Testimony: auntie ag & uncle ony

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My husband has been promoted and gets to up-grade his existing company Vauxhall Cavalier, but instead of a five-door saloon he has asked for a sports car. We have two children under five and I've given up work to take care of them at home. He says my old Volkswagen Golf is fine for carting the kids around and we can use the sports car to have fun, but I think he means he can use the sports car to have fun, and is being being incredibly selfish.

Claire, Durham

Uncle Ony: Love, Claire, is not about judging and taking entrenched positions, but understanding and working together to fulfil both your needs. It is clear that this car symbolises a need for things your husband feels are lacking in himself and in his life - youth perhaps, independence, sexual adventure, style. What exactly is wrong with his having the car he longs for? In tandem with the family Golf, it sounds rather a good idea to me.

Auntie Ag: ( Oh don't be ridiculous, Ony. Why should he swagger around with the top down twirling his moustache at girls while she staggers around trying to stuff Sainsbury's bags, pushchairs and car seats into a hatchback?) Quick, darling. Before he gets the new car, find someone in the garage trade who'd loan you an old MG Midget in exchange for the Golf for a couple of days. Then when he gets home, leap out of the house wearing a sexy little dress, sunglasses and lots of lippy, tell him you've decided sports cars are a marvellous idea, and would he mind just taking the kids to Sainsbury's in the Cavalier while you go off for a spin? Repeat as necessary.

I've just bought a flat and after I got the keys I found the last people had left it full of broken furniture and all the rubbish they didn't want to take with them. I rang them to complain but they refuse to do anything about it. I feel really angry and it's put me off the whole place.

William, Hackney.

Uncle Ony: Interesting. For the previous tenants the move clearly symbolises a leaving behind of emotional breakdown and mess, but instead of "throwing away" and thus freeing themselves of the "mess" they have felt the need, almost vindictively, to "pass it on" to you, the new tenant. It seems clear that they resent the need to leave the house, even that they are seeking to "hold on to old pain" and are expecting you to demand that they retrieve it. Do not, whatever you do, accept their pain and allow it to spoil you feelings about your new home. Insist they deal with the pain and take the rubbish away.

Auntie Ag: Ugh. Don't get involved darling. Call the solicitor. I'm sure it says something about vacant possession in your agreement and someone can get the council to take it all away.

I am so miserable I just want to die. Everything in my life looks perfect on the outside, I have a wonderful boyfriend, a fantastic job and a lovely flat but I hate myself, can't think of anything which fills me with joy, and feel really ashamed for being so ungrateful. I don't want to go to therapy as it seems so self-indulgent.

Ruth, Chester

Uncle Ony: Time and time again from new patients with really quite serious psychiatric problems I hear this casual dismissal of my profession as if it were the product of some California-style whim. Therapy is no more a self-indulgence than treating a headache with an aspirin. You are clearly suffering a serious depression which could be dangerous and harmful to you if left untreated. You should visit your GP as a matter of urgency who will refer you to a counsellor to help you begin work on the root of the problem.

Auntie Ag: Poor thing. Don't feel ashamed or self-indulgent. Life is difficult. We're not meant to whiz along beaming smugly as if we're in a shampoo advert. Depression usually means it's time for a change inside you and there's no reason why people with nice flats should feel it any less than people in hovels. For once Ony might be right, and professional help might steer you in the right direction. But if I were you, I'd pop out and buy yourself a little present in Harvey Nicks first - just as a sort of bump mender to tell yourself how nice you are.

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