qWhen I first met my girlfriend five years ago she made a real effort to look well.
She exercised a few times a week, spent time with her mates and had lots of interests and ambitions separate to 'us'.
A couple of years after we moved I looked at her in her tracksuit bottoms one Saturday morning as I headed out to play footie with the lads.
She was annoyed I was leaving her to do something with other people, she looked overweight and pasty and unhappy and seemed flummoxed as to what she would do for the morning without me.
Since that lightbulb moment when I realised how much she had changed I have tried to talk to her about where we are going but she just drops hints about marriage. I see now why some people settle but it's not for me, how do I walk away without destroying her?
aThere is a reason why you have stayed together for five years other than it just being a matter of convenience, so I think it's important for you to revisit why you got together as a couple in the first place.
She seems to have just lost her way a little and is more dependant on you than you are on her.
She is likely to be unhappy with some aspect of her life, whether is be family or her job, and this is showing in her lack of motivation.
Rather than throw away the whole relationship, I would urge you to communicate with her.
Gently explain that you're concerned that she doesn't seem as happy and upbeat and she once was and offer to help in any way you can.
Just allow her to open up if she needs to and let her know that you're there for her. I really think you need to give people another chance sometimes rather than just wash your hands of her and devastate her further.
qI wasn't allowed have a dog when I was growing up and always promised myself that if I had children and they really wanted a dog when they were old enough to help look after it then we would get one.
This is where I am at now - except my partner says no way. She had a dog and was left to look after it while her siblings did nothing. I think it's high handed of her to assume she can veto me and I also think her fears are unfounded.
I'm a big outdoors person and really will be on for taking the dog for walks and runs, but more than that - I want my children to experience the joy that I think having a pet can bring. We are at a stalemate and I actually can't believe how bad the tension is.
aIt's a shame that something that should be joyful and exciting for the family can cause so much tension. Dogs are indeed a wonderful addition to a family, as I know from the happiness that my own childhood family dog brought to us.
They help to teach children the importance of compassion for animals and having responsibility for
another living creature.
As your partner is outnumbered here and sounds like she doesn't have a particularly good reason for rejecting the idea of a dog, you need to just communicate to her why it's a good idea for your family.
Hold a family meeting and ask your children to put into writing that they will help. Planning in advance who does what will help her to feel more relaxed about the idea.
I also suggest you all visit an animal rescue centre together, such as the ISPCA or DSPCA, to look at the dogs awaiting happy homes.
qI really fancy my brother's best friend and they are only three years older than I am.
My friends say we should try and get at some party that they will be at too. How do I approach his mate and if I can't be at some party then should I get his number and text him?
I'm not close to my brother so I don't think I can talk to him.
aSometimes we just fall for people and can't hide our feelings, which is usually not a problem, but in this case I feel that you should tread just a little more carefully as this is your brother's friend.
No doubt your brother's friend would be flattered and may even share the same feelings for you, but it could place too much pressure on their friendship.
And if he's in any way a protective older brother then he will naturally not be too keen on the idea of his mate getting close to his little sister, and that's quite understandable.
Rather than going behind his back, I think it's important to slowly get him used to the idea. My advice is to suggest that you, your brother, his friend and one or two of your own friends all head out together, whether it be to a party, concert, festival or just a meal.
It would give you a chance to get to know him a bit better in a neutral and relaxed environment. Then if you get on well, you could get his number and take it from there.