I am about to be 60, which I am really dreading

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Dear Patricia Marie,

I am about to be 60, which I am really dreading. My husband wants to arrange a big party, but I don't want to celebrate being an OAP, and I don't want everyone to know how old I am! The situation is made worse by the fact my husband is six years younger than me, although, despite his constant 'toy boy' jokes, this has not previously concerned me. My impending six decade birthday makes me feel like there is an entire generation between us. I still feel young inside, even though I'm about to be a pensioner, and I don’t want 60th birthday cards, to rub salt into the wound. I am feeling very scared and very old.

Please can you help me?

Patricia Marie says...

Many women can feel fearful of the changes that their sixth decade may bring. It's important to consider why you are feeling anxious as you approach this particular birthday. Ageing has nothing to do with numbers, and everything to do with attitude - worrying will not change the fact that your 60th is almost upon you, and it could spoil what should be a celebration of a milestone birthday. As we mature, we begin to realise how quickly life passes us by, and having negative thoughts wastes precious days.

The age gap between your husband and you is just 6 years, which is nothing at all. It is not these years, but the way you are feeling that is causing a problem. Instead of taking to heart his comments about him being your 'toy boy', be proud of the fact you are able to attract a younger man, and remind him how fortunate he is to have you in his life. Make him aware of your wishes for your birthday, and rather than having a big party, you may prefer to go away together on a short break, or just have a nice meal at a favourite restaurant.

On reaching 60, you can sit in front of the television all day and do nothing but think old, or you can get out and live your life. Rather than feel you have to hide your age, can you embrace it? Be inspired - look at Helen Mirren, Alison Steadman and Jane Seymour, who certainly don’t create an image of an OAP! Mature years bring increased freedom to explore who we are without outside expectations, so forget about holding on to the past – instead age positively and follow your passions. Perhaps write a list of all the things you have ever wanted to do, and try to achieve as many as you can with enthusiasm. Make it fun, as, after all, you may be 60, but you don't have to act your age!

I recommend Suddenly Sixty and Other Shocks of Later Life, by Judith Viorst, a funny and touching book that speaks directly to the newly sixty woman, inviting her to laugh about, sigh about, and hopefully help her come to terms with the often complex issues of this decade of life.

Patricia Marie, our Agony Aunt, wants to hear your problems, dilemmas, and quarrels. Just email them to patricia.marie@lady.co.uk