Couple

Dear Coleen

I’m a 28-year-old woman and I’ve been with my boyfriend for 10 years after meeting during our first year at university.

We had a daughter four years ago, which wasn’t planned, but we both adore her.

My problem is, while I’ve matured and take parenting and family life really seriously, he seems to have gone the other way and has been reliving his teenage years.

Now life is opening up again following the lockdowns, he’s at the pub a lot with his mates or stays late at work. Meaning I’m doing most of the childcare, while he gets to do all the fun stuff like playing with her and reading bedtime stories.

I feel bad complaining because I do really love him and I know he loves us, but I just wish he’d grow up a bit and take on more responsibility at home.

I’m worried our relationship is sliding into an unhealthy place and he’s just not present enough.

I can feel myself getting angry with him, which has never happened before.

How can I get him to see things from my point of view without causing a massive argument to blow up?

Coleen Nolan
Coleen Nolan is the Mirror’s resident agony aunt ( Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Coleen says

Just talk about it, but don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be an argument. Approach it calmly and make it a ­discussion where you listen to each other.

Try to get him to appreciate that you’re only 28 too, yet you’re being expected to stay at home a lot while he’s out with his mates or colleagues.

Compromise is the key to any healthy, long-term relationship – taking it in turns, supporting the other person and trying to find a balance that works for both of you.

Tackle it now and come up with a plan before it does slide into a place that’s hard to get out of.

Coleen says

Just talk about it, but don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be an argument. Approach it calmly and make it a ­discussion where you listen to each other.

Try to get him to appreciate that you’re only 28 too, yet you’re being expected to stay at home a lot while he’s out with his mates or colleagues.

Compromise is the key to any healthy, long-term relationship – taking it in turns, supporting the other person and trying to find a balance that works for both of you.

Tackle it now and come up with a plan before it does slide into a place that’s hard to get out of.

At his age, he’s going through all kinds of hormonal and sexual changes, discovering who he is and experimenting.

He might be doing it for fun, comfort or sexual reasons, and he might lose interest in cross-dressing or it may become a lifelong thing.

If you want to support him, I think the most important thing is to emphasise that it’s a form of expression and not something he has to resist, feel guilty about or overcome.

Generally, people who cross dress don’t see themselves as a different gender to the one they were assigned at birth.

There’s plenty of support and information available online – visit beaumontsociety.org.uk

One reader thought her son might be gay or transexual and wanted to help but found her son unwilling to talk about it (stock image)
One reader thought her son might be gay or transexual and wanted to help but found her son unwilling to talk about it (stock image) ( Image: Getty Images/Maskot)

Dear Coleen

My son is desperately fighting for the right to see his seven-year-old daughter after going through an acrimonious divorce.

He also suffered a brain injury a few years ago and has struggled emotionally ever since.

He attempted to end his life because his ex-wife won’t allow him to see his daughter and his doctor put him on a course of anti-depressants.

What can he do when her solicitor, social services and Citizens Advice do not respond to his pleas and requests for help?

He has solicitor’s fees of thousands of pounds to pay, so he’s at the point where he can’t afford legal advice anymore.

The court process for custody is going to take months.

I’d be grateful for any advice.

Middle aged man depressed/suicidal/loosing his mind/upset.
One reader’s son is fighting for the right to see his own child (stock image) ( Image: Getty Images)

Coleen says

Personally, I think the system for fathers is outdated and desperately needs looking into, and even when rights are granted there can be lots of restrictions put in place.

It’s very sad and so damaging when someone uses a child to hurt an ex-partner, so if that’s the case I really feel for your son and the rest of your family.

It sounds as if you’re going down all the right channels. You don’t say if Cafcass is involved, but you can find more information at cafcass.gov.uk.

As a mum, I think the most important thing you can do is to support your son with his mental health and wellbeing, so he feels stronger and more able to cope with the process.

Antidepressants are a good short-term measure, but I think ongoing counselling is vital, so encourage him to speak to his GP about a referral or you can visit bacp.co.uk to find a private therapist in your area.

It’s very hard to watch your son go through this, but try to take things one step at a time. In the meantime, keep everything for your granddaughter – cards, gifts and so on. Trust that at some point she will want to have a relationship with her father.

I’d like to reply to the woman having revenge sex with other men in retaliation for her husband’s cheating (Dear Coleen, Jan 25).

You make a fine pair and should stay together and work it out! Stop thinking about yourselves for a moment and think about your kids and what they need from their parents.