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Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 27 November 2015
Dear Patricia Marie, 

I recently unexpectedly inherited a large sum of money from an elderly lady for whom I used to work as a housekeeper.  I had worked for her for the last five years, during which time we had become quite close, as I seemed to be the only contact for her with the outside world, and to my knowledge she had no living family.  I would sit and read to her and we would discuss the day's news.  I would take her out sometimes to places she remembered from her youth and we would laugh about some of her stories.  However I had never even considered what would happen in the event of her death, and when she died quite suddenly, I was very distressed as I knew I would miss our time together.

My problem is that my husband has big plans for my inheritance, and I don't agree with him.  I want to do something in her memory, and also give some of it to worthy causes which I knew she supported.

My husband wants to spend, spend, spend.  I have always known that money changes people, but I am actually quite disgusted with his manner over this.  

What should I do? 

Patricia Marie says...

Losing a friend is never going to be easy, especially one who you saw so regularly, and with whom you had forged a strong bond. Keeping your own sense of calm and maintaining your friend's memory are an important part of the grieving process. You are understandably angry because of the pain your friend's death has caused, therefore, particularly sensitive to your husband's comments, which merely reinforce your sorrow. I doubt he means to deliberately upset you, but possibly is thinking that as you dedicated much of your time to this lady, you now deserve some enjoyment from her kind gesture. 

Make him aware of your feelings - that you are not ready to make extravagant plans yet, but are prepared to compromise. Hopefully he will understand that you would appreciate his patience at this upsetting time. 

Firstly it sounds like you need cheering up. So be extravagant for a day, and treat yourself to an item you would never normally purchase. Perhaps an exquisite piece of jewellery which can become a keepsake, and remind you of your friend each time you wear it.  She had probably taken her own worthy causes into consideration, and had intended you to personally benefit from her bequest, so enjoy it. Maybe treat your close friends and family to a meal or a theatre trip, and spend some quality time with those you love, which will create a feel good factor.

Then put off making any further decisions regarding this inheritance until you are in a more focused state of mind, when hopefully you and your husband can then look forward to having a rational conversation about this matter. Finally - do consider, yes, it is your inheritance, but if you decide to make any decisions without your husband, this may cause serious problems within your marriage, which I feel would be the last thing your friend would have wanted when she wrote her will. 

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Prayers for Paris

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 20 November 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have been horrified at the catastrophe in Paris this weekend, particularly as my son is shortly due to fly out there in a few weeks on a work experience project.  I am scared witless that another atrocity could occur whilst he is there, although I do realise it is just as likely that such a barbaric act could be carried out in this country, particularly in London, where I live.

How is it possible for us all to go about our normal lives without being affected? I worry about journeys I need to make on the underground, and even about going to a well attended restaurant now!

I don't know how to put this tragedy aside in my mind.

Patricia Marie says...

The stark reality of the Paris attack has brought about an international outpouring of utter shock and grief, both for personal loss, the loss of others, and almost for our own safety.  The aftermath of events such as this can cause heightened anxiety, and we would be wise to place limitations on our exposure to the media reports, and do our best to continue our daily routines to install a sense of normality.

 Theresa May, the Home Secretary, reassured us by saying "Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are working day and night to keep the people of this country safe and secure".  She added that those who attacked Paris "represent no one, and will fail to divide free countries such as Britain and France.  France grieves, but she does not grieve alone. People of all faiths, all nationalities and all backgrounds around the world are with you, and together we will defeat them."

 I cannot echo this bold sentiment enough, and hope you feel calmed and uplifted by this powerful, heartfelt message.

  Understandably, recent events have left you feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed.  Perhaps you could offer some positive advice to your son about keeping himself safe. Children of all ages look to their parents for guidance, so also remind him that these fanatics cannot stop any of us from living our lives. Reassuring him will make you feel more in control and help detract from your fears. 

Adults as well as children require a sense of community and belonging, to help us feel protected.  Don’t worry alone. Talk about your fears and concerns with your family and friends. It’s the love and support from our relationships which hold us safely in this world.

 Despite how devastating this act was, if we could all just try to put things into perspective, we would realise these tragedies do very rarely happen.   Finally and thankfully, take comfort in the fact that history has proven, good will always triumph over evil.

Family First

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 13 November 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have been seeing a man I met on the internet for the last six months.

Everything seems fine, except he really resents me wanting to spend any time with my daughters, aged 24 and 26. I made it clear to him from the very start that they were a huge part of my life.

Both of them have left home now and I try to see each of them at least once a week for a day or evening to catch up on what has been happening in their lives and because I do miss them since they moved out. We talk on the phone most days but somehow that is not the same as actually seeing them.

However, my boyfriend gets quite irritated if they ring when I am with him, and always tuts and shakes his head if I say I am going to visit one of them. And he never asks how they are, or suggests we visit together. He has no children of his own. He is now 54 years old and I think he wishes he had his own children, and perhaps resents my close relationship with mine.

What can I do, as I can see this becoming a big stumbling block in our relationship?

Patricia Marie says...

This man knew your children were part of the package at the outset, and can't pretend they don't exist just because he would rather have you to himself. He needs to accept how important they are to you, and not make you feel guilty for wanting to spend time with them, or indeed speaking with them on the telephone. You should never be put in a position where you feel you have to choose between your partner and your children.

Your boyfriend is clearly showing signs of jealousy. The trigger for this may well be that he is resentful as he has no children of his own, or alternatively there may be other factors contributing to his irrational behaviour. I suggest you open up to him about your concerns, as this may prompt him to share his feelings with you. Listen to what he has to say, but make it clear that his attitude towards your daughters is having an adverse effect on you, which if left unresolved could spoil your relationship, and may ultimately destroy it.

Instead of you visiting your daughters alone, invite them over to yours for dinner. Tell your partner it would mean so much to you if he could make an effort with them, even initially just for the one evening. Include him in the hospitality. Perhaps he could organise some games to help make him feel part of the family. You never know, if he allows himself to get to know your girls, he may actually enjoy their company, and even better, begin to bond with them.

Specsavers Silent Night

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
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on Thursday, 12 November 2015
specsavers-176One in six people under the age of 65 in the UK currently suffer from some sort of hearing loss. I have two grandparents who wear hearing aids, and despite understanding the obvious that they struggle with hearing; I had no understanding of how they feel and how they may struggle at a family meal such as Christmas dinner.

In a bid to help people understand I went to the Specsavers Silent Night event, which would entail enjoying a Christmas meal whilst having my ears blocked so 70% of hearing would be lost.

Once I'd had the putty like filler injected into my ears I took a seat around the table to have breakfast and chat which sounds simple, but had now been made a whole lot harder.

When talking to people I had to make sure I was looking directly at them, relying much more than I usually would on facial indicators and lip movements during a conversation.

I also found that eating and talking to someone was near impossible; when eating, the sound of chewing would drown out everything around me. I found this meant it took me much longer to eat a meal, having to constantly stop eating so I could partake in conversation.

I also found it very difficult to chat to more than one person at a time, unable to look at different people's faces at the same time making it hard to get into group conversations.

Nick Taylor, Head of Professional Advancement at Specsavers Hearing Centres, was in attendance at the breakfast and explained some of the knock on effects of hearing loss (that is left untreated) with depression, loneliness, diabetes and weight gain being just a few.


Once your hearing starts to deteriorate, there is nothing that can be done to bring it back 100%, but a simple hearing test and an aid can bring back up to 95% of hearing, vastly improving a person's life.

Having experienced 70% hearing loss and struggling to get through a meal without worrying I was speaking too loudly, not being able to communicate fully, and even not wanting to really eat as it disturbed my hearing, I now more than ever see the importance of hearing tests.

For more information on hearing loss and to book a free hearing test visit
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My boyfriend constantly puts me down

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 06 November 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,
My boyfriend constantly puts me down, particularly when we are out with friends, and it is really starting to cause a problem. He says it is just his sarcastic sense of humour, and all his past girlfriends have found it amusing, but I am starting to lose my confidence when I am with him.

I am reasonably attractive, with a slim figure, but have always had low self esteem, ever since my mother walked out when I was 14 years old, and my father made it obvious I was a nuisance to him.

It has taken me a long time to accept myself as I am, and although I don't want to break up with him, I also don't want to start feeling bad about myself again. If I try to talk to him about it, he just gets angry, and says I have no sense of humour and that he is only joking, but he does seem to pick up on all the things I don't like about myself and make them into 'jokes'.

Is there anything I can do to make him stop?

Patricia Marie says...

People who constantly find fault in others, are generally insecure and unhappy within their own lives. It's unhealthy for any relationship to be filled with criticism. Make your partner aware of how much he is jeopardising yours. Perhaps he grew up with a critical parent, was bullied himself, or maybe he is carrying regrets or resentments from previous partners.

This man is able to make you feel worthless because you are allowing him to, and constantly facing such negativity is quite understandably wearing away your happiness. If you really want to salvage this partnership, calmly ask him why he feels the need to verbally attack and belittle you. I suggest you make it clear that you will not tolerate this behaviour any more. If he realises how much he is hurting you, and genuinely wants to address his issues, this will be a good start, but if not, you have to ask yourself why you would want to stay with a man who is making you so unhappy.

If you can't make a decision right now, have some time apart, to allow you to re-evaluate your feelings. It could be that your boyfriend's attitude has reignited in you painful memories from the past which you may not have dealt with at the time, and I therefore believe you could benefit from some counselling. This will empower you by building your self esteem, enabling you to think more clearly, and help you make better decisions both at this present time and in the future too.
You may come to a decision to sever ties, but remember, no relationship is ever a waste of time. If it doesn't bring you what you want, it teaches you what you don't want, and do keep in mind, all endings bring new beginnings.

I recommend you read Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum: A Step by Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay in or Get Out of Your Relationship.

The British Association of Counselling and Therapy (BACP) 01455 883 300.

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