Am I acting like his mother?

Our agony aunt Mary Fenwick offers a new perspective on whatever is troubling you


Am I acting like his mother?

Q. My partner loves playing computer games. However, every once in a while, he will delete his progress in the game for no reason (this can be months’ worth of effort) and he can’t explain why. This ‘restarting’ behaviour doesn’t end there. Every time he ‘restarts’ things – deletes all his email accounts, internet profiles, anywhere he exists digitally, and starts each one all over again – he is depressed in the days that follow. It saddens me that his main solace from work and the stresses of life has now become something he finds hard to enjoy. Is it a form of OCD or a symptom of clinical depression? I feel helpless. Name supplied

A. Even though my answer is short, yours is a question that has bothered me rather a lot. It sounds as if your partner is using these actions to communicate his unhappiness – and that you are struggling to translate this into words for him. I want to make sure that you are avoiding the temptation to slip into being more like a mother than a lover to him. The phrase in my mind is ‘possible codependency’. This is when we take power away from a person by assuming we can fix things for them.

Please be wary of the feeling that you can control whether your partner plays more or less. You have put things into words by writing to me, so try writing down your answer to this: where are the bits of your relationship that you enjoy, and how does this behaviour affect that?

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.

Photograph: iStock