I CAN’T FORGET ABOUT MY GYM LOVER
My marriage had been feeling very flat for some time and this new man was exciting, passionate and great fun. Everything was wonderful – until my husband found out and then I felt so guilty and stupid.
After a really nasty couple of months, we managed to patch things up.
I was grateful that my husband forgave me and admitted that he had probably been taking me for granted.
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We’ve been talking to a marriage counsellor and things have improved a lot. But my problem is that, although I have stopped seeing this man, I cannot forget him.
I do love my husband and hate the thought of letting him down again, so I’m wondering if I should move out into a place of my own. If I do that though, my husband has said that it is over between us and I can’t come back. Will I ever forget this other man?
FIONA SAYS: FOCUS ON BRINGING THE SPARK BACK
Your lover had such a powerful, dramatic impact on you that I seriously doubt you will ever forget him completely.
You may love your husband, but does your marriage give you the thrills and excitement that this affair did? I suspect not, so, inevitably, you are missing that from your life.
That’s no reason to throw away all the good things that have come back into your marriage though.
Your husband was sensitive enough to realise that what happened was probably due to something lacking in your marriage. So why don’t you work together – perhaps with the counsellor – to see how you can bring some spark back to your relationship.
Things have improved between you already and they could have turned out very differently. Typically, such affairs end up in heartache, separation and pain all round, but you’ve avoided that, so try not to ruin what you’ve achieved.
Confine this man to a memory – a thrilling one maybe – but one that has now gone, leaving you aware of the need to work at your marriage.
A passionate affair offers no guarantees of happiness; even if your lover came back, passion is a less solid foundation for a relationship than compassion!
MY HUSBAND IS HAVING PANIC ATTACKS
I’m so worried about my husband and don’t know what I can do to help him. He’s 42 and over the last six months, he’s regularly suffered from panic attacks.
He says he finds it hard to get his breath, his heart starts thumping and then he feels very woozy. On one occasion last week, he nearly passed out and it scared me so much.
I persuaded him to speak to his doctor, who told him that these bouts are probably triggered by stress and that they won’t cause any real harm.
He also said that he could help my husband to control these bouts with medication but if he wanted to get to the root of the problem, he should consider seeing a counsellor.
My husband has completely rejected this, as he doesn’t like the idea of people ‘messing around in his head’.
He did agree to start taking the medication though, but it doesn’t seem to be helping and he is still having these dreadful panic attacks. I want to help him but just don’t what else to do?
FIONA SAYS: IT’S IMPORTANT HE SEEKS SUPPORT
I’m afraid your husband’s attitude towards counselling is quite common, but that’s probably small comfort to you.
If he really wants to put a stop or at least control these attacks, he should listen to his doctor and arrange to see a counsellor.
Although your doctor has said they won’t cause any real harm, the longer they continue, the more emotional damage they can do.
I would also be worried about the side effects of the stress and anxiety – palpitations and tension can cause a build-up of all manner of things, including gastric issues.
Anxiety can be so bad sometimes that it can be mistaken for heart problems.
Try to explain to him that a counsellor isn’t going to ‘mess with his head’ at all.
Counselling simply gives people the opportunity to talk through their worries, problems and fears, whilst listening in an understanding, caring and non-judgmental way.
They can also talk through coping strategies that can be very effective for panic attacks.
It may also be that the doctor could end up referring him for psychotherapy if he doesn’t find a way of managing this anxiety.
What is needed is to find a way to help him manage and to possibly get to the root cause of the problem.
Reassure your husband that there is nothing to be ashamed about and, more and more, we are recognising mental health issues as just as important, debilitating and disabling as physical issues.
Men’s mental health is an increasing concern – and, during lockdown and the pandemic, it has reached epidemic proportions. Your husband really isn’t alone.
In order to help him understand, I suggest you look at the website for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP.co.uk) where you will find a range of information.
There is a helpful article on what counselling is, as well as information on anxiety and what exactly it is that might help you to understand what he is going through. BACP can also help you to identify trained counsellors in your area – have a look through their profiles and see if there are any you feel comfortable with.
Once your husband understands what is involved, perhaps he will be willing to contact a counsellor directly or contact his doctor again for a referral.
He should do so anyway if the medication isn’t working, as there are many different types that help in different ways.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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