Caroline Buchanan is our Agony Aunt at the Dorset Echo. She’ll be helping readers with their problems on a weekly basis.

Dear Caroline,

My ex-husband sees our two daughters twice a week and has done ever since our divorce two years ago. I’ve met somebody else now, a fact he loathes, and without fail he pours poison into the children’s ears about my boyfriend and me. He tells them my boyfriend’s a home wrecker and that if it weren’t for him, we’d have got back together by now. This is all patently untrue! My daughters are 10 and 12 and it’s so unfair of him to burden them with these warped ideas. They’re always unsettled and unhappy when he’s gone. I’ve had it out with him but he just snarls and says I’ve brought it on myself.

Amy, by email

It’s so sad when people can’t separate out their love for their children and their hostility towards their ex. I guess you’ve told your ex-husband how distressing his behaviour is for the children but perhaps those discussions get very heated and you can’t make progress. I suggest you write to him explaining that his anger is with you – and indeed himself – and not with his daughters. Point out, as tactfully as you can, how unfair it is to upset the girls in order to get back at you. Children’s needs are paramount, a fact he needs to know. The ‘Welfare of the Child is Paramount’ became a legal principle under the 1989 Children Act. It means that the considerations which might apply to other situations should not be allowed to over-ride the right of children to be protected from harm. Your ex is obviously finding it difficult to take responsibility for his share in the marriage breakdown and, as he hasn’t done that, he lashes out to avoid looking at himself. You might also find it very helpful to get onto for advice and support from other women in your situation.

Dear Caroline,

My boyfriend and I have been together for 18 months and he’s just asked me to marry him. I know it sounds Victorian but I said I needed time to think about it. I love him very much but we’re such different people. I’m very outgoing and gregarious, love parties and having fun. My boyfriend goes along with this but I can almost see the gritted teeth and hangdog look when I say we’ve been invited out. This hasn’t been much of a problem during lockdown, but now we’re coming out of it, I’m feeling pretty nervous. He’s a real homebody, a quiet and gentle soul. I love that about him but I suppose I’m scared our differences will end up creating frictions and resentment. What do you think?

Donna, by email

You’re being admirably mature, Donna, to consider this point now. It’s great you’re not frightened of looking into potentially murky corners. While it’s true opposites attract and can complement each other, statistics show that you have a better chance of success if you’re both of a similar personality with shared interests. Having said that, and bearing in mind a successful relationship always requires compromise, there can be a happy and fulfilling meeting halfway even if people have opposite temperaments. Air your fears with your boyfriend. Deep down he’ll be pleased the subject has come up and you can work on it together.

CAROLINE Buchanan is a journalist, author, agony aunt and Relate- trained counsellor who lives in Dorset and West London. Her latest book is The 15-Minute Rule for Forgiveness. Her previous book, The 15-Minute Rule - How to Stop Procrastinating and Take Control of Your Life, is a bestseller. If you would like Caroline’s advice, send your problem to joanna.davis@dorsetecho. and it will be passed on.