Up until recently, my husband and son were inseparable. They did loads of activities together, like going to sporting events, riding their bikes and sitting in front of the TV playing computer games. You'd have said they were the best of friends - especially as my son is an only child.

Then quite suddenly, it all changed. Now they hardly seem to talk to one another. I've asked them both what's wrong but they both deny that anything's the matter.

They are both bad-tempered and argumentative - so much so that our home has gone from one that seemed happily macho to a battleground.

My son's only just turned 13, so I can see this going on for many years yet and I'm not sure I can stand it.- DK

Fiona says: You're assuming that something has happened between them for this change in behaviour to have occurred. Maybe it has, but it could also be that your son has stopped wanting to be 'daddy's boy', and wants more independence now that he's a teenager.

He might have expressed this in some way to his father, which could be why your husband is grumpy. Or it could very well be that your husband is depressed, feeling he's outgrown his purpose. He hasn't, of course, because your son will still need a dad, but maybe he needs him to take on a different role.

If you need any additional support Family Lives (familylives.org.uk) can help you, but I hope they can both see sense and that you can get through this.


My boyfriend and I have been together for seven years. We're really in love, but he wants us to get married and I don't.

My parents' marriage was such a disaster that it completely put me off. My parents fought (and drank) all through my childhood and finally separated when I was 14, after my mother ended up in casualty.

My boyfriend says he loves me, whatever I decide to do, but I would hate it if he finally got fed up and left me because I won't agree to a wedding. - BB

Fiona says: With such a bad experience of marriage in your childhood, it's no wonder you are nervous. However, you've been with your boyfriend for seven years and, in that time, have you seen any sign of such behaviour in him?

You're right, marriage doesn't guarantee love, respect or commitment, even though it generally forms part of the promises people make to one another.

You and your boyfriend are not like your parents though, so the chance of your marriage being like theirs is slim.

Counselling might help you to put some of the unresolved feelings about your parents' relationship behind you, as it was clearly very difficult for you. It's worth thinking about the fact that marriage does guarantee certain legal rights - especially once children are involved in the relationship.