Ask Fiona: My parter is dishonest and a cheat – so why did I marry him?
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine answers another set of reader dilemmas...
FOUR years ago, I met someone online. It turned out that he lied about his age, his financial and relationship status, and even his real name. Of course, I found all of this out later, and I forgave him for the dishonesty, but then after two years I found out he was dating someone else as well.
I forgave him again and we moved in together, along with my children, but then I found he was still cheating. He has a son one year younger than my own, who, after I forgave my partner (again), moved in with us. We got engaged and then Covid hit. I soon found out that he was having inappropriate conversations with his son's mum, who hates me for obvious reasons.
My family doesn't know any of the bad things I've allowed in this relationship, and we got married last month. As I write this, I feel shame. I just want peace and happiness, but we argue so much and he threatened to walk away. He even called me a dumbass, yet I'm still crying over him.
I know what I should do but I'm afraid. I've invested a lot and now I'm married to him! I want to hear he will treat me right, and I don't have the confidence to leave, but I hate myself for not wanting better. I'm not even sure what help I need.
FIONA SAYS: I wish I could tell you that this man will treat you properly, respect you and make you happy, but his past performance shows this to be highly unlikely. You know you deserve better than this. You have allowed yourself to be deceived and disrespected repeatedly, to the point that you no longer have confidence in yourself. Sadly, this happens to so many women who are abused – and make no mistake, what you are putting up with here sounds like abuse.
You say you want peace and happiness, but I fear they are not things you will ever have, as long as you stay with someone who treats you so badly. I suspect you are embarrassed and ashamed to admit to your family what you have been through. There is really no need to be.
You have shown yourself to be a trusting and generous person, willing to forgive other people's mistakes, so why shouldn't yours be forgiven too?
Do please talk to them though, as I'm sure they'll sympathise because there's nothing wrong in wanting to be happy. You have children and I'm sure they can see how unhappy this relationship is making you – it's not setting them a good example either. For their sakes as well as you own, you need to make a break, however difficult that may be.
If your family won't help you – and I truly hope they will – there are other resources you can turn to. Contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247. Domestic abuse takes so many forms and whilst you don't complain of any form of physical violence, there is certainly a whole load of emotional abuse taking place.
You say you don't know what help you need, but I think you know really – you need help to pluck up the confidence to call an end to this sham of a relationship.
WORRY FOR MY SONS WHO ARE SMALL FOR THEIR AGE
I HAVE two young sons of eight and 10. They are both small for their age and are bullied at school because of this. It breaks my heart to see them come home from school looking so miserable, and then have to be brave the following day when they return.
I have spoken to their school on a couple of occasions and have been assured that they are doing what they can and that I shouldn't worry but, of course I still do. I wish I could do more for them.
Is it true that they could have hormone treatments to help them grow more? Would this be worth pushing for?
FIONA SAYS: For your children's school to say that they are ‘doing what they can' and for your sons to still be bullied, means they aren't doing enough. I think you need to ask for an appointment with the school's headteacher and make it very clear to them what your sons are going through. Gently encourage them to tell you, in as much detail as possible, what they are experiencing before your meeting, so that you go armed with facts.
There are so many resources available to schools to tackle this issue and children need to learn very early on that bullying is unacceptable behaviour. If the school isn't making this clear, then it's failing. Point them in the direction of the Anti-Bullying Alliance (anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk) for all manner or resources they could use.
As for hormone treatment, that's something you need to ask your GP. If there is a medical reason why your boys aren't growing, then perhaps treatment of some kind (perhaps hormonal) will be available to help them. If their size is largely inherited, then there may be no need for treatment.
WHY DID I HAVE FOOLISH AFFAIR?
FOR the past three years, I have been having an occasional affair with a man who lives a few doors down. He lives with his girlfriend, although they don't get on. My husband has no idea and I had just about convinced myself to leave him and go off with my lover, but then I saw sense and realised how much I still loved my husband. I stopped seeing this man and decided to try and make a go of my marriage.
I thought that was that – until my ex-lover's girlfriend walked into my house one day and beat me up. I was so shocked and embarrassed in case my husband should find out, that I did nothing when she left, except clear up and touch up my bruises with make-up.
I'm terrified she will come back now that she knows I'm too frightened to tell anyone. I'm such a fool – how do I get out of this mess?
FIONA SAYS: Your former lover's girlfriend clearly has a temper – which may be why they don't get on. Hopefully this was a one-off expression of her anger at being betrayed, but it might not be and she might be out for vengeance, especially if she thinks you won't retaliate. If your ex-lover doesn't know about this incident, I think it might be a good idea to tell him and make it clear that next time you won't stay quiet.
He may still have some influence over her and hopefully she won't repeat this behaviour. Your chances now of involving the police, without a witness or a doctor's report, are probably very slight, but it might be time for a bit of honesty and openness with your husband.
As your ex-lover and his partner are neighbours, there must be a lot of animosity in the air, so it may just be a matter of time before he finds out anyway. She may even take it upon herself to tell him, so wouldn't it be better that it should come from you rather than anyone else? He may well be as angry and upset, as this other woman is, but despite this all-round betrayal, hopefully you will all be able to make amends and get on with your lives.
I LOVE THIS MAN – BUT I'M EMBARRASSED OF HIM IN PUBLIC
I SAW an article you posted recently and it made me think of my situation. I accepted an engagement ring from a man who is perfect in many ways and loves me and my adult children, and my grandchildren who have special needs. He is always there for all of us, and he recently stated that he wants something permanent and wants to be married.
I was speaking with a friend, and she mentioned that she regretted a breakup that she initiated. She also mentioned that she has never found another man that she is proud to introduce as her partner.
This is my problem as my fiancé is very short – only 5ft 6. I am 5ft 2, and most of my friends are 5ft 10 or better. He looks about 65 when he is only in his 50s, and I look younger although I'm 61. He is also not very social, to the point that he is socially inept. I love him very much, but I could possibly attend functions alone because of the social indifference, and he would prefer to stay home with my family.
I feel really bad about the fact I am not proud of him out socially. I had never really thought of this until my friend mentioned this about her past relationship. I feel like this is my problem that I will have to deal with, but is it fair to marry him when I have these hang-ups? I hope you can give me some insight. I haven't met anyone else as kind and considerate of me and my family.
FIONA SAYS: It's really difficult to see anything wrong with your fiancé, to be honest. He's a kind, loving man who has embraced not only you but also your family. Ok, he's not much taller than you and he doesn't like going out socialising very much – but just because your partner doesn't like socialising with strangers doesn't make him socially inept. The fact that he gets on so well with your extended family contradicts this.
What is more important to you? Social events with strangers, or a warm family unit – because while your fiancé rejects the former, he's embraced the latter wholeheartedly. You seem to be more worried about appearances than you are about the important things in life, and for that reason I think it's your own confidence that is at the root of these feelings.
For some reason, you seem to care about what others will think about him, as if that reflects on you in some way. You think others are judging you on your choice of partner, but if you had loads of confidence, you simply wouldn't care! Rather than look for him to change in some way, I think you need to look inside yourself to find out what it is that makes these things bother you.
If his behaviour in public was rude or overly loud – if he made you squirm – then you might have some reason for embarrassment, but he simply doesn't want to be there and that possibly shows. Lots of people feel that way – they much rather have a small circle of people they feel close to, rather than a wide network of acquaintances.
This man has the potential to make you really happy, if you'll let him, so examine what it is that matters to you. Try not to let material things dictate your happiness, how you value yourself and your worth as a person. If you like and love your fiancé and enjoy his company when you are together, then surely that's more important than scoring points of some kind in front of people who aren't even that important?
If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to email@example.com for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.