A girlfriend who has lost interest in sex, parents who are too interested in PDAs and a greedy daughter
Q: I've been living with my girlfriend for four years now, we've been together for six and I think we have pretty much the same amount of sex as other couples - a couple of times a month or maybe three of four times a month if things are not too hectic and we're not exhausted. However, she switched jobs about three months ago and has become very tight with her work buddies - they go out a couple of times a week and are always online together, keeping in touch.
I am not a control freak, so as I got slowly sidelined via cancelled date nights etc, I let it go. I figured things would settle down because new friendships can be very intense. But since early on in this new job, she has found any number of excuses to not have sex and now I have to trust my instinct - which is telling me that something is up.
I don't know if she has a crush on one of her male colleagues or if I am starting to look like a shabby old couch compared to her buzzing new pals, but I know there is a problem.
I've tried to talk to her about it but she brushes my concerns away. The no sex thing is telling as I do not ever remember her saying no in our six-year relationship - neither of us ever have, as it is very hurtful.
I can't sort things out if she won't talk, but I do not want to be made a total dick of if she is cheating.
A: I can empathise with this situation from both perspectives. Your girlfriend is trying to make a big effort with her new colleagues and to make a good impression at her new job, and that takes a certain level of input. But you have shown incredible patience and understanding with her so far, and I totally understand why you want to know what's going on.
Intimacy in the bedroom is undoubtedly an important part of any close relationship, and it's an area that must be worked on as much as every other aspect of the relationship.
I wouldn't suggest jumping to conclusions just yet, as she may genuinely just be very busy. But since she's brushed away your questions so far, it's probably time to ask her straight out what the problem is.
Be kind but firm and ask her why she hasn't been interested recently in the intimate side of your relationship. I definitely think it's time to kick off a discussion about it because ignoring the issue won't make it go away.
Work together as a couple to sort this out, and it should hopefully really benefit your relationship.
Q: My parents did a counselling course to prepare them for retirement and it seemed to have a very positive effect - they settled into an active new life and myself and my siblings were delighted.
However, they then went on to do other couples' courses, including one while on holidays in the States. They started becoming very touchy feely in company and now you can't spend time with them without PDAs being par for the course. I do not resent them their happiness and newly discovered sexual attraction, but there is a time and a place, especially in front of the grandchildren. How do I ask them to tone it down without causing offence?
A: It's great to hear that your parents are so happy and deeply in love. Retirement must require a shift in attitude after a lifetime of work, so its wonderful to know that people can settle in so happily to a different pace of life.
However, I appreciate your concern regarding the public displays of affection. No matter what the age of the people involved, it's never that comfortable for everybody else to have to witness them, and especially not for your kids.
If I were you. I would make a joke about it the next time it happens, but make sure that they understand the meaning behind the joke.
You could laughingly say that you need to cover your children's eyes so that they don't have to watch their grandparents, but make sure they know that you're serious.
It's best to approach this gently as you don't want to disrupt their happiness or make them feel ashamed. It's just about choosing the time and place for it.
Q: My daughter is on her holidays from college and she seems to think I am made of money. I've been encouraging her to work, and in fairness, she did get a part-time job in a clothes shop - yet she still insists that she needs €200 from me towards new clothes and money for some anti-acne treatment.
I think she does not understand the difference between needs and wants, but I suffer from guilt whenever the word 'no' comes out of my mouth and then I end up caving a few days later.
Of course, this pattern is something I set early on in life for her but I've had pay cuts and, this may sound selfish, more and more I am starting to wonder if there will ever be a time when I can put myself first again.
Not all the time, but just occasionally - as in, it would be lovely to have €200 to spend on clothes for myself once in a while instead of handing it over to my daughter.
You sound like a very generous mother, but handing over your daughter easy money each week is teaching her all the wrong things about money. It sounds like she's taking you and your money for granted. Although you have behaved like this for her entire life, there's still time to change your habits and hers.
With the pay cuts you've faced, it's simply not possible for you to dole out money to your daughter all the time, and of course you deserve any spare cash that comes available, to treat yourself from time to time.
My advice is to be completely honest with your daughter. She's old enough to understand now, and the next time she asks for money, you need to be firm with her and say no. Encourage her to learn to budget her own money and support her along the way. It's time to teach her about the value of money, and that it doesn't just come from thin air.