Counsellor Dr Charmaine Saunders answers your relationship and sex questions.
I’m seeing a lovely man after a long time of being single but he seems to be going through a bad time and I’d like to help him. Perhaps you could help me understand better. He’s 35 with two children and says he’s fed-up with his life. He seems to like me but I can’t get the relationship on a firmer footing while he’s so depressed. What can I do?
It’s commendable that you should want to help your friend. You’re obviously very caring. His age is a big clue as many men and women go through a deep identity crisis in their 30s. It’s very confusing and frightening and entails a lot of growth and change. Be patient with him as he doesn’t need any extra pressure at the moment. What he needs is support and even if you can’t share his pain, you can be there for him. If it’s meant to be, your relationship will have a future. Trust that and don’t ask for too much at present. Suggest to him that he might need counselling or even short-term medication. Read up about depression yourself so you have more information to help him with.
I’m getting married in a few months and am caught up in all the usual frenzied preparations but I’m getting a bit worried that it’s all about the gown, flowers, food, guests etc. What’s your opinion on all this? Is it over the top? Too shallow? We’re paying for the wedding ourselves and I’m really scared about starting our married life with a huge debt. What can we do to make sure we don’t forget what’s really important?
I actually think it’s a social rather than a personal issue. Society puts such a big emphasis on the ceremony, gowns, reception, flowers etc and couples are pressured into spending a lot of money. Sure, it’s an important occasion but going into debt over it doesn’t seem a very smart move to me. You can still have a perfectly beautiful wedding without that.
The most crucial aspect of getting married of course is the relationship. Sometimes, that gets overlooked in the midst of all the arrangements. I think pre-marriage counselling is essential so that the romance doesn’t cloud the harder reality of marriage and its challenges. One hopes that by the time a couple get to the altar, they have thought about what this commitment means. For me, the main aspects of the wedding itself should be love, sharing with family/friends and making a public declaration of promises to each other. Fun and warmth are more important than luxury at a wedding. The fact that you wrote in and asked your questions ensures that you will not have a glamorous but meaningless wedding. Keep it in the forefront of your mind why you’re there and you’ll be okay.
I’m a 26 year old virgin. How do I tell men? Everyone just assumes you’re sexually active and it makes me feel inadequate and lacking.
You are a late bloomer, that’s all! By average standards, most women of your age have experienced sex but whether you haven’t because of personal choice or lack of opportunity, it is very much your own business. I certainly wouldn’t announce your virginity to casual dates if I were you. The wrong guys will either see you as a challenge or they’ll assume you’re `frigid.’ When someone special comes along, you’ll have no difficulty telling him about your virginal status and he will think it’s terrific!