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Partner has problems - what should I do?

Community Member

Hi all, I'm a newby.

My partner and I have been together for 7 years & with live with my 2 boys 14 & 16. My partner has not been diagnosed but is clearly suffering from anxiety and possibly depression. He tends to self medicate with alcohol, which can end up in "you don't love me", "life is so hard" crying, but usually just makes him slightly annoying. Over the 7 years I have visited this site often to learn more about what I can do and have suggested many, many times that he talks to someone - I even got him to call the helpline on this site once, but the advice given was that he goes to see someone & he either does not believe it will help or is too scared to go (he also avoids doctors/hospitals wherever possible).

He can be the most wonderful man, but is often SO negative & caught up in his own mind that he can be unkind without meaning to be (I hope!) and it is really wearing me down. He will hang on to grudges for years about things like TV shows and food. I am generally an optimistic, lucky feeling person and I don't think that I am in danger of mental health issues, but I am so tired of always having to be careful of what I say and putting up with his passive aggressive comments, and I am actually worried that my children's lives are worse for having known him.

He told me one drunken night that he prepared a suicide method after we had a fight. I feel like it is entirely my responsibility to make sure he is OK - that he can do and say really hurtful, negative things but I can't say anything because he will "sulk" (I can't think of another way to describe it) for 3 or 4 days. It almost feels like he has a free pass to behave badly.

I have tried getting him to talk to me about his problems, but when he does speak it is usually about how awful his life is - his life that he shares with me - and that I love! It is so hard not to take it like a slap in the face. When I ask how I can help he says "just be kind to me", which I try my best to do - except it doesn't seem to be a 2 way thing and I end up feeling angry that because of his problems he can be unkind but no matter how I feel I always have to take the high road.

This sounds like an awful selfish rant I know, and I would not consider leaving him as I love him very much and he is a good man. But he needs help and I don't know how to get him any, and I don't know if I can be the supportive person in our relationship for the rest of my life. What should I do?

4 Replies 4

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Mclamber,

That's a really difficult situation you're in and I'm sorry to hear he's put you in this situation.

The advice the helpline gave and which you gave is absolutely correct. He needs to talk to someone else professional. He can't just rely on you to be his emotional crutch forever.

It's wonderful that you're willing to help him now but this is starting to take its toll and I'm glad you've come here. I have two suggestions:

First, you need to check in on yourself as well. You said it's wearing you down but you don't think you're in danger of mental health issues. Can I please gently remind you that stress is a big contributor so you need to make sure you know your own boundaries and stick by them. There's a great section on the links below called "Supporting others" which you may have read already. Don't be afraid to call the support line yourself if you feel you need someone to talk to.

And secondly, perhaps you or a close friend or family member could go to the GP with your partner. The way I see it, you're reaching an ultimatum because this situation is not going to fix itself. He needs to seek help and if he doesn't want to go, even if you go with him, that's not a workable relationship. But perhaps he just wants to not be alone when he goes.

It's a really tough time for you both, but the only lives you have responsibility for are your own and your children. If he's not willing to make any effort in his recovery, that's his decision and you need to make sure your kids and you are not weighed down by that.

I hope that helps even if just to confirm what, by the sounds of it, you already know. You sound like a caring and intelligent person and I just want to congratulate you on what you're doing for the family.

My kindest thoughts to you.


Community Member

Thanks for your reply James,

I like how you've written "he's put you in this situation". I hadn't thought of it like that.

I can't even get him to see a dentist, GP, & he actually walks around with one lens missing from his glasses because he doesn't want to have his eyes tested! I have suggested a number of times that I go with him. My brother in law was seeing a counsellor in our area & I suggested he could go there or talk with my brother in law, but he won't.

He has said he would like to talk to me about it - but as I said above, I find it extremely UNhelpful. I'm not trained & cannot empathise as, despite all the reading I've done, I just don't understand it. I have no idea what to ask, how to react, what to say. I just try to be quiet & hug him a lot, but inside I am usually hurt and fuming! Not something I want to be put through on a regular basis.

So what are the options here? I can't even imagine leaving him and I don't want to. It will never be an ultimatum. The kids only have a few years of school left & then it will just be us - I'm hoping that will make a difference, but in the back of my mind I just think he will find something else to make him upset. Until then I try to keep them apart (big house, lots of separate living areas) so that the impact on the kids is minimal (they are not his kids, which he is at pains to point out to anyone who asks, although he has been around for about half of their lives). When he is in a good mood, he is a really good role influence on them (I think), he is the kind of person I would like them to be, but lately he never seems to be in a good mood.

I do look after myself - I talk a lot with my sister & mum & have occasionally seen a counsellor just to check in.

I understand your comments about my only responsibility being to me and the kids - I see comments like that a lot on these forums - except I don't think that is true. My responsibility is to my whole family. I can't just drop a member because they are too difficult. What if it were one of my kids? I wouldn't just walk away because it was too hard. What if it were me? But the weird thing is that my partner kind of thinks like that also - he is a burden, he should get out of our lives, he is just making things worse. But if he did leave - or do something more desperate - then that would just devastate me and I can't imagine ever getting over it.

Why won't he listen!?

A rock and a hard place 😞

Sometimes these sorts of things are given very sophisticated, scientific, medical terms when I think of them as two syndromes:

1. "they needed/need/should have a damn good Mum syndrome"


2. "lost puppy syndrome"

He's a lost puppy that needs a damn good Mum no matter what age he is.

And you sound like a sweetie.

Good luck guys xxx

If you're not willing to issue an ultimatum then I'm afraid things will probably continue as is.

So if he won't go and get help, or see a dentist, or get his eyes tested then there are consequences.

Given an option A and an option B is usually a pretty good incentive for someone to take option A - where option B is where they are no longer in a relationship.

You can't control him no, but you can control your response to his actions. You can decide that you've had enough of his self-neglect. You can calmly tell him that you can't fix his moods and he needs to see a professional. You can tell him that his negativity gets you down and his continued refusal to seek help is having an impact on your relationship. Yes you have a responsibility to your family but so does he. And if he's not willing to get help then you need to decide if you can live with him like he is, or take it to the next level.

You can't make him listen, but you can continue to communicate your issues with him. You can escalate your need for him to seek help over time. And if he still hasn't sought help then he gets an ultimatum