Dear Mary: Sex with him was fantastic, but now he is threatening to tell my husband
I am in despair. I am 56 and have a lovely home and have adult children.
My husband is a good man, but our sex life has never been very good. To be honest, I am very bored with my life. My husband sometimes works nights and it was this opportunity that gave me the idea to join a dating site. I must stress that I did everything possible to make our sex life work, and on many occasions wore garments to spice things up, but to no avail.
So I started dating men and have met several and had sex with some of them. Then I met this man and he totally blew my mind. The sex was just fantastic and he was also very generous to me and even gave me a voucher for €2,000 for a lingerie agency. But I recently stopped seeing him and he is now telling me he will tell my husband about us if I don't get back with him. I am so afraid of losing everything. I can't tell my husband and I can't go to the police. You are my only hope so please help me. I always had a good sex drive but since the menopause it has got so strong that my mind is just done in at this stage.
Mary replies: Things have spiralled out of control for you and I can sense the fear in your email. I am not going to talk about the rights and wrongs of what you did because that is not why you have written to me.
This man is blackmailing you, which is against the law no matter what went before. His threat is to tell your husband if you don't continue to have a sexual relationship with him. Who knows what his next threat would be if you were to agree - it may even be for money which has happened to other women in situations like yours.
You say that you cannot go to the police but I don't see any reason why you cannot. The police are used to dealing with all sorts of confidential situations and would be able to guide you along the right path. You certainly cannot continue to do nothing because your mental health will suffer as well as your physical health.
You need some direction right now, but the problem is I don't know what sort of a man your husband is and how he would react if you were to tell him about the situation you have got yourself into. If you were able to confide in your husband and ask for his forgiveness then that would be the most straightforward way out of the nightmare you find yourself in. This man would no longer be able to hold anything over you and your husband and yourself could then get professional help in the form of counselling. The issue of your differing sex drives would be discussed in a safe environment and hopefully some solutions found. I realise he would have a lot of accepting to do when he hears the full story. However, you and your husband must have had hard times in your marriage at some point - almost everybody does - and you will have weathered them so you should be hopeful that you can overcome this also.
If, however, you feel that you simply cannot talk to him then the only other way forward seems to be to go to the police and enlist their help. There are many wonderfully helpful and sincere people within our police force. You may feel more comfortable in asking to speak with a female garda and to insist on complete confidentiality before you begin your story. But please do something soon.
I'm worried my cousin will want to live with us after my grandmother dies
Question: I thought a lot before sending this, but it's been on my mind for a while. However, a recent column of yours sparked it. My grandmother, who is my Dad's mum, is elderly. She is not terribly ill, but with the best will in the world will not last forever. My Mam visits every week even though she is not her own mother, and this is a long round trip. My Dad has his own health issues. I go when I can - maybe fortnightly.
My issue is my cousin. She made the decision to move into the family home and take care of my grandmother. She gave up her job and looks after our grandmother full time. I am very grateful for this. She herself is almost 55, so it is not easy and she has no social circle or friends really. I am some 20 years younger.
I sometimes think it would have been better getting granny into care, as psychologically they are dependent on each other.
For financial reasons they had to sell the family home and are on a HSE-supported lease, and when Granny goes my cousin will have nowhere to go. I have tried hinting that she could re-take up her old, job but she says no.
I am worried that we will be expected to support her and I'm sorry if this sounds harsh. She seems to think she can move in with us or my parents. My husband and I barely can afford the mortgage. Plus I am pregnant. My Mam and Dad don't have the space. My only other cousin is settled overseas.
I'm all out of options.
Mary replies: Your letter does not sound at all harsh. You are worrying about the future and what it holds for you all, and this worrying is not good for you and your unborn child. You should be looking forward to welcoming your child with excitement instead of feeling stressed and so my strongest advice to you is to stop worrying.
Your cousin is doing a very admirable thing and taking care of the day-to-day needs of your grandmother. She will have had her own reasons for doing so - perhaps she was tired of her job or maybe she felt that she would be more fulfilled doing the same sort of caring with a blood relative rather than strangers. No doubt your grandmother is delighted to have her with her full time, as it is difficult for your parents and yourself to visit. But your cousin made this decision of her own free will, and she must realise that everything will change when your grandmother passes on. She has no right to expect that one of you will have her to live with you.
If it will alleviate your concerns why not ask your mother to talk it over with your cousin when she next visits your grandmother or you can go with her and address it together. You could ask what her plans are when the inevitable happens, although it may not be for many years yet. It seems that there are a lot of things being left unsaid which then causes you anxiety. If your cousin says that she expects to live with one of you then it can gently be pointed out that they have no room and as you are expecting a baby you will have your hands full. You can reiterate that you are all very appreciative of her taking care of your grandmother. Nobody wants to see your cousin without a home, but it is up to her to make sure that she is taking care of herself as she plans a future after your grandmother is no longer there. She may well have other ideas for herself which you know nothing about, which is why it is important that you speak with her.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at email@example.com or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.