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