Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective to a worried wife, and a concerned granddaughter.

FOR the past 25 years, I always thought I had a good and loving marriage, but my husband has just jeopardised everything by saying that he wants to have an affair.

He says it's with a woman he works with and that they have become very close, though he assures me that they haven't slept together yet. He wants to continue to see her and eventually sleep with her, but only if I agree. Despite this revelation, he also said that he loves me and wants us to stay married.

That was three days ago, and he immediately started sleeping in the spare bedroom to "give me space to think it through". The problem is, I am no nearer to understanding any of this. I don't want to lose my husband but I don't think I could cope with sharing him with another woman. What should I do? I know he's going to want to talk about this again soon. – WN

Fiona says: You need to speak to a couple's counsellor

Many readers will already be shouting, "Show him the door" or, "Dump him and move on", and I have some sympathy with these responses. Your husband has put you in an impossible position with this selfish request and probably has no idea how hurtful, insulting and disrespectful it is. He is, in essence, asking you for permission to have sex with this woman and somehow still keep his marriage intact. It displays a breathtaking ignorance about how women tick and beggar's belief that he can think and act this way, and say he still loves you.

This is a major life decision for you and, as you've already indicated, you do not want to lose him. In view of this, perhaps the best way forward is to defer any decision until you've both had a chance to talk through this issue with a Relate counsellor ( Counselling will enable you to determine why your husband has done this, how best to restore your marriage and how you can better communicate in the future. There may be something he feels is lacking and I wonder if, perhaps, the physical side of your relationship is no longer what it was. That's not an attempt to justify his behaviour though, it's just a possible theory on why this situation may have arisen.

Underlining all of this is the explicit understanding that his affair is not an option as far as you're concerned. Counselling will also give you a chance to recover from the damage already done to your self-respect and understand that none of this is your fault. Hopefully your husband will soon see how unrealistic his request is and move on. I would also not be surprised if this relationship he has conjured is simply a workplace friendship, onto which he has transposed the fantasy of an affair.

Finally, if your husband won't engage in the counselling process, please go on your own. It will better prepare you should the worst happen.

Why don't my family care about my nan?

MY nan lives in a nearby home and I try to see her most days after school, even if only for a few minutes. However, the rest of family hardly ever go to see her - even my mum only sees her mum once or twice a week. My nan often asks me how the rest of the family is doing and, although she hides it well, I am sure she is upset that they don't visit more often. What can I do to get them to see her more?– AB

Fiona says: Don't badger them

If you start putting pressure on your family to go more, you could find they resent it and perhaps then go even less. I know you care for your grandmother (and she's very lucky to have a granddaughter like you) but she probably understands that busy working families rarely have enough time for each other. This might explain why she doesn't seem resentful.

Indeed, with your visits and those of your mother, she is probably considerably better off than many other elderly people in care or nursing homes. If you feel that you still want to do more, try telling your family how she is doing and what she says. I am sure this is more likely to make them go more often than simply badgering them.

I'm finding it hard to process my miscarriage

OVER the past four years I've had three miscarriages and it seems like I'll never be able to carry a baby to full term. Everyone has been supportive and encouraging (including my partner) and while I try to keep positive, inside I'm a wreck and in danger of bursting into tears at the slightest thing. It's a constant strain to avoid losing my temper with people who encourage me to 'keep trying' as if it's some kind of exam I have to re-sit again and again. I feel I need to talk to someone who really understands - I hope you can help. – BC

Fiona says: There's lots of help out there

Please try not to feel too harshly towards well-wishers, they try to be upbeat because they simply don't know what to say for the best. The fact that you're putting a brave face on things might explain why they and, perhaps, medical professionals, haven't picked up on just how upset you really are. Please arrange to speak to your doctor as soon as possible and ask for a referral to a consultant. Don't hold back, be honest about your feelings and ask for help.

I'd suggest you contact the Miscarriage Association ( too. The organisation offers support and understanding from people who have been through miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy themselves. This is done mainly through phone or online counselling and support, but there are also a few support groups around the country that you might be able to get to. Above all, please share your feelings with your partner, who may be feeling just as bereft as you.

Why can't we stop bickering?

I retired a couple of months ago and was looking forward to spending more time with my husband, like we did when we were first married. He retired two years ago and has been busy with projects around the house and garden. I thought he would welcome me helping but, far from enjoying our time together, we seem to be getting on each other's nerves! We argue over trivial things like the fact he keeps leaving the milk out of the fridge - it drives me mad. He admits he's feeling irritable too but how is it that, after 35 years of marriage, we can't cope with being around one another? – MP

Fiona says: You need to talk

If this situation is causing you both to be so stressed that your marriage is at risk, then it's far from trivial. I'm not altogether surprised though, because when you both worked, you spent so much time apart that you probably never got to the point where you aggravated one another. Now you are spending all your time together, there is no such safety valve. What's more, having had two years on his own in the home, your husband has probably developed all kinds of routines. Now you're around, his routines are being disrupted and he probably doesn't know how to react.

The two of you really need to talk. There are things you could and, indeed, should be doing together, but he may well be keen to complete his projects on his own without your help. You could, perhaps, take on some of the tasks he's been doing that he's happy to relinquish. You could also share out chores neither of you really want to do but that have to be done.

Think about developing new projects of your own and finally, I'd strongly suggest you look to develop some new projects or interests together too. Some of these should, ideally, give you time out of the house. How about taking up a new sport or activity together? it could be anything at all that gives you things to talk to one another about.

It really doesn't matter what you do, but the important thing is to spend time together and time apart each week, so that when you're together, you have things to share and talk about. That's what will help keep your marriage fresh and alive.

If things still don't settle down though, perhaps you need to consider the possibility that something more serious is amiss. In this case, you may find it helpful to contact a Relate counsellor ( who can help guide you back to the loving relationship you once had.

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.