At the end of my tether - it's one thing after another


I don't know what I expect from anyone out there but I need to have another moan. Everything that could possibly happen to me has happened during my Phd but I've struggled on until I was near breaking point a few weeks ago. I'm now seeing the uni counsellor to get things into perspective. When we listed all the things that had happened - bereavement, buying a house, divorce etc etc she was amazed at it all. I was beginning to feel more positive about moving forward but got home to snide comments from my partners teenage daughter. A massive row ensued in the whole family and I just felt I couldn't take any more. We found out whay she had been so moody though - she is pregnant and wants to keep the baby.
I can't stay here with a baby in the house. I can't work well as it is with TV on all the time and never knowing what mood she will be in. I don't think I can cope with living with a pregnant teenager and then a baby. I don't know what to do. I don't want to end the relationship with my partner but being with him (and his family) is jeopardising my PhD. I pay part of the rent here so can't just leave. I feel trapped and out of control, but then I feel selfish about wanting my own space.
I don't know what to do for the best for me and my PhD.
Thanks for reading/listening.


Sounds to me like you need to be living apart until this is finished. The welfare of this teenager (however annoying she is) and her baby are rather more important than you PhD - at least they should be to your partner. There must be some way you can move out - how was the rent paid before you moved in?


Of course she and her baby are more important than my PhD in the grand scheme of things, but I have to be selfish about me, and yes, you are probably right I will have to take myself away from the situation. We got the house together as we needed somewhere bigger for all of us and worked out how much we could both put in to the rent. If I move out and stop paying the rent then he will have to move again to somewhere cheaper.


sounds to me like you do need to be a bit selfish after going through all those things! you definitely need some space and i think moving out sounds like the best option. however, moving out and dumping your partner in it rent-wise probably isn't the kindest thing to do when he has just found out his daughter's pregnant... is there anywhere else you could stay for a while, such as a friend or relative, to give you a bit of space without actually formally moving out? that way you could still pay the rent and get a break from the whole situation. sounds like he needs your support as much as you need his right now, so maybe some time apart, even if it's just a week or two, might be really good for you. good luck, and i hope it all works out x


This sounds like a horrible situation to be in. I've just found out my teenage cousin is pregnant and though we're not close personally we're a close family overall and it's affecting everyone badly already so I can't start to imagine how hard this is for you. One thing I would suggest is that you need to start communicating your feelings to your partner straight away. I understand that he's probably still trying to get his head round the idea that his daughter is pregnant but he is sure to know that something is wrong for you as well and you need to be talking about that, however difficult. Also, take your time about your decisions. You presumably have 7 or 8 months before there will actually be a baby in the house so as difficult as the TV and so on must be there won't be an immediate change. It sounds to me like some serious ground rules ought to be set in the house, especially if she's planning to stay living there with the baby. If you're paying part of the rent and working from home then people around you should respect that and not watch television with the sound on or whatever while you're working, even if you have to schedule the hours when you have a quiet place to work. However hard, if you are dedicated to your partner and want things to work with him in spite of the difficulties I would recommend you don't run away (even if moving out does prove the right thing to do in the long term) but talk about it first and be there to support him whilst he works out how he can best deal with his daughter. It might mean some more difficult time for your PhD but I would have thought you'd be seriously risking your relationship otherwise.


What's about not working from home - is that possible? that way you could at least work in peace and are not continously confronted with the difficult situation at home. If you cannot work in a university building (your department/uni library..) what's about a local public space you can go to, e.g. local library, or alternatively, work at a friend's house or something? I am not sure you need to separate from your partner, all you need is a proper working place/environment...?


There seems to be many problems here that have got knitted together. It looks like you have had a great deal to contend with, and this is just the final straw. However, as others have said, you do have a little bit of time to work things out concerning the baby bit, so concentrate on the other bits first. If you want to stay with your partner, then keep that positive thought in mind. Make sure he knows that first before you start on a campaign to make your work easier :$. The TV thing is difficult, I have the same problem when I'm working at home in the evenings - or trying to do so. there isn't really a lot you can do about that in the short term, becuase if you come over all heavy handed the blame will inevitably land on your door - that is you aren't being sympathetic to the other situation, which may have nothing to do with you but can be used as a bargaining card. I get round this by working at the weekend, and doing corrections and reading articles whilst the TV is on. Try this for a while and if you really need to work at something more complicated, just negotiate, say by suggesting that you need say the next evening to work in silence and could they do something elsewhere for an hour or two whilst you crack on. teenagers are moody, they are programmed to be so, plus she probably feels she needs to take it out on someone, and you are nearest. She is probably quite frightened and needs to talk to someone - fast. You need to take a cool look at your options and write down a few possibilities, getting a space to call your own to work in, summers coming - how about a gazebo, with sides for the garden, either you or they could go there :-) , putting down some ground rules about the way you are treated for example, then ask for them to do the same, then you may be able to work on a solution together. Try a bit of compromise, explain how stressed you are. Hope things work out, remember to keep calm there and have your rant on here. :-)


How about assistance from the daughter? If she is old enough and responsible enough to care for a baby, then surely she is old enough and responsible enough to contribute more toward housekeeping and rent? That may free enough to allow you to get a room elswhere during the week which will be quiet, etc.
I think I speak for everyone here when we say a) we certainly don't envy your position and b) in YOUR life this PhD has earned the right to be selfish - it is not unforgivable for you to request and require some quiet space free from life's crap that will allow you time to focus on it.

(Personally I would wonder why your "daughter" and her partner haven't considered a home of their own now?)

Keep cheerful, we'ew all here for you.


Hi Pamw

You're someone I've long since noticed on here exactly because you have been through so many significant events in such a short space of time and I have often thought that you've had too much to cope with. Top stressors are bereavement and moving and you've done both. Also the break up of a marriage is a BIG stressor and what about all the other stuff? You're a stronger person than me because I know I wouldn't be able to cope and would not have made it as far as you have, given your circumstances. I'll be honest, reading your posts of late (and for a while) I do think you have reached the end of your tether (very understandably) and I would suggest, if possible, that you look at taking some time out. I don't mean a few days, I think you need a complete break in order to get a fresh sense of perspective. I know income is a problem and so could you not look for a mundane job that doesn't tax you and allows you just to chill out in the evening? Even if it was only for a few months and then hit the PhD with a new vigour.

Avatar for Eska

Hi Pamw! Sorry to hear you're in such a fix at home. How old is your partner's daughter? She may want to have her own home with her new baby - if she is old enough. But you MUST look after yourself and your PhD, and only you know if that is possible while staying under the same roof as the new teen mum. At least, as someone else has said, you have a bit of time to figure things out. Another house move would, in itself be mega stressful. I use the public library sometimes, and find I can work well there, or even local cafes.

Depending on the situation of his daughter, ie how involved the father and his family are going to be, an how involved the girl's mother will be, your partner could be facing alot of extra responsibility, in very practical terms. So, I'd say you need to be selfish and make sure you don't get sucked into that too.

Good luck XXX


I also agree with the 'having time out' suggestion. It sounds like you need to take a step back, and re-evaluate you circumstances without having to juggle so many things. Do you plan to pursue an academic career? If so, you're always going to need your own space, and maybe that's just not compatible with your current partner and his family...


Hiya Pam, sorry to hear about your situation. I'm in a similar boat, in that moving back to my parents I also have a younger sister who is pregnant, due to give birth in May, and is quite gobby. My brother is a heavy drinker, also lives at home and like to watch Chuckle Brothers at 3 in the morning, drunk as a skunk. His room is directly below what will be my room. The house is also extremely cluttered and the room I will have tiny. So, yep, it's going to be a massive struggle. Is there no way you can create your own space, where it is peaceful and quiet, or is there just not the room?
It's so difficult, because on the basis of what you describe, it seems that there is no solution. A good trick I used to use to tackle the sound issues the last time I lived at my parents' was ear phones playing relaxing music or comfy foam ear plugs. It could be worth I try, though I know it sounds silly. You could try and work in the library but I suppose if you live far away that's not practical. Perhaps time out could be an option, as suggested. I know I've been thinking about it. But then, you could be like me, and worry that if you take a bit of time away, to reassess or whatever, how easy will it be start again and get going? Do you live near any friends who have a bit of space where you can go off and study during the day or evening, perhaps? Sorry I can't be of any further help.



I'm so sorry to hear about that awful dilemma Pam. I'm inclined to agree that you need to have a big talk with you partner as a priority. You need to feel out how he sees things working when the baby arrives and also be honest with him about how you're feeling, however selfish you might sound. I think it's important that he understands your position and supports you, because if he doesn't and is (understandably) preoccupied with his daughter, you can figure out how important it is that you are living with him right now. I think that with everything you've been through, you can only now save your phD if you either take a break from it OR put it first and get somewhere else to live for the time being. There is only so much outside pressure that you can take on your PhD...sure you feel selfish leaving your partner with rent issues but perhaps you could still try to help him out a little bit and still step out of that situation? I think personally that it's important he understands your position as it says a lot about the relationship ...


Hi Pamw,My God it seems as though you have been through a terrible time...I don’t have the same circumstances exactly but I know a little of what you are going through so perhaps I can empathise- my mother recently died and I have now had my teenage brother turn my life upside down as I am now looking after him which is driving me mental!! (clothes and dishes everywhere and he stays up all night playing computer games arrgggghhhh...

Anyway, your options that occurred to me are (if they are any help!):
1. I know many people here have directly told you to move out (which is the obvious solution), but I know that this cannot be so easy- as it takes a lot just to break emotional and financial ties as it would leave your partner in the lurch financially- so if you don’t feel you can leave, then I think you are going to have to accept that things will probably not get much better... Teenagers are incredibly selfish and while it is understandable to an extent because of their hormones, this means that there is only so much that you can do in terms of enforcing rules, keeping down noise (sounds a bit defeatist I know!). Have you got a garden? What about erecting a shed at the bottom of the garden??!! You can easily put one together for less than about 500 quid.


2. Move out.
I think you really need to consider this. I know it will be difficult but put things into perspective- in contrast to my situation, these difficulties are not YOUR responsibility. They are not your family. They are your partner’s. I think a good option could be simply to take a room in a shared house (with mature QUIET professionals). This could be more beneficial than taking on a house on your own firstly because it can be short term and flexible with a 6 month contract and second it will only cost around a ¼ of the cost of a place on your own-which means if you want to you can still contribute to your partners household-I’m sorry I don’t know the circumstances, regarding whether you are contributing to the mortgage –as if this is the case I know this is quite a clinical thing to say but, it would be a good idea to keep contributing to it formally when you move out, in order to retain your share of the property in case problems occur down the line (property law is very complex in the case of equitable shares).

Also, I know it is none of my business, but I think it would also be worth noting if your partner is really worth it i.e. do you really really love him? Or, is it something that is based on familiarity and you are now too deep financially to get out. I think this is the important question, because if you really love him more than anything, than this suggests that in time you will learn to accept and adapt to the way you are living now and accept his children, to ensure you can be with your partner but if not, I would get out now.


Sympathies for what must be a really difficult situation. Do I remember you saying you were at Manchester? And involved in some way in art history? If so, there is plenty of spare desks in the art history office with net access, a kettle etc and it is quiet. Perhaps the problem is that you live too far away, so apologies if this message is no help at all!!