Advice columnist Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships
I REGRET MY AFFAIR
Q I made the mistake of having an affair with a man who I thought loved me and who seemed so exciting and fun.
Needless to say, in spite of him telling me he would leave his wife for me, when things got out, he didn’t – but my husband and I divorced over the affair.
I was left wondering what on earth I’d done to deserve this mess and three years on, just as I was beginning to get back on my feet, this man reappeared.
He’s a great charmer and he told me that this time he wanted to leave his wife and be with me. Foolishly, I agreed to restart the affair only to be let down by him a second time as he’s just dumped me and gone back to his wife. I feel so stupid and used and keep asking myself how I could have managed to ruin my life.
A From where you are now, the only way to go is up and it’s time to stop all these negative feelings and look for ways to avoid men like this in future.
Doing that on your own is hard, and although you’re single you can still consider talking to a Relate counsellor about how you handle relationships. Their website, relate.org.uk will point out ways to go but I would suggest that counselling, either by phone or in person will help most.
I WANT TO HELP MY BEREAVED FRIEND
Q The husband of a friend of mine has recently died and I’d really like to offer to help her but my problem is I just don’t know how to make the initial approach.
I also don’t know if she’d feel like I was trying to intrude.
I thought I’d write to her but just can’t seem to find the right words – and I’m also wondering if a letter isn’t a bit old fashioned?
A Please don’t be afraid to offer help and sympathy because, in my experience, most people would much rather receive an offer of help than not get one at all.
That doesn’t mean she will accept it, but she will welcome knowing that you’re thinking about her. A letter is perhaps the easiest way to start – it doesn’t have to be a long one.
Just drop her a line saying how sad you were to hear of her husband’s death and say that if there is anything you can do to help then suggest she calls you.
It really is important that you do something – the worst thing, for a bereaved person, is to have others avoid them because they don’t know what to say. The bereavement care organisation Cruse (cruse.org.uk) has an excellent section on its website on how to help someone who is bereaved.
AM I A BAD MOTHER?
Q I’m a single mum and am struggling with my 12-year-old son. He gets really sulky and moody whenever he doesn’t get his own way.
Last week, when I said he couldn’t stay over with friends because his dad was coming the following day he accused me of not loving him. It’s the first time he has ever said that; it really hurt and started me wondering if I’m restricting him too much. Am I a bad mother?
A Any mother who cares for their child’s welfare will set boundaries but naturally he can’t see that at this stage.
That does not make you a bad mother, it makes you a concerned and caring one. The adolescent years are often accompanied by sulking. It’s about them trying to assert their independence and resenting anyone’s attempts (usually parents) to try and set limits on this.
You may find things improve if you start discussing things more with your son rather than simply issuing instructions.
If things all get too much, don’t forget Family Lives (formerly Parentline) is there to help on 0800 028 2233.