auntie ag & uncle ony

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I have been going out with my boyfriend for five years and he has asked me to move in with him. The trouble is, I have always lived with my mother who has recently had a stroke. I would feel awful deserting her just when she is at her lowest ebb, but I fear if I don't allow the relationship with my boyfriend to move forward, it will all go wrong. Ought I to do my duty, or follow my heart's desire?

Carole, Repton

Uncle Ony: There is no reason, surely, why the two should be stark alternatives. If your boyfriend is only now, after five years, asking you to move in with him, surely he can wait a little longer? Set a deadline for moving in with him, perhaps of six months, then everyone can prepare themselves.

Auntie Ag: Darling, don't ruin your life for the sake of your mother's. You've been good to her. Make a happy life with your boyfriend, go to see your mother every day with enthusiasm and affection. So much better than staying with her, resenting it, and making her, you and your boyfriend hurt and unhappy.

My gentleman friend and I are both widowed and in our sixties and have quite a nice time together. The problem is that I am a really good cook, and my friend is always trying to get me, by fair means or foul, to cook great big meals for him and his friends. It I refuse, he goes on and on about it in front of people. He is quite capable of cooking himself, but seems to feel because I am a woman, I should do it. Although when I was younger I was happy to slave and cater for men, I have changed my ideas. Why should I be the one who does all the work?

Margo, Yeovil

Uncle Ony: Within relationships, Margo, the bargaining points: money, cooking, housework, are always representative of far deeper power struggles and needs for personal fulfilment. Why not suggest you share the tasks, perhaps by one of you doing the shopping and another the cooking, or even by doing the shopping and cooking together?

Auntie Ag: Well, because he'll probably end up lightly rinsing two mushrooms then sloping off to watch the golf, that's why. You're absolutely right to refuse to play kitchen skivvy, Margo darling. Stick to your guns. And if he carries on trying to embarrass you in front of people, sweetly explain that you recently came across the word"equality". You would be quite happy to cook when it's your turn but, unfortunately, it's his turn, and has been for the last 14 months.

Last night I took my girlfriend, who I adore, to the school party feeling blissfully happy. We all got a bit drunk and, around midnight, I went off to the loo, came back and found her snogging my best friend. My friend and I started fighting but, unfortunately, my girlfriend joined in and I hit her by mistake. I didn't hurt her, but then a whole great fight broke out and I ended up being sick in the loo which then got blocked and leaked through the ceiling into the bar. It is now only 24 hours later and my girlfriend won't speak to me, I won't speak to my best friend and I have to pay an pounds 80 repair bill to the bar and haven't got any money. I am very depressed.

Gavin, Battersea

Uncle Ony: There is little point in announcing that you are depressed and asking me for help, Gavin, when you have created such a messy, dysfunctional scenario. You must take responsibility for your drunkenness, violence and lack of self-control, and accept the consequences. Contact the bar and suggest you pay the bill by instalments, start looking for some new girlfriends and friends, and begin to work on your self-discipline problem.

Auntie Ag: Don't torture yourself. Just watch a nice, cheerful video or something till the hangover's cleared, then ring up your girlfriend and your friends. They're probably feeling just as bad as you are and will be only too pleased to restore normal relations. And the pounds 80? - hey, it might take a while to pay, but it's only money.

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