Sex & Relationships

Kerri-Anne Kennerley plays agony aunt, answers your burning relationship questions

And she didn't hold back.
Kerri-Anne Kennerley

Kerri-Anne Kennerley is known for her no-nonsense approach and straight-shooting advice so when Yours readers asked her their most pressing family and relationship questions, she got right to the point…

Q. Since my husband died five years ago, I’ve noticed all our mutual friends who are couples have started inviting me less and less often to dinner parties and lunch dates. It’s hard when I go, though, because I see them together and happy and it makes me miss my hubby – but I don’t like being left out. What can I do to make sure they continue to invite me over? ST, Broken Hill, NSW

Try inviting them to your home for drinks and nibbles, or even dinner or lunch, then they may reciprocate. I’m sure you feel sad when you see everyone happy together but try not to make this obvious to your friends. Some people have the tendency to wallow in the past which can be a bit of a downer for everyone else. So make sure as a friend you positively contribute to the group in terms of your company.

Q. I’ve been in bad health for a few years now and my children keep telling me I need to sort out my will in case anything happens to me. I keep saying I’ll get around to it but I keep putting it off because it’s a scary thing to think about. Is there a quick and easy way I can get my affairs sorted that won’t upset me too much? PR, Hervey Bay, Qld

If you don’t act and make a will the government will make one for you and distribute your estate using their formula! I agree with your children that you should make a will as it can make life a bit more difficult for loved ones. You also have the control over who benefits. You’re not alone in finding the concept of confronting your own mortality awkward, but address it in a practical way – as if it’s someone else. You could get a will kit from a post office or newsagent or online. They’re simple to fill out and then it’s done and you don’t have to have it in the back of your mind; but I would suggest you find a local lawyer if you can afford one. Make sure you tell someone where you keep the will.

Q. I’ve recently become a grandmother to a beautiful little boy but my daughter insists she doesn’t need my help. I wasn’t told he’d been born until a few hours after, and all along I’d thought she would have wanted me in the birthing room. She won’t let me come and visit and insists that if she needs my help she’ll let me know. I feel so left out because I thought I’d get to babysit a lot – I even bought a bassinet for my house. I just don’t want to miss seeing him grow up, and don’t want to smother my daughter or grandson: I just want to help! What can I do now? JK, Bridport, Tas

I can understand how you want to help but it sounds like you and your daughter have some communication issues. She may be feeling that you overwhelm her or try to take over. Give that some thought, as in your mind you just want to help – but she feels differently. Being a new mother is exciting and she may want to enjoy those precious few months alone with herself and her partner. That said, most new mothers become sleep deprived and need assistance. Have you tried talking to her partner? They may have some insight. Also, try not to be pushy and let her come to you as she needs. Just be there without pressure.

Q. I’m an elderly woman living alone and while I love my independence I wouldn’t mind a companion… and by that I don’t mean a man or another friend. I’ve been considering the idea of getting a pet but I’m not fit enough to train a young puppy or kitten. I also don’t know what would happen if I got sick and was in hospital but I’d really love some company. Thoughts? FH, Hobart, Tas

Having a pet is proven to make you healthier by reducing stress, increasing physical activity and social interaction. Then there’s their effect on depression and loneliness. Older people who live alone without pets often talk about how barren their home and life is. Owning a pet means responsibilities, of course. And do you get a dog, cat or bird? A dog for me is the best pet but my Digger, a golden retriever, needs to be walked, fed and groomed. So consider the breed carefully; adopting a small dog could work. Cats are much more independent and birds can liven up a house. Several birds, such as cockatiels, have quite a vocabulary! Check your local paper to see if there’s a program where people can borrow pets – or you could babysit for a few days. A pet is worth the effort!

Q. I have a problem with a dear neighbour because when I get visitors she hops out of her house, pretending to be doing something outside, so she can greet my friends and rellies on my driveway. I’ve tried often to broach this subject but can’t bring myself to hurt her feelings as she is nice, harmless and must be very lonely. However, I’m at the point where I stand inside my front door to wave the visitors off. The guests don’t mind as she is pleasant but I mind… a lot! My home is my sanctuary and I feel this is invading my privacy. It irritates me to hear her yelling out a conversation from her porch into my garden. I would not dream of doing that to her and her guests. Other than this we get along fine and also watch each other’s places when one of us is away. Am I the weird, mean neighbour? MX, Exmouth, WA

No, you’re not – and I understand little neighbourly irritations. But given she’s a good person and looks out for your property when you’re away, do you really want to risk offending her? She in fact sounds very lonely if she constantly tries to hijack your guests. Other than asking guests to use the back door, take a deep breath and ignore it. If she follows your guests inside your sanctuary, your home I think you have every right to say something. Grin and bear it.

Q. As I’m now in my mid-eighties, I’m unable to drive so I have to try and do things from home. I’ve heard of grocery delivery services and online shopping but I don’t have a credit card or a computer so I don’t know where to even begin. I’d really like to enjoy, say, shopping from the comfort of my own home – where should I start? SP, Coober Pedy, SA

Look for computer courses at senior centres. Practise for a while before you invest as you need to learn the basics of using the computer. If you have grandkids they’ll be able to smooth the way. Visit your bank and ask them to help you get a credit card. If you get proficient, be careful as shopping online can be convenient but very addictive!

Got a question for Kerri-Anne? Email us at [email protected]

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