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SW France Life Concerns

Katie Gardner is a fully-qualified CBT Counsellor and 11-year expat based on the border of 47/24.  She’s here to answer your questions.

If you have a life concern that you would like to share, please write to Katie c/o

Katie Gardner

Ask Katie – A question concerning marriage

Malcolm W writes:

My wife and I have been living here for a year and find that we now want different things out of life.  This has come as a bit of a shock after 26 years of marriage and we need help.

Hi Malcolm,

Even a happily married couple is likely to go through a transition period after retirement and this can (and probably will) be exacerbated by moving to a different country. All those things that made you feel respected, fulfilled and purposeful (work, colleagues, long-term friends, wider family) are now not immediately accessible.  You have both lost your support network and are left with each other to fulfil each and every need.  No wonder it’s difficult, eh?  You haven’t changed, your marriage hasn’t changed, your circumstances have, radically, and it’s this that must be addressed, and in as detached, non-emotional manner as possible (easier said than done).

In order to help you completely rethink what retirement looks like for you, both together and for each of you personally, try a technique called “mind-mapping”.  This helps you to remain analytical (rather than emotional.

Before you start, sit together, remind yourselves what you thought life would be like, what the big differences are, then start on the mind-map.  Bear in mind that you previously weren’t joined at the hip presumably, so why would that work now?  With goodwill and a listening ear on both sides (don’t interrupt when the other person is venting and really hear what they are saying), you can do this and continue to grow together as independent people who recognise and understand each other’s needs and wants.

a question concerning marriage

First published in the March and April 2020 issue of The Local Buzz

Images: Katie Gardner and Shutterstock