Your problems answered
Should I confront my cheating husband
I am 43 and have been happily married for 14 years, with three children. I have recently found out that my husband is cheating on me with a young colleague. I am distraught as I thought we had a strong marriage. I haven’t told him that I know about the affair, because I feel I should stay with him for the sake of the children. I also still love him even though I am heartbroken. Should I tell him I know Can I forgive him and still stay happily married
The discovery of an affair is always devastating, particularly so if you felt that you had a strong marriage and loved each other. Sociologist Dr Catherine Hakim claims that affairs are good for a marriage, but I don’t agree. I know from all the readers who write to me and from the people I counsel just how traumatic they are. But if you love each other,
and especially as you have children, it is worth trying to see if your marriage can be saved. I suspect you fear that if you confront him it might jeopardise the relationship, but to continue to turn a blind eye would be self-destructive. The majority of men don’t leave their wife and children for the ‘other woman’ unless it’s a very serious affair. He would need to end the affair, talk about why it happened and show how much he regretted the hurt he has caused by his betrayal. He would also need to give you time to decide if you wanted to continue with the marriage. It would also help if he was able to find a job elsewhere. If you love each other, you can in time forgive him and find happiness again together.
I want to spice up our sex life
I recently went on a girls’ night out with five friends – we are in our 40s and 50s. After quite a lot of drink, the subject turned to sex. I began to feel isolated from the conversation when they talked about the books they read on sex and about using vibrators to have multiple, intense orgasms with their husbands. How do I raise the issue with my husband and say that I would like us to read erotic literature and use a vibrator, given that our bedroom activities are very conservative
Think of it this way: perhaps your husband would like things to be more exciting in the bedroom, but has also been rather nervous of suggesting
this to you. It sounds as if you both need to talk more openly about sex and what you might both enjoy. So say this to him and at the same time praise him for the things he does that give you pleasure. Then ask
him what he might like to try, and say that you would occasionally like to introduce a vibrator into your love-making. Try reading Sizzling Sex (JR Books, 7.99*) and Sensational Sex (Robson Books, 7.99*), both by Dr Pam Spurr.
My mum needs help to escape
My parents’ 26 years of marriage have not been good for my mother. My dad is a heavy drinker and smoker and lies constantly about money and where he has been. We have offered him help but he refuses. My mum would have left years ago but because my dad earns more than her, she decided to bear it until we could support ourselves financially. My brother and I are about to start work but my younger brother is only nine. My mum is trapped and really struggling.
When a woman has been controlled and bullied in a marriage for so long, it’s hard for her to stand up for herself. Unfortunately, as your father is refusing to get help for his drink problem, it is likely to continue. Tell her that you and your brother would support her if she wanted to leave and suggest that you both go with her to see a divorce lawyer. She may find she could manage financially. Encourage her to contact Al Anon, tel: 020 7403 0888 (you could as well), which supports families of problem drinkers. It’s also important that you and your brother lead your own lives, so go out socially and see your friends.
If you have a problem, write to Zelda West-Meads at: YOU, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS, or email [email protected]
Relationship Clinic: A selfish or critical mother can make a child feel unloved
and with her son Jasper, above, in the days when they still spoke
When Shirley Conran, author of Superwoman and Lace, recently said, ‘If I had this situation all over again, I would definitely have decided not to have children,’ I wondered how her two sons must have felt.
For, while hugely successful professionally, her personal life has been chequered. She has been divorced three times and her youngest son Jasper, by the designer Terence Conran, has not spoken to her for ten years. Shirley said, ‘It is very painful if he chooses not to speak
to me…but not to tell me why is…cruel.’
The most heartbreaking thing for any parent is the death of a child, but a child cutting off all contact can be almost as devastating. Shirley has said she became very depressed about the situation, but then a friend told her
to move on. Perhaps what she really needs to do is try to repair the relationship.
Adult children usually fall out with their mothers about an accumulation of things, the seeds of which are sown in childhood. Sadly typical of why these relationships break down is described by one 60-year-old reader who wrote to me: ‘I have been undermined by my mother all my life. She still has the power to reduce me to tears.’
A controlling, selfish or critical mother can make a child feel unloved and it can damage their self-esteem and their adult relationship with her.
As well as coping with their parents’ divorce, Jasper, a designer like his father, and his older brother Sebastian had to deal with two stepfathers. Jasper has spoken of his unhappy childhood, and said it was difficult being a child of famous parents and having to carve out his own place in life.
Maybe his mother is more difficult to talk to than she realises What a mother needs to do in this situation is to just listen to her child and say how sorry she is.
If Jasper could start to believe in the adoration his mother professes, then they could perhaps take the first steps in trying to mend their relationship.