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Planning Retirement Online

Relationships 49               May 2006

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.   

We hope you find the column useful and interesting and will want to comment or even share some your own experiences.You can write to Maggi at



Consequences of divorce?

Peter writes:

I recently got divorced. My ex-wife left me when I was stationed in Iraq. When I got back to my base a few months later I met a wonderful woman and we spent a lot of time together, then I left the army to go back to my home town.

We were always on the phone and she visited regularly. I asked her to move in with me and things were great. She is wonderful and I‘m very much in love with her.
We’ve lived together for 10 months but now I’m unemployed and depressed. I wonder if my divorce had more of an effect on me because although I love my girlfriend, I’m sometimes not sure that I really want to be with her. Is this normal?

Maggi replies:

It sounds like going to Iraq had more than a few unexpected consequences and I’m sorry that you have been through such uncertain times emotionally since you returned.

You are so right about divorce hitting you more than you realise. The end of your marriage happening while you were in Iraq will probably mean that you have held in much of the emotional turmoil, shock, anger or upset because being in such a dangerous situation means there is little space for dealing with home issues. Now you are back it will slowly all begin to affect you.

But please bear in mind that the depression you are feeling could be connected with your time in Iraq. You might have been in tough situations and seen fairly unpleasant things there. Again, soldiers often don’t feel the effect of these until they are in a place safe enough to let it come to the surface, i.e. home.

Find a counsellor who can help you explore some of what has happened to you and sort out what ‘belongs’ where. This is not a sign of weakness but confirmation of your concern that things will not be allowed to get in the way of future happiness. Then you will be more sure of what you are really feeling about you new relationship. It would be very sad to see it fail if your depression is about something else entirely. Does your former regiment provide this kind of support for its homecoming troops? I hope so.

Talk to your girlfriend about this and explain to her how you feel and what connections there might be. This way she will not be assuming it is all about her. With no information about how you are feeling she will try to make sense of things by wondering if she is the cause of your unhappiness.

I hope things sort themselves out for you. Don’t bottle this up.


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

To view previous articles in this series - see the Relationship Counselling Index page


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