The help desk: 'My girlfriend has lost her job and now I dread going home'


Q. My girlfriend lost her job about six months ago, and things have been really difficult between us ever since. It was a real shock – we are both dedicated to our jobs, and she was the one who earnt more. She's freelancing from home while looking for a new permanent job; the prospects for this seem good, and fortunately, money is not too much of a problem at this point.

But I'm starting to dread going home. Although I'm the one who's had a long and stressful day, she's short-tempered and seems resentful of the hours I have to work. After a hard day, the last thing I need is more sniping. She rarely wants to go out in the evenings, and I'm usually expected to organise supper, as I can pick something up on the way home. Personally, I'd welcome the chance to get a few things done around the house, but she doesn't even put away the breakfast things. It's driving me mad but I don't want yet another fight. What can I do?

A. I have a friend who's always worked at home and is long-married to a high-earning, high-stress executive. When he comes home of an evening, she describes the process of easing him through the transition from office to dining table as being "like landing a plane".

If that all sounds a bit Stepford – I like to imagine him, whisky-and-soda in hand, saying, "The report was well-received, but Blenkinsop was up to his tricks again," while she stirs a casserole, but I'm sure it's not like that at all – you've got to admire her dedication in defusing this couple-relations flash point.

But no casseroles for you. Your girlfriend is an unwilling captive of the domestic setting. She longs to be back out there in the rat race, but instead seems to have become guardian of the breakfast things – and is found wanting in this unwelcome new role. Even six months in, she is probably still traumatised by this seismic change to her life. A part of her identity has deserted her, the part that kicked ass in meetings, dealt with punishing schedules, then went home to her equally hard-grafting partner to spend the evening in an oddly satisfying state of mutual exhaustion.

When relationships are reduced to bickering, it's usually because there are grievances that aren't getting a proper airing. Try to think dispassionately about what these are. At a guess: that you don't appreciate how thankless and disorienting her days are, and that she seems to have forgotten how stressful yours can be. You need to take a deep breath and tackle these issues together head-on.

When you come home in the evenings, understand that you've both had difficult days. Don't make the mistake of believing your money-earning, office-political woes to be somehow more significant than her shell-shocked, home-based ones. If you lend a sympathetic ear, she will be more inclined to involve herself in your work dramas.

As for the washing-up and cooking, well, who dealt with these before, when you were both working outside the home? It's certainly not her job just because she's at home – but it's only fair that she pitches in and does her bit.

Your problem shared

Have a dilemma? Email your predicament no matter how big or small to Louisa at the

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London