Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a woman whose husband is threatening to cheat, and another who wants to be sterilised at 28

I AM 26 and my husband is 36. We have been together for years, since I was 15 in fact. We now have two children, I love him and I thought we were happy. However, for the past few months, he has been dropping larger and larger hints that he is interested in having an affair with an older woman. At first, I thought he was joking but, as he keeps mentioning it, I think he is serious.

He hasn't talked about any one particular woman, and I am fairly certain that he hasn't, as yet, done anything, but I am really worried. Being older, he has perhaps always been the more sensible and dominant partner in our relationship. He says he loves me and will never leave me, but I don't feel right about this. What should I do? – PW

Fiona says: Make your feelings clear - he's acting unfairly

You're right to be worried about this. Your husband may have been always been the more sensible one in your relationship, but I see very little common sense or responsibility to his family in what he is now suggesting. Nor do I understand how he can say that he loves you and the children yet risk all of this by having affair.

As you were only 15 when you got together, I wonder if you have may got into the habit of always deferring to his judgement. If this is the case, he may have got a little too used to always getting his own way and now needs to understand that this cannot continue.

Explain that you are upset and worried by what he is suggesting and ask him to stop. Make it clear that you still love him but that there are some things that you find unacceptable, and that this is one of them. Hopefully, he will see sense, forget about this and move on. However, if he keeps pushing for an affair or worse, goes ahead anyway, you'll have some serious decisions to make.

Could you stay with a man who cheats on you? If he could do it once, what would stop him from doing again? And is this really the kind of man who has what it takes for a genuine long-term, loving and committed relationship?

It sounds like your husband is living in fantasy land, and I wonder if the problem is not so much the desire for another woman as the desire for something different.

The fact that he's suggesting he wants an affair with an older woman indicates he might be looking for experiences that he's not had yet. If that's the case, then perhaps you could look at books or videos that would help you spice up your love life a little. If he saw you were willing to try something different and to experiment a little then it might be all he needs. That doesn't excuse him from threatening you with something that could wreck your relationship though, so you need to think hard about how you really feel about him. Do you really love him or are you just together out of habit?

Should it come to a divorce, this will no doubt be hard on you and the children. However, it would be equally difficult for your children if their parents clearly don't get along very well. If you need to talk through any of these issues, please contact a Relate counsellor (

My eight-year-old's friend is using really bad language

MY eight-year-old came home from school a week ago really upset by something her friend had said. Apparently, he called her something that I can't repeat here, and she's refused to see him again. It's awkward because they've been friends since they were much younger, and we get along with his parents. I am also shocked that they should have heard a word like this at school. What should I do? – AL

Fiona says: Learning 'bad' words is part of growing up

Your daughter will learn words from friends in and out of school. It's a natural part of growing up and there's nothing you can do to stop it. What you can do, though, is help her to understand what is acceptable and what is not. I suspect she's already got a good grasp of this as she was upset by what was said.

However, as she no longer wants to see her friend again, I wonder if something else might have happened that scared or worried her. Encourage her talk more about why she no longer wants to see her friend. If it is really is just the word that upset her, I suspect this will blow over. However, if something else happened, you may need to consider discussing the problem with her school.

My GP says I'm too young to be sterilised at 28

I AM 28 and have decided that I want to be sterilised, but when I told my GP, he basically said I'm too young and encouraged me to look at contraceptive alternatives.

He was concerned that I might, at some in the future, change my mind. To humour him, I went away and researched all available types of contraception, including the long-acting reversible type, none of which altered my decision.

When I went back, I explained that I understood a sterilisation is permanent and that I simply did not want to have children. I told him that if, by some miracle, I changed my mind in the future, I would adopt, as there's plenty of orphan children in the world in need of a parent.

At this second visit, my boyfriend came with me and the doctor tried suggesting that he should consider a vasectomy, as there's a greater chance of reversing this. I think my doctor was taken aback when my boyfriend replied that it's my body and my decision. In spite of this, my GP still refuses to refer me for the operation and I feel very angry, so what else can I do? – HA

Fiona says: This is a tricky one

I understand your frustration, but the NHS operates on the basis that most people who have a sterilisation when they are young (anything under 35) typically regret it in later life. For this reason, GPs steer people towards contraception and/or counselling. Some will never refer young people, others will once they are certain that you have considered all alternatives and talked it through with a sexual health advisor.

As your current GP seems unwilling, I suggest you consider seeing a different doctor who may be more receptive. However, before you do so, it might help to have already spoken to a counsellor. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS, and Marie Stopes UK ( both offer such a service and could be helpful for you. I have to say though, I think your chances of having this done through the NHS are slim and if you really want to have this done, you'll probably have to pay for it to be done privately.

How can I get my husband to stop taking the dog to work?

My husband keeps taking our dog to work with him and he doesn't understand that having the dog around helps keep the children happy when he's not there. They're only two and four and love playing with the animal, but get upset easily and cry when it's not around. How do I convince my husband to leave the dog behind? – LF

Fiona says: Have you asked him why he wants the dog at work?

What kind of work does your husband do that he feels the need to have the dog with him? Could it be that he feels lonely and isolated and that having the dog there is companionship for him? If that's the case, then perhaps the children need to understand that daddy hasn't got anyone to talk to, so needs the dog otherwise he'd be lonely.

If, on the other hand, your husband is working with lots of other people and the dog is with him out of habit, then surely you can explain how much the children miss the dog? If he's a loving father and doesn't need the dog for companionship, surely he'd want his children to be happy? Perhaps the answer, though, is to get another pet for the children - possibly even a second dog?

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.