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We need help to stop fighting about money

Dr Nekia Walker (Photo by Akil Simmons)

Dear Dr Nekia,

My girlfriend and I argue constantly about money. Although we both work, we do not make enough money to cover all of our bills and living expenses each month.

She says that she is stressed out and I notice that if she cannot afford to buy something that she wants, she comes home and takes it out on me. I feel bad because as a man I would like to spoil her but I just can’t. I can only afford to do what I can right now.

I am afraid that our relationship is going to end because we are not happy, but I do not want it to end just because of money. Is there anything that we can do to be happy again?


Money Problems

Dear Money Problems,

In these difficult economic times, this problem is becoming more and more prevalent among couples sharing a household, whether they be married or not.

As a woman I can understand her frustrations, but I can also understand yours. Women tend to nest and they cannot feel settled into where they call home unless they feel comfortable there. Part of feeling comfortable is being able to afford bills that provide the necessities of life, as well as some comforts. Traditionally, the man has been the bearer of the brunt of the responsibility to provide, but as women have entered the workforce, they have become major contributors as well. Statistics show that women outperform men in employment within Bermudian households in that they carry more jobs as well as carry higher pay. This is enough to make it very difficult for a lot of our men to feel encouraged and capable of fulfilling their roles as providers for their families. You are not alone in your situation so, as long as you are doing your very best, try not to beat yourself up too much about it.

Choose a time to sit down together and calmly discuss your financial situation. Both of you should avoid blaming language such as “because you”, “well if you would”. Express your expectations, frustrations, fears and goals. Fears and frustrations are important topics to discuss as they are the underlying motivators of actions and attitudes that show up in the relationship. Try your best not to raise your voices or interrupt one another.

If you feel differently, neither one of you should dismiss the other’s points of view. You must learn to accept what one another is feeling and has to offer. Set these rules before you begin your discussion so that you both know what to expect. If you are still finding it difficult to communicate, try alternate methods of communication such as writing. No one can interrupt or yell at the other when they are reading.

Ultimately, most of your problems do not lie with money itself, but within expectations and non-expressed or non-validated feelings between the two of you. Hard times will come and they will go, but what you must work on is togetherness and being able to face adversity without becoming one another’s enemy. This begins with communication and trust that the other person has the relationship’s best interest at heart.

Dear Dr Nekia,

I have never experienced the “big O”, whether it be alone after long periods of time trying, or with someone else. I do enjoy being intimate but I never seem to be able to finish. My friends keep laughing at me and telling me to relax, but I try and nothing works. Could there be anything that I am doing wrong?


Never Experienced It

Dear Never Experienced It,

There can be many reasons why you have never had an orgasm. Women tend to be more complex then men when it comes to this area, so a variety of factors have to be taken into account before you begin to narrow down why you are having trouble.

Firstly, all medical reasons should be ruled out. There are several physiological conditions that do make orgasm difficult or impossible to reach. Next, consider any emotional trauma that you may have had in your life that surrounds any sexual experience or encounter. Trauma can be anything from being shocked at walking in on your parents when you were young, to sexual molestation, to feeling pressured into having sex at any point in time, or a long-standing fear of getting pregnant. These sort of situations create residual subconscious thoughts that will prevent you from being able to completely enjoy sex.

Also, you must take into consideration that you may not yet have had partners that can aid you in reaching orgasm. In such situations we would commonly tell you to self-explore until orgasm, and then direct your partner to what you want, but in your case you say that you cannot reach orgasm with yourself, even after long periods of trying. You may need professional help for your situation.

In the meantime, do not feel discouraged or come down on yourself too hard. If you are single, take this time to evaluate your sex life and jot down anything that strikes you as odd or disheartening.

If you are not single, do the same but also be honest with your partner about your concerns because he or she will be a crucial part of your journey to finally being able to reach the “big O”.

Dear Dr Nekia,

My 11-year-old daughter is beginning to develop breasts and body hair. She has shown me these changes but I do not know how to react.

I know this is normal and I always knew that this day was coming but I am not ready for it. I am not ready for my little girl to be growing up so fast.

I do not know how to react or what to really say to her other than that it is normal. I’ve noticed that she is beginning to spend more time in the mirror looking at herself, which I scold her for. I do not want her to become one of those girls who are vain or obsessed with their bodies. What should I do?


Mama’s Just Not Ready

Dear Mama’s Just Not Ready,

I am deeply concerned for our little girls who are growing up because it seems that we as women have lost touch with our own femininity, which hinders us from being able to fill our roles as mothers to adolescent girls. Due to high stress levels and busy work schedules, women have less energy and ability to properly carry their young girls through the various developmental stages that lead up to adulthood. Maybe part of it is that we ourselves were not taught, but we cannot leave our daughters to be educated by the media, the public, or sex-education classes in the school system. Sexual education and education about self must first come from the home.

Your daughter is showing you herself because she wants answers. She is seeking to be guided by her closest female guardian. Your daughter needs to be both celebrated and educated about her body at this time. Most often it is the celebrated part that many parents forget. But you need to show her that you are comfortable with the changes that you see in her, so that she will also be comfortable with herself. She will already receive feedback from her peers and from the public, so your influence on her has to be greater than theirs.

Do not be so concerned with her looking in the mirror because of vanity — chances are that she is checking herself out and is analysing her changes. Try to engage in the process with her. Your role will be to comfort her and be open to her sharing her experiences of becoming a woman with you. But all of this begins with you. You have to find a way to be comfortable with your daughter no longer being your little girl. You must find a way to be ready. It is a natural process and you must not let your fears interrupt your duty of raising your daughter and bringing her into womanhood.

You must become comfortable with yourself as a woman so you do not project your own personal insecurities or doubts on to your daughter. I think, in a broader perspective, that as a society we have done a poor job in the education of our women about their bodies and about what it means to be a woman. So we must take it upon ourselves to educate ourselves and our daughters about life as a woman.

Do not be afraid to share with her and do not try to shield her from the realities of womanhood — there is a big world out there that will be more than willing to give her the wrong information about what you would not tell her.