Ruth, 36. Three children, aged 10, 8, and 19 months

“I think the big issue for me is the degree of conflict we have around the kids. I say yes to something that Tom says no to. I think he’s being harsh or too disciplinarian; he thinks I’m being unreasonable. Sometimes it feels like we are co-extinguishers of family fires rather than the lovers we started out as! The insanity of our house on a school run morning seems a long, long way from what I had in mind when I said ‘I do’.

It can be galling and even depressing to discover that the mainstay of your relationship now revolves around the daily ‘Put your shoes on / where’s your lunch box / have you brushed your teeth’ detritus of daily family life, and I’m not one of those who believes that regular ‘date nights’ are all it takes to fix that. I’m more likely to drink too much and run through all my husband’s shortcomings, ruining it, and giving us even more issues to deal with later.

But there’s an upside, of course. Nothing on earth feels as good as those moments of shared joy over something one of our kids has said or done. The (all too rare) moments of really fun family togetherness feel more fulfilling than anything we ever did as a loved-up couple.

Making space for fun in our lives helps, too, when it feels like the kids have turned us into mum and dad and little else. Sometimes we go out for a delicious breakfast when all the kids are at school or childminder, or leave them with grandparents and go for a run together instead of solo. It helps us reconnect.

When the children were younger I really struggled with barely being able to finish a sentence when talking to Tom, but that gets easier. At least, we can tell them not to interrupt now. Although now we can no longer spell words when we don’t want them to understand!”

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THE SECOND WOMAN

By , 4th February 2021
Features
My third book - the last of three connected, stand-alone novels - is now available for pre-order