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Planning Retirement Online

Relationships - 15

It could be you.... 

Maggi Stamp, LaterLife's Relationship Counsellor

Every month Maggi Stamp, a qualified and experienced relationship counsellor for Relate and in private practice, writes about some of the emotional challenges we meet as we pass our half-way markers.  For reasons of confidentiality Maggi never writes about a particular person's problems unless you have sent one in to be answered, but all her examples are based on problems raised by clients, family and friends over the years.  

You can write to Maggi at for her to respond in the column.


We're often exhausted, and then we argue. Is it our age, or is our marriage on the rocks?

This month Maggi writes about a frequently asked question which may be part of getting older but can arise at any time of life. It may be something in  personal life or work which is a draining factor.

We married 15 years ago when we were in our mid thirties. Both of us were in well paid, professional careers until our daughter was born. We were very happy at that time. I returned to work six years ago but now my job drains me and I feel exhausted at the end of every day, not even wanting to cook a meal. My husband works long hours and comes home exhausted too. We try to catch up with housework at weekends but we end up arguing over the slightest thing, usually when our 12 year old daughter is in her own room, or worse, when we go to bed. Often, after this we don`t talk to each other for days. Is my exhaustion just part of getting older, or is our marriage breaking up?

It sounds as if you have lost the energy and enthusiasm that fuelled you in the early days, buried under the pressures of a very packed life. You are both too tired to stop and give your full attention to your relationship and partner. Instead of listening, you are probably second guessing to save time. The result is that you have become more dissatisfied with everything -  job, family, partner and yourself.

If you are worried about your health check with your GP, but it sounds much more likely that you are stuck on the treadmill, weighed down with the responsibilities of being involved with working, running the home and being wife and mother, as well as worrying about your age and having no time to relax.

This is a perfect time to stop and take stock.

Being together fifteen years is no mean feat these days, given our strivings to have a good standard of living and a good home. Who can blame us? We all want to make things physically easier wherever we can. What gets so many of us caught in the negative side is the insidious pressure of the modern work ethic. It's a syndrome so easily followed because so many others are subscribing to it: longer work hours equal better work, higher achievement, greater esteem.

Both of you have lost the habit of making time to talk to each other and to check if your partner is all right or has hidden worries. Once you get out of the habit of talking, it becomes difficult to tell your partner if you are worrying over something in case it is mistaken for a criticism.

Let me ask some questions:  

  • Think about your job, do you like it?  

  • Do you want to/have to, keep working full time or would you rather be at home more?  

  • As you both work full time, do you share the household tasks evenly?  

  • Could you afford to pay someone to do your housework and give you both a bit of breathing space to relax together?

Find some quiet time, well before bedtime, to ask for your husband`s help, tell him of your worry and exhaustion and that you have noticed it in him too so that it is clear it is a shared problem. Tell him how much you enjoyed his companionship in earlier times and want that back. Let him know how much the bedtime rows upset you and suggest the following:

  1. When you do try to discuss things, give each other time to finish their point before saying how you feel.

  2. Try to talk about your own thoughts or feelings, not tell the other about theirs or offer accusations..

  3. Make time to talk when you need to, but not in the bedroom at the end of the day. Could you get a babysitter and go out for a meal together?

  4. If you are unable to resolve something after an hour, agree to stop and re-visit the subject another day. Your energy is limited remember and you will only go round in circles or get upset if you push yourselves further.

For reasons of confidentiality Maggi never writes about a particular person but all her examples are based on problems raised by clients, family and friends over the years. We hope you find the column useful and interesting …  and if you have any comments or suggestions, Maggi would like to hear from you.   Either share some your own experiences in the laterlife forum  or email her on .  

Please don't send any confidential information to

To view previous articles  - see the Relationship Counselling & Advice Index page  



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