Writer and broadcaster

I seem to enjoy life more when my partner is away. The Guardian.

Just a few weeks ago, I got a letter from a reader who said that she seemed to prefer life when her partner was away (read the original column here). This morning, strangely, I thought of her and wondered how she was getting on. Some commentators had felt she had fallen out of love with her husband but I didn’t feel this was the case. Then, just as I sat down at my desk an email from her arrived and there was the original reader with this to say. This entire post is reproduced with prior permission from the reader.

“You printed my letter a couple of weeks ago, about enjoying my partner being away. I’m extremely grateful to you for the advice, which felt like a free and top-level counselling session. I reflected deeply on what you said, and perhaps consequently, I’m feeling a real happiness with my husband. What’s especially important is that I’m mentally/emotionally valuing him much higher than I sometimes have previously. It was brilliant advice not just for during my husband’s absence, but for many aspects of our relationship. I’d been surprised by how much I enjoyed my partner’s absence, as I hadn’t expected it. That’s what made me worry about his return.

Your column shifted my thoughts to how hard it was for him to be away from us, and how the fact that we’d all coped well was a positive rather than a negative response to the situation, as you’d said. After I’d contacted you, my youngest child found the last week of dad’s trip quite difficult, being tearful and out of character. That also reminded me how much stronger we are a unit, and helped me appreciate my partner. I reflected privately on my letter and your answer, and as a result I’ve been able to mentally/emotionally value him more, and accept our different roles and needs within the relationship. I’ve taken real strength from your advice, especially the part about coping on one’s own being a sign of maturity. Previously I’ve felt sometimes that my desire for time alone doesn’t sit well within a relationship; you’ve encouraged me to think differently, and that with more open-mindedness, the sometimes clashing sides of our characters can in fact work together.

Thank you!”