I'm writing to you about my husband who is a real split personality. He goes out of his way to help other people all the time – he'll do anything to help a friend in need.

As a result, everyone thinks he is such a gentle, kind and thoughtful man and they tell me how lucky I am to have such a wonderful husband. When they say this, I just smile because I know differently.

When he's alone with me, he is aggressive and hurtful, yet in public, he is affectionate and caring.

He'll get through a bottle of whisky every two or three days and consumes huge quantities of beer and lager. When he gets drunk – which is most days – he blames me for everything that has ever gone wrong in his life.

He says I don't love him but that's just not true. I do love him, or at least I did, but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to live with him and sometimes I'm afraid to be around him. I've become terribly anxious and some days I'm afraid to go out.

His mood swings are getting worse, and I just don't understand how he can be like this with me and so different with other people. What should I do? I'm so depressed and I cry most days.

G. P.

Fiona says: What matters is that you are safe

There's clearly something seriously wrong in this relationship, and most people, knowing what you're going through, would think the easy solution is to leave. You – and others in a similar situation – know that's easier said than done though.

You are faced with all manner of barriers – emotional, financial, and logistical – to be overcome first. I have no doubt you do love this man, or at least you love the man you thought he was and know he could be, and therein lies part of the problem. Are you hoping that something will happen to turn this aggressive, bullying drunk into the charming man that others see?

When you married him, I'm sure you thought you would spend the rest of your lives together, and while you want things to change (and some alcoholics can recover), sometimes they don't.

There are some clear signs of when the wisest thing to do would be to leave a partner, and your email indicates several warning signals. Firstly, his physical and emotional aggression towards you puts you in danger, and that's clearly not a good place to be. You are living in constant fear and anxiety, which are indicators of trauma that can damage both your physical and mental health.

Secondly, the way your husband is drinking is having a negative effect on your mental health; you say you're crying most days and that you're depressed. That's hardly surprising. It's undermining your self-confidence too, making you unsure about what decisions to make. Thirdly, your husband shows no sign of wanting to change his behaviour, in which case, do you really foresee yourself living in this situation in another 10 or 20 years from now? Don't you want more for yourself than that?

Alcoholism is a disease, and while millions of people have learned how to control their drinking, unfortunately, some never do. It is not your responsibility to control his drinking and he certainly needs help to do so, but the chances are that if you suggest this, you could be faced with more abuse.

The steps you need to take to walk away may be hard, but you cannot continue to live a life like this, which is damaging you and is ruining your life. Other people may not understand, not knowing how he is with you in private, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that you're safe and healthy, both mentally and physically, and that's not going to happen as long as you stay with this man.

My boyfriend is so possessive and doesn't like me seeing my friends

My boyfriend and I have been going out together for two years now and we have been making plans to get married next spring. I really love him, and I love the way he shows me how much he cares about me, which is something other boyfriends haven't done.

When we're out together he holds my hand all the time and puts his arm around my shoulders if ever another man comes over to talk to us. He's forever buying me gifts and posting cute photos of us together on Instagram and says he'd rather be with me than with any of his friends, not that he seems to have very many.

What bothers me a bit though, is that I don't think he trusts me. If I want to go out on my own, he really doesn't like it, even if it's a shopping trip with one of my girlfriends.

If I happen to glance in the direction of another man, he gets really upset and agitated. The other week, when I did go out shopping with a friend without him, I spotted him following me. When I asked him about it though, he laughed it off and said I must have been mistaken, but I know I wasn't.

When it is just the two of us together, he is loving, kind and caring, but I am not sure if I can cope with his possessiveness long-term.

I have tried to talk to him about it, but he just denies it and says of course he trusts me. I am so worried that in the long-term, this will spoil our relationship, and I'm beginning to think I should call off the wedding plans.

M. D.

Fiona says: That's not normal behaviour

I think you are right to think carefully about making a long-term commitment to a partner who is so possessive and jealous. All this 'loving' and 'caring' behaviour may seem flattering, but it's indicative of a man with deep insecurities and that makes me question things.

I would also caution you about the way men like this can turn from possessiveness to aggression when they feel their control over you is threatened.

When someone tries to separate you from your friends, and not let you out of their sight, their behaviour is not normal. True love involves trust and respect, and those are two things your boyfriend isn't showing you right now.

None of this necessarily means an end to your relationship though, but he needs to recognise the damage that the way he is behaving can do in the long term to your relationship. If you can get him to talk about this, then maybe you can make progress with this relationship. But please realise it's not up to you to 'fix' him – he's the only person that can do that.

You can't make him feel better by loving him more or by telling him your every move. You need to establish boundaries – following you isn't acceptable, nor is reading your messages or monitoring what you do.

You need to have privacy and freedom and he needs to learn to respect that, as well as accept that his controlling behaviour stems from his own problems and that it's nothing to do with you.

He will have to start working on fixing things himself and a therapist would be very helpful in this regard. In all probability, it's something in the past that has triggered this anxiety and insecurity, so however much you love him, I'd encourage you to call off the wedding until he's got himself some help.

Spending the rest of your life with someone who trusts you so little that he cannot bear to let you out of his sight would become a prison for you – don't let that happen.

I cheated on my husband and found it exciting

I have been married for 16 years and thought I had a stable, happy relationship.

We have spent a lot of this time apart, as our respective jobs require us to do a lot of travelling, but we've always trusted each other and I have never thought of straying – which is why I am confused and frightened by the fact that I ended up in bed with a friend after a party last week.

I don't know why this happened, it wasn't as if I'd drunk too much and my husband had only been away for a few days at the time, but now I feel so guilty.

My husband really is a good man and I hate that I have done this to him, but I can't help but feel excited by what happened and find I'm still attracted to this other man.

Is it possible that I love two men, and do you think this could work?

M. M.

Fiona says: Think carefully

Yes, I think it's possible to love two men, but no, I don't think it could work. In fact, I'm fairly certain that this sounds like a recipe for disaster! Do you really think that your husband would be happy to share you with someone else?

You've been married for 16 years, and I suspect your marriage has become a little predictable – perhaps even dull.

The idea of a dual life may sound exciting, but you are on course to destroy your marriage and I don't think that's what you really want. Or is it?

Think about why you did this, these things don't just happen and perhaps you haven't adjusted to these periods of separation quite as well as you think.

Please talk to your husband and see if you can't find some way of putting the sparkle back into your marriage.

It might mean one or both of you changing jobs, so you don't have to spend so long apart, or it might mean better ways of spending time when you're together.

Either way, hopefully you won't feel the need to do this again.

Daughter's wealthy boyfriend makes me feel bad

I've worked hard to raise my family and even though money was always tight, my three children were always fed and warm, much loved and cared for. For the past year, my 19-year-old daughter has been going out with a young man whose family is very wealthy and she never stops talking about what they are able to do with this money.

It's a succession of luxury cars, exotic holidays and a huge house, and it feels as though she's trying to get at me for never having been able to provide these things for her when she was a child. I'm not sure if this is the case, but I do know that it's beginning to get to me.

I like the young man she's seeing very much, but the longer this goes on, the harder it gets for me to stay positive about him. Why is she doing this?

I. S.

Fiona says: She might just be enjoying life

Your daughter probably has no idea how this is making you feel, and I expect she is dazzled by the luxury of things she has never had – but I am sure she doesn't mean to hurt you.

As she matures, I am sure she will come to realise the importance and value of a secure childhood and a loving family. Or perhaps she does already. So don't turn against this young man or give your daughter a lecture about all you have done for her. Just quietly point out to her that as she knows you have so little, she might want to consider talking a little less about their money and possessions and a little more about them as a family.

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

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