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ASK ZELDA: Our relationship expert Zelda West-Meads answers your questions 

ASK ZELDA: Our relationship expert Zelda West-Meads answers your questions

If you have a problem, email z.west-meads@you.co.uk. Zelda reads all your letters but regrets that she cannot answer them all personally

I’m the only one who knows about my father’s affair

I am devastated because I suspect my dad might be having an affair with our neighbour. I am 22 and living at home after finishing university. On my way back from work recently, I was on a bus and saw him and this woman leaving a café in a different part of town. He was holding her hand, then he kissed her on the cheek and they went their separate ways. I could be wrong – my parents have always been friends with the couple next door and they are both really nice – but they looked very affectionate with each other. I’m really upset because I thought my parents had a fairly happy marriage and I don’t know what to do. Should I tell my mum or just confront my dad? I haven’t told anyone and I don’t want my parents to get divorced.

This is an incredibly painful situation for you. There is, of course, the possibility that you are wrong and that there might be an innocent explanation, and I really hope this is the case. But what if you are right? You are wise not to have said anything to anyone yet without knowing the facts but it must be eating you up. The first thing you should do is ask your father about what you saw. If he admits he is having an affair then you may have to make an extremely difficult decision. I am sure he will be very sorry, worried about the marriage and devastated at the pain that this might cause your mother. He may ask you not to tell her, as it could lead to them getting divorced. If he is genuinely sorry and absolutely promises to end the affair then you might choose to keep quiet to avoid hurting your mother.

However, this might be too big a burden for you – if she ever found out, she might be very angry with you and feel as though you have betrayed her too. So it may be that you insist your father confesses. I can’t, I’m afraid, advise you which route to take as both have huge implications – but this is too much for you to carry alone and I strongly recommend that you talk to a counsellor (rather than a friend who may not be able to keep it to themselves) to work out what you want to do, and to support you if it does come to your parents’ divorce. Try Relate (relate.org.uk), which has a young person’s counselling service. I am sure you feel very protective of your mum and want to support her, but also try not to be too angry with your father, though I am sure you will be at first. Even if he is having an affair, it may not mean the end of your parents’ marriage – lots of couples do get through this.

 How do I tell my husband that I don’t fancy him?

Over the past two or three years, my husband has ballooned in size and doesn’t seem to care about his weight or health. I have tried to encourage him to eat better and cut down on drinking (he’s not an alcoholic but he does like his beer) and come for walks or to the gym with me, but to no avail. He is only in his late 40s but he is breathless even going upstairs and occasionally has chest pains which he puts down to indigestion. I have told him that I am worried he won’t live to see our teenage children become adults. I am also finding it harder to have sex with him because I find him so unattractive, so I just keep making excuses. Don’t get me wrong: I love him dearly, but he has become a fat, lazy, sweaty man.  

First, if he is breathless going upstairs and has chest pains, he needs to see his GP urgently. It is extremely difficult to tell someone you love that you no longer find them sexually attractive, but in the end excuses don’t work. So pluck up courage, tell him that you love him but that you don’t fancy him at the moment and that you want your old husband back. Reassure him that you want to help him. Tell him that when he sees his GP, he also needs to discuss his weight as carrying excess pounds can lead to serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes. Then explore with him why there is this need to overeat – is he depressed or worried about work, money or the future and using food as an escape? I hope he is willing to make some changes.

  • If you have a problem, write to Zelda West-Meads at: YOU, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS, or email z.west-meads@you.co.uk 

 

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