Lifelines: Endings and beginnings

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I have been married three times and am looking at having a fourth go.

Friends think I must be mad and I sometimes agree with them. My first marriage was when I was only 18. I had two kids by the time I was 20 and was divorced at 23. I was OK on my own for ten years then married again, but it only lasted six months, when he hit my kids one day. I was back on my own again for a couple of years. I then did it again, only he had an affair with my best mate after three years. I decided, never again. The kids are now grown up and I have met someone else. His wife died four years ago; they were together for 30 years and, he says, quite happy together. He has asked me to marry him and while I long to be with someone I am scared I’ll just get hurt all over again and wonder if it’s worth the risk.

It sounds like you have always had to rely on yourself to get through. You have been resilient and resourceful in bringing up your children; you have managed on your own and put their welfare first. I guess, though, that a part of you longs to be with someone, to be looked after, and that’s what has kept drawing you into relationships. Your past experience is that they won’t work and you will end up hurt and in a worse place than you were before. So it is no surprise that a part of you, while really wanting to be with someone, is saying, ‘Hang on a minute.’

Your new partner, though, has had a different, positive experience. Often when we go into a new relationship our expectations of how it will be are influenced by experiences from the past. However, just because it didn’t work out then doesn’t mean it can’t work out now.

I split up with my boyfriend about two months ago. We had been together for three years but over the past year we had been rowing more. I loved him but couldn’t live with him any longer. Now I really miss him – and have found out I am pregnant. Should I tell him? He has always wanted kids and says he wants us to try again.

Your confusion isn’t just about one thing. You are missing your boyfriend and you are pregnant – these are two different issues that seem to be merging into one for you. It is his baby, so at some point he needs to know. And it’s better that he finds out from you than from someone else. Whatever happens, you are both still the baby’s parents. However, if things weren’t right before the pregnancy, they won’t magically get better now. There is a lot for you and your boyfriend to work through here and I wonder if you have considered going for couple counselling. It would give you the opportunity to talk through, with someone unbiased and not connected to you, where things go from here, but also about what went wrong before. Take some time to look at all the implications, for you, for your former partner and for the baby.

If you are affected by any of the issues in Lifelines and require further advice, contact Relationships Scotland (

Twitter: @relscot