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How to keep the relationship going

Community Member

I will try and keep this semi short, but here it is
My partner and I have been together for nearly 8 years, I have a 11yo from a previous encounter (partner came into the picture when my son was 4yo and he has been daddy ever since) and we have a 4yo daughter together.
My son has previously been diagnosed ADHD and has been medicated for the last couple of years.
The crux of everything really is that my partner doesn’t feel like myself or my parents (who look after the kids during the week while we are at work) are punishing my son effectively. He feels that my son pretty much gets away with everything and there are no consequences to his actions.
I admit that I probably haven’t been as effective In punishment as I could be and I am looking to get it rectified. I try not to use it as an excuse, but I have tried to explain to my partner that I have been doing the best that I can, considering I work full time and I am also the one that cooks and does the household stuff, I get tired!!
Now here is what my main issues is, my partner has basically said that because of the ongoing issues with my son and his behaviour, it is affecting his relationship with me!
There is no affection whatsoever between us, I gave up a while ago trying for any intimacy at all (this includes things like hand holding, cuddling etc) and feel like we are pretty much housemates living together.
Added factors include my partner working away regularly and having medical conditions that does make him tired.
Now my question is, is he using the issues with my son as an excuse not to deal with the relationship? He seems to think that once we get things sorted with my son, our relationship will get back on track.
My feeling is that even though we are going through things with my son, it shouldn’t stop us from having our relationship, being together and being intimate!
I am at a loss and could use someone’s advice.

P.s-i am going back to the paediatrician for further advice, partner doesnt want to

11 Replies 11

Community Champion
Community Champion

Sad but hopeful

welcome and thanks for your honest post.

I can relate to your dilemma.

There is an issue between us that will soon be resolved and I worry what will happen if our relationship does not improved despite me putting a lot of time and effort in to it,

Resolving the issue has caused me much stress and pain but I did it because Iwanted to do it it fir me and the relationship.

If getting help in showing your son ways to cope with difficulties, , as ADHD can be very hard on a pre teen with all the hormones et, it can improve your relationship with your son.

Whether your relationship with your partner improves, you are trying and showing you are ready to try to improve things.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi sad but hopeful,

I’m sorry you find yourself in the middle of this situation. I suppose I’m always a bit worried of the word “punishment”as while it may make the person administering the punishment to feel better at the time it’s really an old school way of raising children and the research is pretty clear that it doesn’t really work and can be quite harmful. It can also be abused in situations where a parent clearly favours a particular child or unfairly targets another as the need for punishment and the degree required is fairly subjective. Your son has been diagnosed with ADHD and so there are obviously some behavioral issues that are related to that, but punishing a child for their behavior really seems to cause more harm than good as it can cause the child to act out more and to also learn that home isn’t really a safe space for them. I think it would be better to find ways to communicate more effectively with your son and work out what he needs or even talk to his doctor about how best to manage him, or even see whether you can be referred to someone who can assist you with that.
Regarding these issues, it’s not unusual for parents who disagree on parenting style to then carry those resentments or issues into the relationship, and the lack of intimacy clearly reflects that. However, just because your partner has issues with your parenting style, it doesn’t make him necessarily right. That’s why I think an impartial third party may be beneficial here. Out of interest, does he have issues with how you are raising your daughter, or is it just your son?

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

I have lots of experience on the topics you mentioned.

I have been a step dad to 3 children and two grandchildren with two ladies. One lady was step mum to my daughters. I have my MIL step son in my life that has ADHD and I'm bipolar2 with mania controlled but was incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD once such was my mania.

I've always said "step parents need to be lovers of all children, nurturing types. Any sign of self centred attitudes or jealousy will hinder the relationship heavily.

In your situation the difficulties you both face with your son will compound as your son gets older up to young adulthood +. ADHD kids needs vary but patience, time, boundaries and ongoing treatment is the tip of the iceberg. With your unconditional love you'll do ok, with a step dad that has resentment there are red flags that point directly to the need for marriage counselling.

Unfortunately your partner doesn't see your son in your eyes. To be very fair it would take a very patient loving friend type of man to your son that ignores any poor behaviour which is a tall order. With ADHD kids it isn't only discipline that non blood people expect there is so much more the kids need. Hence in an ideal world his mum as a full time mum would be helpful.

I'd speculate with confidence that family planning by counselling would pave the way for the changes needed to not only improve the family dynamics but the spin off could be saving your relationship.

Whatever you decide, doing nothing is imo not an option. Usually I suggest if one adult won't attend counselling then "go alone " but this marriage likely won't work without both of you with commitment, a can do approach.

I think it's reasonable for such issues to effect someone's attraction towards their partner including intimacy such is the resentment to the parent for what he sees as lack of discipline plus your sons behaviour.

Re: "He seems to think that once we get things sorted with my son, our relationship will get back on track" sadly getting things sorted in how he dreams it should be, won't happen. This is where the counselling is really needed. He's saying- you have the problem, fix it but until then we will remain distant. Not good.

My sympathy towards his situation is there but limited because blame is not teamwork nor is it an attitude required for any mental illness. Teamwork is gone and reluctance to attend anyone to assist is further evidence of his unwillingness to contribute. That says a lot.


Hi Juliet_84

Thank you for the reply, and i needed to clarify the word 'punishment' in this instance is basically consequences for his actions and trying to stop (or reduce) them from happening again, the way that we try and do this at the moment is to take away something he likes doing for a period of time, like watching the tv etc to try and get him to associate that if he does the same thing again, the same consequence will occur, bit like a preventative tool.

And i think he has the same issues with our daughter as he says that she is heading in the same direction!

I agree on the third party impartial input, just trying to figure out which it is to be!

Hi Tony,

Thank you for your input, i have read your responses before and have found you to

Hi Tony,

Stupid laptop lol

I need to put in that my partner does love my son and has always treated him like his own. It has only just been in the last few years that things have been changing and that his patience threshold has diminished alot. This could be compounded by the fact that he is working away alot now, has gained alot of weight (as have i) and has his health issues.

It is only recently that i have asked him to come back to the paediatrician, to pretty much get us both on the same page as to how to handle things, but unfortunately he will be away for work, and even if he was here, he wouldnt come.

I also suggested a relationship councillor, but at this point in time i dont think he would go.

I do feel like everything has been put on me to get things sorted out and i do feel resentment and anger at the situation. What doesnt help either is that i have very little help with doing housework and looking after the kids. I feel that he prioritises helping his boss or good mate out rather than doing anything with us, i have brought this up with him and he sees this as sort of like his stress release when he is home, but i still feel crappy about it.

I have come up with a plan of action and only hope that it might work, i am going to write down word for word what his problem is with the way i am dealing with sons behaviour, getting it from the horses mouth so as to speak. I will then go over the issues with the paediatrician and see what his input is and how we can resolve it.

Plan of action will be put in to place and i will also suggest seeing a relationship councillor in the mean time as i think dealing with son will be an ongoing issue. If partner still doesnt want to do this, then i think it might be in all our best interests to leave the relationship, i can only encourage so much to save the relationship without his involvement!

Couple of things to add in, he is much younger than me, but age has never been a problem. I have also had a drinking problem as a way of coping with either boredom, loneliness or the lack of affection. I have now stopped drinking as this has been a hinderance, hopefully this will help in the long run!

Community Member

I would suggest looking at Circle of security. It's evidence based for help with raising children.

I did it when I was struggling with post natal depression and anxiety. Through my counsellor.

It helps with behavioural issues via how to be assertive with children while being supportive and kind.


Well done!. You have a good plan.


Thanks for that Tony, the appointment with the paediatrician went well, other half hasnt really shown much interest in how it went, mind you he has been working away so havent seen him face to face as yet. I also havent suggested a councillor as yet due to him being away.

I feel like i am constantly on tender hooks at the moment as to what may happen with us and also for him returning home and what the atmosphere is going to be like. I feel like crap and constantly angry/sad with the situation