DEAR Janice, I am due to retire next month but can’t face it as my husband is a grumpy old git. The thought of spending even more time with him frightens the life out of me.

He is controlling and flares up at the slightest thing. I’ve been lucky enough to go out to work throughout lockdown, so it’s been manageable, but the idea of being with him morning, noon and night is filling me with dread. He says he is looking forward to spending more time with me!

I feel I’m too old to move on and start again with someone else, so any advice would be welcome. Norma.

Dear Norma, awe…. This is a real shame. You’ve worked hard all your days and the time has finally come to retire and enjoy some me time and it’s a dread instead of a pleasure.

I would start by putting plans in place for your retirement, with your husband, and separately with friends. Make it clear that you need time with other people as well as him. Join walking groups, meet friends for coffee etc.

However, if he wants to know where you are 24/7 and becomes angry and controlling whenever you don’t comply with his wishes, please contact Women’s Aid who are there, not just for refuge, but to advise on your or 0800 0271234 and

Abuse and controlling behaviour can begin with something as simple as a three-day huff when you don’t conform to his rules and requests.

Norma, a year of happiness is more precious than ten years of misery, and I don’t believe anyone is too old to move on if they are in an unhappy relationship, however, you could be moving from the frying pan into the fire, so try a period of retirement with these plans in place, and you might be surprised how well it works out for you both. If not, it sounds like time to enjoy your retirement years being happier apart.

Dear Janice, one of our friends just doesn’t stop moaning and complaining. We have tried changing the subject when she starts, but it makes no difference. She takes the fun out of our time together and as we have all been struggling somewhat to lift our mood during the last year, her negative vibes result in bringing us down too, and then we end up talking negatively about her! Deep down, she is a nice person, but a real drain for us to be around. Any ideas? Grace.

Dear Grace, I worked with a colleague just like your friend and my happy-go-lucky demeanour disappeared within minutes of being in her company, so I know what it feels like.

I moved jobs to get away from her, so you may need to take drastic action too.

For a few people, this characteristic can be a neurological condition, but for the majority, they are pessimists, negative people who rarely envisage a happy outcome and are always seeking out bad news. They tend to complaint a lot and never have a half-cup full attitude.

These people become energy vampires and should be avoided at all costs, or they’ll suck away every scrap of happiness you struggle to find.

This all sounds harsh, but I am assuming by now you all know her well enough to be sure she isn’t suffering from depression or lack of self-esteem; therefore, it’s time to break ties with her. This last year has shown us how fragile life and well-being can be, so move on.

Hopefully, she will attach herself to like-minded people and they can all have a good old pessimistic, moan and groan together!

Dear Janice, my best friend and her husband copy absolutely everything in our lives.

Garden furniture, décor, kid’s clothes, the food we eat, the places we go. It’s annoying and frustrating. We have even lied about where we buy stuff, but they snoop and investigate like bloody detectives until they find the same or almost identical items. Any suggestions? Suzanne.

Dear Suzanne, they say that imitation is the best form of flattery, but when your whole life is virtually mirrored by someone else, replica homes, gardens, and children, then it’s a whole other level of annoyance.

Positive copying is common, and people do it for many reasons, they genuinely love what you have, they mirror you to gain your friendship, they have a lack of self-esteem, they are keen to pick up new skills, and some people even do it culturally to in an attempt to blend in.

However, some people are complete copycats, and this can be a negative thing. Copying you to the level you are experiencing robs you of your feelings of individuality and your own unique style.

You could buy something truly awful and watch as they do the same, but then the situation becomes petty.

You could sarcastically offer to do their shopping for them as they’re likely to buy whatever you have anyway. But if you’ve dropped all the subtle hints, then short of cutting them off, there is little you can do.

Next time they are starting a project, offer advice and steer them away from your style and choice. Compliment them on anything they buy, that you don’t have.