The TV pre­sen­ter and co­me­dian ad­vises read­ers as Week­end’s agony aunt

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Wellbeing -

want a re­peat per­for­mance of the wed­ding and the run-up to the cer­e­mony. I re­ally want her to be happy and en­joy the day or, if she feels she can’t man­age it, not hold it against me. She makes me feel as if it’s my fault for putting her in th­ese sit­u­a­tions.

She hasn’t met any­one else to share her life, but of course can bring a friend — male or fe­male — and she knows lots of my friends so she wouldn’t be iso­lated. Do you have any ad­vice on how I can make the day eas­ier for her? DearGra­ham At a friend’s party last week, I met a hand­some, funny guy who said he was a sex ad­dict and was cur­rently be­ing treated. He has since left a mes­sage on my mo­bile phone, invit­ing me to din­ner (I gave him my num­ber be­fore he made his star­tling reve­la­tion). Three days later I still haven’t called him back, even though we re­ally clicked. My worry is that I might be get­ting my­self into some­thing I can’t han­dle. Am I be­ing a prude? Or is it wise to be cau­tious?

LindaB,Hast­ings DearLinda I know this is a se­ri­ous prob­lem that is recog­nised by med­i­cal science, but I can’t help think­ing that deep down all men are sex ad­dicts. How­ever, I could be wrong and, if he starts plea­sur­ing him­self with a bowl of lasagne over din­ner, then I apol­o­gise.

But you ob­vi­ously like the guy, so why not ac­cept his in­vi­ta­tion and see where it goes? Nib­bling a bread­stick by can­dle­light with this man doesn’t au­to­mat­i­cally mean you’ll end up at some busy lay-by on the A40 sur­rounded by soap stars.

Of course this could all be a clever ploy be­cause, if you go on a few dates with some­one you think is a sex ad­dict and he doesn’t lay a fin­ger on you, it won’t be long be­fore you start think­ing: “What’s wrong with me?” Pretty soon you could be a des­per­ate ex­hi­bi­tion­ist rid­ing the night bus in a re­veal­ing out­fit.

All men may not be ad­dicts but we are all creeps. DearGra­ham I don’t fancy my wife any more. We’ve been mar­ried for 10 years, have three chil­dren and in many ways I do still love her. She’s an at­trac­tive wo­man (with her clothes on), but I’m ashamed to say that when she takes them off she looks a bit saggy and worn out. The fact is that the spark’s gone.

There’s a wo­man at work I find my­self think­ing about all the time. She’s made it clear she’s keen. Surely the odd, dis­creet shag (it’s only sex, af­ter all) would be OK if it means I’m bet­ter able to play Happy Fam­i­lies?

BenT, Rich­mond Dear Ben You have ob­vi­ously writ­ten to me in the hope that I will give you my bless­ing for an af­fair you have al­ready de­cided to em­bark on. I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.

What you say is true: some­times sex is just sex. But an af­fair is called cheat­ing for a rea­son. If the game is Happy Fam­i­lies, then you are about to break all the rules. Ev­ery lie you will be forced to tell your wife and chil­dren makes the whole idea of happy fam­i­lies one enor­mous lie.

You have, in that bril­liantly male way, come up with a per­fect so­lu­tion to your prob­lems. It’s just that it causes more prob­lems for ev­ery­one else. How long do you think the keen wo­man at work will be con­tent to be the sex­ual equiv­a­lent of a mo­tor­way ser­vice sta­tion? Do you hon­estly be­lieve that your sag­ging wife is happy to watch you touch your driv­ing gloves more than her? In 10 years you’ve had three kids and I’m guess­ing she has no­ticed your di­min­ish­ing ar­dour.

You and the rest of your fam­ily should be a team and you must work to­gether to make things bet­ter for ev­ery­one. Drag­ging some­one else into your grim sce­nario helps no one. And yet there is a sad in­evitabil­ity about the whole grubby cy­cle in mar­riages of af­fairs fol­lowed by for­give­ness fol­lowed by more af­fairs.

Please un­der­stand that I’m not try­ing to di­min­ish your prob­lems, but there must be other av­enues to ex­plore be­cause I just can’t see how be­com­ing some­one you don’t like or re­spect will make you happy. DearGra­ham I’m re­ally in need of your ad­vice. When I got mar­ried two years ago, my mother strug­gled with the wed­ding day be­cause my fa­ther was there with his sec­ond wife.

He has been with this wo­man for 20 years (my par­ents split up 25 years ago and my mother has been on her own ever since) but, in the runup to the wed­ding, my mother kept go­ing on and on about how aw­ful it would be for her to see my fa­ther be­cause she still feels so hurt.

I tried ev­ery­thing to make her com­fort­able on the day and en­sured that our friends gave her a lot of at­ten­tion, but I can’t tell you how much of a cloud she cast over the wed­ding.

We had a baby last year and want to have her chris­tened soon, but I’m dread­ing telling my mother be­cause I don’t DearSarah What a lovely daugh­ter you are. I’m touched that you still care about the feel­ings of a wo­man who doesn’t seem to care about yours. Twenty-five years on and she still hasn’t man­aged to come close to a sin­gle self-help cliché. She should have notes on her fridge and in her lava­tory telling her to “Get Over It” and “Move On”.

My only ad­vice would be to in­vite her but make it very clear that you don’t want a re­peat per­for­mance of her be­hav­iour at your wed­ding. Be firm. If you in­dulge her maudlin self-pity, it will only get worse. Re­mind her that this is a spe­cial day for your baby and your hus­band and if she feels she won’t be able to en­joy it then she shouldn’t come. Of­fer her an al­ter­na­tive of a re­ally lovely lunch, when she could give her grand­child a spe­cial chris­ten­ing gift, and see which she chooses.

I know you mean well, but by pan­der­ing to her ado­les­cent sulk­ing I fear you are sim­ply pro­long­ing her agony. You are the child of the bro­ken home, you were the bride and you are the mother of the baby. Your mother needs to re­alise that the oc­ca­sion is not about her — and your hus­band must never feel that you might one day turn into her.


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