If you are having some problems with your relationship or just want to ask a question of one of our participating Counsellors, our Relationship Q & A article may help.
Send in your questions by clicking the link at the bottom of this page and we will put our Counsellors answer on display. We won’t print your name or email address.
The answers provided represent the views of the identified counsellor and are not the answers or advice of Baby Boomers Life Change. If you think you need some assistance with a problem, talking to a counsellor may help you resolve the issue.
1) My husband had a heart attacK 5 weeks ago and is recovering well. I know this sounds totally heartless but he aslo had cancer in this testes 9 years ago and our sex life ever since has been zero. I was considering my options to leave and find a new partner (god knows ther seems to be enough of them out there) I am still slim and attractive. Then he has the heart attack and now I feel more trapped than ever. Why am I so selfish? He is boring to the extreme and never wnts to do anything, I feel as if I’m going mad with boredom and frustration!! What am I going to do? Imagine what everyone will say if I leave now!! God help me, I am nearly suicidal and no-one knows!
(S.B from Sydney)
First of all I want to thankyou for having the courage to disclose such personal information, I know this is not an easy thing to do. Susan I am concerned about the way you are feeling at the moment and the fact that you feel trapped and nearly suicidal. I do not think you are selfish, but I do feel you need to get some help and support so you can explore what you are going through at the moment, and to consider your options. All I can say is that you also have needs and that is ok, so please do not feel guilty because of this, but I strongly suggest that you seek out a counsellor or a psychologist that can help you resolve your issue in a supportive and safe environment. Counselling is very effective in supporting people and helping them find solutions to problems, in a caring and nonjudgemental way.
Maria Di Martino
Professional Counsellor & Life Coach
2) My husband is 66, I am 59. He works full time and is thinking of retiring in 2 years. I feel really guilty that I am not looking forward to him retiring! He had prostate cancer 5 years ago that spread to his lymph nodes, but he is doing fine. We have 2 kids, married 32 years. No sex life and I don’t care….I am just glad he is alive and I want us to grow old together. I guess my thing is, I love my life now! He goes to work, I keep the house, the animals, etc. I don’t think I will like him being around 24/7.
(Beth from Campbellfield)
Thankyou for your honesty, I know it is not easy admitting that you dont look forward to your husband retiring. Just ascknowledging this is a good step in dealing with the situation. Believe it or not this is a very common reaction from women, so you are not alone. I sense that you have a good relationship with your husband, and this could help in your transition to retirement. It is normal to feel some uncertainty at this time, given that you and your husband have an established routine which is familiar to you both. I am also happy to hear that you love your life, so why would this be any different when you husband retires? I would suggest that you communicate with your husband what your concerns are, so you can both work on a mutual beneficial solution. Sometimes taking up a new hobby or doing some activities together can hep to fill in time and also helps the relationship. Just because people retire dosnt mean that they should do nothing else with thier life, it is important to keep an active mind and body even in retirement.
Maria Di Martino
Professional Counsellor and Life Coach.
3) I have an elderly mother who did NOT make any plans for her retirement and is now very dependent on us – my siblings and I. It is very difficult managing my own family, my work and business life as well as her and I am getting very tired and worn out. She is not a warm and positive person either which doesn’t help. I have an opportunity to work overseas for 12 months or so but am plagued with guilt about her. If I wait the chance will be gone and I will be too old and I may well feel resentful. If I go I will feel guilty about leaving her. What do I do?
(Sharon from Rockhampton)
Maybe it is time for you and your siblings to get together with your Mother and discuss her needs and requirements for her future, this may mean that you all have to contribute in helping her, both financially and physically. It should not be something that falls onto you alone. If your Mother requires medical help or care most of the time, you might find it helpful to contact your local Care for the Elderly Associations and see if they have any alternative suggestions to her living at home with you. It would be a shame to spoil the relationship you do currently have with your Mother and blaming her in the future for something that could have been sorted out differently.
4) I seem to be feeling very stressed lately, I have been in constant conflict with my daughter and things seem to be getting worse. I do spend a lot of my time running after her, how can I improve this situation for myself, so I can feel better?
(Paul from Brisbane)
During retirement people find that they have lots of time on their hands and therefore they can easily get caught up in becoming over involved with other family members. You mentioned you are in constant conflict with your daughter, but you did not state how old she is. I’m assuming that she is an adult with a family of her own. Sometimes people become stressed because they are trying to control other people into behaving a certain way, and can become stuck in a cycle of conflict. Perhaps taking a step back and questioning why you feel you need to run after her, which is obviously not helping the relationship at this point. Taking some time out to reflect on what you want and finding some sense of purpose for yourself (spending time doing the things that you love or taking up a new hobby) could help you to see this situation differently and help you to feel better.
5) My husband and I are approachng retirement in one year, and I am starting to feel anxious because he likes to play the pokies a lot, I am worried that he will spend all his time and money at the pokies in our retirement. How can I learn to cope with this?
(Sarah from Tweed Heads)
I can certainly understand your anxieties about your situation, as many couples in retirement spend long hours playing the pokies. Perhaps having a plan and a budget when playing at the pokies can help reduce some of your anxieties. Communicating with your husband about this issue and finding some resolution that you can both be happy with, is also important. Finding time to do fun activities together can shift the focus and brings enjoyment from doing other things. Overall communicating effectively to your husband about your concerns and finding resolutions that you both feel comfortable with can help you to cope with this issue.
6) Having recently retired from work, I find myself feeling down. I feel I am no longer useful to society, Is this normal?
(Norm from Cammeray)
Retirement is not an easy transition, it takes time and some planning to adjust to this new stage in your life. In the past work has helped to define who you are, and now you might be questioning your self worth. How you are feeling is normal due to the significant changes in your life.
Now is a good opportunity for you to reflect on what you have accomplished, and what your strengths and abilities are. All this life experience enables you to have so much to offer our society.
Thinking about what you have to offer in terms of helping others. Serving the community or even mentoring can help you feel that you are contributing to society in a positive way. Or perhaps thinking about what your natural abilities are, and starting up a new hobby or interest (its never too late). Finding a new sense of purpose in your life or some new goals to achieve can help increase your motivation and help you feel empowered. And you can begin to feel more positive about Retirement.
7) I am approaching retirement in a few months, and I am not looking forward to spending so much time at home with my husband, we argue enough as it is. I am doubting my ability to cope, as going to work often gives us a break from each other.
(Colleen from Maroubra)
Approaching retirement can certainly cause people to feel excited as well as produce anxiety about their future. This is normal and therefore OK. Having a plan for this new stage in your life, and discussing with your partner what you would both like to do now, can significantly help to reduce any anxiety and doubts you maybe experiencing.
Finding a new sense of purpose together, and supporting each other is important, as this can help you feel positive about spending time together in retirement. Improving your communication skills can also help you feel more empowered when you are in conflict with your partner. An “I” Statement is an assertive skill worth learning. This helps to communicate our needs to others, and at the same time showing them respect.
An example of an “I” statement would be: “When you don’t put your things away, I feel frustrated. Could you please put them away next time”. An “I” statement helps to address the behaviour rather than label or criticize the other person, and deals with the real issue.
8) Since retiring a year ago, my husband and I are spending most of our time fighting about the silliest things. As a result we are having less sex, and this is causing distance between us. What can I do to improve our sex life?
(Dianne from Hawthorn)
Relationship problems can contaminate good sexual compatibility. Quite often these are problems between couples because it is difficult to be intimate with some-one with whom you disagree much of the time. Problems usually arise because we view our own reality as the only reality, and it would be much more comfortable if everyone else felt , reacted and did things exactly the same way we do.
We may confuse closeness with sameness, and we may view human intimacy as the merging of two separate people into a single world view. However the fact is that we are different, and we all view the world differently. Unless we accept our male and female differences it is difficult, if not impossible to focus on common ground which is important in healthy relationships.
Good relationships are good for you, people in loving relationships help each other practically and emotionally. Some suggestions to increase intimacy between you and your partner:
- Focus on, and emphasize the positives and strengths in your relationship.
- Learn to appreciate and reward positives rather than punish negatives,
- Accept that each of you makes a contribution to the conflict.
- Increase the positive interactions and reduce the negative interactions.
- Spend more time showing affection towards each other (Hugs and Kisses)
- Spend a romantic evening together.
Once you start feeling more positive toward your partner, your intimacy will increase.
9) I don’t seem to be happy in my marriage anymore, we have become two very different people, we don’t have much in common anymore. I am finding myself more unhappy and disillusioned with our relationship. At my age I feel embarrassed to be feeling this way.
(Simone from The Gold Coast)
Retirement tends to shift the focus back on the relationship. Once the practical aspects of retirement have been dealt with, the relationship tends to be put under the microscope. This poses another challenge for the relationship. You say you are unhappy and disillusioned with your relationship, but have you discussed this with your husband?
Or perhaps seeing a Counsellor can help you to address the real issues in your relationship and work on a resolution. Sometimes just talking with your partner about how you feel about the relationship and discussing how will you both spend time, joint interests you have, and how much each partner pursues their own interests will often help. Facing these questions can help coupes from becoming disappointed. If you feel there are deeper issues to address, then seeing a counsellor can help.
10) My husband and I don’t communicate any more, we used to be so close and I am beginning to feel that we can never get that back again. How can I get things back on track again.
(Janette from Coffs Harbour)
I get the impression that you would like to work on improving your relationship before things get worse. I can make some suggestions that can help you communicate more effectively with your partner.
- Remove all distractions when trying to communicate. make sure the TV is off, and you have no distractions at all.
- Do not speak while your partner is speaking. Instead LISTEN and wait until he has finished. Then repeat back what you have heard.
- Communicate to your parnter what your expectations are and check understanding.
- Be forgiving and patient, as human beings are not perfect.
- Affirm each other by takling positively rather than negatively.
- Enhance each others self worth and self esteem.
- Do not labell or use negative emotion such as anger to manipulate the other person. Instead of labelling such as “lazy”, “stupid”, describe the behaviour you do not like.
Answers to these relationship questions were provided by Maria Di Martino a Melbourne based Counsellor & Life Coach.
She can be contacted on 03 9308 3244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org