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Dear Coleen 'My teenage sweetheart is being abused by his wife'



Dear Coleen

I started dating the love of my life when I was 15. Sadly, he cheated on me and we broke up after three years together when I was 18.

After more than 40 years, we ­reconnected on Facebook and arranged to meet, and the love I had for him came flooding back.

We both admitted being in unhappy marriages and we kissed and hugged. He said he couldn’t have sex with me because of his wedding vows, as he’s Catholic.

We kept in touch via texts, which his wife found and she accused him of having an emotional affair and insisted he cut ties with me.

I understood, but we did meet up once for coffee, in public.

Over the months he began to text me more about what was going on in his marriage. His wife is 15 years older than him and he’s not allowed friends – male or female.

He’s not allowed out of the house unless it’s to take her out and he works twice a week in a job she got him with people she knows. He says he feels watched all the time, at home and work.

His wife’s life has been awful – she was beaten by one husband, while the other turned out to be a criminal. She had two daughters who tragically died in childhood, yet she wouldn’t go for counselling.

My ex tried to get her to go to ­relationship therapy, but she refused. What shocked me was that he said lockdown was fine because that’s how his life is anyway.

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He’s stopped replying to my texts now. His wife told him I’d take him to the cleaners (not true – I don’t care about money), and she’s threatened to sell the house and he’ll get nothing, even though it’s in both names.

I’m concerned about him – he’s so controlled by her that he defends her and is in denial about what’s going on. I love him so much, but he’s stopped replying to texts. What do I do?

Coleen says

If you’d been meeting up for sex, I’d suspect he was using you, but it sounds as if he’s in a mentally abusive relationship with a controlling partner.

It doesn’t sound healthy but he’s probably at a point where he believes what she’s telling him

I’ve listened to many people in that situation and they believe they’ll amount to nothing without their abusive partner because that’s what they’ve been told so often.

The fear of that combined with the fact their self-esteem has been crushed is what stops them from walking out.

It’s not true that he would leave his marriage with nothing – he would get his fair share of any assets.

His wife has clearly been through a lot in her life and never had professional help. She’s controlling his life because she’s terrified of losing him too, which, of course, isn’t right.

The bottom line is, you can tell him you’re there for him, but he has to find it within himself to leave.

You could pass on the details for ManKind ( mankind.org.uk ), which supports male victims of domestic abuse, including mental abuse.

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Finally, you need to consider what to do about your own marriage too.





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