Thursday, 16 June 2011

It's Good to Talk

Hello! I'm Kate Stillman, and I write a fortnightly column for the English-language Ibiza Sun, where I respond to readers problems; or tackle issues that are shared by many people wherever they live.

My column this time is based on an e-mail I received recently, and my answer to it. I hope that talking about these problems here will be useful - not just to people who are living in Ibiza, but to anyone who reads this blog.

The e-mailed was addressed to 'Dear Ibiza Counselling', and read as follows:

Dear Kate - I was hoping you could help me with a problem I have or maybe some of your readers have some ideas. I have been living in Ibiza for five years and love the islands; however I am beginning to feel that it might be time to go home.

Since arriving here my husband and I have made many really good friends, but lots of those relationships seem to centre around drinking. Up until now it has been fun but it seems as if we can't have a good time without it and it worries me, our communication is at an all time low and the children (14 and 16° are beinning to pick up on the tension.

I have spoken to my husband, but he is adamant that after building up a life for us here and all the effort that we have made that we should stay. He does not see the drinking as a problem and just says it's a way of life."

The e-mail was signed 'Thank you. Jane' (Not her real name).

I replied:

"Thank you for your e-mail; and I am sorry to hear that you are finding things difficult at the moment.

There seem to be several strands that are causing you concern - the alcohol, your relationship, and the children - so I will address each of them individually, and explore how going 'home' might impact them. It is important to remember that we only have a limited amount of space in this column - and I also have a limited amount of information from you, so this space is really to highlight areas which may need a little more consideration and exploration so that any decisions made are ones that you have to feel comfortable with.

It is great that you and your husband have settled in so well and have a good social network; this is something that many people living abroad find difficult to achieve. I understand that you feel much of your social time is centred around alcohol and that you are becoming uncomfortable with this. I wonder, though, if you think this would be any different if you were to move back to the UK. The setting and the people might differ, but there are still ample opportunities to drink in most countries.

Your husband may or may not think that alcohol is an issue for him - but if that is all you can focus on, then it is an issue for you - and this may mean you feel you have some choices to make regarding your own relationship with alcohol. It might be that by understanding why you are now feeling uncomfortable with the drinking situation, and giving yourself the opportunity to explore whether or not you feel that you need to change your own habits, you will be able to decide how you want to handle the alcohol issue within the family. There is alcohol support available in Ibiza, so please feel free to e-mail me directly at if you would like the details.

You have mentioned that you relationship with your husband is suffering, and that communication is at an all-time low. Sometimes communication can gradually break down, and it is not until we become aware of a certain situation - in your case the alcohol, or maybe the children's reaction to tension, that it becomes more apparent.  I am asking you to consider if you think the communication between the two of you began to break down before the alcohol became an issue, or afterwards.  Could it be that the alcohol acted as an escape from the tension that already existed between you?

Moving to a new country with two children and all that that entails puts a huge amount of pressure on any relationship and being conscious and open about that pressure can go a long way toward easing it.

Partners can often feel backed into a corner and that they are being blamed for certain situations.  This can lead to them feeling they have to defend themselves rather than ask for help.  I wonder what it would be like for you to ask your husband for help because you are finding things difficult rather than focus on what he is doing wrong.  People like to be able to offer support and help to others.  If he was aware of just how difficult you are finding things, it might be that asking for support from him you would find that his attitude would change.

Again, there are choices you may need to make, and questions you may want to ask yourself regarding your feelings about the marriage and what it means to you.  Are things at a stage where you would consider leaving Ibiza with or without your husband? If he agreed to leave because you want to rather than because he agreed it was the best thing to do, what impact may this have on the relationship between you? Maybe letting him know how you are feeling and what those feelings are leading you to consider from a practical point of view will help you open the doors to a better communication.

Finally, there are your two children. They are picking up on tension because it is there and present within the family. The best thing you can do with children is to be honest, but in a supportive and kind way that they can digest. You know your children; both you and your husband do need to come together to focus on them and answer any questions they may have in an honest yet simply digestible way that they understand.

Jane, I wish you the best of luck."

It may be that some readers also have some views and ideas they would like to share after reading this. If so, please feel free to leave a comment on the blog or e-mail me at

Kate -

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