Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk

My husband and our daughter aren't speaking

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 18 November 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My husband and our daughter aren't speaking. The problem is that her boyfriend from university came to stay last weekend, and my husband caught him sneaking out of her bedroom during the night. There was a terrible row and they both left early the next morning. Now she is adamant she's not coming to see us at Christmas. She is furious with her dad for embarrassing her in front of her boyfriend, and sees nothing wrong in sleeping with him in our home. My husband feels he was right to 'uphold standards', but I disagree, as life is so different now to how it was when we were young.

What do you think?

Patricia Marie says...

Most parents at some time have to face this dilemma, and the only way to resolve it is for both parties to communicate and come to a compromise. I'm wondering if your husband discussed sleeping arrangements with your daughter and her boyfriend prior to the visit, to make it clear what he considered acceptable, as setting initial boundaries may have avoided this problem. Nevertheless, they are over 18, presumably already have a physical relationship, and may even live together at university, so he does need to recognise this. Whichever way he views the boyfriend's behaviour, I feel sure the young man would rather not be having to be covert in his actions.

At this moment they have now taken another option - not to visit a Victorian father who considers his daughter a fallen woman and her boyfriend dishonourable. Although she does need to be more understanding and respectful of her father's wishes, it appears that either your husband re-evaluates his personal ethics, and is welcoming, or he risks her celebrating Christmas elsewhere. It is important too, for you to express to him how unreasonable you feel he is being, and that you do not agree with the way he has dealt with this. However difficult the situation currently seems, friendly negotiations and mutual apologies might encourage a speedy reconciliation. I do hope so.
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I think my husband is having an affair

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 11 November 2016
Dear Patricia Marie

Please help. I fear that my husband of 15 years' marriage is having an affair.

He is spending so many extra hours at work, including weekends, and pays me very little attention when he is at home. He has also become very possessive over his mobile phone and bank statements.

One day last week he failed to come home at all. He said he'd spent all night in the office, though I later found a receipt for a hotel and for a meal for two people. When I asked him about this, he claimed he'd had dinner with a co-director, but I'm not so sure. I'm still so in love with him, and am scared of losing him. How do I go about confronting him?

Patricia Marie says...

It seems to me that after questioning your husband, you are trusting your instinct, rather than believing what he says. Make it clear to him that you need to have a proper talk, and be honest with each other. He may not be aware of your concerns or how unhappy he is making you feel, both by the lack of attention, and his secrecy, which is causing you further insecurity. Have you avoided confrontation because you may not want to hear what he has to say, or is it that if he confesses to you that he has met someone else, the situation becomes real? Until you open up to him about how you are feeling, you won't be able to move forward with this. Try to listen with an open mind - it may be that he's not being disloyal at all.

You seem to have drifted apart, which is typical of many relationships when there is a lack of communication. When this happens, the person you know becomes the person you knew, and you don't recognise each other anymore. You say you adore him, so whatever the outcome, wherever it has gone wrong, if you both feel the relationship is worth saving, you can start to work together towards a more positive future.

I believe you may benefit from some professional help. Relate are dedicated to helping people strengthen their relationships, and offer invaluable advice and emotional support. They also provide phone, email and Live Chat counselling.

www.relate.org.uk 0300 100 1234
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My best friend stole my baby name

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 04 November 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My best friend and I are both expecting our first born babies, due in December. I told her the name choices I wanted for my baby many weeks ago, and to my horror she has now informed me that she is going to use them herself. I am furious, and instead of enjoying our time being pregnant together, I cannot even face seeing her at the moment. How best should I handle this sensitive situation.

Patricia Marie says...

When you invest time and dreams into the names you love, its easy to feel you 'own' them. However, it's not worth the stress of being sad that your name choices have been mirrored, albeit by your best friend, because, as much as we think we are entitled, we really don't have any claims on babies' names. Although your feelings of anger, disappointment and frustration are understandable, they are not very useful, as I feel you need to be focusing your energies on deciding what you want to do about 'your' child's name, which is far more important.

I would never advise upsetting anyone in the final stages of pregnancy, but if you really do need to confront your friend, do so very gently. Explain how upset and hurt you are, and that you had trusted her integrity with the disclosure of such precious information. Clearing the air can sometimes ease the tension, and she may not have even considered the impact her decision has made on you. Copying your name choices is actually a compliment, and a huge vote of confidence for your personal taste.

Once you have spoken to her, whether she changes her mind or not, you need to move on. It's time to look forward to sharing the precious moments motherhood brings, as well as embracing the support and guidance you can receive from each other once those 'bundles of fun' arrive.

If you decide to keep the names, it really doesn't matter who else has used them, or who will in the future, as you'll always remember your reasons for choosing them. Take comfort in the fact that anyone who has the creativity to come up with one great name, has the ability to come up with another, which you could actually prefer. Just make sure to keep that one a secret!
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I don't want to marry my fiancé

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 28 October 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

I am feeling really scared and don't know what to do. I am 30 and due to be married in December and having doubts about going through with the ceremony.

I have been with my fiancé for 5 years, we became engaged last year, only because it seemed the right thing to do. Although I care for him, I am not in love with him, and feel like running away. The truth is if I marry him, it will be for all the wrong reasons, but at the same time, I cannot break his heart which I shall do if I call it off.

The wedding is costing a fortune of which my parents have helped contribute to, and we will be set to lose the lot if I were to cancel at such short notice. I can't sleep, am feeling miserable and very panicky. I haven't told anyone about how I am feeling as everyone is looking so forward to the celebrations. I have recently met a man at work who I have become very close to, who wants to take me out and makes me feel like an excited teenager, unlike my fiance who I feel we have now become more like sister and brother. Please help me, I don't know what to do.


Patricia Marie says...

If you find yourself having doubts before your wedding, it doesn't necessarily mean that you mustn't get married, but you should pay attention to such thoughts, and talk to your fiancé. It's quite likely that he would have picked up on your emotions already, and opening up to him may help to re-bond the relationship. Understandably, many women approaching their wedding day have concerns as to whether they are making the right choice. After all, it's one of the biggest decisions of our lives. You say you are not wanting to break your fiancé's heart by calling off the wedding, but marrying under false pretences would be far worse, and unfair on him.

Nevertheless, don't risk losing a good man just because a more interesting one has now appeared on the scene. The man you have met at work is new and exciting, as is any new flirtatious liaison. If you were to contemplate your first meeting with your fiancé, I feel sure he would have made you feel the same way. It takes far more than love to have a successful marriage - it's about mutual admiration and respect, including supporting and caring for each other, and most importantly being friends, as without friendship love can easily fade.

You need to ask yourself, how it would feel to be without this man you have been with for five years, as sometimes we can't see what we have until it's gone. Has the intimacy wained slightly because of the pressures of the wedding planning? If so, this can be worked at by remembering the good times you have shared, reintroducing special time together and planning some date nights.

Finally, do not embark on the biggest commitment of your life just to save wasting the huge cost so far expended on the wedding. You owe it to your parents, and your fiancé to be honest, and however shocked or upset they seem, once you share your fears with them, hopefully things will appear much clearer. It wont be easy, but I urge you to explore your choices very carefully, before making a life changing decision.
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My partner swears at me

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 21 October 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My boyfriend and I have been together two years and we plan to marry next summer. The problem is he swears at me all the time. When he's angry, it's almost every other word. I've told him many times that it bothers me, and sometimes he apologises and promises to change, but he always goes back to his old ways and tells me I'm a prude to object. I don't know if the swearing is likely to turn into violence. Am I overreacting?

Patricia Marie says...

The man you are planning to marry is exhibiting little respect for you, verbally attacking you and dismissing your feelings when you ask him to stop swearing. His refusal to listen, and the anger he displays, is a cause for concern. This isn't the act of a loving man ready for marriage.

If you allow his behaviour to continue, your self esteem will plummet, and you will begin to see your own needs as irrelevant. Verbal abusers use bad language to gain control, and this tends to increase over time, often leading to them resorting to physical violence to maintain their control.

Whist I admire you for acknowledging the seriousness of your problem, it is now imperative to put a firm stop to it, before the situation worsens. Your boyfriend's G.P could refer him for anger management classes, although be prepared for his refusal to attend, as nearly all abusers are in denial and blame others for their behaviour. Ask him also to attend some Relate counselling sessions with you, in preparation for a happy marriage.

However, if he is unwilling to deal with his volatile temperament, think again before marrying him. To help you recognise, gain a better understanding, and respond safely and appropriately to him, I recommend: The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans.

Relate: 0300 100 1234 www.relate.org.uk 
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