Ask Fiona: My husband left us – but now wants to see our daughter
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: breast size, age differences and telling secrets
SHORTLY after I became pregnant, my husband walked out and I never saw or heard anything from him, although I did receive some money from him, from time to time.
Now, six years on, with my daughter having just had her fifth birthday, he's made contact and says he wants access visits.
I feel so angry because I've struggled to bring up my daughter alone and it took me a lot to overcome the pain and humiliation I felt when he left. I really don't want to go through all that again, but I know I ought to give him access for my daughter's sake.
When we were together, he tried to control everything and I am scared he will try to find a way to take her away. I just wish I knew why he has now come back wanting to see her.
FIONA SAYS: He's the only person who can really answer that, but it may have something to do with him getting older and perhaps now liking the idea of being a father.
I can understand that his reappearance hurts you but, as you say, it could have some positive benefits for your daughter. It may be that, five years on, he has changed for the better.
There's a lot of unfinished business between you though, so talking about what happened may help to establish a better working relationship that will benefit the child you have between you. If you don't resolve things, there's a risk your daughter may get caught up in any ill-feeling between you.
Family Mediation (nfm.org.uk) would help you to resolve your differences and find a workable access solution, without resorting to the courts.
HOW DO I TELL HIM I GAVE UP A BABY?
TEN years ago, when I was 16, I had a baby girl and although I desperately wanted to keep her, I was persuaded to give her up for adoption. Now I'm 26, I realise that, although that decision hurt, it was clearly the best for her as there was no way I could have provided a stable family environment.
My problem is, I'm now engaged and due to be married in the summer, but I've not told my fiance about this. I love him so much, but I'm terrified he will dump me when he finds out about my past and realises I'm a bad person for having given up a baby.
Because of being so anxious, I've started to lose weight and have become very tearful at times – he doesn't know why, but he's worried something is wrong. I'd like to tell him the truth, but what if he left me?
FIONA SAYS: Speak to a counsellor. I feel that, while you have accepted it was a good idea to put your child up for adoption, you still have unresolved feelings about what happened. It is this, I suspect, which is making you worry so much about your fiance's reaction, were he to find out.
You need to talk to someone who can help you to see you're not a bad person for giving your baby up for adoption and show that you don't deserve to be punished for a mistake that happened when you were still so young. Do please talk to your GP and ask for a referral to a counsellor.
As for telling your fiance, if he's a kind and loving person, I'm sure he wouldn't condemn you. He might be shocked and surprised when he first finds out, but keeping a secret like this could damage your relationship. If he's not a kind and loving person though, perhaps he's not the person you should be marrying anyway.
HE THINKS I'M TOO YOUNG
I'VE been going out with a guy of 29 and have fallen for him big time but he's decided that I'm too young for a serious relationship, and says he thinks we should stop seeing each other. I'm 19, but am always being taken for a lot older as I know my own mind and am quite mature in many ways.
My parents have a 10-year age gap and it doesn't bother them at all. They are happy together, so why is he making an issue of this?
FIONA SAYS: I think you've answered your own question here; the reason your parents are happy together is because they are not concerned about the age difference. Your boyfriend, for whatever reason, clearly is and, despite his years, he is not, perhaps, as mature as you.
It will hurt, but I'm afraid you may have to accept what he is saying because you can't force someone to love you if they're not ready to. He could, in fact, be using the age difference as an excuse to break up with you.
If you do decide to separate, try and keep it amicable, as it may be, once you're in your twenties, he realises the gap between you is not so big after all. Whatever you agree between you, don't let this hold you back from making new relationships with people either older or younger than you.
Age is just a number, and you may well find a man of 18 who is more mature than your current boyfriend.
MY BREASTS ARE LOPSIDED
I HAVE noticed that one of my breasts is a lot bigger than the other one and I'm really embarrassed about this. I'm 16 and none of my friends have this problem. I'll never get a steady boyfriend if I'm abnormal like this, so what should I do?
FIONA SAYS: Almost all women have one breast larger than the other, so you're not in the least abnormal. Have you talked to any of your friends about this to see if anyone has noticed? Have you asked them if they have different sized breasts?
In most cases, it's rarely noticeable and I doubt if any boyfriend would really spot this.
You will know because one breast will fill a bra cup more than the other one, but unless the difference is really pronounced (two or three cup sizes, for example), few others will.
If there is a big difference, it might be worth checking with your GP that there is nothing wrong, but in all probability there won't be and, in time, they may grow more uniform in size. Try not to be too concerned, but if you are worried, talk to your doctor.
:: If you have a problem you'd like Fiona's advice with, please email firstname.lastname@example.org