CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: Will he ever stand up to her for me?

CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: Will he ever stand up to her for me?

Q: My partner and I have been together for six years. He is 65; I’m 52 and we both have grown-up children from previous marriages. He can be extremely controlling and, for that reason, I’m happy not to live with him –

I have my own house and he has his. He is still married but has been separated from his wife for more than eight years. I am a widow and brought up my child alone. My daughter likes him, as do my family. 

However, from the start his wife said that she would not attend any events involving their children if I was there. He agreed, so I’ve never been to family parties, Christmases or his children’s birthdays. 

I haven’t even met his grandchildren as his children don’t want to upset their mother. As you can imagine, it is horrible and isolating. It causes so much upset and arguments, and he always takes her side.

I haven’t even met his grandchildren as his children don’t want to upset their mother (sotck image) 

I feel that his wife is being unreasonable, but he won’t budge no matter how much I try to offer solutions. 

Am I wasting my time with someone who won’t ever stand up for me? 

Also, I don’t know how some women can be so mean to others. He was single when I met him so I wasn’t the cause of his break-up.

A: You must feel very hurt to be always excluded from family events and not even to have met his grandchildren. I have no time for people who treat partners as add-ons – someone they see when they feel like it but who they don’t fully include in their lives. It’s unloving and unkind. (This is different from two people both happy to be independent within a relationship.) 

This secrecy might even feel sometimes as if he is ashamed of your relationship. It is curious that your daughter and family like him. Controlling men can be charming on the surface and nasty underneath – it’s all part of the manipulation and ego-boost that they thrive on. 

Maybe your family has not seen past this façade. However, his wife sounds like a nightmare and neither he nor his children seem able to stand up to her. I wonder if he is partly so controlling because he is afraid of her reaction. Yes, it is disappointing when women are mean to each other. 

She sounds very insecure and clearly has not accepted that their marriage is over. She might even want him back. Though you were not the cause of the break-up, she is doing her best to sabotage your relationship, though, unfortunately, not much appears worth keeping. 

He is still in his ex’s thrall and I fear that is unlikely to change, even though you have told him how much it hurts you. So sadly, I’m inclined to think that, yes, you are wasting your time.

 I know it’s not easy, but you deserve so much more. Please do consider having counselling – try or to help you gain the strength to break free.


Q: My husband and I have been great friends for about 15 years with a couple who we’ve known since our children were at the same primary school – we’ve even all been on holiday together. 

However, the other night they were over for dinner at our house (along with other friends) when the husband of this couple offered to help me in the kitchen. Admittedly we’d all had a bit to drink, but he blurted out that he’d always fancied me and he knew I felt the same way. 

I was shocked and told him not to be silly. The rest of the night passed without anything else being said, although I now feel awkward about seeing my friend again, let alone her husband. The trouble is, I am attracted to him.

A: It’s not unnatural for a man and a woman who are friends to find each other attractive as they grow closer. When you like and respect someone, have shared experiences (even as part of a group), perhaps find them funny and kind, then that may well spill into deeper feelings. 

However, it would be a disaster for all concerned if you were to act on it – as you clearly know. 

Everything else aside, his children and yours would probably all end up hating you both. It is simply not worth it. But this has clearly unsettled you so it needs to be handled carefully. 

Don’t tell his wife. It would only hurt her and probably ruin your friendship anyway. But do talk to her husband. He may try to pass it off as a drunken moment but you need to gently point out how much hurt it would cause. 

Perhaps both of you are a little bored in your marriages and need to find a way of reigniting the marital fires instead.

  •  If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email [email protected]. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Ask_Caroline_

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