Dear Janice, my son is covered in tattoos. He has lots of facial piercings, and now has started wearing makeup!

We have a large family wedding next month with relatives from overseas attending, and I am embarrassed before I am even there!

What will they think of our son looking the way he does? He will surely give them the wrong impression, which is a shame because he is a hardworking, kind, 19-year-old.  

I asked him if he would try and look “normal” for that one day but he says he either goes as he is, or not at all. I am now dreading the occasion. What do you advise? Joan.

Dear Joan, if your son is happy and confident in his own skin then that’s all you should be concerned about.  

Tattoos, piercings, and even makeup are all socially acceptable nowadays. Even for guys. 

I think it is admirable that he refuses to change his image to please others.

I imagine you would rather have a happy son who can express himself than one who is shy, introverted and afraid to be the person he is.

Embrace his differences and be a proud mum. After all, the other wedding guests will more than likely have their fair share of Botox, lip fillers, hair extensions, false nails and fake tan. So what’s the difference?   

Enjoy your family time.

Dear Janice, my wife fell out with me on Valentine’s Day because, as she put it, she got the same predictable flowers and card. Whereas she expected a surprise.

I am no good at these sorts of things. I never have been and don’t understand why after all these years she thinks I would suddenly change.

She said I put no effort into these “special” days, and that she’d be better going out and treating herself.

Everyone tells me I’m a good husband and dad, but apparently that’s not enough for her.

We are now on day four and she has still barely spoken to me.

I dread any so called “special” days as I know I’ll get it wrong. Her birthday is next month, so how do I surprise her?  

And how do I get her to end these long deafening silences? Alan.

Dear Alan, I’d pack a bag and disappear for the night. That would surprise her!

Your wife is behaving like a spoilt five-year-old who is extremely selfish and cruel.

The quality of everyday life is what really matters, and the fact that you are a good husband and dad every other day of the year seems to count for nothing.

Ahead of her birthday tell her quite clearly that there will be no surprise presents and that you’ll happily buy her something she has her eye on or give her the cash. A surprise is only wonderful if it’s what she wants. But if you get it wrong, and if she tells you in advance, then it’s not a surprise. 

Alan, short silences can be a good way of letting bad situations blow over, but the silent treatment for days on end is a form of exerting power over someone by creating an emotional distance.

It’s a horrible way to live and often victims just go with it, which in return perpetuates the cycle.

Therefore, when the next icy situation arrives, deprive your wife of the attention she seeks which will show her the silent treatment is not the way to get what she wants.

It’s easier said than done, so immerse yourself in a book, go for a walk, detach yourself from the situation, and hopefully she will wise up. If not, then only you know your limit on accepting her controlling behaviour.

Dear Janice, my wife is a shopaholic. I have asked my mates how their other half spend money and by far mine seems to be ahead of the game.

She always returns from work with carrier bag after carrier bag full of random stuff, most of which she doesn’t even wear or use.

She also shops online, which means a day rarely goes by when she doesn’t get a parcel of some sort delivered. Her argument is that we don’t have kids which means she can afford to buy what she wants, and to an extent that’s true. So why do I get so annoyed and angry every time I see yet another item? Graham.

Dear Graham, let’s say you’re right and your wife has a shopping addiction, then firstly you need to understand what you are dealing with. 

People who shop too much are usually trying to deflect attention from other problems in their life they don’t want to address.

For instance, it’s a lot easier to go shopping than deal with relationship issues, unhappy work situations, or personal problems. You both need to address this situation. Try and get her to open up and face whatever is upsetting her. Failing that, I would suggest counselling.

If it is simply that she has no concept of running a home, then sit her down with a pen and paper and do the maths.  Perhaps if she sees for herself how much cash is coming into your household, and how much she is wasting, she will accept your frustrations and change her buying habits.