October 2003
  Pure Agony

Hi everyone and welcome to the second month of our interactive Agony Aunt site. We’ve not heard from many of you yet so I’m going to cover 2 things this month. Firstly, let’s talk about Jenny and Justin who I referred to in last month’s page and I’ll tell you what’s happened to them since, and then I’ll introduce a new issue for your perusal!

Ok, so what happened to Jenny? Well, if you remember she was a mature woman in P.R. who had been made redundant a number of times and was uncertain about her future. Although this emotion was perfectly natural, it was creating such a feeling of inertia in Jenny that she wasn’t doing enough about her situation and therefore continually relying on her husband who badly needed things to improve……

Well, she discussed how she felt with him and this proved more helpful that she’d thought. Afraid of boring him or seeming concerned about her problems again, she concentrated on asking for his support – financial support in the short term but more importantly by explaining how he could help her best. Using a classic and very positive stress management technique she emphasised the solution to her problem not the problem itself. Simple but great isn’t it? Many people become overwhelmed by their own stress and take it to a spouse or Manager to offload. If they whinge about it, chances are they’ll feel better but this improvement is temporary. Managers teach employees to think about the solution to the problems BEFORE they come to tell them about the issue. This isn’t shirking the responsibility of offering help but is actually encouraging the individual towards the realisation that deciding on a plan of action is what’s actually making them feel better not the whinging. It’s a bit like the fact that the rest taken whilst drinking the G & T is a better stress reliever than the alcohol is! In fact, any plan of action is a great stress management tool because we often feel better if we can take action on something rather than doing nothing.

Jenny therefore looked at tackling her problems by recognising only ‘she’ could motivate herself to re-train for a new career, or look for an alternative strategy to make her more interesting to prospective employees within her current field, or help her cope with redundancy better. So she looked for a temporary job to bring her in some money and renew the discipline that working brings to life. This covered the mortgage so she also felt she was making an important contribution to the joint finances. She wasn’t happy about everything yet but she was making improvements. She committed to looking for a Career’s Advisor who could test her aptitudes and help her decide on new direction to re-train in and the relationship with her husband was getting better. What more could you ask?
I’ll keep you informed of her progress.

Justin on the other hand had been married for 6 years and had an affair. He needed to decide what he wanted and sort his life out a bit as his wife was feeling confused about his behaviour but had not been told what was happening to him. I advised him to think very carefully about what he wanted from marriage and whether his wife deserved the contradictory messages he was sending her. He wanted a happy home life and yet was deliberately upsetting this by looking for more stimulation and excitement somewhere else. This wasn’t fair on a woman who had never pretended to be something she wasn’t nor had she lured him in to marriage.

He therefore decided to stay with his wife. He wanted to help her understand his needs and told his lover to let him go. He made no promises to her for the future and asked her to stop the emotional blackmail of forcing him to choose between his wife and her. His allegiance, obligations and moral responsibility lay in sorting out his current relationship and the one he’d begun in good faith at the time. He therefore asked for some space whilst still remaining in the marital home and is trying to sort his marriage out for the better.

Your thoughts………….
Let me know what you think about either Jenny or Justin. Their situations are easy to judge but how would you behave in the same circumstances do you think?

I’ll let you know what happens next.


This month I have a painful one for you and I’d value your opinions.

Brian is a 46 year old man and a father of 2. Ten years ago he and his wife separated after 5 years of arguing and unhappiness. Although the divorce was fairly amicable, soon after the settlement Brian took up a relationship with a 36 year old lady he’d worked with for a number of years. His daughter found it difficult to believe her father had not been having an affair with this lady prior to the divorce and blamed him for the split. She has refused to see or talk to him since. Although Brian has contacted his son on a number of occasions, his repeated attempts to contact his daughter who is now 26 have
met with rejection.

Your thoughts……………
What would you advise him to do? Brian is desperate to still retain contact with his daughter but she is sending him the signals she doesn’t want to know. Do you think that’s what she really feels or is she just putting her resentment and bitterness before her love for him?

My thoughts…………..
My advice to Brian is to think very carefully about what he wants to achieve and why. His attempts may be a salve for his own conscience and his guilt over the end of his relationship with his ex-wife. Maybe he would be better to talk to his ex-wife and whilst not implying he blames his daughter’s attitude, he could try and apologise for any distress he may have caused and help his ex-wife let go of him or any bitterness she still holds on to. That way, he might be improving things for his ex which in turn will make her speak more highly about him to her daughter. He also needs to accept his daughter’s attitude and decide once and for all what he wants to do about this, then make a decision, do it and move on. In other words, if he is really determined to see her then maybe he ought to write to her, persuade his son to help by taking the letter to her and asking her to read it rather than tear it up. Maybe he should just turn up unexpectedly which would force her to see him or would this merely feel like stalking and cause her more anxiety? Either way, he either pushes harder or accepts the situation and gives up but this frustration he’s feeling right now is damaging him and causing too much pain to ignore. Let me know what you think on the subject……………..

So that’s it for this month. Write to us at [email protected] I’d love to hear from you.

See you next time……


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