Advice columnist Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships
SISTER’S DIVORCE IS TURNING UGLY
Q My sister and her husband separated four months ago, and although they tried to keep things amicable, they’ve deteriorated badly.
This is mainly due to his unreliability where the children are concerned, and they have huge rows when he fails to turn up.
She’s under great strain and although I visit when I can, I wish I could do more to help my nephew, nieces and my sister.
A The fact that you’re around when you can be and are providing a sympathetic ear is far more valuable than you probably appreciate.
It gives her a chance to air her feelings and it gives the children some continuity in their lives.
Don’t undervalue what you’re doing – it’s really important.
Just make sure she knows you care about her and that you’ll do what you can to help.
She and her ex- might benefit from family mediation to help them sort out arrangements as they readjust their lives after divorce.
She can find her local service by going to www.nfm.org.uk or by calling National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636.
HOW CAN I STOP MY HUSBAND’S DRINKING?
Q My husband is basically a good man, unless he drinks – and these days that’s almost all of the time.
He’s tried to stop a few times but it doesn’t last. When he drinks, he’s very aggressive, and our children are frightened to be around him.
I’ve threatened to leave but he knows I’ve nowhere else to go, so it carries no weight.
He’s bound to lose his job soon as he’s had so much time off work with his drinking, but what can I do to make him stop?
A Sadly, for many people with drink problems, no amount of persuasion from others will convince them to seek help.
He may be resisting your efforts to help him but that shouldn’t stop you from getting some support and advice yourself.
Al-Anon (www.al-anonuk.org.uk) is the support network for the families of alcoholics – it has more than 800 support groups throughout the UK – and you will find all kinds of advice, support and help available to you.
Your children won’t thrive if they are frightened of an aggressive, drunken father, so if you want to leave, contact your local social services.
The staff there can probably put you in touch with a local housing association or private landlords.
I RESENT MY BOYFRIEND
Q My boyfriend and I have been together for three years and our families both seem to think that we will marry and settle down together.
Lately, though, I’ve been resenting the time I spend with him and when he tries to get close to me, I get very uncomfortable.
I can find fault with everything he does and I’m forever biting my tongue.
When he asked me to marry him the other week, I mumbled something about “needing more time to think”, and he became very upset.
I am completely confused and just want to run away from everything.
A It sounds to me as if this relationship has run its course. You resent the time you spend with him, you can find endless things wrong with him, and you are put off by physical contact.
In spite of what your families think, committing yourself to marriage would be a big mistake.
There doesn’t seem to be enough between the two of you for a night out at the cinema, let alone the rest of your lives.
It’s normal to have doubts about marriage but yours go way beyond normal, so don’t allow yourself to be bullied into marriage by this man or either set of parents.
If you think that there is a sound reason why you should be together, then contact Relate for counselling. You may be able to salvage something of your relationship.