ETCETERA / ANgST: Expert advice on your problems

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
My husband is addicted - and I use the word advisedly - to Bach. He has bought one of those wake-me-up CD players so that when the alarm goes off each morning we are treated to a toccata for organ. When he comes home from work, the first thing he does is put on a Bach record. He has cassette recorders strategically placed in every room in the house so that whatever he is doing he can listen to it. He no longer watches television and can't be bothered to go out. He is planning next to buy all of Bach's 200 cantatas, which will probably set us back about pounds 1,000. Do you know of any way to treat this obsession?

Your husband's taste is impeccable. There is indeed very little on television to compare with any part of this great master's output, and many other enthusiasms can be far more destructive of human relationships, not to mention the bank balance, than this. However, the organ toccatas are strong stuff first thing in the morning. Perhaps you could suggest something lighter for a more meditative start. It's hard to define the boundaries between a strong enthusiasm and an obsession, but if your husband's passion for music begins to prevent him working, or seems to be making him unhappy and unable to live life as he wants, then some kind of cognitive/behavioural therapy might help. Your doctor would be the best person to advise him.

Mary North, counsellor, 32 Bolehill Road, Bolehill, Wirksworth, Derbyshire DE4 4GQ (0629 824258).

It is a few weeks now since the story first broke about Alan Clark's personal life, but continuing coverage in the press keeps reminding me of my husband's infidelity with a woman and her daughter more than 10 years ago. When I first found out, we went into counselling and that helped me to understand things about my husband which in turn made it easier to cope with what had happened. Now, however, I feel flooded with dreadful pain and jealousy all over again; my husband is angry with me for bringing it up, and says he thought we had got over what happened.

The problem with affairs is that the person who has been unfaithful does not really want to talk to their partner about it, because it makes them feel guilty - and this often comes across as anger. For the partner, on the other hand, talking is part of the recovery process. It is not surprising that Alan Clark's cavalier attitude towards affairs brings back the pain and jealousy, because they never quite go away. Suggest to your husband that it would still help you to talk it over even 10 years on, but in return assure him that you will not go over the subject endlessly. Do not destroy what the two of you have managed to rebuild.

Zelda West-Meads, counsellor, Relate, Little Church Street, Rugby, Warwickshire CV21 3AP (0788 573241).

I am in my mid-teens and have been at a girls' boarding school since I was seven. Most of us have had crushes on women teachers or other pupils at one time or another, but most of my friends are now getting interested in boys. Although I quite like some boys, I have never felt attracted to any and I do have strong feelings about an older girl at school. I don't dare tell my friends because they are quite horrible about gay women - and anyway, I don't know for sure whether I am gay. I can't talk to my parents about this but feel I need to try to make sense of it all somehow.

From what you say your sexuality is not so developed at present that you are having fantasies and getting a clear sexual turn-on with one gender. Until fantasies are pretty strong and rewarding, and there is something about that gender that is turning you on, there is no way you can be sure what your sexual orientation will be. Most people who are definitely going to be homosexual tend to have strong fantasies earlier than heterosexuals, and even people who are bisexual will recall having their homosexual fantasies first. It could certainly be helpful for you to talk through your feelings with someone trained to help you explore them, and you might like to contact one of the gay helplines. The Samaritans and Citizens Advice Bureaux can help you find this kind of resource.

Dr Bryan Tully, clinical psychologist, 6 Castelnau Gardens, London SW13 9DU (081-748 0815).

Write to Angst, The Sunday Review, The Independent on Sunday,

40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

Comments