auntie ag & uncle ony

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You are invited to send your problems to: Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony, Real Life, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. However, Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony regret that they are unable to enter into any personal correspondence

I think my boyfriend is having an affair. He's suddenly started making excuses not to see me, saying he's staying in, or "seeing the lads". Sometimes when he says he is staying in, I ring and the answerphone is on, then he rings back much later saying he was watching the television. Should I ask him point blank or what?

Geraldine, Plymouth.

Uncle Ony: It is important to consider infidelity in terms of intimacy and the subconscious mind. The core dynamics are fear of intimacy and power struggles. Power struggles can be used by the "victimised party" - ie you - to become independent or by the infidel to gain revenge or control. Effective "healing" comes from the intimacy of "joining". Yes! Hand the power back to your partner by openly sharing your fears with him.

Auntie Ag: Don't do anything of the sort, darling! Does the expression Euro 96 mean nothing to you? He's obviously watching the football. And if he isn't, the last thing you should do is challenge him: if he's innocent he'll feel trapped, if he's guilty he'll either lie or admit it, and then what are you supposed to do? Just be unavailable for a while, darling, organise a few Euro 96 evenings with girlfriends, be busy every night and give him more independence than he knows what to do with - he'll soon be on the phone every 10 minutes asking if you're having an affair.

I have been having an affair with a married woman for two years. I thought it was just a bit of fun but she has just informed me she is leaving her husband for me. The whole appeal of it was that she was unavailable and it was all clandestine and thrilling . This is the last thing I want.

Kevin, Swansea.

Uncle Ony: Few men have not found themselves in this irritating situation. I suggest you explain to this misguided woman that she is experiencing feelings of bankruptcy - ie within the marital context she is saying to her partner, "I feel I have given you all the gifts I had, so now I give this pain." This is a form of sacrifice and self-punishment which can only be healed by loving commitment to the marriage - and that you will not be seeing her again.

Auntie Ag: Honestly, I would like to take your private parts and mince them in a Magimix - careering around like a mad medieval lord of the manor, assuming a sort of arrogant droit de seigneur and getting all indignant when the chickens come home to roost. I suspect, however, this woman has rumbled you and has plumped for this as a gracious way of getting rid of you.

There are a group of about 10 of us who always go round together. One, Sally, is 30 next week and a couple in the group, John and Sophie, are throwing a dinner party for her. They've asked everyone except me. I'm hurt and baffled. The only reason I can think of is that Sophie has always been a bit jealous of me. I've seen her twice since everyone else was invited and she hasn't mentioned it.

Cathy, Brighton.

Uncle Ony: What is needed here, Cathy, is what we therapists call "paradigm shifting". It was a "paradigm shift" that allowed Copernicus to place the sun at the centre of the universe. You believe yourself to be at the centre of the "universe" of this group of friends, just as Ptolemy erroneously believed the earth to be the universe's centre before the paradigm shift. Your place in this group is not what you believed, so paradigm shift your perception of your social orbit, while retaining friendly relations with John and Sophie.

Auntie Ag: Darling - it's an outrageous snub. There's only one thing to do: announce a huge party a few days after theirs and invite everyone except John and Sophie. That should get them on the phone complaining about the postal service! And if it doesn't they are an evil witch and wizard from hell and their so called "friend's" party will be horrid because it has unfriendliness at its heart.

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