If you have a problem, email Caroline at c.west-meads@mailonsunday.co.uk. Caroline reads all your letters but regrets she cannot answer each one personally

If you have a problem, email Caroline at c.west-meads@mailonsunday.co.uk. Caroline is open to reading all letters, but she regrets that she can’t answer every one.

I don’t know if I can trust my husband 

Q   My husband and I have been married 35 years. We are now in our 50s. We’ve had a largely happy marriage – with three children, now grown-up – but we split temporarily about 30 years ago after my husband had an affair. We worked tirelessly to rebuild our marriage after we were reunited. However, when the pandemic started, my husband’s work dried up and he took a temporary post in London doing Covid testing. He worked weekdays, and came back only on weekends. After he returned to his job, in April, alarm bells started to ring when I discovered that he had been secretive about his phone. He denied having an affair. But a couple of months later, I discovered he’d been contacting a woman he had worked with on a daily basis. When I confronted him, he said they weren’t having an affair, they just got on well together.

After he apologized, he said that if he realized how awful it was, they would cease to contact each other. Now I’m struggling to trust him and wondering if our marriage can survive. I really don’t want to check up on him but, with social media, it is so easy for them to stay in touch. I love him and he says he still loves me, but I wonder whether that’s true. I have considered counselling, but I doubt he’d go. Maybe it could help me choose what I should do. It would be hard to leave someone I love, but if he can’t be straight with me, what option do I have?


He’s been contacting another woman on a daily basis 

 You must find it difficult to believe him especially since he has had an affair in the past. Because he’s secretive it could be that you are right. Even if it wasn’t physical, they may have been having an ‘emotional ’ affair. This can feel just as painful because all that closeness – the in-jokes, thoughts and feelings – are shared with someone else instead of you. It is easy to stay in touch with people via social media, but it’s also difficult to monitor them. But if trust is to be rebuilt, you must check your husband’s phone, emails and social media – and he must agree to prove his commitment to you. Counselling together is a good idea to save your marriage. If it can’t, as you say, it will help you decide what to do next. It’s a lot to wait for thirty-five years. If you do decide to end the relationship, you’ll need lots of support. You are only in your mid-50s and there’s always the possibility of meeting someone else who you could love and trust completely. This may seem unimaginable now, but please don’t see your marriage as all or nothing. Tell your husband that if your husband won’t go to counseling, it is a sign that he doesn’t want to help your marriage succeed. Also tell him that you feel very hurt by his closeness to this woman and that if he doesn’t agree to counselling, you may feel unable to stay married to him. If he still refuses – well, that tells you a lot, so go on your own to help you to decide what to do. 

Since my son left home, I’ve been a wreck 

Q   My early 50s are a time of good health, a happy marriage, and my two wonderful sons. But the youngest has just gone to university and I’m having trouble coping. I know I’m lucky to have had a really happy family, but with both my sons finding their way in the world, it feels like it’s all been taken away from me. It wasn’t as bad when the eldest left four years ago as he was at university nearby so he came home quite often – and his brother was still here. But our youngest now lives over 200 miles away and hasn’t yet been home. My husband says that our son is happy so I should let go, but I find I’m counting the days until Christmas and crying a lot. I know it’s not healthy but I don’t know what to do.

 I feel for you, as empty nest syndrome can leave a big void in a parent’s life. It marks such a huge change and there is grief for part of your life that is over while the new phase isn’t yet clear. If you are a mother, this can make it difficult. It is also my opinion that this pandemic has caused more problems than it solved. There has been a noticeable increase in anxiety among people who have managed to escape. It’s no surprise that we all want our families close. But your husband is right – your son is happy and you do need to concentrate on things that define you outside motherhood: your marriage, friends, volunteering, taking up new hobbies, etc. If you feel hopeless or are crying out, it could be a more serious form of depression.