Agony advice

Fiona Caine, PA


I have known my Turkish boyfriend for about three years.

We met while I was on holiday, and we just got along really well straight away. I have been back a few times and even stayed in his family home, though not in the same room as him. My last trip was for two months, at the end of which he asked me to marry him. I agreed and we have started the process of getting him to the UK.

When I am with him in Turkey, he is very certain about what is ‘right' behaviour and what is ‘wrong'. For example, he does not like me wearing my swimsuit on the beach and gets really irritated if I talk to anyone else while we are there. He also steers me away from talking to certain other people, though I have no idea why. In particular, he didn't like me meeting up with a friend who came to visit, especially if I wanted to go out with her in the evening. She was here for only a week and I wanted to be with her as much as possible, but he seemed to resent any time I was with her.

When I told my family that I was getting married, most were happy for me, but my sister threw a wobbly. She said I was nuts to even think about marrying a man who was already controlling me like this. She thinks it will only get worse once we're married and that I will regret it. I know she means well, but she doesn't know him like I do. He cares about me and I really do love him, but she's made me doubt what I am going to do.

Is she right about this?

J. O.


I am glad that she made you think about this a bit more carefully. Some of your boyfriend's behaviour may be appropriate for where you are. Different cultures have different attitudes to what is acceptable behaviour in public and you need to be mindful of the fact that Turkey is largely a Muslim country, and respect that when you are there.

Women there tend to be more modest so I can understand you boyfriend's concern about any swimsuit that might be seen as too revealing. I can also understand his concern about you talking to certain other people. Perhaps he knows things about them that you do not, and he's simply concerned for you.

That said, it's probably sensible to ask him about it next time it happens. If he asks why you want to know, you could say it would stop you making the same mistake in future. If he won't say, I think you'll have some idea of why your sister is concerned.

What definitely concerns me, though, is his efforts to stop you from seeing your friend. Granted, he may be acting in your best interests about going out at night. However, as he also tried to stop you from seeing her during the day, I am worried about how he will adapt to life in the UK. His behaviour seems excessively controlling to me, and this can be abusive, even if it's mental rather than physical.

You say you know him very well, but you've never actually lived with him for any sustained length of time, so you can't possibly know whether a long-term relationship will work. So please be a little cautious and don't jump straight into marriage. If he comes to UK anyway, I suggest you keep control of your own finances and continue to maintain contact with your family and friends. And if he tries to control these aspects of your life once he's here, then perhaps he's not the right one for you.


My wife left me just under two years ago to live with another man. To this day, I don't know why and she is adamant that she is not coming back to me. She's also said that she wants a divorce and wants nothing more from me. That's a real problem because, despite what's happened, I really want her back.

We don't have children but I still don't want a divorce, but she won't talk to me about it. I have tried calling her on her mobile but this other man always answers and says she's unavailable. I know this can't be true, because I have called at different times of day and night and get the same response. The only way we can communicate is by email or text and she's all but stopped responding to these, except perhaps to repeat that she wants a divorce.

The fact is, marriage vows are a commitment for life. I know this view isn't shared by many these days, but as a Catholic, it's what I believe. What's more, it's a promise I've made and I intend to stick by it. Do you think there's any way I could convince her to honour the vow and commitment she made to me and come back? I am willing to forgive her.

S. L.


To be brutally honest, I think there is zero chance of this happening, and the sooner you recognise this, the sooner you can move on with your life. That's probably not what you wanted to hear, and nor will you like what else I am about to say, but I hope you think at least consider it.

For the past two years, your wife has made a new life with someone else and made it completely clear that she isn't coming back. Nor does she want to talk with you anymore. I say this not to hurt you, but get you to think about the fact that you've just spent the past two years trying to get her back and, if anything, she seems even more determine to stay where she is. So much so, that she has asked for a divorce. If you made no headway in two years, do you honestly think she'll change her mind now?

I am also concerned that nowhere in your letter do you indicate that you still love your wife. It seems to be all about honour and commitment for you, which may go some way to explain why she left in the first place. I agree these are important, but I'd argue that love is much more so.

The reality is, she's happy where she is, and all you're doing by clinging onto this lost cause is hurting yourself.

How much more of this hurt and pain are you prepared to endure? You can't possibly be happy living like this.

Recent changes to UK divorce laws means your wife can now get a divorce, and that there is nothing you can do to stop this from happening. With no children involved and, unless I've misunderstood you, no financial issues to resolve either, a divorce application by her would go through very easily. So, if you continue to deny and fight this process, you'll punish yourself still further and still be no closer to getting her back.

Please consider talking with someone about this. A Relate counsellor ( could help you to come to terms with what has happened and guide you through the process of moving on. Alternatively, if you prefer to do this using the tenets of your faith, please contact Marriage Care UK (


I met my girlfriend just over a year ago. At first, things were really good between us, we had a lot of fun and sex was great. Recently though, we have started to have a few rows. Being honest, I'd have to say it's usually because I've had too much to drink. What I am not so proud of is that I've hit her a few times.

Earlier in the summer, we had a real stormy row and I beat her quite badly. For reasons I don't understand, she covered for me and I'm pretty certain no one was any the wiser. It's happened a couple of times since then and I think people are now starting to notice. I hate what I am doing can't seem to stop.

What do I do?

M. H.


If your girlfriend had written this letter, I would tell her to move out immediately. Very few abusers change their behaviour, unless they really want to and they get the appropriate professional help – and genuinely take responsibility.

The only potential positive here is that you KNOW you have a problem. The key question then becomes, are you prepared to do what's needed to stop it? If yes, your first task is to talk with your girlfriend, apologise for what you've done, and tell her that you'll get help to deal with it.

Then mean it. Arrange to see your GP or a private counsellor so that you can learn to express yourself in ways that don't involve your fists. And don't delay – do it now.


I have known my fiancé for about six years and, right from day one, thought we were perfect for each other. Recently though, I have started to doubt myself. We agreed to get married early next year and at first I was excited, but as we start to ramp up the arrangements, I am getting more and more fraught, and we are still months away.

To try and calm down I have taken a backseat and let my fiancé make all the decisions, but the problem is I now resent this and to keep the peace, I just bottle it up. I may appear calm but inside I am really angry and I have no idea why. Is this just pre-wedding nerves, or is there a bigger problem with my fiancé?

S. B.


It could be one or the other – or both. Pre-wedding jitters are common, after all this is a major life step, so some concern is natural. But it's also possible that some of your reaction is because you feel differently about your fiancé.

There's no real way to determine if either of these issues are at play, unless you're prepared to talk to someone about it – and it is concerning that you can't talk about your feelings with your fiancé. This does not bode well for a stable, lasting relationship, and you certainly need to talk this through with someone.

If you don't have someone you can trust, please consider a counsellor because if you don't learn to communicate your feelings now, there's little chance things will improve once you are married.

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