‘I want to contact my ex-wife’ – Dr Louise answers your burning questions

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I’m a professional woman aged 35 who always wanted to have a good career and my own house and car. I wanted to be able to look after myself financially because too many women seem to depend on men.

The problem is that although I’ve now realised my dream of being independent and self-reliant, I’ve suddenly woken up to the fact that most women my age are married and that the men who are available usually have baggage from failed marriages or traumatic relationships.

I’m sick of dating guys who want to cry on my shoulder about their ex-wives and ex-girlfriends. I want someone who is independent, emotionally balanced and financially stable and who wants to have a partner rather than a dependent, helpless woman.

How do I find such a man?

Rosemary, email

Dr Louise advice

The stereotypical gender roles of the strong man in the provider role and the dependent woman may have been upended over the past decades but they nevertheless inform our culture and upbringing.

So it’s a tricky, complicated arena. It may often seem that men still gravitate towards women who tend to be dependent and helpless.

I believe the reason for this is that such women are seen as less demanding and less high maintenance by men. It may even be quite unconscious, and happens because these “types” are drawn to each other.

However there are men who enjoy women who have come into their own, who are independent and self-reliant.

Women who are strong in this way do tend to challenge men and therefore need a partner who can hold his own and isn’t threatened by it.

What you need to be careful of, however, is that you don’t deny your femininity, your softer side, because you think it will come across as weakness.

Don’t let your strength and independence be such a matter of principle that it comes across as you always being challenging and hard to really get to know.

Find a balance between your femininity, your softness and your independence and self-reliance and you will send out the vibes that will attract a partner who is looking for an equal.


I have a huge problem with my feet, which smell badly. They stink even while I am wearing shoes and it’s a problem for people around me – not only my colleagues and my family, but even strangers at the mall.

I don’t have friends as a result.I’ve tried so many things like injecting Botox in my feet and have even imported foot sprays and powders.

I consulted a podiatrist, but that didn’t help either. I’ve run out of ideas and I’m worried my anxiety about it is going to lead to mental illness. I sometimes have suicidal thoughts.

Sisiwe, email

Dr Louise advice

This problem with your feet is making you feel suicidal because not only is it embarrassing you on a daily basis and making you unhappy, it’s also isolating you from people and affecting your relationships.

It is ostracising you from others. Approximately 10 to 15% of people have really bad smelly feet (called bromodosis) because of a build-up of sweat that results in bacteria growth on the skin.

This produces compounds that smell bad. Consult your doctor as there are medical conditions such as certain metabolic illnesses that can cause smelly feet.

You need to establish if this is the root cause, and if so get it addressed. The things you can do to reduce foot odour are to wash your feet with antibacterial soap, go barefoot at home as often as you can, spray disinfectant spray in your shoes, ensure you don’t wear the same shoes every day and wash the inner soles of your shoes if possible.

You should also ensure your shoes are not too tight, and avoid shoes made of plastic as they won’t allow your feet to “breathe”.

In the meantime, ask your doctor to prescribe a light dose of an antidepressant to help stabilise your mood while you’re trying to find a solution.


I’ve been married to my second wife for almost 10 years. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I find myself thinking and dreaming about my first wife, whom I divorced many years ago when we were still quite young.

To be honest, we were both so immature it’s no wonder the marriage didn’t work out. My ex-wife remarried but I know her second husband died recently and she’s now single.

I don’t even know what she looks like now, 30 years after our divorce. What can I do to get this obsession out of my head?

I keep thinking I want to contact her and see if perhaps we gel better now. Do you think that’s a bad idea?

Brian, email

Dr Louise advice

It’s never a good idea to indulge in an affair when you’re married. It’s only likely to bring heartache and sadness.

It’s an even worse idea to obsess over an idealised image of someone from your past and to imagine some sort of fairytale ending.

You seem to be half in love with an idea of someone you’ve created in your mind. Our mental creations are often much more alluring, attractive and desirable than the reality.

What you should do is work on your marriage and try to figure out why it is that you’re suddenly feeling unhappy or unfulfilled.

Perhaps you should consult with a psychologist or suggest to your wife that the two of you see a marriage therapist. Relationships can grow stale over time if you don’t put effort into them.

‘Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not’– Epicurus
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