BEL MOONEY: Can I put a price on the love of my loyal fiancee?

Dear Bel,

Four-and-half years ago, I met a beautiful, generous girl called Sally. The relationship was refreshing because, in my 40s, I’d finally met a genuine, down-to-earth person I could be with.

Our relationship blossomed quickly — not so much driven by passion, but more by shared interests and commonalities. For different reasons, we both still live at home with our parents.

All my life I have suffered with epilepsy and in 2016, it became worse. Working was becoming a challenge. I have never been able to drive, but I had never let this hold me back, going to some lengths to work if the opportunity was rewarding enough.

At the time Sally and I met, I had a good, full-time job. Within six months of us meeting, my health had deteriorated and I’d become depressed because I didn’t feel like the same person.

Attacks had become more frequent, my vision was getting poorer and I had developed trigeminal neuralgia on my right side. I became quite ill and all this led into a depressive anxiety state, because of my conditions. Sadly, I was signed off ill and ended up resigning. Sally stood by me, helping when I couldn’t cope. She helped me through difficult times, sorting out my debts and other areas of my life that had gone astray, due to illness.

As time went on and I tried to manage, our relationship continued. Sally has been happy to come to my parents’ home to see me. Due to my illness, I was awarded basic Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Recently, we became engaged and Sally wants us to move in together. I have told her I’d like it, too. But, looking into this, I discovered I would lose my benefits if we do so. It’s made me hesitant about moving in. I can’t articulate it.

I’ve been accused of not loving her and am now getting pressure from her mother, saying I’ve been misleading Sally all these years. It’s not true. I’ve explained I need some of my own money for ongoing costs and can’t live off Sally’s income.

I can’t get work due to my health and the future worries me. I don’t know what to say or do.


This week, Bel advises a reader who will lose his benefits if he moves in with his fiancee

First of all I want to rejoice that you and Sally found each other, had so much to share, and forged the kind of love which (believe me) usually outlasts physical passion.

Before we take this any further, I want you to pause and take your mind back to the early days and the happiness you felt that at last this special woman had come into your life. At the time she knew about your epilepsy, and when, so sadly for you, the condition worsened so drastically, she was steadfast at your side. Oh lucky man!

It’s vital at this stage that you think hard about the incalculable value of love and of loyalty, vital too that you allow these positive thoughts to cut through your depression, self-pity and fear because of your condition.

I put it like that not because I am trying to minimise what you have gone through, but because I am afraid you will lose the love of a good woman because you are not valuing it enough.


We harm no one but ourselves by feeling slighted; we carry acid in our soul even when it eats nothing but the vessel it is stored in.

From Monsieur Ka by Vesna Goldsworthy (Serbian-British novelist and poet, b 1961)

I am not an expert on the benefits system so cannot comment on what you have said; other than that, yes, Universal Credit takes into account the income and savings of a partner. But since Personal Independence Payment is based on the level of help you need, and since you are living with your parents, I can’t see why that would change if you move in with a partner.

You will still need help. You say you’ve looked into all this but I suggest you need more advice. Having said that (and I am as practical and worldly as anyone), I want to challenge the way you have placed this issue of benefits at the centre of your life, elbowing aside the love you and Sally have shared and the difference she has made to your life.

Yes, I am not surprised she is hurt and her mother irritated. It seems to me you have to ask yourself what’s going on. Is it that you’ve become so miserable at the loss of the life you knew that you now cannot understand why Sally should love you? Are you terrified that once you have made the commitment of moving in she will change her mind?

Are you worried that since Sally will bear most of the burden of paying the costs of your shared home, you will be less comfortable than you are living with your parents?

Are these the anxieties which underlie your concern about losing benefits? All those worries are understandable, but honestly, Peter, it’s no good falling back on that weak ‘I can’t articulate it’.

I’m sorry, but you must. You have a duty to find the words to have a proper conversation with the woman who has stood by you ‘in sickness and in health’ already, without a marriage vow.

Who’s to know what lies ahead? In the future, you may be able to take on part-time work.

Your anxiety has sent you into a downward spiral, but you can pull yourself out of it. If Sally longs to share your life and make the promise of that engagement ring a reality, then you can bring blessings on each other. Don’t throw it away.

Shout I throw out my drug taking son?  

Dear Bel,

Am I a bad mother? I am a single mum of a 17-year-old boy. His dad left when he was a baby and never had any contact with either of us.

I’ve worked hard to provide a good home for us. Up to the age of 15, he was a loving, kind and respectful person. Then he discovered marijuana and things went downhill.

He left school with few qualifications, started and left college; began and quit two traineeships; was fired from an apprenticeship. He self-harms when under extreme stress. I’ve sought help from everywhere; he now gets support from two professionals.

But he honestly can’t see anything wrong with ‘weed’ and blames everything else for things that have gone wrong. He says the help he gets is pointless, as they just keep saying the same thing.

For the past three years, I have been on such an emotional roller coaster I don’t think I can take much more. I cry every day and there’s been times I seriously wanted to end things.

When I see him sleeping, I weep because he looks so helpless and I just want to hold him. Then I’m angry because my home smells and he’s brought drugs into my life.

For the past three weeks we’ve lived as strangers, as he’s out by the time I come home from work and doesn’t return until after I’ve gone to bed.

I have reached the point where I’m counting the days until he’s 18 so I can legally throw him out.

I feel so guilty as I love him as much today as the day he was born, but I don’t have the strength to live with a drug addict. How will I live with myself if I throw him out and his life gets worse? I don’t know which way to turn.


You most certainly do not sound like a ‘bad mother’ to me (or surely to anybody else). No, you are a desperately sad mother driven to the end of her ability to cope with a child who seems set on ruining his life and, as a result, hers, too.

There was a time in my own life when I was close to similar pain: your remark about watching your sleeping son actually made me cry.

You had a rough deal when the father of your son wanted nothing to do with either of you.


More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…

It’s not hard to imagine how sharply bewilderment, hurt and anger lodged in your son’s heart like shards of ice, as soon as he was old enough to understand, or rather, not understand.

I realise that your opening question is about your closing conundrum. You are asking me whether you are in the wrong merely to contemplate ‘throwing out’ the son you love.

As so often, my reply will try to tread a path down the middle. You say that your son is ‘getting help from two professionals’, people whom he wilfully ignores because his enjoyment of cannabis matters far more to him than anything else.

Inevitably, he will be supported by like-minded friends, making everything worse.

At the moment, it’s important that you, too, have help and support, before you snap under the strain of living with your son and perhaps say or do something you will regret.

The NHS website contains advice (; and you might also look at FRANK ( and use the helpline, 0300 123 6600.

Families Anonymous is based on the same principles as Alcoholics Anonymous ( It runs local support groups for the family and friends of people with a drug problem and there’s a helpline — 0207 498 4680 — as well as an online forum you could join.

Interacting with other parents who feel as you do could make you feel less lonely and conflicted. Do reach out.

Will you tell him to leave? When the time comes, you may decide to give the son you love longer to kick his habit. But there are deluded men and women who believe cannabis harmless and continue smoking until adult-hood.

Whatever the future holds, your son has help, but you need it, too.

And finally… Let our light outshine the gloom

Last week, I published a letter from ‘Joan’ wondering why she still had feelings of love and hate for the son-in-law who left his family 20 years ago.

Since she lives alone, she has ‘plenty of time to turn these events over and over in my mind’. My reply reassured us that many people feel similar turmoil about being events in a lifetime and concluded: ‘We have no choice but to live with the light and shade of existence, all the more so as we become conscious of mortality.’

Contact Bel 

Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email

A pseudonym will be used if you wish.

Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

Now Joan has emailed: ‘Thank you for your reply — wise words which I found really comforting. I will re-read them during the times I feel overwhelmed by those same feelings.

‘It must be so satisfying to know that you’re helping so many people — but don’t forget to look after yourself, too.’

That thoughtfulness is a reminder of how much we can be helped by knowing others share similar feelings. I’m wanting Joan to relax and accept her emotions and she’s wanting me to take care of myself. And I’m asking ‘Cath’ in today’s second letter to know many others will identify with her heart-wrenching problem… and so it goes on, doesn’t it?

Unseen, all around us, pulsing through the world, is a vast energy of people caring about each other — yes, even saying to another sad and weary soul: ‘Give me your worn-out shoes and I will walk in them.’

Sometimes I’m cynical and sad, but an awareness of goodness always outweighs despair. So when some vile, racist creature vandalised the big mural of Marcus Rashford in Manchester, the damage was immediately covered tenfold by a vast collage display of hearts and loving messages.

One read: ‘I can take or leave football but I cannot take or leave people like you. Thank you for your passion, compassion and desire to change lives.’

That message is the one that prevails — and we must always remember it. The light we share outshines the gloom.