Q&A with Jane Dodding: I have insomnia and feel like my relationship is in a deep rut

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By psychologist Jane Dodding

Q: My partner is DIDO and has been working away since our toddler was tiny. It's been a difficult road for all of us, but I'm now finding that we've slipped into a deep rut as far as our relationship goes. I've been trying my best to be a good partner/mother and housewife but after nights of insomnia I've realised that everything I'm doing has nothing to do with myself. I don't have any physically close friends (they're all at least two hours away) and we live fairly rural, so getting out of the house for a cuppa isn't really an option.

A:  Thank you for getting in touch and I’m glad you have reached out for support as it sounds like things are getting on top of you at the moment.

Without a lot of detail, it sounds like the best place for you to start focusing on is you.  Insomnia is generally not a good sign and indicates you need to start looking after yourself and make changes before things get worse.  Please also remember that our thoughts can tend to be quite extreme in the middle of the night and often things don’t seem quite as bad in the morning.  It is useful to acknowledge this as it can help disempower these thoughts and associated emotions.

It sounds like you have got a bit lost in the busyness of life which is easy to do especially with a young family and a husband who is often away for work.  As you have identified that at the moment there is nothing you are doing for you, I’d suggest you think about what you can do for yourself, something that is just for you.  This can be a bit daunting, especially when you have got into the routine of putting everyone and everything before yourself, but stick with it and use your imagination. Daydream about what you would like to do, try recalling what you used to enjoy doing, reflect on what you have always been interested in or wanted to do – a hobby, exercise, reading, learn something, join a group etc. Then think about how you can do at least one thing regularly, make the time and commit to do this for you.

Regarding the rut you feel your relationship has slipped into, I’m not sure if you have spoken to your partner about your feelings, but it might be worth considering discussing this and what changes could be made there too, to get out of the rut.  You might want to explore what has changed, what you used to do that was fun/interesting and what you could do differently now. You could think about how you would both like life to be and start setting some shared goals.

I hope these suggestions are helpful but if you need more support for yourself and/or your relationship, please seek professional counselling.

Take care of yourself,


To read other columns written by our psychologists, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career.

All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.

Jane Dodding is a psychologist and director with MindsPlus, a group of psychologists and other mental health workers who came together in 2007 to provide support to people living and working in rural and remote regions of Australia. For further information about MindsPlus, contact 1300 312 202 or visit www.mindsplus.com.au