Friday 28 October 2016

Ask Majella: Majella O'Donnell solves your problems

My father refuses to undergo life-saving surgery

Published 28/06/2015 | 02:30

Majella O'Donnell
Majella O'Donnell

Advice this week on what to do when a relative is putting off life-saving surgery and how to deal with a lack of passion in the bedroom.

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Dear Majella

My father has been ill with cancer for some time. He's in his early 80s and is really suffering, but the doctors are saying he could fully recover with an intensive surgery.

When the doctors told us this, needless to say, I was delighted that there was hope, as were my siblings (our mother passed a few years ago). The problem is he's refusing to have the surgery. I don't know what to do as he doesn't seem to be making any effort and just seems to be fine with getting on and being ill. He's in hospital quite a lot but when he's out he stays with my family and those times are very hard on all of us.

The whole situation is tough on everyone involved but I'm really angry that he's making no effort to get better by having this operation. It's as if he's given up entirely, which upsets me to even think about. If he doesn't have the surgery, he'll most certainly be gone in the next few months or years. But if he does he might live a lot longer.

What should I do?


Majella replies: It is very hard when loved ones make decisions that we have no control over. I wonder if you have asked him why he is not willing to have the surgery? Maybe he has a reason that you are not aware of, so talking to him would be a good start.

It is possible that he is frightened of having it. As you said, it is an intensive surgery and he may be afraid or worried about what will happen if he goes ahead with it. Not only that but perhaps he is uncomfortable with the idea of a long recovery period. On the other hand, maybe he has had enough and doesn't want to go through all that.

You said that your mother passed away a few years ago. He may feel that without her there is no point to it all and he would rather let nature take its course. It might be good for your father to talk to someone he trusts outside the family unit. For some people it is very difficult to talk to a family member because emotions are involved and it can be harder to open up. Talking to someone outside the family can feel safer and allow the person to be more open and honest without the fear of hurting a family member.

At the end of the day, it is his decision and you have to respect that. Try to understand where he is coming from and why he feels the way he does. If he doesn't want to talk about it or consider the operation then there is very little you can do but support him and be there for him. You could try to explain to him, in a gentle loving way, how it is affecting you and the family because maybe that is something he hasn't considered.

Try not to be angry with him. Remember that it is his life and you cannot live it for him. Respect him and his wishes, and allow him the right to make his own decisions. That would be the most loving thing you could do for him.

My partner isn't passionate in the bedroom

Dear Majella

This might not sound like a big problem but it is something that's been getting to me for a while now. My partner isn't exactly passionate in the bedroom and I'm not sure if I want to be with him any more because of it. I'm 28 and we've been together nearly a year. He's a great guy and always treats me really well and takes care of me, but I just feel like I'm missing that spark with him. It's not that it's just a sex thing, it's more the intimacy that I feel like I'm missing. He's very loving and caring, but just not very affectionate, and I'm beginning to really miss the thrill of flirting and feeling connected. He has been like this since the start but I assumed he would eventually open up and relax with me, but instead it's like he just gets what he needs and doesn't care about how I feel or try to make an effort for me. Should I try to make it work?

Sarah, Dublin

Majella replies: Have you talked to your partner about this? No matter what problems people have, and I know I have said this before, communication is the only way to solve things. You cannot sort this problem on your own unless of course you just want to walk away. Is what you have together worth saving? If you love him and you really want it to work then talk to him and tell him what you need from him.

So many people just hope that their partners will guess what they want, which is almost impossible. Maybe he is just very inexperienced and unsure of what is expected of him.

You said that he has always been like this but you assumed that he would change. He probably thinks that you are happy with things so you really need to be honest with him.

Having said all of that, you haven't been going out with him for a year yet and already you feel that there is no spark or connectedness. Maybe things have just run their course. If you are feeling this way at such an early stage then it's unlikely that things will change.

It sounds like he is a lovely person but maybe just not for you. If you had been married to him for years and had a family I would be encouraging you to look at his good points and try and work at the relationship, but at this early stage I just wonder if you are better off finding someone that really does it for you.

You are only 28 and have a lot of living to do. Don't waste your time on something you don't feel passionately about.

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