Life

ASK FIONA: Should my boyfriend return to his wife and family?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week, a secret boyfriend and a drawn-out engagement

My boyfriend won't set a date for our wedding

Should my boyfriend return to his wife and family?

I'M SO confused and unhappy.

For the past three months, I have been going out with a man from work.

He had left his wife before we started going out, but since she found out about us, she's decided she wants him back and wants to try again.

They have two children and I think it is because of them that he is now torn between me and wanting to return to his family.

I love him so much, he is such a good man and I think he loves me too, but I don't know what to do for the best.

Should I encourage him to go back for the sake of his children's happiness, or encourage him to stay so he can be happy with me?

JB

FIONA SAYS: If he is a good man, as you say, then I am not surprised he is torn in two.

He obviously doesn't want to hurt you, but if he stays with you, he'll be hurting his ex-wife and children.

The very fact he is undecided indicates he cares enough to consider giving his marriage another try, if only for his children's sake.

If you genuinely care for him, it will be kinder to let him go and try to sort things out.

As you work together, you may need to consider changing your job, if you can, or at least ask to be moved where you have less chance of seeing him.

Encourage him to give his family at least six months, preferably a year, to see if things work out.

If, at the end of that time, his marriage cannot be salvaged, then perhaps the two of you could try again.

Will he ever marry me?

I've been engaged to my fiance for the last four years and although we've often talked about marriage, nothing has been decided.

I'm getting increasingly anxious and upset and now, when I try and talk to my fiance about it, he just says we'll get married when we can afford it and then clams up.

As he lives at home with his mum, he could be saving plenty of money but I don't think he has at all, and I think it's because he doesn't want to leave her.

I don't think she approves of me, either, although she's never said anything.

How do I sort things out?

SM

FIONA SAYS: It sounds as if either your fiance is so comfortable at home, he doesn't want to leave or else he is so under his mother's thumb, he doesn't know how to.

In either case, I fear it's going to be difficult for you to get him to change.

As long as she dominates his life, he is going to find it hard to make his own choices.

If you try and force the issue by insisting he agrees a date for a wedding or else your engagement is off then this might give him the excuse he needs to break up with you.

So, if you still love him, I think you will need counselling to help resolve matters, try contacting Relate (www.relate.org.uk).

If you cannot reach some sort of understanding, then you need to decide whether this relationship is worth all the anxiety.

I've got a secret boyfriend

For the past four months, I have been going out with my boyfriend and keeping it secret from my parents.

They think I am round at a friend's house when really I'm out with him.

He doesn't understand why he can't come round to my place to pick me up, but I daren't tell my parents, as I know they'll think I'm too young.

I'm 14 and he's 15 and I like him a lot but he asked me the other day if I was ashamed of him – which I'm not, but I didn't like to tell him my parents didn't know he existed.

I'm tired of this muddle and wish my parents could just accept him.

RO

FIONA SAYS: The trouble with telling lies is that they can get bigger and bigger until you feel completely out of control.

At the moment you're in a mess all because you think you know how your parents are going to react – but you may be wrong.

You need to come clean and tell everyone.

As you're 14, your parents will be expecting you to take an interest in relationships sooner or later, so they could well be perfectly happy with your boyfriend.

They – and he – are probably going to be more upset about the fact you've been lying.

I suggest you start by telling whichever of your parents you find it easiest to talk to and get their help in telling the other one.

Either that, or enlist the help of an aunt, uncle or grandparent to help you sort things out.

You may find it's all a lot easier than you expect but, if it isn't, I am sure it will all blow over before too long.

My attacker is being released from prison

Two years ago, I was sexually assaulted by a man I used to work with.

I was left traumatised and afraid to go to work.

I'm over that now, and was doing well, but I've just heard the man, who was sent to prison, could be coming out any day.

I think I'd fall apart if I met him and he may well come to the office as he has several friends still working there.

It's been bad enough seeing them around on a regular basis without having to cope with him, too.

My mum and dad have tried to reassure me that it will be OK, but I feel like I'm going crazy and there is nothing I can do.

TJ

FIONA SAYS: You are obviously a very strong and courageous person because, in spite of the assault, you have continued to work in the same place.

I suspect you are a whole lot stronger than you seem to think you are.

Nonetheless, it's natural to feel anxious about meeting this man, so I suggest you contact your HR department to discuss the possibility.

I would be very surprised if the company would willingly let him back in the office.

I'm surprised you don't feel angrier that this man received such a short sentence for something that has had such an impact on your life.

That makes me wonder if you had adequate professional help.

Do please consider contacting Victim Support (www.victimsupport.org.uk) on 08 08 16 89 111. The line is completely confidential and available to anyone who's been raped or sexually assaulted, even if that took place some time ago.

Life