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Baggage Check: Time to branch off? Mr. Broke-It

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: I’ve been with my fiance for four years. When I first met his parents, I made a bad impression because I was nervous. Four years later, I feel like his mother is still trying to minimize my part in his life. It started with not including me in events that were strictly “family,” which I understand. But now it’s telling him not to tell me certain information. Should I just end this relationship or talk to her?

I’m confused. You’re engaged, yes? But you’re asking me if you should just throw this relationship away? Sounds like his mom might not be the only problem here.

Fact: She may never respect you. But more pertinent is what your fiance is willing to do about the situation. You’ve left a big blank here: Does he stand up for you? Try to improve your relationship with her? Or does he obey her rules even when they diminish you? Does he even mind the conflict? Those are the questions that will most determine if there is hope, though I’m guessing if you’re asking me whether you should “just end” this relationship, you might not be feeling too much of it.

Q: My husband slept with a co-worker two years ago. He claims it was a one-time thing, and we did a lot of counseling to get through it – although it still bothers me that I had to find out from another co-worker. The problem is, I sometimes notice now that he seems to think he’s owed stuff for all the penance he’s shown. It’s like he wants a free pass to be lazy in this relationship and wants to play the martyr about all the steps he did to repair things. But to me, that was just necessity because of how he screwed up. He does not get brownie points for it.

There are many things that could be going on here, from long-simmering resentment to his just craving a pat on the back every once in a while. Without knowing what you mean by “lazy,” it’s hard to determine how serious this is. Is he emotionally tired after what you’ve both gone through and wants to just “be” for a while? Or is he grasping at straws for reasons not to do the laundry? It wouldn’t be atypical for him to worry that he’ll always be indebted to you, and that doesn’t seem unrealistic. More honest communication can only help the situation.

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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