RICHARD MADE­LEY AGONY UN­CLE

Our new columnist an­swers your ques­tions. Write to him at [email protected]­graph.co.uk

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - GAMES -

Dear Richard

in on that flirty ex­change be­tween your hus­band and his mys­tery woman.

But it’s not their over­heard con­ver­sa­tion that’s eat­ing away at you – you sound grown-up enough to forgive a silly in­dis­cre­tion over the phone. It’s his be­hav­iour since. He’s im­pla­ca­bly with­hold­ing the sim­ple in­for­ma­tion you des­per­ately need for peace of mind, and frankly I think he rel­ishes the power over you that it gives him.

With­hold­ing is a hor­ri­ble trait; it’s a pas­sive but ef­fec­tive way of con­trol­ling oth­ers. Your hus­band can see how distressed he’s mak­ing you by re­fus­ing to tell you any­thing about this woman (other than that she’s “a great emo­tional sup­port” to him. You’re his wife; how the hell’s that sup­posed to make you feel?) But he doesn’t care, and his lofty, pa­tro­n­is­ing in­struc­tions to “keep calm and carry on” are ab­surd; he sounds like a pompous war­time civil ser­vant.

Look; I don’t know if there’s more to the re­la­tion­ship, but that’s not the point. The big­ger is­sue is how he’s be­hav­ing, and what it re­veals about his lack of re­spect for you. Of course you have the right to know this woman’s name (and a lot more about her be­sides) but ei­ther he’s got some­thing to hide or he’s en­joy­ing watch­ing you twist in the wind. A bit of both, per­haps.

So I don’t think you should re­gret ar­riv­ing home early. In fact one day you might even be grate­ful you did. You’ll prob­a­bly never know who he was flirt­ing with, but you’ve cer­tainly learned a lot about your hus­band.

Yes, ig­no­rance may be bliss. But knowl­edge is power. Use it with dis­cre­tion – but use it.

Take back control. My fi­ancée is an EU na­tional, here less than five years and earn­ing a mod­est salary as a care worker. We are con­cerned about her sta­tus if and when Bri­tain leaves the EU and to be hon­est, that’s why we are get­ting mar­ried. It feels the right thing to do, and at least it means we will find out whether we have a fu­ture to­gether, but I’m not sure we would have moved this fast with­out these pres­sures (we have been to­gether less than a year).

It’s go­ing to be a low-key reg­is­ter of­fice do, but even so I don’t rel­ish stand­ing in front of my friends and fam­ily and mak­ing vows I don’t re­ally mean. And I worry that down the line I’ll have to stay with her to save her from be­ing de­ported. I love hav­ing her as my girl­friend and I want to help her stay here – will that be enough?

WILL, ST AL­BANS

Dear Will

Peo­ple marry for a myr­iad of rea­sons, and who are we to judge? Money… se­cu­rity… power… pol­i­tics… con­ve­nience… and yes, love. That’s def­i­nitely in there some­where.

But get­ting hitched “to find out if we have a fu­ture to­gether”? Hmm. Not your best plan, Will. Nei­ther is it a ter­rific idea to make wed­ding vows in front of fam­ily and friends when se­cretly you don’t mean a word of it.

You’re con­fus­ing ro­mance with prag­ma­tism. You’re not mar­ry­ing this girl be­cause you’re in­sanely in love with her and can’t imag­ine life with any­one else. You’re do­ing it so she can stay in the UK af­ter Brexit. That’s not love, that’s prac­ti­cal com­pas­sion – and there’s noth­ing wrong with that.

So, first things first. Stop guess­ing and get the facts. Con­tact your MP

(it’s easy). He or she can find out if your girl­friend needs to worry. If she can legally stay here, the pres­sure’s off. You can post­pone the wed­ding while you sort out your feel­ings.

But if de­por­ta­tion beck­ons, it’s time for some straight talk­ing. Gen­tly tell your girl­friend the truth. You’ve agreed to marry her as a favour so she can stay here in the UK. Re­as­sure her you’ve be­come very fond of her, but it’s sim­ply too early to know if she’s the love of your life. (And you know what, Will? You might find she’s been se­cretly nurs­ing sim­i­lar doubts.)

If you both de­cide to go ahead, it must be on the strict un­der­stand­ing that this is a mar­riage of con­ve­nience; even a tem­po­rary ar­range­ment. So scale ev­ery­thing down. Keep it to just the two of you, the regis­trar, and a cou­ple of wit­nesses. If it turns out you re­ally do love each other truly, madly, deeply, you can get your mar­riage blessed, re­new your vows and in­vite ev­ery­one along to blow kisses.

You’re ei­ther be­ing ex­tremely no­ble or very fool­ish, Will. I can’t de­cide which. But good luck.

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