Last year my husband walked out of our marriage. We had been together for thirteen years. At the age of sixty, overnight I lost my partner, my beloved home, financial security, and the prospect of growing older as part of a couple.
Sadly, I am not alone. Research shows that divorce rates for those over fifty have doubled in the past twenty years. The fallout has massive preoccupations not just emotionally but also financially. In 2012, The Telegraph published a disturbing article stating that I in 6 of the babyboomer generation are facing health issues associated with financial hardship, a large proportion of which lies squarely at the door of these later-life divorces.
I’ve been giving considerable thought to what Patrick Shervington from Women’s Health Concern said to me about men and the menopause on last Friday’s Woman’s Hour.
It’s wonderful to hear how his wife ‘sailed through it.’ Lucky, lucky her – and him come to that. But I was taken aback that someone who is championing women’s health concerns does not believe that the menopause is a profound experience.
I can only repeat that for me it was. And it certainly seemed to be for most men and women I interviewed for my book Sex, Meaning and the Menopause.
Similar to most women who go through the menopause naturally (average age the UK is 51), I was still menstruating as I turned fifty and feeling pretty invincible. By the time I was fifty four, I was forced to confront the painful fact that my looks were fading and my libido had plummeted. Even though Patrick bristled at the suggestion that men are governed by sex (his expression was ‘sexist pigs’), of course this had an impact on my marriage.
85% of counsellors registered with the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) are of menopausal age.
A questionnaire prepared by a psychotherapy student from Nottingham University as part of her dissertation on the menopause revealed that most therapists believe that ‘training in and support with the menopause within the professional is “essential.”’
Yet there is no official training, guidance, or information for therapists on preparing for this profound and daunting life change. This fact was born out during the workshop I recently ran on Sex, Meaning and the Menopause for a well established Wiltshire counselling service.
Woman’s Hour this morning about my book Sex Meaning and the Menopause, and the importance of doing something to mark the transition into becoming an older woman.
Please do send me your comments about this.
Body floating next to bathers in Ganges
It’s a mean little bug that’s laid me very low and stopped my back-packing adventures mid-flight.
I have no idea how I caught it – it could be due to the extremely hot weather, or something waterborn from the Ganges (hardly surprising), or perhaps some microbe living in the filthy backstreets, or maybe it was the result of six weeks hard travelling (I was the only woman of 60 backpacking that I knew of) – but one day I was fine and looking forward to moving onto Vietnam, and the next I was most certainly not.
I had had enough of Varanasi by the time I fell sick, and I was determined to catch the one hour flight back Delhi so I could at least hole up in the Anoop Hotel for a couple of days before my flight was due to leave for Hanoi. Continue reading
Early morning on the Ganges
Before embarking on my Indian odyssey, I had imagined that my time in Varanasi, reputed to be the most sacred city on earth, would be one of quiet, peaceful reflection.
I should have known better.
India doesn’t do peace and quiet, especially in Varanasi.
The city side of the river Ganges is flanked by ghats, huge lines of stone steps leading down from the old city to the water’s edge.
This is where 60,000 people from all over India come daily to perform their pujas (prayers) in order to absolve themselves of their misdeeds so they can ensure a better life next time round.
Non existent lane discipline
When I drive towards a roundabout, husband Mark is always banging on at me about ‘lane discipline.’
Well, he would have a field day with Indian taxi drivers, or come to that, anyone courageous enough – or stupid enough– to get behind a wheel on Indian roads.
There are basically two modes of driving. One: full pelt ahead. Two: slamming on brakes. Yet, I am astounded by how skilful these drivers are at avoiding collisions (although the death toll on Indian roads is horrendously high).