Perhaps your wife was not being so unreasonable. Many people would find it difficult if their partner went out with a woman he fancies while they were away - it is rather different from an old platonic friend - and potentially you are matching her fears. Giving roses may have been nice - but the note was saying, in effect, that her feelings were wrong. I'm not surprised that she wasn't mollified] That said, obsessive jealousy is a problem and it sounds as though your wife may be suffering from this. It almost certainly dates from further back than your relationship, to some experience of being rejected or not feeling good enough. She may need some therapy to help her look at what is going on and come to terms with it.
Zelda West-Meads, Counsellor, Relate, Herbert Gray College, Little Church Street, Rugby CV21 3AP (tel: look in your local phone directory under 'Relate' or 'Marriage Guidance').
Several of my friends are going through personal crises at the moment, and feelstrongly that the one thing I can do for them is to give time. It means that one or other of them is either visiting or phoning several evenings a week, and my husband is getting very fed up. He says I seem only to have time for people with problems, and that my family is being ignored. I feel things are getting bad; it's true my 'counselling' is taking up a lot of emotional energy and things are strained at home.
It is good that friends feel they can turn to you in a crisis and that you listen well, but could it be that you are pushing aside the needs of your family and yourself in your eagerness to be the good supportive friend? It sounds from what you say as though the demands on you are too great and you need to stop and think about how much time you can give without damaging your own life. Then you can make an offer to your friends which shows you are supportive, but also puts a limit on the time they can have. You could say, for instance: 'I cannot speak now because everyone is waiting for supper, but I have 20 minutes tomorrow morning.' Or you may have to let people know, very briefly, that you are sympathetic but have no time to get involved. Friends can feel supported this way without your family life becoming strained.
Dr Deirdre Morrod, Counselling Development Officer, One Plus One Marriage and Partnership Research, Central Middlesex Hospital, Acton Lane, London NW10 7NS.
I am a 19-year-old Afro-Caribbean woman and I have just completed my nursery nurse training. I have started to apply for jobs as a nanny, but on two occasions I have turned up for interviews and people have clearly been shocked at seeing that I am black. This has made me feel very uncomfortable, and I have not got any of the jobs I have applied for. I am beginning to feel very anxious at the idea of going for interviews, and obviously this will not help me get a job.
It would help you to go over your interview techniques with someone who will role play with you - ideally somebody doing the same work as you. You may think of your race as the problem, but it's quite possible you simply weren't the most suitable applicant. Feeling sure that you interview well, that you have considered all the things people are going to want in a nanny, that you make them feel confident you are thoroughly capable, should help you. Could you ask the employers for feedback on why you were not chosen and why they appointed whoever was chosen? It's a reasonable thing to ask and could reassure you. You might also go to the Citizens Advice Bureau and Equal Opportunities Commission for advice. But I think the important thing is for you to get some of the emotion out of the situation and take a practical approach.
Myatts Community Counselling Project (counselling for women), 46 Foxley Square, London SW9 7RX (tel: 071-735 9794).
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