Agony Advice

Share this article
Have your say

Advice columnist Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships


Q Last weekend, my 15-year-old son disappeared overnight. He’s never done anything like this before and my husband and I were frantic.

On Sunday afternoon, we were about to call the police when he walked back in and said he’d needed to be on his own for a while. We were both furious with him and we’ve been so angry since that we’ve not really talked about it, other than to ground him.

I can’t understand why, when we’ve always provided a secure, loving home, he couldn’t just talk to us.

A Is it possible that your reaction to his disappearance is the reason why he didn’t feel able to talk to you?

Something is clearly troubling him. Was he worried you would lose your temper if he raised it with you?

Please do try and talk to him soon, and reassure him that you love him and that you were scared witless by his disappearance because you care.

That may seem obvious to you but it may not to him, so make sure you tell him.

Be prepared that you may not like what he has to say but, whatever the problem is, it’s going to have to be faced.

If you find you need help to start the conversation, or with his problem once you know what it is, contact Parentline on 0808 800 2222 for support.


Q My husband and his business partner run a very successful company but while my husband works all hours, including weekends, his partner is often home by a normal hour.

Most weekends, he takes his family out on some trip or another while my husband is still slaving away over papers.

I think this is so unfair. Why should my husband have to carry a lazy partner?

A Is your husband’s partner really lazy or does he think a work-life balance is important? Your husband may be doing more hours but could that be his choice?

His partner is putting in a five-day week yet still makes time to be with his family, so I wonder if perhaps your anger is a bit misplaced.

Perhaps it’s time to suggest to your husband that now things are going well he could spend a bit more time with his family, too.


Q My husband and I are both in our 70s and we live separate lives after a major disagreement nearly 20 years ago.

We live in the same house but have separate rooms, including our own kitchens and bathrooms, and live entirely independently.

I realise that the last 20 years, filled with bitterness and hatred, have been a sad waste of time and I am no nearer forgiving him than I was then.

I want to end our marriage and move on, so am I correct in thinking that a divorce would be quite simple for someone in my circumstances?

A I can’t tell you whether or not your circumstances would mean you could easily get a divorce and it would be so much better if you got legal advice.

If you own your house jointly, for example, the process of selling it and dividing your assets could become complicated.

Unless you’re thinking of starting another relationship would it not be possible for you just to separate, dividing your family assets and going your separate ways?

If not then you really should get professional help. At least see a legal adviser at your local Citizens Advice bureau. An adviser could go through your circumstances in detail and suggest the best way forward for you.

Finally, I have to say I find it very sad that you are unable to resolve something that happened so long ago.