I have been in a very supportive and loving relationship for six years now.

My partner comes from a supportive and pretty healthy family, but I do not. We are talking about having children, but I have recently cut ties with my own ‘family’ as they are as toxic as radioactive fumes.

I wonder if lacking one side of a family would not take away from my potential children. I am also worried about being too damaged to be able to shield them from my own mental health issues.

To make it short: I was raped and molested throughout my childhood by my ‘brother’. My relatives, in a typical narcissistic way, decided to do nothing and basically made me the scapegoat.

It is a transgenerational issue as this happened to my aunt, and I suspect my grandmother as well. Much as I have tried to ‘fix’ the situation by truth-telling, I have only recently understood that they will not change, and will always put themselves first. I therefore took the step to say goodbye for good; it has been a horrendous grief, and as much as they have hurt me, I love and miss them.

I am doing therapy (even though it feels like no one truly understands how bad it feels), I am reading a lot about narcissistic families, and I try my best to love and parent myself, most days.

However, I am painfully aware of the wounds and baggage I will most likely carry for the rest of my life, and I don’t know if it’s not incredibly selfish to have kids in that mindset?

I know they would have loving parents, who love each other and have travelled the world together. They would have financial stability, and I would do everything to protect them and make them feel safe. But wouldn’t it be unfair to them to not have a healthy mum, or my side of the family to feel normal and supported? Would I be doomed to be a bad mother? I am turning 33 soon and I have to make a choice.

G. B.

Fiona says: you have so much to give.

While most would-be parents wonder if they’ll be ‘good enough’, and most parents realise they are not perfect even though they try their best, I think few are as self-aware as you are. I’m sorry to read about the horrendous time you had as a child. But I’m glad you’ve moved beyond that to find someone who truly loves and supports you.

You are concerned you wouldn’t be a ‘healthy mum’ but, whilst you may have on-going issues because of your wounds and baggage – many people have these but don’t realise it.

You are self-aware and you say you and your partner would be loving parents; isn’t that the basis of what any child needs? You can provide them with financial stability as well, and you’re aware of the need to protect them and make them feel safe – I’d say that’s a pretty great opportunity for any child.

They may be missing one set of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but from what you describe, they would be better off without these. There are many children growing up perfectly well without any extended family at all, and at least any child you have will have one set of loving grandparents.

I don’t believe people are ‘doomed’ to be anything. We cannot escape our past, it’s always with us, but we can learn from it and move on from it, as you have taken steps to do. It is painful for you to be cut off from your family, but if all they do is hurt you, then you are better off this way.

Am I wrong to want a divorce after wife’s emotional affair?

My wife and I had been married for over 16 years, and together for just shy of 19 years as I write this. After a friend of ours died in a car wreck, my wife started to go and ‘console’ her husband, sometimes falling asleep at his residence.

As I became suspicious, they both said it was all in my head, as I had also had a bad head injury in an accident in 2019.

Anyway, to keep him ‘busy’ and on track to open his business back up, they began going to dinners, drinking, and he would show up at our house while I was at work.

I told my wife how I felt and got my own bank account to place my payroll checks into it – and although she’s admitted to having ‘only’ an emotional affair, we are getting a divorce.

I do not trust her; I have seen many ‘red flags’ that I’d been oblivious to over the years, along with finding the credit card usage had risen to 88 per cent usage in 15 months. She’s mad that I filed for divorce and wants my pension, as I am a retired police officer. Not that I’m old enough to draw my pension yet, and I’m working three jobs to deal with the financial mess she chose to put us in.

My question is pretty simple: am I wrong to want a divorce? She’s ‘cheated’ on me before and at 50 years old, I have my clothing in two laundry baskets and sleep on the floor in the room where I grew up, as it’s not as hard as the bed! Meanwhile she’s in the marital home with a bed, couch, chair and can sleep wherever she wants to.

K. W.

Fiona says: is it what you really want?

If your relationship with your wife has broken down irrevocably, then there is no point in the two of you staying married. If all she wants you for is your pension, then that’s no basis for a marriage at all. The fact that you ask, though, makes me wonder if you still have strong feelings for her – in which case let’s look at what’s happened.

You say she claims her relationship with this man was ‘only’ emotional, but the tie between them was strong enough for her to sleep over at his home. She amassed debts on your joint account – perhaps from all those dinners and drinking sessions. She’s left you with those debts to deal with and isn’t, apparently, doing anything to help resolve the financial issues. All in all, she hasn’t shown much love and care for you.

What might have started out as an admirable attempt to console someone who was suddenly widowed has definitely morphed into a relationship, even if it’s not a physical one. She clearly wants to spend more time with him than she does with you, so why would you not want a divorce? I don’t think you’re wrong to want one at all, under the circumstances you describe.

You could, presumably, sort out the financial affairs, sell the marital home and take your share of the proceeds to make a fresh start – with a proper home of your own once more. If that’s what you want to do! If it’s not – if you still love and care for your wife – then I’d encourage you to see if counselling wouldn’t help mend the huge rifts that have developed between you. It’s certainly not too late to try, as long as both of you are willing to do so. If you are both open to trying this, contact Relate (relate.org.uk) to organise the help you’re going to need.

My boyfriend betrayed me with younger partner

I’m living with my boyfriend. What would you do if your boyfriend betrays you with a 30-year-old, and he is 63 years old?

E. D.

Fiona says: how do you feel about it?

I think this must be one of the shortest problems I’ve ever received! There is so little information here, it’s hard to come up with an answer for you, but I’ll just make a few points that I hope may help.

Was your boyfriend flattered that a woman over 30 years younger than him was interested in him? If so, he’s probably rather foolish and a bit weak-willed – is that the kind of man you want to be with?

Ignoring the age gap for a moment – he’s betrayed you for someone else. Do you think you’ll ever be able to trust him again? If you don’t think you can, then the relationship between you has no future. Has your boyfriend done anything to explain or apologise for what he’s done? If so, does his explanation/apology seem genuine to you, and do you think you can learn to forgive him for it?

If he hasn’t apologised, have you made it clear that this is something you’d expect? You have far more information than I do, but if you don’t think you can forgive him, or if you think he’ll do this again, then what I would do would be to leave. What you decide to do must depend on how you feel about this.