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Hey everyone, just my introduction post. I'm a guy in a serious, common-law relationship with my partner for coming up to 4 years. We're parents to a lovely infant son. I'm about to collide with middle age (turning 50 - I know, I know, I took my time).

We've had a lot of rockiness in our relationship that has severed a lot of emotional connection that was pretty great at first (she's my first serious relationship in 14 years). In a way, we're the worst possible combo; I have ADHD tendencies where (for example) I constantly am not mindful about where I've left an object; my partner is an organized neatnik, who gets upset when things are out of place. Also, it makes me a bit careless about some things. I joke around that I was 'raised by wolves'; my parents and step-parents are all great foils of what not to do as parents rather than role models, I was raised super neglectfully except for hypercriticism, so I do everything 'my own way' (and I can get irrationally defensive over 'why are you doing it THAT way?' - which my partner throws at me constantly).

Also, my upbringing tends to make me minimize danger, but my partner is constantly vigilant and worried about it. I guess you could say that having a child created even more issues between us rather than bringing us together. At the moment, she'll let me do things with our son at home - even when she goes out - but she won't let me put him in the car to go to the park or even put him in the stroller for a walk around the block. I gotta say, this feels more anxiety-related than anything to do with me. Our son has never gotten hurt while I've been looking after him while she is out.

So we basically live as roommates, co-parenting our son, and a lot of our conversation turns to arguments, particularly over little things. Conversation often feels very stilted, is just about the organizing of the day / what we're doing - we might say "good night sweetie" as we sleep in separate beds / rooms. We're seeing a marriage counsellor in September. I've started going to therapy to deal with some of my issues.

Obviously, we're both pretty tired all the time, and I expect this to be the case, because transitioning to parenting is just really hard on everyone. My partner does not find this comforting advice.

I guess a selfish problem that I have with this relationship is that I don't feel seen or heard (but I know my partner doesnt either). My preferences are dismissed as illogical, etc. - whereas I try to accommodate my partner's illogical - because I think we're all illogical. I think my partner has become bossy out of frustration with me. She's a psychologist and makes a big deal out of ADHD, and over-determines that everything wrong I'm doing is because of ADHD. I think she's right in some ways but everything comes down to the ADHD. I know I can get defensive -- a hallmark of ADHD is that you're used to getting severely criticized by parents, bosses, etc. and I've developed habits. I've tried to work on this — staying in the moment, not dissociating or whatever, not saying things that sound like excuses, even when criticized.

But (and I think this is subjective) I think my partner also... either naturally, or through being around me, has just got one of those voices and delivery that sounds irritated all the time. She often says she's just imparting information or asking a question or trying to be helpful but it all comes out super annoyed. I think she's tired. But she's often also just irritated with everything: her job, her parents, her friends, other drivers... Whereas I'm usually optimistic and really like most people and see a lot of positive things in everyone. I think this difference between us is kind of killing my spirit about life. I feel bossed around and infantilized by my partner and this is far from what I want. Meanwhile, I know my partner feels like no one is there for her; she "has to be the responsible one." We thought things might get better if I gave up freelancing and got a 9-5 job (which I like) but it's stayed about the same.

I care very much about my partner, even though our relationship is starting to feel more like a relationship between siblings. I don't want to say it's all bad, either. When we do get along, or something happens that's hilarious, we both laugh together for a long time. We have a lot of moments of sweetness, I guess. I understand that my partner is also under a lot of stress. She has a lot of physical problems, both pre-existing and because of the pregnancy (post-partum clampsia / blood pressure issues).

I'm worried that she's gaining a lot of weight - this doesn't affect my attraction to her, but our relationship problems do. I guess a thing that makes me think that we should just separate is that my partner now says things like "the reason I try to get you do things my way is because your ways of doing things stresses me out so much, I could have a literal stroke."

I think that we rushed into having a child because we're both at the ages where it was now or never, which caused us to ignore a lot of signs of serious difference in values / how we conduct our lives. No time to even get married! If I could've been in the perfect scenario, I think I would've done what all of my friends have done; have kids with someone they've been in a serious relationship for 7-10 years, get married, have kids. But I've never had a perfect scenario in my life, I guess.

We've seriously talked about separating, and made arrangements (such as a prenup) that I would live very close by if we did. But I know we also have an interest in improving things between us, so we stay together and our son has an intact family. At the same time I wonder if it would be the perfect time to separate, so our kiddo wouldn't remember and have issues with a divorce / separation later on.

So I'm interested here mainly because I'm interested if any of you have been in pretty dire situations like this and come back from them.

I've lurked on the forum and respectfully, I want to say to a lot of guys here, I know you've been burned by past marriages and partners, and you believe you see "signs of the end" everywhere. I know you think it's helpful, but I don't want to hear drive-by comments like "cut your losses and move on." Helpful feedback about how to improve my side of the problem, and being fair to my partner, is what I'm interested in, from people who've been through the same thing. Thanks so much for listening.
 
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