Ask Fiona: Tragedy is splitting my family and dividing my siblings

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week, grieving siblings and confusion over family planning

Grief can be difficult for families to deal with

Tragedy is dividing my siblings

MY FAMILY has been hit by some very hard times recently.

My mum died earlier this year and now one of my three brothers has been killed in an accident.

I'm trying hard to remain strong for the sake of my other two brothers, but they keep arguing and getting angry with each other.

I don't know what to do for the best, but I'm sick of being stuck in the middle and I'm so sad that we can't pull together at a time like this.


FIONA SAYS: People express their grief in many different ways – anger being one of them.

I suspect your brothers are just as affected as you are by your family tragedies but perhaps, being male, they find it hard to express their emotions.

Instead they are resorting to feuding with each other and you're bearing the brunt of it.

You need to express your own grief too so, rather than trying to remain strong for them, take time out for yourself and leave them to get on with it.

Hopefully you have someone you can share your feelings with but, if not contact Cruse Bereavement Care ( who can help you.

Family planning is confusing

MY BABY is eight months old and was delivered by caesarean section.

We would like to start trying for another child, but people are giving us conflicting advice and we're not sure what to do.

My GP said it would be best to wait two years before trying again, but the doctor who delivered my baby said six to nine months was long enough for the womb to heal.

On top of that, the midwife said they were both talking nonsense and that people recover at different rates.

She says that if I feel fit and well enough, I should go ahead.

I am utterly confused.


FIONA SAYS: I'm not surprised. It sounds very unprofessional of your health visitor to dismiss both your GP and the hospital doctor, but I suspect she's probably right.

There doesn't seem to be a specific medical consensus on this at all but – and it's a big but – being pregnant with a very small baby is taxing.

You might be sufficiently healed in order to get pregnant again quickly, but make sure you have a good support network in place so you can rest when you need to.

Perhaps you could speak to your GP again and arrange for a check up at the ante-natal section at the hospital where you had your baby?

As long as you have fully recovered, your general health is good and you can get help with the baby you already have, then you're probably fine to go ahead.

My boyfriend keeps comparing me with his ex

I DON'T know what's wrong with my boyfriend but he's driving me mad!

He keeps going on about his ex-girlfriend; how beautiful she was, how she was a great cook, how intelligent she was and how much she loved him.

It seems I'm not nearly as good as she was, but he says he loves me and wants to marry me.

Why does he go on about her like this?

I have told him how much it hurts me and I've begged him to stop, but he doesn't seem to get it.

I had plenty of boyfriends before him – I was even engaged, but I don't talk about them all the time.

In fact, I don't think I've even mentioned them.


FIONA SAYS: If you did then perhaps he'd realise how hurtful it is to be on the receiving end of this sort of behaviour.

Perversely, the very fact you haven't mentioned any ex-boyfriends might be behind it.

Perhaps he doesn't know how well he compares and it might be his insecurity that needs you to see that someone once really loved him.

Reassurance from you, that you do indeed love him, may help, but he needs to be made to understand that these constant comparisons have to stop.

His behaviour is probably undermining the way you feel about him, so consider resorting to an ultimatum.

Make it clear that it's him you love and nobody else (assuming you still do), but that he either stops going on about her or he can go back to her.

Don't let his behaviour continue any longer – you need to speak up for yourself.

My wife wants me back after her affair

MY WIFE began an affair with one of our neighbours and asked me to leave her and our three children.

I was bitterly hurt, but I didn't want the children to be upset by drawn-out custodial proceedings so I simply went quietly.

I also hoped that, if I didn't make a fuss, it would all blow over.

It's been just over a year and I had accepted the idea my marriage was over when she asked me to come back.

She says the affair is over and, although she is not sure that she loves me, she thinks it would be better for the children if we tried to make a go of it.

I have just started to get my life back together and this has come as a complete surprise.

My concern is that, if I do go back and it doesn't work out, surely it will be even more disruptive for the children than if I was just to stay away?


FIONA SAYS: While there's evidence that children do benefit from having both parents around, there is also counter evidence.

For a long time, it was accepted that children were happiest with both parents at home, even when those parents weren't getting along,

Yet more recent research has also shown children pick up on parental subterfuge and can suffer anxiety, or at least feel cheated, as they get older.

If you and your wife want to do the best for your children, you either need to be together willingly and happily, or else live apart.

In order to make your marriage work you need to find out why it stopped doing so in the first place.

An affair is usually a symptom, not a reason, and whilst your wife has told you she's not sure she loves you any more, clearly that means she did once.

If you are leaning towards going back, it would be sensible to explore the problem areas and try to resolve them.

I suggest you start by contacting Relate ( for a marriage guidance appointment.


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