Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

How can I help with the Syrian crisis?

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 25 September 2015
Dear Patricia Marie

My husband and I own a few properties and have worked hard to renovate them and rent them out. The money we receive from this has enabled us to retire earlier than planned and we are both very proud of what we have achieved.

However, the recent refugee crisis has made me reevaluate our lifestyle. It affected me so much that I want to offer one of our properties to a Syrian family through the 'Homes for resettled refugees' scheme. I can't stomach the thought of having so many houses when others have had to flee their homes and now have nowhere to live.

My husband cannot relate to this at all. He says that not only will it majorly affect our lives, but that there is also a high probability the people seeking homes are terrorists. I don't share his beliefs at all.
The trouble is that now, not only am I distraught that I can't do anything to help, but I also feel so much anger towards my husband. It's made me see him in a different light. We've been married for thirty years and I've never thought of him as selfish and arrogant until now.

Therefore, I have two questions. How can I stop feeling so guilty about not being able to help with the refugee crisis? And how do I forgive my husband and return to the way things were between us?

Patricia Marie says...

The Syrian crisis is the worst humanitarian disaster of our time and the implications can be overwhelming. Syria's civil war has been raging for 4 years, and a third of all Syrians have now been forced from their homes. Over 7 million people have been displaced inside the country, and a further 4 million refugees have fled abroad. There are many in the UK, such as you, who have been affected by the plight of these migrants, and thousands have already pledged their help.

There are plenty of ways you could turn your concern into practical help which could assist a number of people, rather than donating one of your properties, which in itself would only benefit one family. Have you considered contacting one of the Syrian aid charities, who desperately need volunteers to help with administration, organising local fundraising events, teaching English to Syrian children, sorting and loading people's donations into containers ready to be shipped to Syria, even knitting teddies and blankets.

Also, if you are able, one of the most effective ways to help is to donate money, as every single contribution to a charity involved in helping the refugees will help provide food, water, shelter and support to Syrian families in need. Oxfam and Save the Children are just two of the charities to have set up appeals for donations to help.

You said that you are feeling anger towards your husband for not wanting to help. It is hard when one's partner has a totally opposite point of view on something close to your heart, but we each have our own beliefs and opinions, and unfortunately it is not possible to agree on all subjects. Do bear in mind though that it is often our idiosyncrasies that bind us together!

Perhaps, rather than being uncharitable your husband is feeling unsettled and anxious, like many of us, on the potential impact the Syrian crisis could have on not only the whole country but also us as individuals. Maybe there is some way he could compromise, listen to your wishes and do something, however small, to help the Syrians as it would mean so much to you. Hopefully he will see that even just one small compassionate act will create a sense of togetherness rather than causing this distance between you both.

Save The Children:0207 012 6400,
Oxfam:0300 200 1300,
The Refugee Council:020 7346 1134,
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