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I'm exhausted, don't know what else to give to my relationship to make it work

Community Member

I have been with my partner for around 4 years. We spend a lot of time together, our lives are entrenched; owning a business and living together.

I am a motivated, hardworking, and mostly optimistic person. I'm finding it incredibly difficult to articulate what has brought me to this forum.

I am someone that likes to feel appreciated and needed, but over the last year or so I find my self regularly feeling taken advantage of or perhaps just unappreciated.

While my partner at times acknowledges my contribution to our day to day lives or my role in our business, I feel more often than not that he feels that 'it's just my job' to look after our home, him or our animals, or to manage the business. I feel like I have to be across everything all the time.

I feel like I'm my own biggest enemy, as the more I take on the more he unconsciously expects, I overload myself more and more trying to feel appreciated and valued and then just end up falling over in a heap feeling hopeless and overwhelmed when I don't receive anything in return. I don't ask for much, just a thank you or a smile, just some acknowledgement.

I try to raise how I feel, but he turns my feelings being taken advantage of around, telling me I just do things for him so I can use it against him.

I love him so much, but I can't keep living every day just trying to make someone else happy that doesn't consider my hopes and dreams, whether I am happy, sad or needing some acknowledgement.

I find it so difficult to know what to say, or just what to do with myself, I hate the constant feeling of rejection and defeat, maybe if I left him he would realise how lucky we were to have each other.

We have been having issues with intimacy, well mainly I have been having issues. I don't feel that kind of attraction towards him, I feel bullied and used and that doesn't make me feel like I want to get close to him. I've tried to explain where that comes from, but I think he just thinks there's either something wrong with me, or it's just a choice, like I choose to not wanted to be intimate with him.

I'm so confused, I just don't know what else I can possibly give this relationship to make it work, I feel like I spend so much time worrying about everyone else, I don't even know how I feel anymore, and when I stop and think about it.. I'm unhappy, what does that count for.


6 Replies 6

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi T&C, welcome

A couple needs roughly 50% division of responsibilities. This can be divided by many methods but essentially the workload of running a homes, business and chores has to be roughly even unless there are disabilities. With disabilities intent is everything.


The term "flogging a willing horse" is an apt one. People fall into that role of doing it. Basic consideration and love for ones partner should stop it from continuing. If you are doing the bulk of the workload then he should acknowledge this and come to your aid by offering rest while he swaps places for a while. If that isn't being done then your are in  a tight situation because when you mention it, its like you are begging for help from a guy that turns things around to make you "the bad guy". This situation is not viable in the long term. Eventually the willing horse will break.

Counselling might help. The trouble is for counselling to work one needs a change of attitude and that comes from within. I was a defacto partner to a woman once for 10 years. I felt the same as you for a long time. The chores built up over time and I used to say to her (as she gave me another job to do ) "my other speed is slower". This is not uncommon in workplaces. Managers often ask the willing horse to do a job as he knows it will be done there and then and not at a snails pace.

It's totally up to you to find ways to claw some more work out of this guy. But I'm concerned that the issue has now spread to the bedroom and life in general. That being the case you are in a bind. Some medium term changes might need to be considered like leaving the business and getting a job. Maybe making him employ a worker to replace you? Then "absence makes the heart grow fonder" might be an ingredient that could draw you closer together against.

There is no other answer to lack of respect that I can think of.

Tony WK


Thanks White Knight, I appreciate you taking the time to give me your thoughts about my situation.

You mentioned 'respect' and I'm stuck on that.. you're exactly right, there must be little respect for me. This is what kills me inside: I battle with is there something I'm doing that deserves this? Do I not deserve some respect and some appreciation.

I just don't understand why these things just don't come naturally for me.

I guess I also feel a bit defeated by our relationship. Early days my partner struggled a lot with alcohol and drug use and would be very verbally aggressive, something that I hadn't ever been exposed to before. I have tried to support him and help him, and for the greater part he has got control of this, although I'm not sure what would happen if he didn't have my influence in his life. I guess this makes me feel really responsible all the time, I don't feel I have anyone to turn to.. 

Hi T&C

Respect, lack thereof, could be for a number of reasons. Lets tackle them head on and put emotions aside.

- the cliché "familiarity breeds contempt. Being together 24/7 feeds this

- being business partners breeds tension

- in a marriage the 7 years itch can come anytime actually

You said "I feel like I'm my own biggest enemy". This battering yourself is anger towards yourself often because you cant find the answers from evaluating him. Frustration causing you to look at your own self can make you really unhappy.

My first wife had a nasty technique. If I simply raised my voice in dissatisfaction of her (not yell) she would immediately decide to stop talking to me....for up to 6 weeks. During that period I'd assess my own behaviour, talk to close friends, go to counselling (she wouldn't go...I tell a lie, she went once and blamed it all on me) I'd do anything to find an answer. This included changing my own personality if needed...simply because I had no answers. In the end I planned my own fate, an end to my life. Thankfully I thought of my young children. One week later I left the family home. I was likely the best part time dad on the planet. Paid all child support on time, paid for dental operations (once it tallied to $14,000) etc etc. Do you think I ever got any friendly praise or similar for the next 14 years- No. Did I ever praise my ex wife for her mothering of my daughters- absolutely. So that eventually told me that her behaviour was totally unacceptable. Did I need further evidence? yes. It came with her second husband when we bumped into each other. He asked me the predictable questions about silence used as a weapon and her laziness. Then her next man initially was confrontational when I picked my kids up but over time this changed and he apologised, left her and admitted she was unworkable as a partner for the same reasons.

So you can see, us that are very considerate, caring and understanding (not perfect of course) do have trouble when we doubt our own judgement. Often the other party knows this and plays on it. But at the end of the day these people often lose out as in your case. And these people don't need a reason to disrespect you. Please remember this. Simply living together 24/7 can do it.

A working relationship that is under stress needs a balance and that can only come IMO from positive actions like holidays, romance, praise, team work, goals, etc.

You are entitled to your own judgement.

Tony WK

Thank you Tony for sharing some of your experience with me, it sounds like that would have been an incredibly difficult time for you. It's so very hard to trust in yourself and know that you deserve respect and appreciation. It's comforting to hear from you that what I am saying makes sense; that's I'm not just 'hard work' or that my expectations are too high.

While I know deep down that things aren't right, that I deserve someone who values and respects me, I am drawn to our relationship and can't imagine being without him. But then again with him I am so sad and unhappy.

I keep thinking if I just try harder, give more, change, try a different angle things may change, get better or get worse.. or at least I would gain some clarity on what I should do.

As time goes on it just gets harder, I realise I'm 30, I want children and so does he, but what kind of mother could I be in this kind of relationship, am I strong enough to have to look after myself and my children emotionally 100% of the time without knowing I have someone catch me when I fall.

Things just feel grey and sad, I don't know what to do anymore.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place seems about right T&C

When someone leaves the relationship it is a big step. If I could just use another example of my first marriage break down. It might help.

Being "pushed to the brink" often needs to occur before we take that final act of moving out. for me it came after 11 years. Two daughters aged 7 and 4.

One week since I'd had suicidal tendencies I had my wife puff a smoke ring to my face. Of course there was much more to do about that leading up to it but you understand what I'm saying, that as time goes on you will need to either accept your partner for the things that annoy you or don't fulfil you or you will become a mum and be unhappy. The latter might not be sustainable over the long term. This might lead to being a single mum. I'm painting possibilities you likely have thought of yourself.

Those such as you and I try everything possible to make things work. If we don't we could have guilt feelings later on.

When I drove off from my family home in 1996 in tears and devastated after kissing my sleeping beauties on their foreheads as they slept. But once I got to the end of the street I was ok. I focussed on my future, a future not dependant on her controlling ways. My only fear was if she'd cause havoc with me having the children for visits. That did not eventuate.

So if its any consolation consider that if you plan a little, things like accommodation and transport etc, the initial departure is the hardest thing.

It is all up to you of course. My concern for you is your age and desire to have a family.

My wife I've known for 30 years. I matched her to my first wife's brother and was best man at their wedding. They were married a long time and she nursed him as he had rheumatoid arthritis but the respect wasn't there. Neither was respect returned to me from my first wife. So that contempt seemed to run in that family.

Now we are happy, both victims of a disrespectful family. We've been married 4 years now and its all well. The respect remains. The happiness is wonderful.

In the end you need to clarify his commitment, eagerness to work hard and to regard you as his priority. Failure to do this will wear you down. Whatever you decide you must be brave.

By all means keep writing here.

Tony WK