ASK FIONA: I'm fed up with people making fun of me because I'm small
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: blushing, divorce and height problems
I AM only just five foot tall and hate it; everyone seems to tower over me and I'm fed up with their jokes about being "small".
One guy at work adopts a John Wayne accent and calls me "Li'l Lady" whenever we meet, and while some people think it's funny, I don't.
I feel I have to wear heels whenever I go out and so don't do things I should – like going to the gym.
I'm sure there must be ways I can be made taller, through surgery or something?
Everyone said I'd grow, but I'm 22 now and don't think I'll grow much further. I just can't bear to think of going through life like this.
FIONA SAYS: While there may be some painful surgical ways for you to be made a bit taller, I think you face a bigger challenge, and that's to grow emotionally.
Being tall isn't an automatic passport to the good life and there are many tall people who would love to be your size.
They'd have fewer back problems and wouldn't always stand out in public!
Try not to let insensitive people get to you, but concentrate on the positive things in your life; your family, friends and future.
These are the things that bring true happiness to life – not how tall you are!
HE WANTS A DIVORCE
So much for Valentine's Day! I thought it would be a chance for my husband and I to have a romantic evening, but instead he told me he thought we should get a divorce!
We were so happy for our first few years together, but, somewhere along the line, over the last eighteen months, we've drifted apart.
I think we both knew things weren't right, but we just carried on, hoping, I suppose, that things would work out.
I'd assumed we'd get back the marriage we had, so you can imagine my shock last week.
He says there isn't anyone else, but that he just wants to get out of a loveless marriage and try again.
I told him I still love him and asked him not to leave, but he seems determined to go and I don't know how to stop him.
FIONA SAYS: It's a great shame that, although you both knew things weren't right, you did nothing to try and mend them.
Things rarely sort themselves out – especially relationships – which need a willingness to talk and to learn from earlier mistakes.
Unfortunately, if your husband is determined to leave, I fear there is very little you can do now to stop him.
You could try to keep a dialogue open and persuade him that you are serious about wanting to give your marriage a second chance.
You could suggest you seek counselling (www.relate.org.uk), but if he's as committed to leaving as you say, he might not agree to try.
Is there the ghost of a chance he's done this to force you both to face your problems?
If there is and you are prepared to put time and effort into rebuilding your relationship, it has a chance.
If not, try to come away from this with an idea of where things went wrong so you don't repeat the mistakes in future relationships.
I HATE PHYSICAL INTIMACY
I think there is something wrong with me as I have never once enjoyed making love. I can't blame this on an inconsiderate husband, as he's the gentlest, kindest man I know and I love him very much.
Nor can I blame a bad experience as a child, as I was nothing but happy when I was growing up.
I'm afraid I just don't seem to like it and while my partner is being very patient, I can tell he is beginning to worry about it.
Do you think I should see my doctor?
FIONA SAYS: Yes, you should.
There are all kinds of possibilities to explain why you aren't interested in the physical side of intimacy; it doesn't have to do with an unhappy childhood at all.
Your doctor would be able to discuss the problems with you and suggest referral for further help if you both felt it was necessary.
However, it may be that the 'problem' has no solution as you may simply not like it.
There's no law that says you must – no one is completely devoid of physical or emotional responses to love and intimacy, and you clearly care for your husband.
Some couples are quite happy in this type of relationship, however, in your case I suspect this will not work as it would seem your husband is looking for more.
You love your husband and you seem to want to make your marriage work, but perhaps your gentle, kind husband is inexperienced.
The Relate Guide To Sex In Loving Relationships by Sarah Litvinoff is one of the best self-help books out there and, if you are both willing to try, reading it together could make all the difference.
If you still find you don't enjoy things, you may have to work out some sort of compromise.
One that will satisfy your husband, but not make you feel that, when you make love, you are doing so reluctantly.
I CAN'T STOP BLUSHING
I am 24 and, for as long as I can remember, I have gone red in the face whenever someone talks to me.
It's not so bad with friends and people I have known for a while, but, at work, I turn beetroot red if I have to talk to colleagues.
I find it hard to meet people because I'm too embarrassed to talk to them.
I have read all manner of books on dealing with this, but nothing has helped.
I'm sure people think I am weird and it's not helped by my mates who tease me all the time about it – especially when we're in the pub and I can't order a drink.
FIONA SAYS: It takes time to achieve all the results you've learned from the books you've read, so, assuming you've read some sensible ones, be a little kinder and more patient with yourself.
Self-confidence comes with time and practice, so, if you do all the things the books will have taught you, I'm sure you'll start to feel more relaxed with yourself and others before long.
Don't expect to change your life overnight though; aim to reduce from blushing every time you speak to a stranger, to once every other time.
Think in stages; only blush once an hour, then once every half day, then once a day – and so on.
If you're realistic and work in steps towards your goal, I am sure you will find it gets easier.
Don't expect perfection though, even seasoned public speakers find themselves blushing and lost for words sometimes.
Have a look at some people being questioned on TV – their faces may be covered in heavy make-up but look at their necks; some really famous people in the public eye blush.
In many cases they have learned to ignore it or even make a joke about it, and that's something you could try, especially when you're in the pub.