Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

My husband was violent last night

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 26 February 2016
First, I'd like to say that my husband is not usually a violent man. Although he often shouts and uses bad language, which can be quite scary, he has never hurt me before. However, last night he pushed me hard against a wall.

He has been incredibly stressed recently, mainly because his mother died and he accepted a promotion with extra responsibility at work. He came home and was shouting and punching things in the house. I was trying to calm him down but he swung round, screamed at me and then shoved me away.

It has left me so shaken and on edge around him. He has apologised repeatedly but I'm so upset with him and can't seem to forgive his actions.

I know he doesn't need extra worry on top of his existing ones but how can I move on from this? Am I overreacting?
Thank you.

Patricia Marie says...

There is no excuse whatsoever for domestic violence. You are most certainly not overreacting, and I admire your courage in acknowledging this is a serious problem. Although it is the first time your husband has physically attacked you, due to the continued revilement you were suffering, it was almost inevitable violence was to follow.

Do not be a victim any more, or feel that you have to forgive him. He must accept the consequences of his actions, and it is now time for you to put a stop to this abuse before the situation worsens. You say he has been constantly apologising, but merely saying sorry is not enough. I would recommend you tell your husband you need some time apart while he addresses his behaviour. Tell him you can no longer risk being treated in this way. If he realises how much he is hurting you, and genuinely wants to change, this will be a good start, but if not, you should question the future of your relationship.

Your husband needs to embark on Anger Management classes as a matter of urgency to gain more self-control, and to prevent further repercussions. I feel he would also benefit from seeing his GP, who could refer him for Bereavement Counselling, as it would appear that he is in denial of his emotions, and has not yet come to terms with the loss of his mother. Having professional support will enable him to deal with the increased pressures at work as well.

You do need to look after yourself. I recommend you contact The National Domestic Violence helpline. They offer 24 hour help and advice, and counselling too, which could improve your self-worth and help you regain any lost confidence, as any form of abuse can leave one feeling insecure and fragile.

Remember, we all have a right to live without fear of violence and abuse.

The free National Domestic Violence number is: 0808 2000 247

Devastated our son is gay

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 19 February 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My 21 year old son has just announced to my husband and I that he is gay. I am totally shocked, devastated and completely unable to cope with this revelation. I still love him, but am disgusted by his behaviour.

He wants us to meet his boyfriend, but I have said absolutely not. I believe he thinks it's fashionable to be gay, but I am horrified. He has had a few girlfriends in the past, but nothing serious. Now I'm thinking this was all a disguise to shield us from the truth. My husband is putting on a brave face, but is distraught. We had presumed in the not too distant future our son would marry, and we would one day be grandparents, but I feel I have now lost my son.
My world has been shattered and I don't know what to do. Please help.

Please do not divulge my name, as I would be mortified if any of my friends saw this. Thank you.

Patricia Marie says...

For any parent, finding out their child is gay can come as a shock, and facing up to this news can be difficult and painful, but in your case, if you are unable to alter your way of thinking, then you could indeed risk losing your son. He has finally taken the enormous step to trust and 'come out' to you both, only to be rebuffed.

Have you considered how he is feeling? Being gay is not a choice. What your son needs from you now is simple acceptance, not to be made to feel guilty. Perhaps the first step in acknowledging this would be to welcome his boyfriend into your home. Many parents who have been in your situation find that, once they come to terms with their child's sexuality, the relationship between them deepens, and please stop worrying what others think; true friends will be supportive of you, and most importantly should accept your son for who he is.

Try to gain a sense of perspective – at present all you have lost is your own idea of how life should be. Your son hasn't changed. He's still the same person he was yesterday. Who's to say your son won't have a family and provide you with grandchildren in the future? Don't let him down at the time he needs you most, but instead show him the unconditional love every child deserves. The important factor in any relationship is not the gender to whom people are attracted - more that they love, respect, and treat one another with kindness.

Contact Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, who are brilliant at supporting parents when their children come out - and after. They would understand the very complex, raw, and totally understandable emotions that are enveloping your family at present.

I also recommend: Always my Child by Kevin Jennings; it provides the insights and practical strategies parents need to support their children and cope themselves, having established their child is gay.

Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays: 0845 652 0311
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Valentine's Day

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 11 February 2016
Yet again another Valentine's Day is upon us. If you feel sad and frustrated because this is a reminder that you're single, it might help to realise that you are not alone, and many dread this time of year. Here's some tips to not just get you through, but also to help you have the best Valentine's Day ever!

Enhance your social life to encourage new relationships
Venture out of your comfort zone and find out what's happening on the singles scene. A number of bars and venues hold singles parties, especially at this time of year, where you can celebrate as an unattached person. Don't take your love expectations with you though. Just go for a great time and to discover new people with whom to converse and share cocktails. Also consider joining a reputable dating site, or embarking on new hobbies and interests. How about arranging a fun night out with friends? Who knows, any of these could lead to an unexpected encounter.

Treat yourself
Don't yearn for that Special Someone to treat you. Go and buy that beautiful bottle of perfume you love. Treat yourself to some flowers. Splash out on a yummy box of heart shaped chocolates. Even better, treat someone you love, such as a close friend or family member - Valentine's Day needn't just be about expressing love to a partner.

Celebrate being single, and be happy within yourself regardless of your relationship situation
Just because others are partnered up on Valentine's Day, doesn't necessarily mean that they are blissfully happy. Remember the advantages of being single, such as free time, less responsibilities, the ability to make your own decisions, staying up until midnight eating ice cream and watching a slushy film, not having to tolerate your partner's family or watch those football matches. Then think about how some of these would evaporate within a relationship. Enjoy this single time. Just because Valentine's is approaching, don't rush into the wrong relationship and settle for less than you deserve out of loneliness.

Get some perspective
Do remember, whilst at this moment you may be without a partner, there are plenty of Valentine's Days in a lifetime, and many possible people with whom you could eventually fall in love. Put away the soul searching love songs, and listen to energising music to lift your mood. Don't make the day about loneliness, make it about happiness, and instead of moping around, be inspired by Bridget Jones, who after having enough of being alone, and constantly belting out "All by myself" became determined to find love, and did just that.

Avoid being swept away by a tide of gloom
Sometimes we can feel desperation at our single status, because of the sheer bombardment of media suggesting we will risk missing the boat. Try not to make this day about what you haven't, more about what you have in your life. Celebrate the strengths and achievements that testify to you being a whole and healthy person, someone who has space for love should it come along, but who doesn't need such a relationship to create self-worth and happiness.

And finally.......
Make sure you acknowledge the people who do matter, and make this Valentine's a day about love, even if you are single. A day when you can strive to open yourself up to change and be willing to focus not just on the love you hope to receive, but on the love you can give.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

Stuck in a rut

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 05 February 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

I've never written to an Agony Aunt before, and thought I would try this time, as I have read some of your answers to others' problems and am comforted by how thoughtfully you reply.

I am at a crossroads in my life, trying to decide whether to move home, stay with my partner, change jobs, everything really. One of my friends suggested I go to see a clairvoyant who may be able to point me in the right direction. I am feeling stuck, and desperately need some help in making decisions, but am not sure whether I would just be wasting my time. How do I know what they tell me is not just made-up nonsense? Do you think I should go?

Patricia Marie says...

When we feel unhappy with our lot, be it in our relationships, career, health or other matters, we can either be inspired to make different choices or become paralysed with fear. It seems you are feeling overwhelmed at this moment, and panicking, wanting to alter your life overnight. However, making hasty decisions will be sure to bring, not contentment, but chaos to your already turbulent emotions, so instead can you ask yourself "Which is the one area of my life that I feel by changing, could make me happier?" Often small changes can make a huge overall impact, and become the catalyst for further shifts in one's lifestyle.

The purpose of a clairvoyant is not to tell you what to do, but to highlight the choices you have before you, and give you a psychic insight to what could happen if you take different paths. However, you will need to have a little faith that your chosen clairvoyant can help guide you, so I suggest that if possible you visit a reputable one who is recommended to you. Naturally there are no guarantees, but if your psychic were to convey to you that in the not too distant future things are expected to turn out well, it could encourage you to make those changes in your life.

Have you considered some professional guidance such as Relate, to help with your faltering relationship, or a meeting with a recruitment agency to explore alternative career opportunities? Ask yourself why you feel the need to move – do you expect a change of address to rejuvenate your life? If you are merely running from your problems, most, if not all, will still remain after the move, unless you address them, and work towards solutions.

Whilst you are at this crossroads, it could be helpful to receive both support and guidance, whether it be from a clairvoyant, or any other source, but ultimately, making our own decisions about the future can be empowering, and one of the most satisfying lessons in life.
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I found a lump

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 29 January 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

I need some advice please. I found a lump in my breast, and my GP has now referred me for further tests as a matter of urgency. I am divorced, and have a daughter, aged 21, who is studying hard at university.

I am scared, and have no one to confide in as everyone else has their own problems. Do you think I should tell my daughter, or should I wait for the results?

I don't know how to go about this.

Patricia Marie says...

Firstly, comfort yourself with the fact that a high percentage of lumps are found to be non-cancerous, and even if yours should prove to be malignant, research is continually discovering and developing effective treatments, meaning many people are now fighting and overcoming the disease.
I feel there are actually two issues contained within this problem – whether to tell your daughter, and how to receive some support. You do not have to deal with your fears alone. Whilst awaiting your results, discuss how you are feeling with your GP, as well as Macmillan Cancer Support. They are a reliable, dedicated organisation whose advice and care continue to be completely invaluable both for sufferers and their families.

Your daughter may have already picked up on your emotions, and be concerned, but unsure how to approach you. By trying to protect her, and withholding such delicate information, she could be hurt that you were unable to share what may become life changing news.

If you do decide to tell her, establish your own perspective on the diagnosis first. Be honest with her as you talk through your feelings, which could range widely from fear to anger to acceptance. Whether you're waiting nervously for test results, and would appreciate some encouragement, have had a scare that fortunately turned out ok, or need treatment and would welcome some support, find the courage to open up to her about your concerns. This can be the first step towards feeling more in control, and could deepen your relationship by building trust.

Try not to dismiss others as being too busy to listen and help you. You could be denying them their chance to be there for you. We all experience challenging times, some more painful than others, and sharing them is truly the best way.
This is a very uncertain time for you, but what you can be sure of is that receiving compassion, understanding and support from your loved ones will help you triumph over whatever you are having to face.

Macmillan Cancer Support: 0808 808 0000 Monday to Friday 9am-8pm.
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