Dear Janice, my wife has already started planning Christmas Day. She is always super-efficient and likes to get ahead of the game, so the topic now is, who’s coming, what we are eating, timings etc. But for me last year was one of the best Christmas Day’s since my childhood. As we were in lockdown there was only me, my wife and our teenage daughter all through the festive period, and for the first time it was relaxing and chilled from start to finish.

I wish it could be the same again this year, but she is so excited about Christmas. How can I stop her going full steam ahead with her plans for a big family get together again? Graham.

Dear Graham, it was a great day for YOU, but was it great for your wife and daughter? I somehow think not, or she wouldn’t be so eager to put plans in motion this early for a house full of festive fun.

One thing I have learned over the years though, is not to worry or stress too much about things in the future. About 80% of what we worry about doesn’t actually happen, and last year should have taught us that. How many plans did we all put in place for 2020 which failed to transpire?

Anything could change between now and Christmas. Guests may have plans of their own, some may still be wary of crowds, or like you, prefer celebrating on their own. Your wife is focusing on something positive, which may be just what she needs right now, so don’t dampen her spirits and enthusiasm. Try and show some interest for her sake.

Graham, whatever the outcome, it is only one day.

Dear Janice, I haven’t seen my dad since I was 15 years old, and now at age 85 he has gotten in touch through a distant relative to ask if he can arrange for us to meet up. My mum told me that my dad just disappeared without an explanation and that she had no clue where he had gone. Apparently, he never made contact with her again.

Mum was always vague whenever I asked her anything and quickly shut down the conversation. She has passed away and I have no answers. What should I do? Olivia.

Dear Olivia, until now you didn’t have a choice. Now you do. There is always the chance that some of what your dad reveals will cause you avoidable pain, and you may wish you had never agreed to his offer, but if you don’t meet up, will you ever really know?

He could provide the answers you have been seeking all these years. Your mum must have had her reasons for closing down the conversation, but now you have the opportunity to open up the dialogue and ask him face to face. Either way, there will likely be sadness. If he is not the father you hoped for, you could be disappointed. But, if he seems to be the dad you would have wanted in your life, then you may be upset at missing out on all these years. But at 85, this may be your last chance.

The outcome to a degree depends on your ability to cope with this situation (good or bad). You have survived all these years without him in your life, which at times must have been painful and you may want to leave it at that, but you have dealt with the situation and I feel you will cope either way. Good luck.

Dear Janice, without conscientiously being aware, bit by bit my partner has become a recluse. Lockdown can’t have helped, but he has always been quite a moody type of guy whose glass is always half empty. He consistently finds the downside in just about everything. I keep asking him to join the gym with me, go out for a bite to eat, meet up with friends, but he is just not interested. His negative disposition is really starting to affect me and I don’t know what to do. I do love him, but can’t imagine a future with him like this. Danielle.

Dear Danielle, your partner may well be suffering with mental health issues, which should be taken seriously, so make sure he visits his GP as soon as possible. If he needs help, be there to support him in any way you can.

However, if this is just “him”, and he has always behaved in this way, then there is nothing you can do to change him.

Danielle, if your happiness solely depends on him doing the right thing, then you’ve lost your power. It’s difficult to see our other half stuck, partly because we love them and want to see them happy, and partly because it’s much nicer to be around cheery, positive people.

When our happiness depends on someone else’s mood, we need to remember who we are, regardless of our partner’s struggles.

Hopefully he is not suffering from any kind of illness but, if he maintains the same demeanour, you must get on with doing all the things that make you happy.

If this means leaving him behind, then so be it. A future of nothingness is not a future.

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