Patricia Redlich

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Husband Had An Affair

28th February, 2010


I really don't know why I'm writing, as it is already too late for me.

I've been married for nearly 30 years to a lovely man, we have three fantastic children, one of whom, our son, is getting married at the end of the year. We have a very nice life-style, to which I have always contributed as my career was always successful.

I recently discovered that my husband has been having an affair with a woman almost young enough to be his daughter. I had noticed that he was getting a lot of text messages, and then staying away a lot even at weekends, which he had never done before. So I started searching, and what a can of worms I opened. He has been living it up, staying in hotels and even bringing her home to our house while I was away. This really upset me, the thought of somebody else in my bed. It particularly hurt me that he was spending money on this woman that I had worked so hard to earn.

Our family has been destroyed. The children no longer want to know their dad and my son won't even have him at his wedding. So you can imagine the state of our household at the moment. I now totally blame myself for ever letting the children know, because my husband has lost them, which breaks his heart. Why on earth do middle-aged men in mid-life crisis fail to think of the consequences when they start a relationship with some gold-digging young woman?

I don't know if you've noticed, but you still love your husband. Maybe it's not enough to see your marriage safely through this crisis, but don't ignore it. It's not clear how recent these revelations are. You do sound like you're in the first phase of severe emotional disorientation. Whether that is true or not, I still think you should listen to what you've just written me.

It's not too late to mend fences on the children front. We make mistakes when we're angry and anguished, few of which are so awful that they can't be fixed. No, it's not wise to involve sons and daughters - whatever their age - in our marital heartache. Certainly not until we've handled the situation in some fashion ourselves. It's friends and perhaps some marriage guidance counselling you need right now, not the pained input of your kids. Sure, they have to know if their parents intend to split, but you and your husband haven't got there yet.

Talk to them. Explain that you absolutely don't want them to take sides. Tell them the truth, namely that you regret involving them, that you did it in the first flush of despair, that you want them to back off, that you need to clear your head and deal with your marriage difficulties, that you don't want them putting a gun to their father's head, that you and he need space, that you've no notion right this minute how things are going to pan out. Don't worry about the wedding invitations. A father can always be slipped into a seating plan. Your son was just trying to be supportive with that threat, and angrily reacting to his own distress too.

It's not too late to mend fences on the marital front either. Marriages go through dry stretches, and not just in mid-life. And yes, sometimes it's a husband, or wife, grabbing for short-term satisfaction, or momentary comfort, or the gratification of close attention - being immature in other words. Often, though, the 'dry' stretch is a two-way process. Wives take their eye off the ball. So, indeed, do husbands. No, I'm not now suddenly blaming you. This isn't about blame. It's about recognising that sometimes a partner strays because we've stopped paying attention. That doesn't mean we're responsible for his behaviour. It does mean there's a lesson to be learned. Either way, love doesn't end just because we've been betrayed.

Marriages survive alls kinds of crises. I don't of course know if yours will. You do have a lot of unfinished business which you need to sort out with your husband, away from the turmoil of family distress. At the very least, you two will go on being parents to your lovely children for the rest of your lives. Far more importantly, your relationship deserves time and thought and care and wisdom. Nobody throws away thirty years. They may pretend to, and pull down some emotional shutter, but it doesn't work. Start talking to him, to-day.

I Am Longing For Another Baby

28th February, 2010

I'm the 40 year old mother of three and for the past year I have been longing for another baby. The main problem is that my husband doesn't want one. He says he is content with three, and frankly finds it hard work. I see and respect his point of view and don't want to push him. So I've tried to distract myself, throwing myself into my life, which is certainly busy with family, friends, career, hobbies. I appreciate what a lovely life I have with a good supportive husband and three beautiful children.

The ache, however, hasn't gone away. If anything, it seems to be getting worse. My husband is aware of how I feel and if I really pushed the issue, he would probably agree to another baby just to make me happy, not least because he feels it has formed a wedge between us. For my part, I feel a bit distant from the world in general at the moment, possibly because it's not an issue that I would like to discuss with anyone else. Yet it seems to occupy my thoughts 24 hours a day. I am jealous of those who are pregnant, and almost as jealous of those who have two children but are content.

I debate with myself constantly. My heart wants a baby and my head cautions against it. I don't want to be selfish. I also have my own concerns. What if the child has a disability and turns our lives upside-down? What if having another baby has a negative effect on my relationship with my husband? What if my other children lose out because time and money has to stretch to four? Am I wasting all the chances and talents I have been given, sacrificing them to become a mother of a large brood? I certainly know my parents would react negatively, thinking I'm too old, and mad to throw away my career.

Yet at the end of the day I know that if I was pregnant in the morning I would be delighted, and confident that there is enough love in our house to manage anything. I also know that despite his doubts, my terrific husband would support me 100%. I have tried so hard to talk myself out of this baby that I am totally confused, unhappy and really can't see the wood for the trees.

I'm sure there is enough love in your home to take on another baby. I'm sure, too, that your husband would step up to the plate, if a pregnancy presented itself. I'm also sure that this isn't the point.

You're struggling with a decision. You're not sure yourself whether another baby would be a good idea or not. Deep down you believe your longing is simple. If there were no outside forces questioning the whole idea, you'd go for it. That's not true. The opposition isn't just external - like your husband firmly stating that he's finding things hard going as it is, or your parents thinking you'd be throwing away your career, and that you're too old, to boot. You have reservations yourself. There's a dilemma going on right inside your own psyche.

That dilemma is not just about your head going one way and your heart another. It's about selfishness versus due concern for others, that constant balancing act we all engage in, the struggle between wish fulfilment and respecting someone else's point of view. Career versus child-minding? Women face it all the time. Ambition versus family involvement? Men face it all the time too. Biology is the reason you don't see this quite so clearly. Wanting another baby seems like another dimension, something qualitatively different to any other desire. Is it? Is it something almost holy, spiritual even, a necessity rather than an option, a sort of destiny, governed by other rules entirely? I am not for one second being facetious, or dismissive. I genuinely don't know.

I do know your husband is not the enemy. Which is why it's sad to hear that he feels this baby issue has formed a wedge between you. You are a good and loving woman, who has a dilemma. Don't make your husband the fall guy. Face it.

I'm Sorry I Left My Husband

21st February, 2010

I left a long-term marriage some years ago, believing I was doing the best thing possible. Now I wonder if I am one of those who 'walked away in hopelessness' as you put it recently, because I certainly felt hopeless at the time, and totally depleted.

Hindsight has taught me that I viewed my husband as my sole comforter. For a myriad of reasons I felt I could not turn to my family for the kind of loving support I needed, and the ear of a dear friend was denied me when she moved to the other end of the world. I am now divorced for nearly two years and in lots of ways I feel that I have moved on. But in lots of ways I am equally stuck in painful feelings of loss. Sometimes I miss him more, rather than less. I find I have to constantly reassure myself that I did indeed do the right thing.

What then, is the unique challenge for those of us who didn't stay, for whatever reason? Especially when the blow is self-inflicted, as in my case, since I was the one to initiate divorce proceedings. I can safely say that I am sadder and wiser. I don't want to be stuck in sadness forever though.

It's been a short time. Looking back is inevitable. So, also, is sadness and a great sense of loss. Leaving a long-term marriage is not something we'd choose as an option, when painting our ideal picture of how life should be. Some people do have to walk away. And then grief is inevitable. Hiding from that pain is the path to emotional self-destruction. The fact that you feel it is a huge plus. No, I know it's not nice. I'm just saying that it doesn't mean you made a mistake.

The challenge is a tricky one. On the one hand we need to learn the lessons of our fall from happiness, some of which are obviously the truths about ourselves. Maybe you were, as you suggest, emotionally too dependent. My suggestion, by the way, on that front is that we need to learn to console ourselves. It's not a question of family or friend or husband, although all of them can play a role. It's ultimately a question of being able to give yourself succour. Anyway, the point is that there are undoubtedly lots of bits you now see need changing. That's distressing, but necessary.

On the other hand, you should never doubt your decision. You made it. You clearly thought it necessary. Separating and divorcing is not some short hop and a skip. This wasn't a rash mistake, made in a moment of madness. There's no point in torturing yourself, or looking back with the benefit of hindsight, just because you're understandably sad, or wiser now about who and what you are. Of course you're paying a price for your decision to end the marriage. You would also have paid a price for staying. And clearly, you saw that price as far greater. Otherwise you'd never have taken such a huge step.

Don't ever do down the gut instinct which drove you. That would be unfair. More, it would be emotionally and intellectually dishonest. Do, however, hang in there, garnering the wisdom that comes with insight. And go out and enjoy yourself. Courage should be celebrated.

My Husband Has Explosive Temper

21st February, 2010


I have been married for 20 years, have wonderful children and am generally very happy with my life. In fact, sometimes I feel guilty that my life is almost too perfect!

Then my husband has one of his 'turns'. He is prone to explosive angry outbursts. These can occur at any time. If we are in company, he just goes quite, or rudely leaves early, and then explodes as soon as we are outside the door. At times he can stay aggressive for an hour or more. In between these outbursts, we are very happy together. We have a lot of fun doing simple things, and both of us absolutely adore our children - although my husband usually finds family outings stressful as he cannot stand children bickering, or getting over-excited. He's improved considerably over the years, but when the children were babies, he found it almost impossible to cope.

All his family say that they sympathise with my situation, and that they know he is very difficult to live with. Recently one of them asked me why I put up with his behaviour. The truth is that I've issued all sorts of ultimatums, and he is always really repentant after he calms down, but he does not seem to be able to control himself when he oversteps a certain mark. Some years ago he attended counselling, but said that he was told after a few sessions that he didn't need to go anymore.

I have no intention of leaving him, but for days after a bad outburst I feel so distant from him that I might as well be single. At the moment I'm facing the fact that a few hours ago he threw my mobile across the floor and smashed it. I feel extremely angry, but also dejected and miserable.

What can I do to highlight the effect his behaviour has on me and the children? How can I convince him to seek help again? I have offered to go with him, or to let him go alone, but he says he'll never go again and that there is no point in my pushing it. I feel like my whole life has to be worked around his sensitivities and foibles. Now that the children are getting older, at least I have more freedom and I try to make a life of my own as much as possible. At the same time I don't want a cold and distant and empty nest when they eventually leave home.

The problem with explosive anger in adults is that it creates fear. Deep down you never know what's going to happen next - the mobile phone to-day, my face to-morrow perhaps? Yes, I know you may well be rushing to say that your husband would never hurt you, or the kids, and that I've got it all wrong. Perhaps. But why then do you pussy-foot around his sensitivities. If you're not afraid for your own personal safety, what drives you to appease him?

Let me ask you a question. Who picked up the pieces of your mobile phone? Who went into town and bought you another one? Who went through the time-consuming process of replacing the numbers on a new sim card if it was damaged? The point is, adults who lose the head seldom face the consequences. An angry but distressed wife usually cleans up the crime scene. Why? Because the angry outburst intimidates them, even if they don't feel personally in danger.

Let me ask you another question. If your husband rudely leaves the company you're in when his temper is rising, why do you go with him? Why would you choose to witness his temper outside, rather than be inside with friends or family, having a laugh? Is it, perhaps, because you're scared he'd turn on you if you weren't seen to be siding with him? Or is social embarrassment a big thing with you?

There is no point in issuing an ultimatum. Nobody listens because they know you don't mean it. The task is to stop appeasing, stop picking up the pieces, stop covering up. I must, however, hesitate to put this to you, since your personal safety is of paramount importance. Handling someone with an explosive temper is fine, providing you are sure you'll come to no harm. From this distance I can't judge that. In fact, from any distance I can't. It's down to your instincts.

If you feel you can leave the phone on the living room floor, do so. And that's just a metaphor for leaving the consequences of angry outbursts to your husband to handle. When he says he's sorry, quietly make it clear that you don't want to hear it. Because it's not true. If he was sorry he'd go to anger-management classes, or joint counselling sessions to hear how this impacts on you, or family therapy to find out how the kids feel. Your husband has angry outbursts because they work for him. Inappropriate as they are, it's his way of asserting himself, or discharging his frustration, or whatever. And they work for him partially because he blinds himself to their impact on others. Which is where you come in. You cultivate this blindness of his by pussy-footing around him, including picking up the pieces, in every sense of the word. Do you see? The fear he engenders allows him to continue. It's bullying by any other name. Think about it.

I'm In Love With my Boss

14th February, 2010


I'm in love with my boss. The first day I met him - and that was a few years ago - I felt an attraction straight away. However I've kept things light and friendly and just do my work.

We get on well, and I suppose we flirt in a joking way now and again. It's a bit of fun and others join in. I'm sure some of them have noticed that there might be an attraction between us, but thankfully we are all very professional and it's just glazed over, nothing said.

The thing is, I do find it hard at times, feeling so attracted to him and knowing he's working in the same building. He has a partner, but doesn't speak much about her. According to the others, he hasn't moved on with that relationship in any kind of committed way.

I'm single at the moment, doing my best to have a social life, and hoping to meet somebody. But it hasn't happened, and I think sometimes I do compare a lot of men to my boss. That's good in some ways, as at least I keep my standards high. But I think it's just difficult to meet people these days. Added to that, most of my friends are now settled. I find it difficult to have such feelings for somebody who is not available, or most probably not attainable, for me.

Being professional does not exclude getting up close and personal with work-colleagues. Countless couples meet in the workplace. And it's hard to imagine that all such romances are nice neat situations, where each person is totally unattached, and absolutely equal in terms of job status. Falling for the boss - or having the boss fall for you - is not way-out. The question, therefore, is why you're still stuck with fancying him from afar.

It sounds to me like you're nurturing a fantasy. Look at how you dodge facing the reality of his love-life. He's been with the same woman since forever. But, you tell me, you've heard on the grape-vine that he's perhaps less than committed. How tantalisingly vague. What has he failed to do? Marry her? Give her his babies? Since when in this modern world does that mean he's not truly with her?

You flirt. Good. Flirting is good. It's an acknowledgement that you're not just workers, but sexual human beings. It lightens the work-load, creates a buzz, helps keep everyone happy and undoubtedly more productive. It doesn't mean your boss is interested in you. On the contrary, flirting with you for several years while conducting an on-going romance off-site means he's not interested in you. Sorry if that sounds harsh. I only mean it as a reality check.

Deep down you know all this. It's just that the fantasy has taken hold in the face of your loneliness. And while fantasies are fine - I'm a big fan as you know - it's important we keep them in check. OK, so you hold your boss up as a bench-mark against which all the loud lads at the pub or night-club are measured - and in the process you protect yourself from your vulnerability. Grand. Just be careful though. If our ideal man is, by definition, someone who is unattainable, then that condemns us to eternal aloneness doesn't it? My suggestion, therefore, is that you open your heart a little, and create the possibility that some perfectly nice man comes creeping in. And who knows? Maybe he's a work-mate, standing in the wings, waiting for Snow White to wake up.

My House Husband Is Unhappy

14th February, 2010


My husband and I have been married for 17 years and have two boys and a girl. I work full-time in a job that pays really well and at which I am very good. He is home full-time, which definitely makes it much easier for me to do my job, and I appreciate him being there to do the drop-offs and pick-ups and homework, and all that invisible work that I know is so demanding, and sometimes difficult. My husband was self-employed earlier in our marriage, but it proved to be a dead-end. Given the pressures of my job, we both agreed that he would be the stay-at-home parent. I really appreciate what he has done to support my work over the years.

That said, I feel he's quite half-hearted about his role as full-time father. Perhaps he never saw himself as a stay-at-home parent, perhaps it did happen more by default than by design, but it adds huge stress to my life. For example, he sometimes doesn't cook dinner in the evenings, so that when I get home I never know if the shopping has been done, or if there'll be a meal on the table, for any of us. My daughter's having difficulties in school, which the teachers say is due to her regular failure to do homework. And my husband allows the kids to eat a lot of rubbish, despite the fact that the two boys and putting on weight. I often come home and he's watching TV while the kids are just hanging out, unsupervised. When I raise any of these issues with my husband, he accuses me of being bossy and unfair.

I guess the thing is that, despite my very busy job, I have to pick up a lot of the family-related slack. Of course I want to be there for my children, but it's always me who buys the birthday presents, checks that they're OK when something comes up to make them unhappy. I'm the one who meets the teachers, does the laundry, reads the bedtime stories, shops for nutritious meals, makes sure hair and teeth are brushed. I feel I'm being exploited.

Maybe my husband is right and I am being unfair. But I want a happy home life for my kids and there are things that I think they are missing because my husband doesn't play the role that I guess I think I would play if I could be with them. I don't have a choice. I have to work. We have a big mortgage and lots of expenses and can't even save much, despite my large salary. Switching to part-time work would probably help, but it's not an option.

I often feel trapped and angry, and wish so much that I could make things better for me and my children. But I'm doing as much as I can and I feel my husband could do more. Maybe he feels trapped too. I recognise that. But I also envy him his life-style. He often goes away for weekends with his friends. He has his mornings to himself for his wide range of hobbies. And he doesn't feel the anxiety and stress of professional life like I do. The situation is becoming increasingly unhappy and I don't know how to change things.

Psychology is sometimes a terrible thing, distracting us from practical solutions. Maybe your husband is half-hearted about landing the job of home-maker. Maybe he did slide into it because of a failed career. My guess is that that's what happens in most cases. And maybe he does feel somewhat resentful and trapped. I don't think many men grow up with the dream of keeping house. It's also decidedly beside the point.

Why have you no hired help? With three children and one partner working long arduous hours, why on earth isn't someone in doing basic housework and the laundry? Why this conservative 'do it yourself' approach to domesticity? Why not pay someone decent money to make your lives easier? And don't say you can't afford it. It's a question of prioritising real quality of life.

With that sorted, you need to sit down and agree a serious division of labour. My guess is that you and your husband never worked out what his part of the bargain actually entails - too much sensitivity around the issue of kept men and working women and all that ego stuff. So you smoulder with anger instead. Not good. With basic housework and laundry sorted, it would seem self-evident that a home-maker has dinner on the table. That doesn't mean always cooking. It does mean taking responsibility for the weekly Chinese take-away, or for booking a table at the local pizzeria. And why wouldn't he do the shopping on his way to the golf course?

You also have to talk about standards, since you clearly differ. This can be tricky, so tread carefully. If the children eat nutritious meals most days, the odd bit of rubbish shouldn't send you into the stratosphere in rage. It won't, either, if you feel the basics are in place, and you're not full of resentment. The same applies to children's homework. It could be nice for you to supervise your daughter, since you're now free of the laundry and shopping. You get the picture.

Finally, take responsibility for your own pleasures in life. So your husband goes away with his friends some weekends. Fine. Why don't you do the same, if that is what you want? I won't go on here. You know the score. If you're the breadwinner, you can't resent it. Just as we won't allow your husband resent his home-making role. The task is to make it work, for everybody. Get cracking.

My Ex has Little Time For Our Son

7th February, 2010


My son is 8 years of age. His father and I have been separated for four years. I think I'm managing quite well, with great support from my family and friends. My job allows flexibility, which means I'm around my son a lot.

His father rings him every day and sees him for just two hours every weekend. This is his dad's choice. I would like them to have a lot more contact. I know my son is putting on a brave face, but actually feels very let down. His father doesn't attend any of his school events, doesn't take him to any matches, basically doesn't do much with him. The two hours are always tight, strictly adhered to on a Saturday morning, entirely non-negotiable, and my son has recently begun to say that he feels he's the odd one out, and that he hates his 'ex' dad. I try to josh him out of it, but it's getting harder and harder to do.

His father's new partner is very needy and neither helpful nor understanding. My son doesn't like her. It's another person to contend with in a situation that is not great to begin with. I feel that my own heart is dead, that the possibility of love is dead, because I couldn't risk the hurt again. I would like a husband, a friend whom I could love, someone who would be caring to both me and my son, someone strong, who can cope with life. Given my track-record with men, however, that's not going to happen. They were all weak, lily-livered and cowardly in so many ways.

If I think about the situation at all I just want to give up. I feel I can't give it any more energy, and should settle into a pattern of having my son ready for his 2-hour weekly stint with his father, and simply be grateful for that. Even though it is clearly just squeezed in, my ex always in a hurry to head off, if only to get the shopping done, or pick his new partner up from the hairdressers, or meet friends for lunch in some restaurant. Try dressing that up for an 8-year-old, as someone who is very busy, with important meetings to attend. Yes, I wish he were dead, and then I un-wish it because it would hurt our son. So I hold onto the weak hope that maybe it will get better when he is older.

Why did I pick such a shit to be the father of my child? I thought he was kind and reliable. How could I have been so wrong? I could handle all the hurt, if only he would be good to our son. He has the capacity to be good. He was so kind and caring to me at one time - for the first five years of our relationship actually, and so thrilled when our son was born, so that has to count for something.

Where do I go from here? I have begged my ex to be a better parent. He says he'll take our son places if I pay. As I get no child support from him, I refuse. I am a normal person, but I behave abnormally around my ex. He brings out the very worst in me. It takes all of my patience to deal with him and remain civil.

I don't actually think it helps to invent a father, which is what you're doing. It involves living a lie. That's not good for your son, and it's clearly not good for you. Distorting reality is always a dead-end.

Unless you made a financial killing at your ex's expense, and you agreed to forego child-support because you're now living in clover - which I very much doubt - your son's dad has failed at the first fence. And even if he did leave you with a small fortune, he still has to put his hand in his pocket for their joint outings. It's offensive for him to ask you to pay.

Your son may not yet know the financial angle, but he does see his father failing in terms of time and attention. Why would you distort his vision? The pain doesn't go away because you try to gild the lily for him. On the contrary, by explaining away his dad's lack of time, you run the risk of appearing to condone bad behaviour, inadvertently reinforcing a poor role model of how a father should be. Worse, you run the risk of your son thinking that he's somehow not good enough. Because if his father is not at fault, then who is?

Children have the capacity to see things clearly. Wise parents learn to comfort, without clouding that clarity. Your son's father is not up to much. That's a reality your son has to face. What he needs to know is that the fault lies squarely in his father's court. It has nothing to do with him. No, I'm not suggesting you bad-mouth your ex. Just stop putting a gloss on his behaviour.

You are sad that the relationship didn't work out, deeply disappointed and disillusioned. It's important that you keep that unhappiness quite separate from your son's struggle to handle his hurt. You have an ex-partner. But there's no such thing as an 'ex' father. I hope that phrase is yours, and not something your son is saying. Children identify easily with our despair. It's vital we stop them trying to fight our battles for us.

Don't you see? A large part of the reason you want your ex to be a better father is in order to console yourself. You would feel less disappointed and less guilty if he were a better man. So you exhaust yourself with trying to improve things. Stop. Your ex is what he is. Accept that, and you'll be able to move on.

Married Friend Says He Loves Me

7th February, 2010


I'm a single mother of one child in my late 30's. I have a busy, full life with a satisfying job, lots of friends and, of course, my son, aged 8, to look after. One of my closest friends is a man in his mid-forties, whom I've known for over 15 years. He is married with three children.

We have always been just good friends and have never had anything other than a purely platonic relationship. In recent years our friendship became closer as he helped me with my business affairs, and also at a more emotional level during a very difficult period of separation from my ex-partner.

Recently he told me that his feelings for me had moved beyond friendship and that he was in love with me. He says that although his marriage is not an unhappy one, he feels it is not fulfilling and he wants to be with me. The problem is, that while I do have some feelings for him - and in different circumstances I could be interested in seeing if things might develop - I do not share his own intense feelings of love. I also do not want to be in any way responsible for his marriage ending. Nor would I want the pressure of his expectations of me if he did leave his wife.

I have said all this to him, but he is struggling to deal with it. I feel very sad for him and do not want to hurt him. I do very much value him as a friend. And I don't want to lose that relationship with him.

You already have - lost the friendship I mean. This man is no longer your friend. He is a potential lover. He had declared his feelings. He is courting you. The question is, are you prepared to be a true friend to him?

He is married with three children. He's struggling with his feelings for you. The right thing to do is distance yourself. Even if you loved him madly - which you don't - it would still be the right thing to do. And no, I'm not talking morals here - although it would, of course be the moral thing to do. I'm talking friendship. This man is in crisis. He badly needs you to be a true friend. You've already told him the unvarnished truth about the limit of your feelings, which was the right thing to do. You now have to take the next step and let him go. Sticking around because you value his support is selfish.

How he'll deal with his dilemma is ultimately down to him. The only issue for you is that your presence simply inflames the problem. Friends don't do that. He's been so good to you. It's your turn to be good to him. Say whatever you need to say. Do whatever you need to do. But push him away. Contact has to be severed, discreetly but definitely. Yes, that's sad. Yes, it's a serious loss for you. No, it won't necessarily be forever. Marriages hit arid patches, and partners become vulnerable. Most get past this point. Some, of course, founder. Either way, your absence is what your friend needs not just now, but for the foreseeable future. In the name of friendship, butt out.

My New Lover Is Mean With Money

January 31st, 2010


Separated ten years, I am now 46 years old, and searching for 'Mr Right'. I've had several short relationships, all of which ended because the men involved were obsessive, controlling or alcoholic and abusive.

I've now met this very nice man, a non-national but living here for over ten years, who speaks good English. The problem I've now found, after three months together, is how mean he is. I don't earn a lot, but I pay my way as much as I can. He, however, is forever going on about what he owes, and what's left in his pocket. This puts me under pressure. And I don't think it's going to change. I know there's a recession on, and all our work hours have been cut, but we adjust.

How can I address this problem without offending him? Because I love him, and want to make it work.


This is not about the recession. Nor is it about meanness. The two of you have failed to negotiate an agreement about how money should be handled. Your expectations are clearly different. You think he should make up any shortfall in your disposable income. He feels that's a step too far. You both need to find a workable solution.

The first step is to stop dodging the issue. At the moment you dodge by singing dumb and he dodges by complaining about his general financial situation. Meanwhile the elephant in the room is ignored. The relationship could end as a result of this, not because of money as such, but because of your failure to communicate.

There's a very simple solution. You both pay your own way. That means that anything you can't afford - as the one with the least money - neither of you do, at least not together. If meals out are too expensive for you, you eat at home together, taking turns in each other's kitchen. If roast meat is too dear to buy, you settle for stewing, or making Bolognaise sauce with mince. If spirits are too expensive, you both drink beer. Then, if your lover wishes, he can treat you the odd time to something outside your budget. I know that all sounds banal. I am trying to make a point.

After the first few weeks of financial fumbling, every couple has to settle the issue of money. Indeed, money may be their first negotiation, their first real communication, the first test of their ability to lay things clearly on the line for each other. Sex is different. They probably both want that, so agreeing about sex tends to be a Questionof timing, and perhaps place. Talking about money is a much more delicate matter. It involves saying a lot of uncomfortable things, which really boil down to the degree of sharing, the extent of involvement, the hard issue of mine versus yours. Money talk is actually about the boundaries, or limits, of a relationship. That's why it's so hard. And so necessary.

You love this man. You want it to work. Then don't jump to unkind conclusions. He's not mean - well not on the basis of what you've said so far anyway. He's just finding it hard to handle the question of sharing. You're finding it hard too. Each of you is simply dealing with it differently. He's complaining obliquely, talking about money in general rather than the specifics of how you two split the bills. And you're blocking, saying nothing, but thinking he is somehow to blame. Untangle that - by openly discussing budgets - and you've formed a sound basis for a successful relationship.

Married Lover Has New Flame

January 31st, 2010


I can no longer go on. I have been having an affair with a married man for 18 years and it was great. I love him so much. Now he's getting a divorce from his wife, I thought we'd be even closer, that we'd no longer have to hide our love, and I could walk out in public with him without being scared of getting caught. Well, that's not the case.

My lover told me the other night that he has started to see someone else and that he loves her. When he said that I felt I'd been shot in the heart. The amount of pain it caused me hearing those words will haunt me forever. He said we could continue our affair, but as before. I'd be nothing but the fries on the side in his life and that kills me. He only started divorce proceedings a couple of months ago, but apparently the new girl in his life has already met his children and his parents.

I'm just at a loss. Sometimes I feel like I don't want to live anymore. I can't eat, or sleep, and each day is a huge challenge, just to get by. The worst part of all is that I had it coming to me. Because what goes around comes around. I hurt his wife, and now this new woman is hurting me. And chances are he'll do it again and again. He's 48, the same age as his wife, I'm 42, and the new girl is 30 years old. I think he's going through a mid-life crisis and that he won't stick around with his new love for very long. At least that's what I'm praying will happen.

Affairs are inherently abusive. There's the abuse of trust, a wife who doesn't know that there's someone else in her marriage, playing an active, albeit secret role. There's the abuse the cheat brings on himself, the lies he tells, the betrayal he enacts, the corrosion of his character. And then there's the total lack of dignity a mistress must accept, the role of being the 'fries on the side' as you put it. It is not a good scene, for anyone.

I don't know what stories you told yourself, but remaining a secret mistress, not just for 18 years, but from the young age of 24, must have taken some doing. You clearly had a capacity for deluding yourself. No, I'm not trying to be punitive. I think you're suffering more than enough as it is. My concern is that your suffering will bring no healing, no redemption if you like, unless you change the way you think. Basically you have to stop fooling yourself.

You're still avoiding the truth. Your lover is not having a mid-life crisis. He's met someone he wants to be with. And she didn't suddenly appear after he decided to divorce his wife. She's the reason he's prepared to divorce. He doesn't want to keep her as a secret affair. He's found someone he wants to formally, and publicly, engage with. He did for her, what he wouldn't do for you. Yes, that's hard. But until you face it, you'll never find happiness. And while I  don't know why he said that the two of you could continue as you are, what I do know is that it was an extraordinarily offensive comment. My guess - and I know this is very painful - is that he was just trying to pacify you - or drive you away with his outrageousness.

Let's forget him however. He's not the story, you are. You need to take a long look at your self-esteem. Yes, I know you loved him, but that's not the issue. If we're systematically treated with serious disrespect, then we have to leave. Accepting bad behaviour makes us feel bad about ourselves. So we have to walk away. That's the way it works. No-one is worth losing your self-respect for. No-one. Accept this relationship as a history lesson, one from which you have much to learn, questions you have to answer for yourself. Why do you think so little of yourself? What do you have to do to change your self-image? What programmed you, way back, to accept such a raw deal? That's what you have to tackle. And, of course, refuse to have any further contact, of any description, with this man. That's where dignity begins.

I Want To Marry My Lover

January 24th, 2010


I am having some recurring problems with my fiancée. She is 28 and I am two years older. We've been together on and off for six years and have a child together, who is the love of our life.

For the first few years I was a horrible person, cheating, over-controlling, dismissive. I just didn't take the relationship seriously. After our child was born, the tables turned. I became the soft, loving, affectionate and compassionate one. My fiancée then moved out and cheated repeatedly on me. We have reconciled, but live apart, which has been hard since we both have trust issues, as you can imagine.

I've been working really hard on the relationship. I even went to a marriage counsellor, alone! My fiancée, however, has always run away from problems. When we plan to do something together, and it no longer suits her, she just lies. She doesn't stick to any agreement we make either. We organised a financial arrangement, which I deliver on. But we also agreed on a schedule of time together as a couple, which she regularly backs out of. I don't know if we're both wrong, and if so, how to fix it. I try to be patient, but end up getting angry.

In her defence, I am a recovering sex addict. I had problems showing affection, or feeling emotionally secure, without sex. And I know I'm anxious and pushy about making it work. What can I do?

Face the truth. The child you have together is the love of your life - of both your lives. You've told me so yourself. That being the case, your relationship is not about sexual faithfulness, or spending time together as a twosome. What you need to work on is how to be good parents together.

In your head, having a child and being a couple are intertwined. You had a baby, and discovered a desire to be a faithful, committed partner to your girlfriend. Put bluntly, your girlfriend - or fiancée as you call her - clearly doesn't want that. I'd say she was leaving you anyway. The fact that she got pregnant didn't halt her on her journey out. She's not mixing up the roles of parent and partner. From all you've said, it seems clear she doesn't want you as a husband. She does, however, want you involved.

I don't like being tough, but you do need to wake up. Look at the issue of money. You made a financial commitment. In your eyes, however, it was a commitment to a partner. The deal, in your eyes, was that you'd spend time together, on a regular basis. That shows you don't really get it. A financial commitment is essential, since this is your child. It's child support, not a quid pro quo for romantic togetherness.

You are quite right. Your girlfriend is running away from the problem. She's certainly not coming clean. She wants you as an involved father - financially certainly, and probably as a social support too. She sees you're singing from a different hymn sheet, thinking of partnership rather than parenthood. She doesn't know how to set you straight. Perhaps she's afraid you'll bale out. Perhaps she just hasn't got the skills to break through your denial.

Look, the bottom line is that you're still being a bully. You are relentlessly pursuing your own agenda, and not taking on board anything your girlfriend actually does, as opposed to says. Step back and list her actions. She's moved out. She breaks dates. She leaves you alone with the marriage counsellor. She reneges on agreements about togetherness. Do I need to spell it out? You and your girlfriend haven't reconciled. She is not your fiancée. She is the mother of your child, whom you both love. Full stop.

I see you want to be a decent human being. Then be one. Face down your denial of reality, that enemy of every addict. Make it clear to your girlfriend that you're a committed father. Tell her that you're going to do the right thing by your child, financially, emotionally, practically. Make it clear that you're going to be generous with your time, faithfully coming up trumps as a father, for as long as you're needed, on every front. And then butt out of her life. Stop making demands for intimacy. Show her you can separate fatherhood and romantic togetherness. Just do the right thing, and see how it everything else pans out.

My Boss Is Incompetent

January 24th, 2010


I am finding it very difficult to tolerate my boss, but can't get another job and can't afford to lose this one. He is incapable of making a decision, he hinders work progress by dithering, he blames others for his own omissions and incompetence, he lies and bad-mouths people behind their backs, causing rows between people without any ill-effect to himself. He fears change. He looks up to and is ingratiating towards popular people, people he fears or believes to be superior to him, and cannot stand up to them, no matter how they behave, giving the most favourable treatment to the most unproductive staff members, who treat him with disrespect. He is a bully to people he feels are inferior and has also ignored the serious bullying of junior staff by one of his managers, because he was either unwilling or unable to stand up to her. He gets away with all this because he is two-faced.

The real problem is that the people at work let him get away with it, and seem to regard him as a kind of innocent bungling human being. I can't understand people's tolerance. They don't seem to see the grief he causes. On the contrary, when one staff member tried to stand up to him, people's reaction was "ah the poor fellow", downplaying his behaviour and suggesting that the unfortunate staff member was exaggerating. Why do they do this? And what can I do to make my work-life more tolerable?

I'm taking it as fact that you have to hang onto your job. The reason I'm saying this is because sometimes we have options, and either don't see them, or don't want to see them. For example, people stick with a secure job, rather than taking their chances on something more dicey, and say they have to, when what they mean is that it makes them feel more comfortable. And sometimes people fail to think laterally - staying with a job rather than actually moving house, or country, or continent. But I'm supposing, for now, that you're well and truly stuck.

Given that, I think the answer is obvious. You are not going to win any substantial support for an insurrection against your boss - not as you tell it anyway. He's here to stay. You have to learn to live with him. And that might not involve as much teeth-grinding as you think.

I know there are all kinds of ethical questions involved, but I still have to ask why you mind so much about what your boss does, or fails to do. You are clearly suffering, and full of rage. Why, exactly? Is it possible you're taking him far too seriously? Do you feel vulnerable to his nastiness? When the others shrug their shoulders and see him as a sorry messer, are they perhaps reading him right? No, it's not an excuse to say someone is a weakling. And it doesn't let the weakling off the hook about learning to handle his job differently, and to manage his staff and work-place better. But a weakling is a different class of problem to an out-and-out vicious character. With a weakling you can fret, rightly, about the things he does wrong, or allows to go unchecked. But you also have a better chance of finding a way of managing the situation.

My guess is that you are personally suffering at the hands of your boss. I think he's being unfair and disrespectful and you're putting up with it, because you don't know how to defend yourself while still watching your step and keeping your job. That leaves you full of helpless rage. What you lack are some basic on-the-job negotiating skills, because that's what your interactions with your boss are actually all about, negotiation. I'm sure you're fine with friends, family and lover. You're not a man from space learning something entirely new. It's just that everybody has to find a way of taking flack on the job, without losing the head, or your dignity.

I know this is going to sound peculiar, but the important step is to stop taking it personally. Your boss is an idiot. He's nasty to lots of people, as part of his own insecurity. His behaviour says nothing about your worth, and everything about his shortcomings. Be firm about your own self-confidence and his words will just whistle past you. That doesn't, however, mean that you stand there and just take it. Check out some strategies for side-stepping. Essentially that's about showing, however subtly, that you are not taking a beating. It can be something as low-key as your posture, a non-verbal communication that speaks volumes. For some humour works. For others, it's a question of quiet but firm self-defence, thinking on your feet, finding good exit strategies.

The point is, you'll discover your own style once you stop feeling such outrage. Outrage gives your boss way too much importance. Legitimate anger is different. It fuels effective self-defence. Work on it.

I Hate How Fat I Am

January 17th, 2010


I'm feeling very low at the moment. I'm 26 years old and hate how I look so much that it has taken over my whole life. Weight is my biggest issue, due to regular out-of-control binge eating. I'm fat and have horrible stretch-marks, a size 14 but only 5'4" tall - and that's after losing some weight recently. I also have a horrible lumpy shape and this, combined with my complete lack of style, means that I have hardly any clothes suitable to leave the house in. Every time I go shopping I find nothing I like to fit me and end up coming home empty-handed and depressed.

Now I rarely leave the house other than for work. Whenever I'm invited to a social event I feel nothing but deep anxiety and panic. My first thought is that I've nothing to wear. Then I start to imagine myself at the event, looking awful, being socially awkward, and feeling humiliated. I will then usually search quite desperately for something nice to wear, fail miserably, and then make an excuse not to go. Fortunately I no longer get very many invites. My anti-social attitude has ruined most of my friendships.

My mind is my worst enemy. Aside from my horrible negative thoughts about myself, I constantly imagine and suspect that other people are talking about me and laughing at me. I can't even eat a meal in a restaurant without feeling as if people are staring at the fat girl stuffing her face. The only good thing in my life is my boyfriend, who I know loves me in spite of how I look. I need him so much it scares me, because I don't know what I'd do if he left me.

I know I have poor self-esteem and am a bit paranoid. And I know that my view of the world is warped. But knowing all this doesn't help me. I want so much to be pretty and slim - a normal girl with a normal life.

There's no such thing as a normal girl with a normal life - well not the way you mean it anyway. What you're really looking for is an effortless life. That's not possible. Believe me, everyone has to put in hard graft, just to keep afloat. Staying scared inside our comfort zone invariably brings unhappiness, and indeed despair, no matter who we are or what we've got. At the moment, the effort to leave that comfort zone just seems too great to you. So you choose unhappiness.

It's not that you lack courage. It takes courage to get through the day, one day after another, feeling so ugly. It takes courage to be so terrifying dependent on your boyfriend. It takes courage to live with such frightening low self-esteem. So you are most definitely not a coward. Nor are you weak. You're just trying to avoid change. You don't want to use your courage differently. Like I said, your unhappiness is a choice.

No, I'm not saying you'd be happy doing things differently. You wouldn't. You'd be terrified. It would be hard work. The point is, you would be putting yourself on the road to happiness, starting the journey by actively taking charge.  Self-esteem doesn't come with looking good. It comes, slowly, as we take control. The reason you are both paranoid and dependent is because other people are too important to you. You worry about what they think, or whether or not they will love you. You feel your emotional safety lies with them.  Taking control means that you become your own anchor, your own arbiter of your worth, your own safe harbour. Taking control means being much less exposed.

You could try testing your courage with a small change - any change of your choice, just baby steps. Contact a self-help group for the binge eating like Bodywhys - the number is in the telephone book. Take up an exercise routine for your body shape. Seek help from a nice member of staff in your local boutique to choose a flattering clothes style. I won't go on with the list. You definitely know the score.

Can I tell you something I've discovered in life? There is no substitute for faith - which is the courage to take a blind leap into the unknown. We've already established how courageous you are. Are you ready to take that blind leap? Would you just trust that you can do it - and make that first step? Your choice.

My Daughter Is Breaking My Heart

17th January, 2010

I feel so helpless about my relationship - or rather non-relationship - with my only daughter. She's in her early thirties, has had a troubled life and blames it all on me. I suppose it doesn't help that her four brothers have all done well. She is a recovering alcoholic and is bipolar. She is extremely intelligent but not emotionally so. She dropped out of college, lost various jobs, but has now got her life together and is back studying as a mature student and doing very well.

I always helped her financially, seeing her through every crisis and of course supporting her while studying. However, she recently refused financial help from me for a special family gathering, saying she never got it when she needed it, which is patently untrue. I do not know why she turned on me this time. The things she said were so hurtful. We never had a good relationship, but since this recent refusal to take money from me, I'm finding it all very painful. I'm not sleeping very well, and not a day goes by that it doesn't bother me.

I have had years of worry about her. I've tried everything. I apologised for anything I might have got wrong, or for any hurt I caused her and said I'd always done my best. She retorted that my best wasn't good enough. I've often told her I love her and would like to hear from her, but she just storms off. She has a terrible temper and has to be right all the time. She comes home occasionally but the atmosphere is always awful. My husband has never been any help. He preferred to avoid all confrontation, so I was invariably the big bad wolf in the house.

I feel so envious of my friends when I see them shopping with their daughters and doing girlie things. My daughter never even returns my calls, to the point where I've stopped ringing her. I've been to counsellors over the years and am now just so tired of talking, but getting nowhere. I'm in my mid-sixties and want out.

Dealing with anyone who is bipolar, or manic depressive, is very difficult. The mania, in particular, is hard to handle. It's not just that people do way-out or impulsive or self-destructive things such as your daughter apparently did by ditching college. They are very angry, and feel free to vent their anger. When manic, they also, invariably, blame others. Most distressing of all, they break the social barriers of normal kindness and consideration and say vicious things, to which there is really no reply. They give themselves permission to be outrageous. And at the time it's all happening, they don't even notice.

All this is possible because mania involves a dissociation from other human beings. The person becomes disconnected, emotionally closed down, switched off. This is felt most keenly in close relationships like husband and wife, brothers and sisters, or parent and child, which is your sad dilemma. Your daughter might be civil to say your friends or neighbours, but vicious to you. We could talk for weeks, or even years, about the causes of bipolar disorder. Personally, I'm convinced it's a complicated mix of emotion and physiology, a delicate combination of psychology and body or brain chemistry. But the point is, your daughter is the one who has to solve it. You can't.

Instead you have to ask yourself a hard question. Why do you want a relationship with your daughter? Yes, I know you say you'd like to do girlie things with her like your friends do with their daughters, but that's not it - or not all of it. You see, while you can't fix your daughter, because only she can do that, you can change your behaviour towards her. That, in turn, will change the dynamics of your relationship.  But behaviour only changes when we ask ourselves why we're doing it. Hence my question.

A simple example: You offered your daughter money for some family event - presumably to help her play her part. She refused. You were upset. You're still upset. Why? Yes, I know she said nasty things, but that's a separate issue. You tell me that she's got her act together. Couldn't you see her refusal of financial help as a statement of independence? Wouldn't it be possible to smile, be glad she doesn't need the money, and retreat gracefully? Or is it that you need her to need you? Or are you so consumed with guilt that you feel impelled to go on approaching her? And don't you see, that as long as you chase her, one thing is guaranteed. She will continue to be nasty to you, and continue to retreat.

Sometimes we just have to let go. Sometimes that's the biggest gift we can give someone we care for. And sometimes it brings them closer. You need to take a rest from trying. It's the only way forward for you. And it's not a statement of failure. It's the wisdom that comes with loving.

My Husband Ran Up Massive Debt

3rd January, 2010

Shortly before Christmas my husband confessed to me that he had run up massive credit card debt, which he tried to cover with a personal loan, which he was also having problems trying to pay. He has also cleared out our joint savings account in an attempt to resolve matters. This all came as a complete surprise to me as we have no new goods or assets to show for it and lead a very ordinary life. My husband is home every evening, and never misses work. And as far as I can see, he doesn't have any addiction issues like porn, gambling, drink, or drugs.

He maintains that it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, using one credit card to pay another. He has agreed to letting me see all his financial statements for the past two years. Until I get the bank statements to examine, I have to believe the best of him and hope this was a mess which just got out of control. Meanwhile he's also agreed to put all his income into my bank account, which will service all our household bills. We have also decided to re-mortgage the house in order to stop interest accruing on the credit cards. I have tried hard to keep a level head and sort out the practical problems first.

Initially I read the riot act. I was very upset, as financial security is very important to me. However, my husband was so upset and genuinely sorry that I spent the next two weeks reassuring him that I didn't think any the less of him. I also felt it was only money, and if he had taken his own life in despair because of the situation, it would have been so much worse. But then came the hammer blow. I had steadily put aside some savings for the children, money given to them by grandparents and things like that. It wasn't much, but when I went to get it yesterday, it was gone. I am devastated and can no longer see a way forward. I suppose I thought there was some excuse for my husband taking our money, but to take from  money set aside for the children is pretty close to unforgivable.

We are not yet in financial trouble, so it's not financial ruin I'm afraid of. My husband's money troubles didn't happen overnight. He has lied to me for over two years, and taken money which did not belong to him. I now find it hard to believe anything he tells me. He is a good kind gentle person and I love him dearly. But I don't know how we can go on from here. We get on well and enjoy each other's company, and I don't want to lose all that. But trust and security mean a lot to me and I don't see how I can go on sharing my life with someone who can give me neither.


Don't lose heart. You're a good and loving wife and perhaps most importantly of all, you are kind. Hang onto that. At the moment you're just feeling desperately disappointed that the moves you made weren't enough. Don't be. You're on a learning curve. You handled most of the angles just right. You will manage this.

Most people fail to make a full and frank confession. Misguided of course, but there you are. The children's money was probably already gone when your husband told you of his debts. My guess is he knew you'd be disgusted, so he held his tongue, in the vain hope that he'd somehow get away with it more lightly. Instead, it's looming as the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back. Yet truly, the children's money is a side issue. You allowed your husband off the hook on a far more fundamental issue. You allowed him to dodge explaining what he'd done.

You don't say what sum was involved, but re-mortgaging the house has to mean something substantial. So why did you settle for a mystery about the money? Why did you let your husband slide out of telling you the truth? I can't, of course, make a diagnosis from here, but I imagine anyone you asked would plump for gambling, until proven otherwise. Why did you dismiss this possibility so lightly? It only takes minutes to gamble away small fortunes. So why did you dismiss this possibility so lightly? And why are you doing the homework on his accounts? Yes, I know you're going to see all his bank and credit card statements, which is good.  But why isn't your husband reconciling them so you can see where the money went? Why would you accept that he doesn't know?

From where I'm sitting, your husband is behaving like an addict. He has lied to you for two years about money, ran up serious debt, and claimed it just happened. He stole from you and the children. He says he's sorry, but is not taking responsibility. He didn't even come to you with a plan on how to proceed. Instead, you had to take charge. Something has such a pull on him that he's abandoned basic morals. And in the face of all that, you've spent time consoling him, reassuring him that you don't think any less of him. Why? I mean it's not even true. You must think less of someone you can no longer trust, someone who is behaving in an immature and dishonest fashion. The very least he must accept is your deep disappointment in him. Instead you nurse his ego.

Kindness can, and indeed must be, combined with clarity of thought. So must love. You do your husband no favours by sweeping reality under the carpet. Which is why it's good that the children's money is gone. It was a much-needed wake-up call for you. Precisely because you do have a tender and loving heart, you were in grave danger of colluding with your husband's gross irresponsibility. No, I'm not saying you should be harsh. Yes, it is good that he came and confided in you. Yes, this is definitely something you should handle together. Success, however, depends on facing facts. Your husband needs to take responsibility for his actions, and get help. And that's what you have to ask of him.

My Husband Of 30 Years Was Having An Affair

 3rd January, 2010

This time last year I discovered that my husband of 30 years was having an affair. I was devastated. Twelve months on, we have come a long way. We are both certain that we want to spend the rest of our lives together and are willing to work hard to make this happen. Which means, of course, that I have to trust him again, as much for my sake as for his.

He travels a lot for his job and interacts with a lot of women on these trips. It's just part of the business he's in. How do I learn to stand on the doorstep and wave him off with a smile, without dying inside from fear that it might happen again?

The straight answer is that you don't ever exactly lose the fear. It's a question of lost innocence. Your husband will always have to live with the fact that he shattered your trust. And you will always have to live with the pain of knowledge. It's the price paid for infidelity.

In the best scenario, what you will be left with is wary faith, if that's not a contradiction in terms. You now know that you're not as safe as you believed yourself to be - the pain of knowledge. To stop dying of fear while you stand on that doorstep waving goodbye, what you need to do is acknowledge the subtle but powerful shift towards emotional independence that you've already made. You didn't stop loving your husband, or walk away in hopelessness.  Instead, whether you realise it or not, you drew on your own strength. You stopped basing your entire happiness on the presumption that cheating could never happen. It could. It did. And you survived, a sadder but wiser woman. Your marriage survived too. You're tougher than you could have dreamed. And more independent than you thought possible.

A proper measure of emotional independence allows faith in others, while still remembering that human beings are fallible. Would cautious faith be another awful philosophical notion? You have to believe in your husband's good intentions, his desire to do the right thing. You must trust him. Checking up on him, doubting his explanations, questioning him too closely, asking for constant reassurance - it won't work, for either of you. That, of course, you know. It just keeps the infidelity centre-stage, fatally undermining your relationship in the process, not to mention your peace of mind.

For real peace of mind, however, you must also trust yourself, have faith in your own strength, believe that you can and will weather any storm your marriage may bring you. Do you understand? Whether you like it or not, the locus of control has shifted in your relationship.  You love your husband, so he has the power to hurt you. But he has not got the power to wipe you out. He is no longer your sole comforter. You are inescapably on the road to learning how to comfort yourself.

Trust is also about accepting that we cannot control the behaviour of others. When you smilingly wave your husband goodbye, it's down to him. His behaviour is his sole responsibility, not yours. That fact can either fill you with fear, or fill you with relief. You have a choice.  Choose relief and enrich your life. Use your time to anchor yourself into family, friends, interests. Allow yourself to be joyous, happy, fulfilled. Try new things. And remember, there's a unique challenge in every blow life brings us. Check it out.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design