Ask Fiona: Should I let my partner go back to his family?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her advice to a woman who feels her partner torn between her and his children; and another who appears to be suffering from alopecia

If you genuinely want the best for your partner, it’s probably wise to let him go back to his children
If you genuinely want the best for your partner, it’s probably wise to let him go back to his children If you genuinely want the best for your partner, it’s probably wise to let him go back to his children

ABOUT a year ago, I started seeing a married man. We crossed paths regularly at marketing events and just seemed to hit it off straight away. It wasn’t long before I realised I had really fallen in love with this guy and, after a few months, he said the same thing to me. So much so that when his wife found out, and effectively kicked him out, he left her and his children straight away to be with me.

We have lived together for the past four months, and it has been wonderful. However, his wife has recently made contact and made it clear that she wants him to come back. Apparently, she’s willing to forgive him, I suspect because of the children. This was completely unexpected and we are both uncertain about what to do next.

He says he doesn’t love her and wants to be with me, however, I can tell that that is not the whole truth. He misses his children and that clearly hurts. He’s also not been his usually fun self since his wife made contact and I can tell he is torn.

He’s usually such a lovely man and I hate to see him hurting like this, so would it be kinder to him and his children to let him go? Just the thought of this makes me feel sick to my stomach, I really do love him. This whole situation has created a lot of anxiety, and something has to give. What should we do?


FIONA SAYS: You’re right, something does have to give. It has only been four months since he left and the consequences of what he has done are already weighing heavily on him. He has family responsibilities elsewhere, and I think he knows this, hence his changed behaviour. The longer this uncertain situation lasts, the worse this is likely to get, and the more your relationship with him will suffer.

If he were to stay with you, it would no doubt make you happy, but for how long? He will always miss his children and that tension or anxiety is unlikely to ever really go away – as is the guilt he is no doubt feeling. Over time, if he feels you have perhaps put pressure on him to stay, he may start to feel resentment or even anger that he is separated from them. Is this likely to be a solid foundation on which to sustain your relationship with him?

I think you probably know where I am going with this. Even is he stays, your relationship may not last. I can tell from your letter that you care deeply for this man and that it will hurt if he leaves. However, if you genuinely want the best for him, it’s probably wise to let him go. And when the going gets tough afterwards, tell yourself that you are now free to make a new start.


I HAVE been engaged for just over a year and I love my fiancé very much. He’s been pushing to get married over the last few months, but I have always put him off. So far I have used money problems, illness and changing jobs as excuses, but I can tell my fiancé is getting frustrated. If he knew the real reason is his oddball surname, I am not sure how he would react.

You probably think this is silly, but when it’s linked with my first name, it really does become embarrassing. My problem is I just don’t know how to tell him, and I have run out of excuses to delay.


FIONA SAYS: It’s not silly if it’s worrying you, but why do you think you have to adopt his surname? These days, people getting married often keep their own last or family name. Another option is to combine your two last names, if this avoids the embarrassing result you fear. More unusually, you could even suggest that he adopt your last name.

So please stop stressing about this and talk to your fiancé, you may find that he is just as concerned as you.

Before you do, though, be certain that it is only his odd name that is holding you back.


OVER the past year, my hair has started to fall out. Not just single hairs but clumps have come out leaving unsightly patches. I think it might be anxiety-related, as I have been looking after my father who has dementia. He’s getting all the care he needs but it’s still been stressful.

I did speak to my GP, who thought it’s probably alopecia, but couldn’t really offer any advice beyond steroid creams. It doesn’t hurt or anything, I am just worried about how it looks, as I work and have to look smart. I have no idea what to do for the best though. What do others do?


You might find it helpful to contact Alopecia UK (, a small charity that provides support for people affected by this condition. It has lots of useful information, including a section on appearance, whether this be through wigs, scarves, tattoos or scalp treatments among others. It also runs several online groups as well as other groups around the UK.

Ultimately, unless there’s a medical reason not to cover up, it’s about what makes you feel comfortable and confident, so get your friends and family involved too for advice on what suits you.

Also, you mention being under a lot of stress and anxiety right now, which is very understandable. Remember you can reach out for support with this too, perhaps speak with your GP again, and make time for your own self-care and things you enjoy.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to 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.