Agony aunt column: Ask Lucy

This is the latest column from Lucy Saunders, who provides a regular agony aunt feature - Ask Lucy.

Lucy Saunders SUS-160623-152004001 SUS-160623-152004001
Lucy Saunders SUS-160623-152004001 SUS-160623-152004001

Dear Lucy. My husband has got this terrible habit of washing his hands lots of times and checking all the switches to make sure they’re off. It takes us hours to leave the house every day as he has all these rituals. In fact, his life has become unbearable as it seems like he has become a prisoner in his own world of checking. Please can you explain in detail, what you think is wrong with him?

Lucy: I am sorry for your distress regarding your husband’s condition it must be an anxious time for you? It sounds like your husband is suffering from an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD. This is a complex condition that occurs in many people. Your husband could have a genetic predisposition in his personality or it could also be a social conditioning due to stresses he feels in his life. It seems he is acting out rituals and repetitive actions in order to block out thoughts and feelings that he is uncomfortable with. There are many unconscious conflicts in the sufferers mind that can cause the OCD and it will help him if he finds an outlet to explore these through counselling or a support group. Your first port of call should be his G.P. who will advise him. This is a journey that affects both of you and I am sure your husband can find the help he needs for both of your sakes. I would definitely advise him to join a local Support Group as this will give him the ongoing support until he feels he has conquered the condition.

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Dear Lucy. I don’t know which way to turn. I could really use some advice.

I have been married eight years and feel out of love. I stay with my husband as he recently had cancer. But both myself and my teenage daughter are unhappy in this loveless argumentative home.

What should I do?

Lucy: It sounds like you’re in a difficult situation. I hope your husband has recovered well but this is clearly difficult for you as his illness can make you feel obliged to stay. You say you are out of love but I am wondering if it may be the cancer that might have got in the way of your relationship. Perhaps you and your husband have been preoccupied with his battle. The stress of the cancer plus life’s daily struggles would put a strain on any marriage and I can understand that you may have felt shut out at times. I am wondering if you can try and find the love with your husband that you once had when you first met him? It is very important that you both try and work on your relationship to figure out what has caused the problem and try not to argue in front of your daughter. Maybe the stress has stopped you from spending enough special time together. I also do suggest you could try some couples counselling to work through honestly what has caused the problem together and how his cancer impacts on your marriage and your decisions. These sessions could also be used to discuss your own feelings about your own inner world, which understandably has taken a back seat in recent times. All marriages deserve open communication and honesty with each other and a commitment to try and understand what has gone wrong whether you stay together or not.

Lucy is a BACP Accredited Qualified Counsellor. She previously worked in the media as an actress.