Monday 22 July 2019

Dear Mary: Was I right to leave partner who left me stressed and nervous?

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Photo posed

Mary O'Conor

My partner and myself have been together for several years and we have two beautiful young children. I moved in with him when I found out I was pregnant to try to be a proper family. I paid rent and half the bills, but this wasn't seen as part of his mortgage. I found where he lived so isolating.

He suggested a few different ideas which set off alarm bells, such as I should sell my car, and let him claim for me and our child. I wouldn't agree to this and I explained why, and he seemed OK with it. He was, and still is, very set in his ways but for a while we were happy. I did mention moving closer to my family for support and he agreed it would be a nice idea.

He has mental health issues - anxiety and depression - as well as a former partner and child. We kept going and I found out I was pregnant again. But he didn't seem happy and started distancing himself, and this is when our problems got worse.

No romance or affection were shown towards me after my pregnancy announcement but he still wanted sex. The nice gestures seemed to get fewer and fewer, and he would get angry and irritated easily. He managed to get several jobs but could not last longer than a week. There was always something wrong.

We moved next door to my mum just before Christmas. I was so excited but within a few days of being in our new home he started saying he wasn't happy and felt restricted. We had money issues and he ruined Christmas. He managed to settle for a few weeks and I had my beautiful daughter. Then something happened and he had a choice to move back to his house or stay with me and the kids. When my daughter was just two months old he went back to his house, even though I begged him not to leave.

He only came down once a week as that was all he could afford but didn't contribute towards his kids in any way and he still expected sex when he was here. All we did was argue.

On Father's Day I offered to cook him a nice meal and pay for his fuel to see me and the kids. He said he had his own plans but if I wanted him to come he would. Am I wrong to think this is not normal behaviour?

He saw a doctor who said he needs anger management and help with his anxiety. He saw a counsellor and then the counsellor said he didn't need to see him any more.

By now my health and mental health were suffering.

I felt the relationship was going to end as there was no effort from his side and I was, and am, so tired all the time. I was just trying to hold everything together and was breastfeeding as well as looking after a toddler, with an average four to five hours of sleep.

I told him I never wanted a part-time family or relationship. He said he didn't either, but kept pushing like he wanted me to end it. I eventually said it's time, and best for both our mental health, as nothing was being resolved.

I don't know if I have done the right thing by my kids in leaving the relationship. But if the person you love is only there one day out of seven and then starts arguments over the phone the next day, it's not normal. I was a confident, positive person and now I'm stressed and nervous and not myself.

I know I could have put in more effort and it's not just him. I plan to see a counsellor, hoping I can become more positive and less stressed.

Mary replies: I've condensed your long email and hope I have got the salient points across. I'm sorry for you that things haven't worked out and I feel you have made the right decision in leaving the relationship. Presumably the children's father will continue to play a part in their lives, even though he is making no financial contribution to their upkeep, which, by law, he should be doing. So by association he will always be in your life as well.

But it seems to me you were doing all the work in trying to keep the relationship going and getting precious little in return and meanwhile your stress levels have been rising.

He already has an ex wife and a child. Do you know what sort of relationship he has with them, because this would let you know what to expect from him in the future?

I think your main concern now should be keeping well yourself and being the best parent you can to the two little ones. Parenting is a full-time job so it is helpful that you have your mother close at hand and you therefore will not feel so alone. Your idea of going for counselling is a good one and you will find that having somebody unbiased, with whom you can talk things through, will be of enormous help.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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