February - March 2013
  Ask Hillie
by Hillie Marshall

Hello again everyone,

Happy New Year to you all! This is a time of new beginnings and recovering and restoring finances, health and sanity after the prolonged festive season. Many people will be glad they can put a lid on last year especially if their relationship broke up during the festivities. When there is an intense holiday period where we see everyone else having fun and being close to their partners, family and friends it puts so much pressure on us. We form an idealised image of family life and relationships and begin to evaluate our own lives, whether we're happy, with the right person or in the right place. Of course when we build up unreal expectations this is where the trouble starts. We are likely to spend more time than usual with family members over a holiday period and the minor irritations they may have felt about our partners may grow out of proportion. His or her feelings can have a powerful impact on our own or our partner's and someone gets dumped usually at the beginning of the year!

Why do people tend to break up in the first week of January rather than before Christmas? I believe many people who are unhappy in their relationship don't like the thought of being alone over Christmas and New Year. They get caught up in the general excitement of the season and may believe that things will get better because of the festivities. However the opposite happens, their unhappiness seems more pronounced and the New Year looks like the perfect chance for a fresh start.

If you are one of those unfortunate people trying to recover from a break up then I hope my article below will help. Just remember that dark miserable days are numbered now and Spring is just around the corner. So cheer up everyone and lets make 2013 our best year yet!

Best wishes

Coming to Terms with a Broken Relationship

It's horrible when it happens but you're not the only one suffering, it happens to people every minute all over the world. It's how you cope with it that counts. It's a bereavement so allow yourself to wallow in misery and accept sympathy for a short period BUT like it or not, at some point soon you will have to move on.

One of the first things you need to do is give yourself the time and space to understand why this particular relationship broke up and what you could do differently in a new one. Get to know and understand yourself and your needs before you consider being with anyone else. Here are a few pointers to think about during your quest:

Are you someone who thinks 'anything for a quiet life'; who agrees with everything and avoids saying what you really feel? This behaviour can create problems for example your partner could become a control freak or get bored with your predictability. Doing or agreeing with everything your partner wants you to do could create feelings of resentment and misery in you. It's essential both partners are open and honest and listen to each other and voice their disagreements or dislikes straight away. In this way there are no misunderstandings and both know where they stand with each other. Likewise going silent on someone can only breed resentment on one side and frustration on the other. Listening properly without becoming defensive takes a lot of practise but giving someone your undivided attention can only bring you both closer and feeling more loved.

It's necessary to communicate your needs. For example do you feel you're not spending enough time together? How can this happen without making your partner feel hemmed in?

If your partner's actions such as flirting bother you, then tell them. Some people innocently flirt without any idea that it is causing their partner hurt and unless you tell them they never will. Eventually the relationship will break up as you become miserable and maybe insanely jealous!

Do you show others how appreciative you are for what they do for you? If someone feels unappreciated they will eventually feel resentful and pull away. If you ever feel unappreciated you should voice your opinions and then think carefully as to whether you are in the right relationship if things don't change.

This is the most important component in any relationship. If you are someone who likes to have relationships on the side for kicks or as insurance that you will never land up on your own, beware. You will get found out in the end, cause a lot of pain and misery and probably end up a sad and lonely person yourself. If someone has broken your trust, although it may feel impossible at the moment to ever trust anyone else again, you have to. To give any relationship a chance you have to fully embrace it and have trust in your partner. However if you find your trust has been broken through lies, cheating or dishonesty you can rarely get it back and it's time to move on.

If one partner is more dominant and makes all the decisions about social engagements, finances, holidays, who you mix with and when, this leads to an imbalance of power and the relationship becomes unstable. Any relationship should be an equal partnership as far as decisions and effort is concerned. If you are someone that believes a wife's place is in the home in the kitchen, looking after the children and doing the chores and a man's place is to be the sole breadwinner and head of the house, your expectations will surely let you down.

Package Deal
How did you get on with your former partner's friends and family? People come as a package deal and for a relationship to be successful, you need to get on with your partner's friends and family as well. Don't be fooled into thinking you can push them away and all will be well as it won't. If you meet someone new who doesn't get on with your friends think twice. Friends are for life; partners not necessarily!

Do you subconsciously sabotage your relationships? When life is going really well for you do you think 'Hey, hang on a minute, things are too good, something is bound to go wrong!' If so, then things may go wrong because you don't think you deserve very much; when everything goes pear-shaped you will have been proved right and will probably say to yourself 'I knew it couldn't possibly last!' Try to recognise your negative behaviour and get help.

If you are insecure you could imagine your partner in fictitious situations so many times both in your waking and sleeping moments that in the end seem your fears will seem a reality. You may well accuse your partner of being unfaithful as you start to believe the stories you have created. If this is the case, you need help to change your way of thinking and to learn how to properly monitor your thoughts.

Happy people do not need to seek the approval of others to give them a sense of value; they have too much self-esteem. Jealousy is insecurity in oneself, a feeling that we are worth a lesser amount of love than others. It is a put-down and lack of trust in our self and the other person and can never bring happiness. If you have been 'guilty' of this, learn to love yourself enough not to let someone else's behaviour cause you emotional discomfort. As I mentioned before, without trust you cannot have a healthy relationship.

However if your partner is someone who obsessively checks up on you, keeps you to a tight schedule you're not allowed to stray from; expects you to keep checking in with them; calls you names and accuses you of being unfaithful, this is usually not jealousy but a controlling cover up for their own infidelity and subsequent guilt.

Although important, sex is not the be all and end all for a lasting relationship; friendship is more important. It is difficult to have a loving and fulfilling relationship with your partner unless there is a deep, underlying friendship between you. Good friends like and trust each other, treat one another in a courteous way and respect the other's feelings. They respect each other's individuality, do not take liberties with them and allow them to be their own person whether or not their views coincide with their own. Being friends with someone is being able to say sorry when you are in the wrong, being able to wait for your friend to say sorry to you and accepting that apology with good grace. Genuine friends will listen to each other's aims and aspirations, praise, support, encourage them, and pick them up if things go wrong. Friends like making each other happy and having fun and laughs together. They will think of ways to please their friend and try to avoid undermining the other's confidence with unhealthy criticisms.

Finally, friends are a united team who will stand by each other whatever circumstances may try to dictate. If you can master the friendship component in a new relationship together with self-knowledge of your weaknesses and needs, you will have a much greater chance of success.


Your chance to get your worries off your chest
Whether it's marriage guidance, relationship advice, workplace or career difficulties, or family problems I'm here to help. A problem shared is a problem halved, so if something is getting you down or troubling you please email me at hillie@enterprise.net

Dear Hillie:
I have a very difficult decision to make. I have thought about this situation probably more than I have ever thought about anything in my life. I have been married to my husband who is in the army, for more than two years and I have lived with his mom more than I have with him our whole marriage. His mom has put me through rehab, bought me a car and done more than I can ever imagine one's mother in law would do for somebody. I have been unhappy with my marriage for almost a year now. I got married when I was 19 and was a completely different person due to drugs. Since then I have been to rehab (thanks to my mom-in-law) and have transformed into a completely different person. I love my husband very much but am not in love with him. I am dreading seeing him in the next couple of days; I do not want to have sex with him and I want to get a divorce. But it's so hard considering that I would not be the person I am today without him and his mother in my life. I don't want them to hate me and I still love them. I'm just not happy at all and although I have tried and tried to feel different I've realised you can't make yourself be in love with someone. I feel like I am too young to be married and I don't even know who I am. I want to grow without having the need for someone to take care of me; I want to be independent and be free. Please give me your advice on what's best thing for me to do. I have thought about it so much and I know that there is not a simple way of going through this.

Hillie says:
Our characters develop and change as we grow older and it is difficult enough to grow in the same direction as your spouse if you live together all the time. We develop even faster in our late teens and early twenties than we do in later years. It's small wonder that spending so much time apart from each other and going through rehab, you feel a completely different person to the one your husband married two years ago. Your mother-in-law seems to be a very caring person so maybe you could talk to her about the way you feel before your husband returns. A relationship is not just about sex, it's about how a couple communicate with each other and unless you can spend more time together it will be difficult to talk through your problems with your husband with or without a third party to help you. You are still very young and it might best for you to have a separation and get some professional help. You need to get to know and understand yourself before you can be ready to be with anyone else. Self-knowledge will help you communicate who you are and what you want in a relationship to prevent future problems.

Dear Hillie:
I have been with my partner for 13 years from the age of 26. He's lovely but I just do not fancy him, never have; yet to everyone else he is really handsome. I feel lost and alone. Do I throw away a really nice guy for a possible bad guy? The problem is I'm now 39 and want children. Sex with him is rare, he is pretty bad and I never feel fulfilled no matter what I do. It's been 13 years of trying to make it work and I'm exhausted and scared of hurting everyone around him if I leave. I'm still holding out for the fairy tale.

Hillie says:
Life is not a fairytale and there are rarely 'perfect' relationships. Every relationship involves compromise and please don't think life will be necessarily greener on the other side. The world is full of single females in their late thirties! I don't think you should be thinking about the people around your husband when the most important people involved are the two of you. I suggest you have a frank discussion with your partner and tell him how you feel. If you feel you have exhausted every avenue with him and you really don't want to be in this relationship any more, you must leave. It is better to be on your own than in an unhappy relationship. Also, life is too short to waste and if you don't want your boyfriend, give him a chance to meet someone else who will.

Dear Hillie:
I have two children and my husband is disabled (Pancreatic Cancer survivor). I felt my marriage was over prior to his illness and I had an apartment rented and furnished to make the transition as easy as possible on my kids. But just when I had everything in place he was diagnosed with cancer and I could not "kick" him when he was down. Now he's recovering I still have the same "non" feeling I had before, however now my savings are depleted and I wish to remain in the house with my kids and I'm having trouble finding the right way to ask him to leave.

Hillie says:
You don't mention whether you ever discussed your feelings about your marriage with your husband prior to his illness. If you didn't, you should have serious talks with him now if you feel he is well enough. If you think this would be too difficult on your own, I suggest you arrange an appointment for the two of you with a Relate counsellor, a trained mediator who will help both of you to speak frankly to each other about your feelings. Your children need their father as well as you, so you owe it to them to sort out your relationship problems in a caring and civil way. Asking your recovering disabled and possibly unsuspecting husband to just leave his home, wife and children with nowhere to go, is not the way to go about things. If after counselling you still want to separate, you both will need to sort out your finances and equal access to the children. It may mean that you have to stay living together until the house is sold before you can go your separate ways.

Hillie Marshall
Hillie started her working career as a radiographer and then started in show business as a singer and actress and eventually being theatre producer for her company Edwardians Unlimited. Following her divorce in 1989 and with two young children to bring up, she founded Dinner Dates, the social events and holiday Company for single people. Today Dinner Dates is the UK's longest established company of its kind with over 17,000 members nationwide. The phenomenal success of Dinner Dates for singles gave Hillie the idea of a social events company for couples, so in 2007, she set up Dinner With Friends, the UK's first couples only dining club. In July 2011 she sold both companies.

Not only is Hillie a successful business entrepreneur, her experience with people has been put to good use and, as both an Agony Aunt through the internet and in magazines, she offers advice and a sympathetic ear to thousands, making sense of personal and relationship problems.

Hillie is an accomplished author having written three successful books on relationships. She has given relationship advice on numerous TV and Radio shows such as GMTV, Richard and Judy, The Big Breakfast, Esther Rantzen, Kilroy, The Vanessa Show, The Time The Place, Carlton's After 5 and was 'Dr Date' for LBC.

She has two children Nicola (32) and Jamie (28) and lives in Chiswick with her husband Angus.
You can e-mail Hillie at: hillie@enterprise.net
Her books: 'The Good Dating Guide', 'Hillie Marshall's Guide to Successful Relationships' and 'Agonise with Hillie' can be bought on line at: www.hillie.com

Words copyright: Hillie Marshall 2013

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