Gill and Simon's story

Relate helped us to find each other again

Where they started

Gill and Simon had been married for 30 years and had two daughters, Jane and Kate. Whilst Simon had been the main breadwinner, working in banking, Gill had devoted herself to bringing their daughters up. From the outside, it seemed as though Gill and Simon had everything.

We had our routine. Everyone knew their place and it was comfortable. I had a close circle of friends and to everyone else; I had a good marriage and a good life. I felt proud at what we had achieved together.

The first blow came when eldest daughter, Kate moved out. Gill clung to the fact that her youngest was still in the nest, but it wasn't long until it was Jane's turn to leave for university.

Gill and Simon both felt her loss deeply.

Looking back, I realise just how much of my identity was found in my girls. Jane left a massive hole. The house was just so empty. I'd spend hours just wandering around the shops or sitting in cafes just to avoid being there. Although I knew Simon was feeling it too, I just didn't feel like I could tell him how I felt
holding hands

Simon tried to stay focused on his work, choosing to spend more and more time at the office to avoid the emptiness at home. He missed Jane a lot - they had similar interests, a similar sense of humour, and from when she was young they'd had a special father-daughter bond.

One day, whilst I was mending the door to Jane's old room, and I just broke down in tears. It really hit me how much I missed my girls. I think it was then that Gill and I sat down for the first time and talked honestly.

Simon admitted that he feared that all he and Gill had in common these days were their daughters, and now with Jane moving on he just felt a big void. He was also worried about retiring and how they would cope being at home all day with nothing to talk about.

Seeking help

Gill and Simon made the brave devision to fight for their marriage and made an appointment to see a Relate Counsellor. Gill wasn't entirely convinced that it would help them.

I think I felt embarrassed. How had we let our relationship get into such a state? I didn't know how a stranger was going to make the problem any better.

The counselling helped Gill and Simon realise they had put all their loving energy into their children, but in the process had allowed their relationship to stagnate. Gill admitted that she often thought about her ex whilst Simon recognised that he was anxious about being honest with Gill for fear of losing her.

Our counsellor explained to us that feelings of loss when children leave home are completely normal. She helped us both realise that we couldn't go on masking uncomfortable feelings anymore. We needed to start being honest and vulnerable. Together and with the support of our counsellor, we made a list of what we wanted to improve in our relationship and this formed the basis of what we've called 'The Commitment Plan'.

Where they are now

Over a period of several months and with both parties putting all their effort into the Plan, Simon and Gill began to see improvements in their relationship.

We not talk and share how we feel more than we've ever done in our whole marriage. Bed times have become something I look forward to and I feel closed to Simon than ever before.

How can we help

If you feel like you need some support in your relationship there are lots of ways we can help

* This case study is loosely based on the kind of scenarios we work with, as opposed to a specific client. Relate never shares the stories of our clients without permission, even with names and details changed.