DEAR FIONA: I love my husband but I need my independence

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Eugene Scanderfield with landlady of the Hayling Billy  Mandy Mather Picture Ian Hargreaves  (171085-1)

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If I do go out, he virtually cross-examines me when I return, wanting to know where I have been and who I saw.

He says it’s because he’s interested in me and loves me so much, but it’s making me feel hemmed-in or like I’m in prison.

I know his first marriage wasn’t a happy one, and that his first wife cheated on him for many years, but I’ve told him, over and over again, that I love him and want to be with him.

How can I reassure him and get myself some space?

A If he’s been badly hurt in the past, it’s not surprising he is now insecure and afraid of being hurt again.

Being jealous and possessive though is, unfortunately, more likely to drive you away than keep you close.

That is almost certainly the last thing he wants, but he’s driving a wedge between you already and somehow you have to make him understand this, without hurting him.

Try to get him to understand that you both need to have some independence and, more importantly, that you love and trust one another.

As long as he remains unhappy and insecure, you will continue to have a problem and if you could steer him towards some counselling, it would really help.

Q My boyfriend and I have just started living together, but I’m finding the weekend visits from his children really difficult.

They are good kids, but I can’t stop myself feeling resentful and jealous the whole time they are here, and I spend most weekends in my bedroom or pottering around the garden.

I just can’t face seeing how happy they are to be with their father.

My own childhood was pretty awful, which might explain my feelings, but I’m worried that if I go on like this my boyfriend will leave me; he’s certainly never giving up on his children!

How do I stop myself from being this way?

A You can’t just stop the feelings you have, you need to find out what causes them and how to change them.

You know it is not logical to blame your boyfriend and his children for being happy together, but telling yourself that won’t help when your own unhappy memories get in the way.

I’m sure your boyfriend is aware something is wrong, but have you tried to talk to him?

Opening up to someone and explaining your feelings would really help and he would know then that it is your problem and not resentment of his time with the children.

Explain that seeing him happy with them brings back your own unhappy memories.

Once he understands why you seem uncomfortable when they are around, I am sure he will want to help you.

It would be worth talking to your GP too as you would probably benefit from professional counselling and support to come to terms with your childhood.

Q I’ll be 16 in May, but my boyfriend thinks I’m 19.

He’s 26, so I’ve let him go on thinking this, but he and my parents have separately been making noises about wanting to meet each other.

They don’t know how old he is and now I’m panicking because he’s bound to find out I’m 15 and then I’m sure I’d lose him.

How do I stop this?

A If you’re going to go on seeing this man, sooner or later, he’s going to find out how old you are.

You’re not being fair to him by lying about your age - for one thing he would risk criminal charges if he were to have a sexual relationship with you.

Wouldn’t you feel better if he found out from you rather than hearing it from your parents or someone else?

A 10-year age gap when you’re 26 and he’s 36 hardly seems to matter, but when you’re only 15, a 10-year age gap is huge, no matter how mature and sophisticated you are.

If you care about him, tell him the truth, even if that means you lose him.

At least you won’t then have the constant anxiety of being found out.