your relationship quality can have a positive effect on your health, affecting related behaviours like exercising and drinking that can, in turn, affect how you get on. Of course, relationships go through ups and downs. But when we are unhappy or frustrated it’s easy to ignore what we know is good for us. Risky behaviours can provide an escape but sometimes we can fall into habits that are bad for both our health and our relationship. The good news is that, by taking stock and taking a good look at our patterns of behaviour, we can start making a few changes and things can start feeling very different. Have a look at the following questions and then share your answers with your partner. This can help you to assess the bigger picture and start changing some of the behaviours that could be affecting your relationship. Overall, how well do you feel on a day-to-day basis? Where would you score your physical health on a scale of one to 10, with ten being best it can be? Do you smoke? If so, how much, and at what times of day? What are your triggers for smoking? How often do you drink? Do you drink to unwind, to be social, or to shut things out? How well do you eat? Do you and your partner eat together – are cooking and eating well important parts of your relationship? Are you over or underweight? How do you feel about your body? How well do you sleep? –What, if anything keeps you awake? Can you see any patterns? Do you exercise regularly? How do you feel after exercising? How often do you have sex? Do you enjoy sex with your partner? Are you currently working? How does your work affect how you feel? If you have a bad day at work, what impact does it have on your home life? How do you know you are overstressed? What are the signs? What makes you feel good physically? What makes you feel good emotionally?   What next? Have a look at your answers. How does the overall picture look? Does it look good or feel a bit overwhelming? Are there any patterns you’d like to change? If you have any habits or recurring behaviours that aren’t serving you, look at the underlying reasons. Take it slowly – recognising the need for change is a crucial first step. Don’t try to change everything at once. If you are a smoker, that’s a good place to start. Consider cutting down, or just keeping a log of when you smoke and how you feel before and after. Start to notice what need you are trying to fulfil by smoking, and whether it’s working for you. If you want to eat better, start by introducing some small changes to your diet. Get a new cookbook or look up some recipes online. Experimenting with new dishes can be fun. Set aside some time to plan and cook a healthy meal with your partner – this one positive shared experience could be the first step towards getting out of a mealtime rut. Poor sleep, drinking too much and work stress are all issues that can contribute to how you get on with your partner, often leading to arguments. It can feel overwhelming to address these issues at once – a good place to start might be taking some regular exercise. It doesn’t matter what, so long as it is something you can enjoy that fits in with your work and family demands. Exercise can also have a positive impact on other areas of your life, releasing natural chemicals that improve your mood and make you feel happier. Adopting a more active lifestyle can improve your mental health, giving you a positive reminder you that the choices you make affect how you feel. Leading a more active life can give you a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and help you sleep better. It can improve your self-esteem and confidence, helping you feel more valued, and more attractive. Exercise and physical activity can give you something positive to strive for and commit to. It can help you to stop dwelling on problems and, in time, you may even start to enjoy it!   A word of warning! If this exercise has brought up any issues you find difficult to talk about, you may find it helpful to use some of the communication exercises and articles elsewhere on the site. If you have identified that you or your partner are drinking too much, you may need to seek professional help – looking at the articles on addiction on the site can be a positive first step.
Article | Health
5 min read
“I hate my partner but we have a child”
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. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  He's not a bad person. But sometimes I just feel like I hate him. Everything he says, his presence in a room just makes me want to run away. He's a good father, we have a wonderful daughter and I guess that is why I have stayed for so long. We have been together for 6 and half years and I'd say I've known things weren't right for about 5 years. Our daughter is three. I love my daughter so much and want the best for her but I just don't know if I can carry on for much longer. But how can I do that to my daughter? And it's not just taking her away from her father, we have a nice house and a good relationship with his family who help out a lot. Practically our relationship works. The logistics are good, if we split up then we would probably end up with shared custody of our daughter and I want her to have a stable upbringing and not to be carted between two homes. I want to love him... but I feel like I don't even like him. I keep thinking back to when we got together and I just think of events where I should have ended it with him. I have actually tried to end it with him more times than I can remember. Even before we had a child. But he always talks me round. Every time. I just can't leave. I don't think I have the will power. He will cry, or overwhelm me with complements, or give me a sob story and tell me what a good person I am. And then for about half an hour I feel like I want to be with him and that things will be ok. Pretty pathetic right? But then the arguments... well they're vicious. We throw insults about each others family at each other and he says stuff to me which has made me feel so worthless which I don't even want to repeat. And it's always my fault. I always start the fight. Apparently. I 'attack' him. But I'm always the one who ends up sobbing and sometimes after a fight I will just go to bed even in the middle of the day and be unable to get up again. He just won't stop. I want him to leave me alone and even hiding under the covers as a thirty year old woman and humming with my fingers in my ears won't block out the things he is saying to me. He will normally come to me once I'm completely worn out and do the whole 'you're a good person' spiel. I feel trapped. I have been suicidal. I am incredibly bitter and just feel resentful to him almost all the time. You will probably think I am a terrible mother but I'm not. We are both good parents and the really bad stuff we keep away from our daughter. She is a happy confident little girl. From the day that I got pregnant all I have cared about is making sure she is happy and healthy. I don't want to ruin that. I don't want to take her away from her lovely home and her father who she adores. I know suicide is ridiculous and that would completely ruin her life and I would never do anything but I am just really depressed and I don't know if there is any way to improve my relationship. I want to love him but it all just feels so fake when I try to act like I do... Help
Ask the community | arguments, despair
“My husband puts his family ahead of 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 am at my wits end, I really need some guidance as I have exhausted all of my own resources to no avail. I married my husband 2 years ago and we now have an 8 month old daughter. Our relationship has had consistent traits which I could manage before our daughter was born, but find myself unable to do so now. My husband always puts his family first. Our life has revolved around their needs for almost the entire relationship now, and become progressively more of an issue. EG. I work from home, my father in law would come at least once a week to visit during working hours, he would talk and talk for 2-3 hrs and ignore my requests that I really DID need to get back to my work. My husband felt he was showing he cares about me. Our wedding was originally in new york, just the two of us. I did not want a family wedding for 2 reasons, I am divorced (my first husband defrauded £120K from me and then disapeared off the face of the earth, I was granted a divorce and am still repaying what emerged to be online gambling debts he fraudulently and without my knowledge secured against our home) and 2nd because, I wanted I our wedding to be about us, not his family, just us. Our wedding was in the end a large family wedding where every decision was made by his family, any attempt by me to ''push'' what I wanted was met with apolcolyptic abuse and threats. I was to get ready for my wedding in a suite paid for by me, my husbands mother and 2 sisters arrived on my wedding morning and took over this suite, I did not even get to wash my hair. I could not do this the day before because my husbands sister who was a bridesmaid decided she no longer liked her gown, I therefore had to re-model it...., my husbands view? they just wanted to share the day with me....one the birth of my daughter (who sadly was born premature, very low birth weight with various health problems and almost died before she was 4 months old) I stuggled with my own extensive health problems (which were aggravated by the pregnancy) and the extreme worry for my daughter as none of the doctors could work out what was wrong with her. I was told that I would attend his sisters 31st birthday party when my daughter was 5 weeks old. I refused to take her at night to a restaurant when it was virtually impossible to breast feed her in perfect surroundings (she vomited upto 45 times a day - I was breast feeding her for 90 minutes then taking a 60 minute break then a further 90 minutes - round the clock - as she vomited so much, she was losing weight and dehydrating to the point of being life threatening at least twice a week) she was in alot of pain and would cry terribly after feeding. I felt it inappropriate to expect me to consent to a demand (not invitation) to bring my baby to a party under these circumstances. My husbands view - it was his sisters birthday and we should consider her feelings, she would be sad if her brother and neice were not there.....? thoughts anyone, advice???
Ask the community | parenting together, values
Helping children adjust to life in a stepfamily
With higher rates of divorce and separation, stepfamilies are one of the fastest growing forms of family, now making up more than 10% of all families in the UK. After separation, children are more likely to stay with their biological mother. However, the number of children living with their biological father and a stepmother is increasing.   Which children find it easier to adjust to stepfamilies? The younger a child is, the easier they are likely to find it to adjust to a stepfamily. Boys generally seem to find it easier than girls to adjust to stepfamilies. However, in early adolescence, boys and girls alike tend to find it difficult to adjust.   How long does it take children to adjust? It’s important to have a realistic expectation of the time it can take for a new family to establish itself. Don’t expect anything to happen overnight, and be prepared for it to take years for everyone to adjust fully. One source says it can take ‘as many years as the age of the child’. This may be an overestimate but, generally, the older a child is, the longer it can take to adjust.   The effect of successive stepfamilies There is also a link between the number of relationships a child’s parent goes on to have and the child’s behaviour. If you think of later relationships as transitional periods for the child, it’s easy to see how unsettling it can be to have to adjust to another new family and start again. Repeated change can lead to behaviour problems like disobedience and hyperactivity. Some studies have shown that children can find a parent’s remarriage even more stressful than the separation itself. However, children may find it easier to deal with a parent’s new partner if their other natural parent isn’t starting a new relationship at the same time. Having a stable family situation in at least one home seems to be important.   The impact of a new baby on a stepfamily Stepfamilies are often referred to as ‘blended families’ as they can be made up of a variety of step-parents, natural parents, biological siblings and stepsiblings. Many couples also choose to have more children with their new partner. Married couple stepfamilies are more likely than cohabiting couples with stepchildren to go on to have children of their own. Whatever the circumstances, most members of a stepfamily will need time to adjust to the arrival of a new baby.   A new mother in an old family When the baby is a first for the mother but not the father, she may have additional pressures to cope with on top of the stress of new parenthood. Knowing that her partner has been through this process with another woman, she may struggle to feel in control, and worry that her partner knows more about it than she does. She may also feel resentment that her partner is spending time with his older children, especially if she thought that the new baby might bring him closer to his new family.   An old dad in a new family This may also be a difficult time for the prospective father too, as he feels his own needs are squeezed out. For example: His partner may be anxious about the birth and expect his full attention. His biological children may well have become angry or withdrawn. His ex may act out her feelings of betrayal and loss by stepping up demands around money or access arrangements. He may be drawn to his new family and withdraw from the old one just because it seems like the easier option. Fathers of a new child may also try to compensate for the new baby by spending more time and money on children from a previous relationship. Relationships with the ex-partner and grandparents might also become more complicated as everyone adjusts to having a new baby in the family. Stepfamilies also tend to be larger than non-stepfamilies and are more likely to have three or more dependent children than non-stepfamilies.
Article | stepfamily, children
4 min read
Facing problems after a baby arrives
It’s sad to feel like things aren’t what they used to be in your relationship. Having a baby can bring this feeling on overnight, so it’s important to recognise and accept that all relationships change and adapt over time. Having a baby is such an exciting time with so many positives that it’s easy to see why couples expect to feel happier together. It can come as a real shock to find that you aren’t getting on. But research shows that this is normal – parenthood is often the most difficult transition anyone will have to make.   Struggling with new roles When you first become a parent, you may struggle to hold onto a clear sense of who you are. You have to get used to a new identity and sometimes the other roles in your life become secondary, at least in the beginning. This includes your role as a partner. New mums may also find it difficult to adjust to changes in their body like increased weight, stretch marks, sagging and scarring. The demands of breastfeeding can be difficult to adjust to, and many new mums find themselves feeling unattractive or at odds with their body. However, while some mothers and fathers may feel the loss of their old selves, others are happy with their new identity.   Loss of freedom The demands of having a baby to look after can leave you feeling like you no longer have any individual freedom. Many parents struggle with not being able to come and go as they please, or to go out and to enjoy their own interests. Life with children brings a new routine of mealtimes, nap times and bedtimes. Adjusting to this new lifestyle with no let-up can feel very suffocating for some parents and may take a lot of adjusting to.   Changes to other relationships Having a baby can also change your relationships with other people, including your family, friends, parents and in-laws. Many couples find they develop a stronger bond with their own parents and in-laws. This often comes from a combination of enjoying a shared interest in the baby, and a reliance on support with childcare but it isn’t all plain sailing. There are often difficulties with partners’ families, particularly if they interfere with your way of doing things. Some couples struggle with interference or criticism from their own parents, and difficult relationships may become even more strained. Some partners want to go back to the traditional ways of doing things that they were brought up with, which can lead to conflict between couples who have different ways of doing things. New parenthood can stir up past childhood experiences and feelings and it may also stir up old memories of parenting for the new grandparents. If you have difficulties with your parents or in-laws, it’s often best to discuss them with your partner first and work out what you’re going to say. That way you can present a united front and avoid letting your in-laws or parents create any difficulties in your relationship with your partner.   Relationships with friends It can be hard to keep up with old friends, particularly if they don’t have children of their own. They have different schedules and may not understand the demands on your time – especially at the beginning. But having a baby gives you lots of opportunities to make new friends with other new parents, who can be a great source of advice and support.   What else helps? Remember to look after yourself. This means eating well, resting when you can, and exercising if possible. Most importantly, though, try to recognise that things will get easier. Meet other new parents Being with a baby can be lonely and isolating; other new parents can offer support or just be someone to talk to from time to time. Your health visitor or GP may know of local groups, or you can try your local Children’s Centre, library, NCT group, or faith centre. Don’t expect too much of yourself. You, your partner and your family are what matters most, especially when the baby is small. Don’t worry too much about the housework or cooking fancy meals. Most other things can wait. Take time to enjoy your baby. As parents of older children say, the time when your baby is small will fly by (although it may not seem like it!). It won’t be long before they’re off to school or leaving home, so enjoy this time while it lasts.
Article | parenting together, baby, new parents
4 min read
Common problems for couples with a new baby
Having a baby is – usually – a happy event, but it’s also a major milestone that forces changes on your lifestyle and your relationship. Adding a baby into your family dynamic can stir up issues and test you to the limit. Adjusting to the new situation can put a strain on your relationship and it’s normal to feel unsettled. Research shows that many parents feel less satisfied with their relationship after a baby, at least in the short term. This isn’t surprising, since both partners are usually tired, emotional, and often anxious. You may also be worried about issues like money and loss of freedom, or you may be just generally overwhelmed by new responsibilities. Becoming a parent can also bring up difficult memories. It might help to talk to each other about your own experiences of being parented, your expectations, and any feelings you haven’t yet shared. Understanding each other can help you to be more realistic and prepared for the ups and downs of parenthood.   Less time for each other Having a baby means more work and less time for each other. It can be hard to find time alone just to talk and support each other, or to go out as a couple. As your identity shifts from ‘partner’ to ‘parent’, it can feel like a threat to your relationship - this can be particularly tough for dads in the beginning when the mum’s new closeness with the baby is at its strongest. Mums may also feel left out once the baby is a little older and the initial intensity fades.   Lack of sleep… and sex Lack of sleep can leave you feeling permanently exhausted, vulnerable and emotional, so it’s easy to react badly to each other or the baby.  Many couples find their sex lives disrupted, at least in the short term. New mothers often feel too tired and not sexy. Some feel unattractive because of post-baby weight, still sore, or afraid sex will be painful. New fathers can then feel rejected and isolated. Men can also feel differently after childbirth. They often worry about their partner’s physical and emotional changes and are frightened of hurting them. Or they may worry about another pregnancy and the responsibility that goes with it. Breastfeeding also has an impact. It’s usually very tiring and some women say they feel their breasts belong to their baby now. Breastfeeding can lead to temporary physical changes in lubrication that can also make sex painful. Men may need time to adjust to the idea of their partner breastfeeding too. There are no universal rules about how long it should take for both partners to be interested in sex again. Even when the desire returns, you may find that other things – like the baby crying and needing to be fed – get in the way. You might also both be worried that things will never get back to how they were. Talk openly about your feelings and keep reminding each other that this is only temporary.   Having a baby in a stepfamily If you’re already in a stepfamily, having a baby can affect several already fragile relationships. Children may be afraid that their father or mother won’t love them as much anymore, but a stepchild may also be afraid that they will not be as good as their mum or dad’s new baby. Half-brothers and sisters need a lot of reassurance, whatever their age. Babies love anyone who seems interested in them and, as the only member of the family with no ‘baggage’, the baby can help to make things work - especially if you encourage half-brothers and sisters to get involved. There can also be issues when it’s a first baby for one parent and not the other. If you’re a new parent in an established family, it’s natural to feel jealous or resentful if your partner seems to know more about parenting than you do. Even reassuring advice can come across as criticism, so make sure you both tread carefully.   Looking after yourself and your own needs Talking things through with each other can help to take the pressure off. Try to understand each other’s feelings and points of view. It’s much better to talk about things calmly when they come up, rather than letting them build up. Talk to friends and family, particularly those who have been in a similar situation to yours. Sometimes it helps to offload and they may also have helpful suggestions that you hadn’t yet considered. You can’t always have it all – talk to your partner about your priorities in life. Reducing your hours, or getting more expensive and reliable childcare can have a financial impact but could ease pressure in other ways. And remember, things should get easier when the children are older and childcare is less demanding.
Article | parenting together, baby, family
5 min read
Introducing children to new partners
After a divorce or separation, a time comes when new relationships start forming. For some this might start soon – even before the separation - but for others it can be years before they feel ready for another personal relationship. Whenever it happens, it’s worth bearing in mind that new relationships can have an impact on your children and your ex. While it can be an exciting time for you, it might be unsettling for the other people in your life. If you are the parent with the new partner When parents start new relationships, it can be tough for the children. They might feel: jealous that they no longer have you to themselves sad that you and your ex aren’t getting back together insecure about competing for your attention frightened of losing you to your new partner resentful of having to get used to more change anxious about the other parent – will the other parent feel more alone? Will the other parent mind if you like the new partner? Some children will of course feel very positive about new partners, seeing it as a sign that their parents are happier and getting on with their life. See the final section below for tips on supporting children through a difficult transition. If your ex has a new partner If you and your children feel delighted or even relieved when your ex meets someone new, you can skip this section! But if you are upset, shocked or surprised to hear your ex is seeing someone, you may need to call on friends and family to give you some support to adjust to this new development. You may wonder how the new relationship will affect the children. If you and your ex are on good terms, you may be able to talk through these worries together. If you don’t have this kind of relationship with your ex, or if emotions are running high, the introduction of a new partner can be fuel to the fire.  If one parent insists that the new partner should spend time with the children and the other parent doesn’t agree, successful parenting arrangements can fall off the rails. If your children start complaining and criticising the new partner, or even if they just want to spend more time with you, or if they alarm bells can start ringing. Your initial reaction might be to plough in and give your ex a piece of your mind, or even to make the contact conditional on the new partner not being there. Take a moment to consider an alternative explanation. You’re hurting. Your children can see that you’re hurting. What do you think their response to this might be? Children worry that they are betraying their other parent if they accept a new partner. One way of proving their loyalty to you is to say they don’t like the new partner. These loyalty conflicts are particularly bad if parents don’t get on. They might want to spend more time with you because they are worried about you. If you are worried about the impact a new partner is having on your children and you are sure that they are not telling you what they think you want to hear, then ask to speak to your ex. If you are the new partner Meeting and being your partners’ children can be daunting – getting involved in their lives even more so. You will want to support your partner’s relationship with the children and hopefully get along with them too. It can be a minefield. The following tips can help you tread the right path: Allow the relationship to develop slowly. Don’t expect the children to love you or even like you initially. Aim for a relationship where you respect each other and treat each other fairly. Be prepared to accept a back seat when the children are around. Accept that your partner’s first responsibility is to the children. You are not a substitute parent. Be supportive but don’t expect to take on a parenting role. Don’t criticise, complain or even joke about the other parent in front of the children. Remember that part of being a good mum or dad is having a good co-parenting relationship with the other parent. Accept that there will be communication between your partner and their ex about the children. Try to understand the loyalty conflicts your partner might experience and offer an empathetic ear when your partner feels stuck in the middle. If there are disagreements between your partner and their ex, remember that you are only hearing one side of things.   Best tips for helping children with new partners Try to avoid introducing new partners straight after the separation. Children need time to adjust to their parents being separated first. Only introduce children to someone you want to be part of your everyday life. Take it slowly at first and be sensitive to your child’s reactions. Just because you think your new partner is great doesn’t mean that your children will agree. Tell the other parent about your plans before this person is formally introduced to the children. Reassure your ex that the children are still important to you, and be prepared to have a conversation about your new partner’s involvement. Make sure you and the children have some alone time without your new partner. This is especially important if the children don’t live with you. Be clear that the new partner is not a substitute parent. A new partner should behave as any responsible adult would towards children but this is very different from taking on a parenting role. Support your children in adapting to the reality of life moving on. Answer their questions but respect their wishes if they don’t want to talk about the new partner.
Article | children, new partner, parenting together
6 min read
How to cope if your partner already has kids
Having a partner with children from a previous relationship can be challenging for many reasons. In this article, we look at some of the difficulties you may face and how best to deal with them. Children are a constant reminder of your partner’s previous relationship. Even if you have accepted that your partner’s children are ‘part of the package’, you may not have counted on your partner's ex being part of it too. The need for your partner to see and communicate with their ex can feel threatening if you are not secure within the relationship or if the relationship is still in its early days.   Tip: Remember that part of being a good mum or dad is having a good parenting relationship with the other parent. Accept that there will be communication about the children between your partner and their ex. You may wonder sometimes where your partner’s loyalties lie – it may seem like their previous family’s needs always seem to come before yours. Tip: Try to understand the loyalty conflicts your partner might be experiencing. It will help your relationship if you can empathise (even if you don’t like it!) when your partner feels like ‘piggy in the middle’ between you and their previous family. It can be hard to know what kind of relationship you can expect to have with your partner’s children. Tip: Allow the relationship to develop slowly. Don’t expect the children to love or even like you straight away. Aim for a relationship where you respect each other and treat each other fairly. You are not a substitute parent - be supportive but don’t expect to take on a parenting role. When your partner is having problems with their ex, it can put a big strain on your relationship. You want to help but feel powerless to change the situation. Tip: It is important not to take out your frustrations in front of the children, as this can make matters worse. Don’t criticise, complain or even joke about the other parent in front of the children. It’s also probably best if you confine your role to supporting your partner rather than getting directly involved in disagreements.
Article | mixed families, parenting together
2 min read

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