Michael Owen has revealed that he sought counselling over his mental health and jealousy about his wife's relationship with their eldest daughter Gemma.
Gemma, 19, has shot to fame as a contestant on this year's Love Island and has often spoken to her fellow contestants about her close bond with her family.
Her famous footballer dad quit the sport in 2013 after an illustrious 17-year career playing for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Newcastle, Stoke and England.
Writing in his autobiography Reboot, Owen said he struggled with his mental health when he retired from football and was intentionally hard on wife Louise about subjects which would 'push her buttons', including her closeness to their eldest daughter.
"For years, because of my own inner demons, I was intentionally really hard on Louise about subjects that I knew would push her buttons most — not least her close relationship with our daughter Gemma," he wrote.
"Let me be very clear and say that none of this was in any way a reflection on how I felt about either Gemma or Louise. I love them both with all of me.
"I’d take everything out on Louise, though. I’d accuse her of spending all her time with her eldest and ignoring the other kids. It wasn’t even true."
But while Owen says looking back his accusations were not true, he still sought professional help.
Family psychotherapist Fiona Yassin of The Wave Clinic says it is a fact that sometimes the special bond between mother and child can become a wedge inside a marriage and therapy is a good way to work through it.
"The triangulation in families can actually start well before birth," she explains. "As much as mum and dad can make joint parenting decisions these days, it is really only mum who connects and carries baby, and indeed, who has that unique bond in utero.
"No matter how much the dad might try to include himself, this is a unique bond that simply cannot be denied. And then, of course, once a baby is born they have just that perfect vision to see mum whilst she is feeding them – again this continues that already strong bond especially if mum is the primary caregiver and dad goes back to work.
"On occasion this bond can feel like it becomes a bit of a wedge in marriages and dad can feel a little bit left out or jealous of the connection mum and baby has. As this moves on – and as the child grows – the alignment in the family can continue to be difficult."
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And Yassin says that it isn't unusual for parents to seek therapy due to family dynamics.
"Frankly this is exactly the right approach if there is some underlying jealously," she adds. "Though it’s important to stress that therapy shouldn’t just be for the adults in this case, but for the children too, as they will have undoubtedly been impacted by this dynamic.”
Owen, 42, and wife Louise, are childhood sweethearts who met at primary school. They married in 2005 and have four children, international dressage rider Gemma, James, 16, Emily, 14, and 12-year-old Jessica. The family lives in a £4m manor house near Chester.