herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Dear Rosanna: I think my man is having an affair

On knowing when it's time to leave, a domineering mum, balancing employment, childcare and tattoo strife

Q I think that my boyfriend of two years may be seeing someone else. We are both in our early 30s but there is still no sign of him proposing. I love him very much but I do not want to waste any more time on a man who is being unfaithful. Over the past three months he has become distracted and distant, almost oblivious to me. I know enough to know that all is not right between us but not enough to know what is causing these changes. I am just so upset and confused.

A Approach this with caution, because if you accuse him wrongly, you risk destroying the trust in the relationship. You don't have any evidence that he has been unfaithful and there could be any number of reasons for him appearing distant and uncommunicative. He may be going through a tough time at work, be suffering financial troubles or problems with family or friends, and he doesn't feel that you're the person to talk to about it.

Communication is key. You must approach him with your concerns that things aren't how they used to be, but don't accuse him of cheating. Explain that you're worried about the relationship, and you'd like to work on it together.

It may be something simple to sort out. If needs be, plan a holiday or weekend away where you can give each other your full time. You may decide that the relationship has run its course, or you may even feel it's the right opportunity to discuss your future and whether it's worth pursuing together. It will give you clarity and much-needed focus. Wishing you luck.

Q My mother is a brilliant person but domineering. The brunt falls on me as, unlike my siblings, I'm unwed and have no children -- so the expectation is that I can pop around at any time. I have a career, a home, a partner and a social life. Confronting her will not work as I will get the silent treatment. It would also make things harder for my father. They are both retired but he has coped with it better than she has.

A In many ways I sympathise with your mum. It sounds as though she was the boss in the family, so it must be difficult for her to accept that her children have moved on and are starting families of their own. Your dad may have found ways of distracting himself, but for your mum the changes must be so much more difficult.

However, her demands on your time are not exactly practical. I advise you to encourage her to take up a new hobby. It will allow her realise her own talents and identity, and encourage her self-confidence. The pursuit of a new interest would allow her to rebuild her identity and boost her self-esteem.

I also suggest you organise a meeting with your siblings to discuss how you can all support and spend time with your mum -- the responsibility should be spread as equally as possible.

Q I gave up my job when we had our second child. My husband's salary is enough to cover the mortgage, bills and living expenses. I have a beautiful son and daughter, now both of school-going age but I want to go back to work as I feel totally unfulfilled. However, my husband is against this as he wants his calm home life maintained. He thinks I am being selfish and says the children will be neglected.

A Now the children are occupied with school, it's natural that you feel the desire to return to an adult work environment where you feel of value to society.

This situation must be all about compromise between you and your husband. I understand his worries that he will be stretched more domestically if you return to work. But, for the sake of your own happiness and sense of self-satisfaction, not to mention the health of your marriage, I do believe it is imperative that you seek employment again in an area you enjoy.

Why don't you consider a part-time job for now? It will allow you to make the change more gradually and will be an excellent indicator of how much you can realistically handle.

Alternatively, there's the option of working from home or even starting up your own small business. This will be initially hard work, but being self-employed would mean you could work to your own time schedule and gain satisfaction from operating a business you're passionate about.

Speak to him honestly about this. You don't plan to abandon the family, but you need to feel like you can contribute financially too.

Q My 16-year-old daughter wants to get a tattoo. I don't like body art but would respect her wishes if she was old enough to make this decision. I want her to realise that just because her friends have piercings and tattoos this does not mean she has to follow suit. How can I convey my concern without 'forcing' her to go ahead out of stubbornness?

A I can appreciate how easy it is for a girl of her age to be influenced by her peers as I was just 16 when I got my navel pierced without telling my parents.

While piercings can be removed at any stage and heal up naturally, tattoos are permanent. It is also worth noting that most reputable tattoo studios won't do any work on anyone under the age of 18 -- even with parental consent.

I have never trusted my own judgement enough to consider getting a tattoo and I just know I'd be sick of looking at the same design in 20 years time. I do feel she's too young to make a choice on what she wants to adorn her body for life. Tell her that you appreciate that it's her body, but would she consider getting a piercing rather than a tattoo?

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