ETCETERA / Angst: Expert advice on your problems

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I am a 40-year-old woman at war with a three-year-old boy. He wakes at 5.30am and wants apple juice. I think in part he wakes for the juice, which I hesitate to deny him. He spends the next hour in his room playing, but interrupts us every 15 minutes. I've tried leaving juice in his room, but he drinks it during the night, demands more and comes into our bed. Getting enough sleep is impossible.

Three-year-olds who are having new and exciting experiences, such as starting at nursery, may need more attention at home to help them feel secure - but 5.30am is not the best time for this] You could tell your son you like playing and talking in the evening, but it makes you very tired and cross early in the morning. Offer him water instead of juice at night - it might be less tempting to wake up for. Three- year-olds can understand an argument, sympathise with feelings and say what they need. They may be relieved to be prevented from exhausting their parents, as long as their need for love and family time is attended to first.

Dilys Daws, chief psychotherapist, Under-5s Counselling Service, The Tavistock Clinic, 120 Belsize Lane, London NW3 5BA (071-435 7111).

I have been with my husband for 14 years and we have two children aged seven and 14. He is good to me in many ways and a devoted father. But he does not seem interested in the way I feel and think, and he finds it impossible to be emotionally demonstrative. Recently a local cabinet-

maker spent two months in our house doing some work. We had a lot in common and talked a great deal; I was struck by his openness and his interest in me. He has finished the work and I don't see him any more, but I crave the affection and passion I believe would have been possible with him. It is making living with my husband hard.

Your letter reflects the dilemma many couples face when children are at an age to give you more space to consider other aspects of life. Your recent experience offers you the opportunity to re-negotiate your marriage. If you were to do so, which aspects would you keep as they are? Which are most open to change and what kind of possibilities do you see for the future? What reaction would you expect from your husband if you suggested talking about what you both want from the relationship? These are some questions you may consider. You can then decide whether it would be useful to explore them further, either alone with your husband or with the help of a third person. I can also recommend Deborah Tannen's book You Just Don't Understand (published by Virago, pounds 5.99), which offers many interesting ideas about the way men and women misunderstand each other emotionally and verbally.

Teresa Wilson, The Elm Therapists, 55 Cloudesdale Road, London SW17 8ET (081-946 1097).

I have been a young widow for a few years now and I met a nice, local bachelor of 34. I thought he liked me but I am a very shy person and had to gather all my courage to invite him over for tea, and once to lunch with other friends. I have known him for two years but he has never asked me out. What upsets me is that I asked him to keep free a special evening two weeks ago, but I wonder if I sounded too pushy and frightened him off. He promised to phone but I have not heard from him. I am very fond of him and would like to ring him, but his silence makes me think he wants nothing to do with me. What shall I do?

I don't think you have been too pushy. You sound as if you have approached him very carefully. There is nothing wrong in a woman making the first move, even though that could not have been easy for you. Because he likes you and knows what you have been through, perhaps this man does not want to get involved in what he sees as a light-hearted romance when he suspects it would be more serious for you. And he does not want to hurt you. On the other hand, he may just want to be friends and no more, and finds it difficult to tell you. I think the ball is in his court and it would be better to let him do the telephoning.

Zelda West-Meads, Relate National Marriage Guidance, Herbert Gray College, Little Church Street, Rugby CV21 3AP (0788 573241).

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