Agony advice

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When my husband died last year, it was a huge relief. I don’t mean that nastily – he had been in pain for a long time, and I am glad he isn’t having to cope with that any more. And for my part, it wasn’t easy watching him fade away. People were very sympathetic, but I never really knew what to say to them, because ours had been a far from ideal marriage.

We hadn’t been on good terms for years and lived virtually separate lives, with separate friends and interests. One of my friends was particularly supportive in my husband’s last years, and I have grown very close to him. We meet up a couple of times each week and have a coffee, a meal or see a film. He’s funny, generous with his time, and sees the best in people around him, all the things my husband wasn’t. He’s only three years older than me – I am 62 – and I wish I could get him to see that I want more than just friendship.

When our time together is over, there’s always a slightly awkward moment or two when neither one of us seems to quite know what to do. Usually, we just say goodbye and go our separate ways, but occasionally he gives me a quick hug and a peck on the cheek. What I really want him to do is kiss me properly and take me home. I think I am giving all the right signals, but somehow they are not getting through.

Is it possible I am misreading what’s happening here and that all he wants is to be my friend? If that’s the case, I don’t want to mess that up either by coming on too strong.

S. H.


It’s not easy, sometimes, to see where platonic friendship ends and romance begins. For this reason, it sometimes needs a more obvious nudge. It’s possible that he only wants friendship, though as you’re meeting up several times a week, I think there’s a good possibility that he wants more. So, the next question becomes, what’s holding him back?

There could be many reasons for this. Perhaps he thinks you are still grieving and doesn’t want to upset you by making a move. Perhaps he’s still unsure of your feelings about him and doesn’t want to get rejected. Or he might be afraid of spoiling the good friendship he already has with you. Whatever the reason, I suspect you won’t know for sure unless you give that nudge I mentioned earlier.

The next time he leans in for peck, you could try turning your mouth towards him so that he kisses you there rather than on the cheek. Alternatively, when he gives you a hug, you could stay in it for a while longer than would be normal for a friend hug, and see how he reacts. If these physical signals don’t work, you may have to resort to just telling him the truth; you’re attracted to him and would like a relationship. And if you do tell him how you feel, you can’t put that genie back in the bottle once it’s out.

There is a risk that this is not what he wants, and that it will then make your friendship a little awkward. However, if there’s a real chance of a loving relationship here, that may be a risk worth taking.


My grandson is four and goes to a local playgroup. It’s run by lady who is a mum herself and seems very on the ball. The group has been a lifesaver for my daughter, who had a difficult birth followed by a nasty bout of post-natal depression. This wasn’t helped by her partner who was a waste of space throughout and who is now, thankfully, off the scene.

Anyway, she’s well on the mend now and seems to be getting her life back together. She’s even found a part-time job that fits around the play group. However, she’s just told me that the group might be struggling. It seems the community hall that it uses has recently put up the rent hugely, and while the organiser hasn’t said anything, we are both worried that this might force the group to close.

I really want to help and wondered if this is the kind of thing that I could fundraise for. I haven’t done it before but it’s something I have always thought about doing. My daughter says I am pushy enough to get it done and I have plenty of time on my hands, but I really have no idea how to do it. Where do I start?

A. H.


That’s a great idea, but before you charge in, I suggest you have a chat with the organiser of the group. It’s possible that she intends to close the group anyway and the news of the rent increase is a convenient reason to use. If not, and the playgroup is genuinely in trouble and she wants it to continue, she should welcome your offer to fundraise for her. She may have some material and ideas that you can use to get started or even some established fundraising activities that you can join.

If not, there’s no shortage of ideas for you to explore. Type ‘challenge events’ or ‘fundraising ideas’ into an internet search engine and you’ll get dozens of ideas. At a local level, you could think about jumble or car boot sales, coffee mornings, cake sales or sponsored anything from walks to runs. You could consider an endurance challenge like a cold dip in the sea for every day in a month, or giving up something like chocolate for a time. A terrible thought I know, but you get the idea! If the group needs more serious funding, you could start to look at what grants may be available from your local council or grant making trusts, if the group is a registered charity. However, it is always a good idea to inform the group or charity you’re fundraising for, and check with them what would be helpful. Some activities may not be appropriate for a group working with children.

If you want to get really involved in fundraising, you might find it useful to visit the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (, where you can find details about training and working in the field.


My husband has been having an affair for the past two years. When he first told me last month, I was shocked and upset, and things haven’t really improved because he is finding it hard to end it with this other woman. He says he loves me, is sorry for ever getting involved with her and wants to leave her, but apparently she won’t let him go.

He says she is unstable and has promised him she would kill herself if he tried to dump her. I don’t know if this is true or not, so I am wondering if I should speak to her to find out. I know where she lives and if I talk with her, perhaps I can get her to see sense and realise that my husband is not going to leave me for her. My husband is not so sure that this is a good idea, but something needs to be done as I can’t go on living with this uncertainty. I am so confused and unhappy.

J. L.


I am not sure confronting her like this would achieve very much, and it could potentially just make matters worse if she is as unstable as your husband claims. He’s already stated that he loves you and wants to end the affair.

If he’s serious about this, and you’re inclined to give him a second chance, any further talking that needs to be done should be with him. You need to find out what went wrong in your relationship and how you can both work together to repair the damage and prevent it from happening again.

While I have some sympathy for this other woman, a crucial part of this repair process should include a commitment by your husband to have no further contact with her. You might find it helpful to contact Relate (

For anyone who is concerned that somebody may be at risk of harming themselves, the Samaritans website has some helpful guidance (


When we moved into our new flat earlier this year, my partner was keen to get all the needed DIY done himself. True to his word, he spent the next eight months doing a lot of repair work and decorating. Now, all that’s left is a lot of little jobs, but he seems to have lost all interest.

We are so close and it’s frustrating to not have it finished. I have been on at him for weeks now to finish things off, but he just gets cross now and says I am nagging. I don’t enjoy making him angry, but what else can I do to get these jobs done?

J. A.


Well, you could consider doing them yourself! From the sounds of things, your partner put in eight months of hard slog to do the bulk of the work, and perhaps he’s just had enough. Not finishing these last few things might be his, perhaps not very subtle, way of saying ‘now it’s your turn’.

If the jobs are indeed simple, you should find all the advice you need on how to do them online or by chatting with someone at your local DIY store. Once you make a start, there’s every chance he might feel inclined to help anyway. Either way, there’s no need for this to be the cause of any further aggravation in your relationship.

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