COLUMNIST and trained counsellor Fiona Caine answers another set of reader dilemmas.

I was so looking forward to having a baby. It took such a long time for us to conceive, I’d almost given up. Everyone was supportive while I was pregnant, and my employer was really good at helping me cope in my much-loved job.

Since our baby was born six months ago though, I feel so very different, and I have really let myself go. I’ve no energy to get dressed up any more and my house is a shambles.

I’m always in my dressing gown when my husband goes off to work in the morning, and more often than not, that’s how I stay. Half the time, I am still in the same state when he gets home, and although he works long hours with his job, he’s usually the one who has to cook when he gets home.

I know he’s getting quite fed up with it – not the cooking but the fact I am so miserable and washed out all the time. I burst into tears at the slightest criticism from him, which is crazy because I’ve let everything go so I quite deserve it.

Believe me, I love my daughter but I’m beginning to wish she had never been born. I was a successful career woman before she arrived – now I can’t even manage myself, let alone staff.

C. T.

Fiona says: This is a really challenging time

Coping with a new baby is really hard, and I wouldn’t mind betting many other mums reading this have felt like you at some point.

Your baby makes demands on you constantly; you don’t get enough sleep; your body has changed and your hormones are all over the place.

Getting up, getting dressed and getting out is a real achievement – indeed, just getting through the day is a huge achievement – but if you can do that, even just a walk around the block, it will help.

If you have a garden, get out into that, and just breathe. Every little thing you do to change the patterns you feel you’ve got into will help lift you out of your slump.

Has anyone mentioned to you the possibility of post-natal depression? PND is a genuine illness that affects a lot of mothers and can be triggered by all the hormone changes your body is going through, plus the physical exhaustion caused by coping with a new baby. It is believed to affect one in 10 women and can start at any time up to a year after the birth of a baby, although it often starts in the first two to eight weeks.

If you haven’t done so, please talk to your doctor about how you feel, because there are things that can help. Interacting with other new mums would be of great benefit for you to understand you’re not alone – ask your doctor’s surgery if there’s a post-natal group you could join.

Many women with PND find it hard to leave the house, so do try to get help before the problem becomes so severe you find it hard to get out at all.

Being with other new mums would, aside from giving you the company of other adults, help you to see your behaviour is completely normal too. The Association for Post-Natal Illness are a great organisation to go to for support with all kinds of information and networks.

If you can only face talking to people over the phone initially, they have volunteers who can help you and your husband to understand what you are going through and how to come out the other side.

Why does my husband suddenly need space?

We’ve just had our silver wedding anniversary, and what should have been a happy occasion turned into a total nightmare. We’d been planning a party for several months and family and friends were due to come from across the country.

It was a real opportunity for a big get-together post-Covid, and my husband entered into the spirit of things with huge enthusiasm, planning the menu, the drinks and everything. I was so excited and really looking forward to it, but a couple of days beforehand, I thought my husband seemed a bit off. I assumed it was just the pressure of the event and we had the party as planned, although it seemed a bit more subdued than I’d been anticipating.

That night, before we went to bed, he told me he’d decided that he needs ‘space’ because he wants to ‘find himself’. The following day, he moved out. That was a month ago. He’s still in touch most days, but says that although he cares for me, he no longer loves me. He says he doesn’t want to hurt me, but I am so hurt and confused and don’t understand how he can behave in this way.

He isn’t asking for a divorce or anything and he phones regularly, but if I ask him when he is coming home, he says he isn’t. I know our marriage wasn’t perfect, but I thought we were both quite content – I know I was, but I can’t go on like this.

H. T.

Fiona says: Think about what you want too

It sounds as if the preparations for the party focussed your husband’s attention on the marriage in a way he’d not really considered before. It perhaps made him realise that there were opportunities missed and plans unfulfilled.

Many people go through a mid-life crisis like this, and it is not at all the joke some people make it out to be. Some men buy a new sports car, a crazy new wardrobe, or start an affair to prove to themselves they are still desirable. Others withdraw into a bit of a shell, which is what it sounds as if your husband has done.

I suspect he doesn’t understand himself any better than you do what is going on inside his head. When people are in the midst of an emotional crisis like this, it is impossible for them to think or act rationally. Hard though it is for you, you will have to keep calm if you want to give your marriage a chance.

If there were problems in your marriage, then time and space like this might be an opportunity for you too to think how to make things better. Please don’t simply wait at home crying for your husband to come back – get out and get on with your life. That way, when he phones, you will have things to talk about, you’ll sound more upbeat and positive. It might feel like you’re putting on an act at first, but keep going and it will feel easier with practice.

Sadly, if your husband cannot resolve his dilemmas, then it may be that the separation becomes permanent. The effort you make now though, will help you to pick up the pieces and make a new life without him, if that’s what has to happen.

Pregnant with abusive partner’s baby

Three years ago, I started living with a man several years older than me. He had children from his previous relationship, so said he didn’t want any more. To begin with, everything was wonderful. He was loving and caring in a way none of my previous relationships had been.

Then, six months ago, everything changed and he became angry and abusive whenever I went anywhere near him. He says he isn’t interested in me anymore and a couple of times he’s beaten me for something I’ve done to offend him.

I suppose it was the shock of him changing that made me forget to take the pill, but now I find I’m three months pregnant. That’s made him even nastier and he says I’m trying to trap him – but I don’t love him anymore and think I should leave him. Should I put up with him for the baby’s sake though?

P. L.

Fiona says: You and your baby deserve much better

Please leave him now. The fact he is still beating you whilst you are carrying his child is a clear indication of how little he cares.

If he’s willing to hit you while you’re pregnant, then there’s every possibility he will be violent towards your child as well. No child or adult should have to put up with that.

I know leaving can be extremely hard, but there is support out there. Contact Refuge ( for advice and support on how to leave. They run the free National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 so please start there.

It sounds as if you’ve been unlucky with past relationships as well. So aside from leaving this man and getting help right now, you could perhaps do with some more general emotional support. Refuge can help you with that too.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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