Baggage Check Live: "All praise the Gardening Gods!"

Apr 17, 2018

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior was online to take your comments about her advice column, Baggage Check, and any other questions you might have. These comments may appear in an upcoming column running in Express and online.

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It is great to have you here. Today's Baggage Check column saw two relationship dilemmas. LW1 is feeling eclipsed by their semi-famous boyfriend: does it mean LW1 needs to be the star of the show? And will it get better over time? And LW2 wonders: to disclose or not disclose that you have history with someone your friend is newly dating. Some of you think I'm off base to err on the side of disclosure-- pulling the band-aid off early before it becomes A Thing. What say you?

Got some other questions? Bring 'em on!

My husband and I work full time and have two younger kids. He is responsible for getting our kids to school in the morning. I have asked many times that they band together and take 10 minutes to do one simple chore that makes my evenings significantly easier. It should take about 10 minutes. On the occasion that I take our kids to school, I easily have an extra HOUR in the morning so I know the time is available. Husband swears he and the kids cannot find the time to do this task. The difference between our situations is that I am ready for the day by the time our kids get up so I can focus on keeping them on task. Husband is nearly always the last one out of bed and then he's rushing to get ready - well after watching at least half an hour of morning news - while arguing with the kids about what they're wearing or how fast they're dressing. On some level, I get that this is a difference in our senses of urgency but it also ends up feeling disrespectful to me and dismissive of how much is on my plate when I get home. Their 10 minutes of work in the morning is worth substantially more time savings to me in the evening because of how this chore impacts everything else I do when I get home. Do you have any tips on how I can let go of my expectation when I know the problem isn't the lack of time but a lack of time management or how I might get him to appreciate how much their handling this task matters to me?

Okay, I admit to a rather nagging, burning, itching, question: what is this mystery chore?

Here's how to adjust expectations: start with a reality check. Period. Your husband is different than you. Perhaps he procrastinates more; needs more sleep; is more addicted to the television; is not a morning person. I think the first thing you have to do is accept that he can't be the same person that you are in the mornings, whether by temperament or long-established habits or physiology. Is your way "better"? It's likely. But does he view it as attainable? At best, no. At worst, he's not even motivated to try (which is ripe for a larger discussion.)

For now, you work with what you've got. What IS he capable of doing? And what are your kids capable of doing? Depending on how old they are, they might be able to "band together" without him-- at least with a bit of nudging in advance from you, or a positive reinforcement (bribery?) program.

If that can't work, what about him working to help alleviate the evening impact of this chore not being done? Can your husband or the kids do more there? Why are you the only one absorbing the impact of this chore being left unfinished?

You're feeling dismissed and disrespected-- and that's understandable. But it's also possible that your husband views this chore as truly impossible given the limits of what he can offer in the morning. So it needs to be a broader discussion beyond your just declaring that this chore needs to be done at a certain time. Why not talk about the overall balance of tasks, the evening routine, the division of responsibilities on a broader level? Again, if you are the only one impacted by this chore not being done, then that's not fair. But neither necessarily is your declaring that it must be done in a certain way.

I feel like there is a larger discussion to be had here, a "back to the drawing board" mentality to keep things from getting further imbalanced.




Why you guys only concentrate on negatives

Hmm... well, the point here is to try to help people work out problems, so by definition, problems get the airplay. But if you want to give me some good news, I'm all ears! (I'll start. I am going on two months of keeping a ZeeZee houseplant alive! An easy task for most mortals, but for me, like running a marathon.)

Without getting into every detail, I'm in an incredibly awkward/drama-filled work situation. Essentially my work BFF dumped her husband very suddenly, almost out of nowhere. I was there for her for the emotional and pragmatic issues (support, helping her find a new place to live, etc.). She then immediately started dating another co-worker, a female. That's not such a big deal, if work BFF's new GF wasn't a frenemy towards me. Too many examples to give, but the one that happens the most is new GF questioning every decision I make, even though "technically* I'm a supervisor to new GF. In addition, new GF is also very, very passive aggressive, and is good at being subversive towards me, boss, and all other co-workers. Anyways, I told work BFF it's not the greatest idea dating a co-worker and it all went to hell from there. It ended up getting so bad I moved offices (work BFF & I shared an office prior to this for 1.5 years). Anyways, our friendship has completely dissolved with work BFF's GF acting really cold towards me, telling anyone who will listen that I'm creating a "hostile work environment" even though I've not done anything to either of them, besides pull back on the relationships. We all were pretty good friends prior to this happening. Boss is aware and it's been handled, but I recently found out former work BFF is hosting a game night at her new apartment, and left several co-workers off the invite list (including me). The co-workers who were left off the guest list are ones that have expressed the same thoughts I have about their relationship potentially having a negative effect on our work group (there's 15 of us on our team). This is to be expected in this situation, it just really sucks because I helped work BFF find her place, pick out furniture, listen to her woes, etc. and I've never even been to her new apartment. Not sure exactly how to proceed. Boss is also aware of game night, but there's nothing to be done, since work BFF is not a boss/supervisor and can invite any co-workers over for any reason. I'm just still reeling from the hurt and anger of a dissolution of a close relationship and trying to deal with her new GF without being pulled into the passive-aggressive drama of it all. Any suggestions on where to go from here?


This stinks, no two ways about it.

I'm a bit worried about your (former) Work BFF-- who sounds like she's heading a million miles per hour into a potentially controlling relationship. Of course, I can't claim to know that for sure, but I do think it underscores the limits of what you can do here. Because she is choosing to be part of something pretty dysfunctional.

For now, it looks like sunk cost-- you helped BFF for a long time, and now you are getting shut out of the relationship and any kind of reciprocity you'd normally have from it. Heck, you're even getting shut out of having a functional work environment, let alone having the good friendship there that you used to.

But this is not necessarily permanent.

You are doing all the right things, having expressed your concerns, and now laying low. This is the part where you hope the seeds you have planted will eventually sprout and even bear fruit-- that BFF will slow down, take a breath, and see the damage that she and GF are leaving in their wake, emotionally and professionally. But unfortunately, you cannot guarantee that happening. You planted the seeds and now have to just sit by. Someone else is in charge of the gardening (hmm... seems that work-gardening metaphor dies hard, sorry.)

Find ways to deal with your hurt and anger outside of work-- other social opportunities, new hobbies, treating yourself well with exercise and mindfulness and plenty of sleep and good eating. Separate yourself at work from the drama by refusing to engage (and perhaps finding solace with the other non-invitees?) Part of this is just about coping while time passes.

And then you may very well get the opportunity to decide for yourself how you will handle it if this relationship implodes (I feel it's more like "when") and you are in the driver's seat again, getting to choose what kind of connection you are open to rebuilding.

For now, though, it's about accepting the limits of what you can do, and taking good care of yourself in the meantime.

My first question would be whether hubby ever takes the evening shift? I know my hubby and I had it out over morning vs. evening chores when the kids were little (4 and 6). My hubby switched with me on the spot, and in only a few days was admitting it was far worse than pouring a couple of bowls of cereal and getting jackets & shoes on. But that was us - he needed to see how much more had to get done in the evening. Eventually we had to switch back, but he was way more respectful of my needs afterward. So my first suggestion, once you have had a talk, is to switch duties - he may be better at the evening shift or even see why the task is important.

Yes! Great points, thanks.

I am really curious about the OP's evening shift.

Oh. Wow. This is an attitude you need to work hard to get rid of, if it's your most important priority for a relationship. If your superiority depends on someone else's inferiority, this calls for therapy.

Yup, though I think there's a wide range of possibilities for this. It could just be coincidence, or what she's used to, don't you think? Maybe she doesn't necessarily seek it out, but has now grown accustomed to it?

Have HR participate in a counseling session with GF, whose behavior is unprofessional and is hampering work.

 I sometimes hear that HR is less helpful than one would hope-- here's hoping that that's not the case here.


Because that's what we're here for. If you want entertainment, especially light entertainment, go chat with Alexandra Petri and Gene Weingarten.

ha! Yes, indeed. Thank you. And as a big fan of both Petri and Weingarten, let me also say that these chats are not mutually exclusive!

maybe after unloading the dishwasher.

Yes, I got a potential dishwasher vibe too. It reduces an entire step to have it already empty for incoming dishes.

Ironically, a study just came out about how dishwasher duty is among the most resentment-inducing of all household chores!

Honestly, you can tell someone until you're blue in the face about how to deal with logistics, and why your methods are better. They won't care. It's all too abstract for most people. Sometimes the only answer is role reversal - tell him to take on this evening chore, without you or the kids doing the thing that makes it easier. (Also, my guess is that the chore is stripping the beds/bringing laundry baskets downstairs, which is way easier than running around the house gathering up laundry.)

Yup, another vote for the "walk in my shoes for an evening" technique. Thanks!

Oh absolutely bring it up now. If it's no big deal to her, it'll be no big deal. If it is a big deal, it's likely to morph into a nuclear meltdown if you don't say something now, especially if he mentions it first. Do yourself a favor and spill the beans.

I think we may be in the minority on this... but I really do believe in avoiding Things whenever possible! Thanks!

OK, this is the basic problem and he needs to mend his ways. This is an insane way to start the day and it models extremely bad planning and behavior for the kids. He can either set his alarm an hour earlier or forgo the news, if his job is to get the kids ready for schools.

I agree with you very much in theory.

But I have worked with too many couples that struggle and struggle and struggle at changing these types of things, and constantly hit a dead end. (For instance, setting an alarm an hour earlier might just be impossible-- or lead to a crabbiness that causes more problems than it solves.)

I agree that if he's willing and able to change, that is ideal. But perhaps I've grown wary of expecting that it's doable since I see the struggle last so long for so many couples. It makes me feel like it's more realistic to work with what you've got, instead of trying to change fundamental aspects of your spouse.

I do agree with you wholeheartedly on the arguing part, though-- that really needs to change.

Document all the unprofessional behavior in professional terms. If you try to talk it out, the passive-aggressive GF will run rings around you. "This is what occurred; this is how it is affecting our workload." etc.

A great reminder. Document, document, document!


For "Uncomfortable" I would ask her this., When you were dating other people you said "I tend to feel like I’m the attractive one..." Did or do you now wonder how the other person felt? I am not trying to rag on you but suggesting you look for some empathy. It's not necessary to be the "star" in the relationship. But then again, is one of you a "star" in every phase of it? Or like in any well developed relationship, the strengths of one compliment and compensate for the weaknesses of the other so that a better couple exists? A few weeks late but I will bring the subject about driver's licenses and the elderly again. Things keep jumping out in front of dad. Every week there was a new dent or ding somewhere his car. Or the ditch jumped out in front of him. Finally his long term family practice doctor told dad, NO MORE, That is it. At least in our case, this was more effective than hearing it from his kids! I will also note that there were many excellent comments and strategies written about in the comments. For those who are struggling with this delicate topic right now, give a look at all the comments.

There are great questions here for consideration on both letters. I really appreciate it!

OPs, are you listening?

My boyfriend has just returned from rehab and is exhibiting classic symptoms of a "dry drunk". I have started setting boundaries for my own good as I am his main sounding board, however, as he begins outpatient I'm concerned he's just going through the motions. What's the best way to approach this? I know I didn't cause and can't control the situation, but I need help determining how to practice detachment but still encourage him to be as open and honest as possible in his IOP sessions. Should I seek therapy for myself, and if so should I look for someone who specializes in addiction? I have been to al-anon but I am looking for a clinical perspective.

Yes, it is absolutely imperative that you take care of yourself. I think therapy is a really good idea (I know, I know, it's not like I'm not biased!), and you'd do well to seek someone out who has direct experience in working with loved ones of those who suffer from addiction.

Your boyfriend has to be on his own path. Figuring out your limits-- and how to help him without losing yourself and your own emotional health in the process-- is paramount for you individually.

Addiction has ripple effects that can be lasting. I am pulling for him that he can find the motivation to truly work on maintaining sobriety, but he has to want it for himself. For you, learning the limits of what you can do is the only way that you can stay healthy during this process-- and it will ultimately be healthier for you both.

Good luck.

I'm having a super hard time finding the motivation to do anything that I used to enjoy doing. I used to love writing, I can't bring myself to write. I used to sing, I can't get myself to practice singing. I don't help my husband with anything around the house. It's hard to get myself to shower or get out of bed. All I do is lie around. Also, My libido is super imbalanced. Like I have trouble getting in the mood to be intimate with my husband. But I've been obsessing over the possibility of sleeping with someone random. Just for the thrill of the conquest. And I don't want to do that because I care for him and I would hate to make him unhappy. I don't think it's a physical health thing, I take pills regularly for depression and I've been going to the gym and watching what I eat regularly now. Sometimes I get so upset that I think about just ending it. Maybe this is too much for an advice column, but any help that you could offer would be super appreciated.

I'm worried about you.

This is depression, period. And it's gnawing at you in a way that suggests you could do something self-destructive, whether to yourself or to your relationship.

You mention that you are on anti-depressants, and it sounds like you try to take good care of yourself physically, but I really believe you need more, like a good cognitive-behavioral therapist who will work with you on a week-to-week basis. I think you could also benefit from some mindfulness techniques that will help address the "obsessing," and also some behavioral activation tools to help get you out of bed. The research is clear in that CBT plus medication helps depression better than medication alone, and does far better at preventing its recurrence. There could be some long-term thought, behavior and emotional patterns that you've developed over years (or decades!) that are desperately in need of change. And write now, you are without the tools and guidance to help identify and work on them.

You are not alone in this, and there are a lot of trained providers who can help. Depression is treatable. Please consider seeking someone out.

In the meantime, if you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, please do what you can to keep yourself safe. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is here, and can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

I hope you will keep us posted.


Hi - I have a vacation planned for next week and started checking the weather and it looks rainy, which put a real damper on my excitement this morning. I know logically a weather forecast a week out is not concrete and I can still enjoy myself if it does rain but how can I redirect my energy to focus on the positives (time off from work, spending time with my family, etc.)? I don't want to start this vacation already in a bad place for something that may or may not have a negative impact. Thanks

Well, this answer may be more helpful for your next vacation rather than this one, but I do think it sounds like you let yourself build up too high of expectations. It is a lot easier to focus on the positives if they've been the main goal all along, rather than using them as a cheap substitute for the things that you now feel have been taken away. In other words: have you always visualized this vacation as being sunny? Have you pigeonholed it into needing to be a certain way? Do you tend to have rigid expectations about how things will be, in general?

People who can roll with the punches best in these scenarios are ones who either always have a Plan B (even just a mental Plan B-- a way of enjoying alternatives to the original plan), or who are comfortable with not zeroing in on a Plan A in the first place. So, for future trips: don't allow yourself to be wedded to a certain sunshine-y vision. Focus on the time off from work and family time from Day One, so there's not nearly as much to be disappointed about, because nothing changed from how you originally pictured it and anticipated it. You will have already invested the excitement in this broader vision.

That said, in the meantime, there's nothing that says you can't bulk up your Plan B. Are there any indoor places on your trip that you wouldn't normally get to explore? Any ways you can make the most of your family time, even if just in a hotel room? Any daily things you can do-- more sleep, some exercise-- that will serve as a mood boost in the moment?

That said, I will keep my fingers crossed for sunshine!

This is not going to end well. Suggest you write Alison Green at Ask A Manager. In the meantime document everything and keep all your interactions 100% professional. And maybe rethink your relationships with coworkers in the future.

I'm not familiar with that particular resource, but appreciate the rec. This does become an HR issue at some point! Thanks.

I lived this many years ago. If my infant children needed to be fed in the middle of the night or needed some other attention, if my husband got up to deal with it he was not to live with the next day because of the interrupted sleep. I took care of the baby nights all by myself, and we are still happily married decades later.

Hey, a success story of dealing with limitations! Thanks!

We're missing important info here I think. How does the bf act in these circles? Is he actively trying to dominate everything, is he naturally charismatic? Have you talked with him about these feelings (even just that you feel left out in social situations)?

Very, very important considerations! OP, are you out there?

I've been trying to get pregnant (for a little while, but hasn't happened yet). Have been open about this with my family and close friends, who are very supportive but not very well hiding their surprise that I'm not pregnant yet (not the issue). Husband and I have decided to take a break from trying in order to take a big trip this summer. I could still go if I was pregnant, but it wouldn't be as much fun. I'm struggling with feelings of guilt about this decision - I feel it's the right one, but that I should want to keep trying to get pregnant (my own personal guilt trip). I'm mostly worried about telling my family and friends that we've stopped trying in order to take the trip. Do I owe them the explanation (I think they'll ask when they hear about the planned trip)? Is it ok to lie to them and tell them we're still trying in order to avoid potential judgement from them? I'm putting myself on enough of a guilt trip without any extra from others! Husband is great and fully supportive no matter what, but prefers not to lie about it.

So, you are asking me whether it's "okay" to answer a certain way to people asking about the state of your sex life and contraception plans? People who will potentially pass judgment on it, and convey that judgment to you?

I worry that these friends and family have already run roughshod over boundaries, and you've bought into it.

I appreciate your wanting to maintain closeness with these folks, and I am sure these people are not acting out of any malicious motives, but I really think you need a reality check here about the level to which this has become an intrusion. You owe them nothing-- no explanations, no updates, no details-- at this point in the game. 

I also worry about the "guilt" that you are experiencing simply from pressing pause on the trying-to-conceive narrative.

I'm thinking the ideal outcome here is that you have your great and fully supportive husband help you focus on a mutual goal of owning your decisions regarding this, and stopping feeling like they belong to anyone other than you two.

It will be great practice if you eventually become parents.

Seriously, let yourself live your life on your own terms-- starting with this trip!

No mention of age but how about the possibility of menopause and hormone imbalances in addition to the depression? Either way telling the doctor what's going on is the first step. It is not unusually to periodically need a medication adjust.

A whole other angle to consider. Thanks!

To add to what you said about telling - I think the LW should have a short chat with her friend about her wish to bring up in passing to his new girlfriend that they have a 'history'. She probably should tell - but it's a good idea to give him a heads up and get his input. There is also the possibility that the new girlfriend just doesn't care one way of the other. This was the case with a good friend of mine (short relationship) when he started dating someone he's been with for years. She was basically uninterested - and is now someone I consider a valuable friend.

Yeah, this is a good point.

I think it's a little tricky, though. At some point I wonder about the loyalties and who owes who what. For instance, what if the new boyfriend is vehemently against telling?

Or what if they didn't end things on good terms?

Or what if these (presumably) secret conversations lead to an even weirder dynamic than there was before?

Ideally, though, he would be on board-- you're right.

Sounds like you were able to bring the boss in when you needed to with the work conflict. But, complaining to them about not being invited to a *game night* by someone you had an obvious falling-out with reeks of drama, drama that should probably be kept away from your boss unless you want to start being seen as the problem child too. Just a thought.

Yeah, I think it needs to be couched carefully, more about the dynamic at work, rather than involving any out-of-work drama.


Isn't it possible that the meds that she has been taking just aren't working anymore? I'm finding that my own chemistry is changing as I get older, so what used to be no big deal to my body are now becoming a big deal and I need to make changes accordingly. But I agree your suggestions about talk-based therapy and mindfulness techniques because those are big parts of what keep me from needing medication. (And that's just me. It says nothing about people who need it, and I could be one of those people eventually.)

Yes. I kind of took for granted that she had a practitioner touching base with her about the medications and what other possibilities may be, but that might not be the case. I think all options should be explored.

I appreciate your input!

Hi, Dr. Andrea. I'm 50 and work for myself from home. Divorced 10 years, dating, no one serious all this time. Hard to make new friends at this age, and old ones have moved, taken up new lives, even died. I volunteer regularly, go to church, and go to Meetups, which is all fine, but I still feel isolated and frustrated. Want to be happily married again instead of feeling stalled for so long!


I'm sorry.

But I'm wondering if you are looking at all these activities a little too much as a means to an end-- the end being marriage.  Is the "fine" unsatisfactory because it hasn't led to a spouse? Or can you find ways to appreciate that "fine" might still be giving you some laughs, some camaraderie, some new interests and perspectives, and that it is something to be enjoyed in its own right, even if it doesn't get you married off?

Now, I know this comes dangerously close to the "It will happen when you least expect it; just enjoy the journey" or "You have to work on yourself first" kind of gobbledygook that often is invalidating to people looking to find love. But the way that you phrase wanting to be happily married again-- rather than wanting to meet interesting people, do interesting things, connect with an individual-- makes me wonder if you are going through your life auditioning people to fill a slot rather than just being and seeing what comes of it.

That said, feeling isolated absolutely stinks, I know. I hear from a lot of people in your shoes who struggle with it on a friendship level. And you are doing the right things-- but I would push them even further. Build communities wherever you can (would you consider a co-working space? Or even just going to the same coffee shop a lot (yes, make sure to order more than just one cup of coffee.)) Do you ever follow up with people you volunteer with? Have you ever invited someone to something social after a Meetup? Have you pushed yourself to take a bit of a risk and try to get together outside of the original gathering? Is there a listserv or nextdoor for your neighborhood or building that can help you get to know people that are in your physical community?

So, no, it won't necessarily happen when you least expect it. It takes real, tangible effort, and is a numbers game at some point-- the more chances you give yourself to meet and connect with people, the more likely it will happen. But I would make sure that as you expend that effort, you think about it not just in that way, but in the way of expending effort to have experiences that matter for their own sake, in that very moment. Regardless of the outcome. It might make a pretty big difference.

Good luck!

Hello! And thank you for taking the time to read! I'm the type of person who experience sexual attraction and crushes very rarely, but lately i've been in adventurous and spontaneous mood. I decided to try a phone app that's specifically geared toward NSA hookups just to lurk around. This past weekend I encountered somebody on the app and agreed to meet them that day. I've never had a completely casual hookup before and ended up making some very risky decisions like meeting them at midnight alone in their car and having them drive me their motel where they were staying. While this sounds like a potential horror story in the making it turned out to be quite the opposite. Not only was the person completely safe, but I ended up having what was possibly the best sex I've ever had! So what could be the downside to this awesome, consensual encounter? High Class Problems. The person turned out to be intelligent, considerate, and really fun to talk to outside of bed not to mention they shared many of the same (rather niche) interests I did. The only thing is, they were only in town for a day and live hundred of miles away in Canada. After he dropped me off, he left a text that said if he lived here, he'd "be seriously courting me" I'm not sure what to make of this. I think I developed a huge crush on my hookup and it's driving me crazy!

Okay, I think I'm feeling the collective sigh of relief from everyone that this one did turn out okay. (I realize that the fact that it turned out Better Than Okay is actually part of the problem, but I'll get to that in a moment.) Seriously, even if we're not talking about something that would end up on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, it could have very well ended up in a way that was upsetting. So I am glad that you dodged that bullet, but wouldn't recommend replicating it.

I don't mean to scold, though-- clearly you are craving some excitement and adventure, and that's not a bad thing. Why not continue to correspond with him and see where it goes? If it's absolutely clear that you can't see him again and/or what you want out of it is far more than what is possible, then you can extract yourself. For now, though, maybe it can satisfy some of your need for excitement and keep me and the rest of the chatters from worrying that you're going to go back to the midnight-hookup-drawing-board and have your luck run out? 

Girl (or guy), get yourself to an Al-anon meeting ASAP. As in like, today. Al-Anon is a community of family and friends affected by a loved one with a substance abuse issue. These people can become your lifeline and support when you need to hold your boundaries and fight back any codependency issues. I cannot recommend it enough. Community is everything in sobriety and recovery. also, I'm really sorry to tell you this but you really need to brace yourself for your BF to relapse. Most people go through rehab multiple times and get "sober" or "dry" before really committing to recovery. Al-Anon can be critical support for you if he does relapse....

I don't have time to check but felt they already had been involved with Al-Anon?

A good reminder, though!

I seem to have inherited from mum what she calls 'brown thumbs'. And yet the tiny one foot high) spruce I got form Trader Joe's for the holidays 2016 - is actually thriving! I went so far as to re-pot it and there is even New Growth! This is a miracle.

All praise the Gardening Gods! They have chosen to smile on us, and we take nothing for granted!

(And I am proud to say my thumbs can now be considered khaki, rather than purely brown....)


'I took over the baby nights and we are still happily married" My husband (who was not like this) would have had to get over his crabbiness real quick or we'd be divorced. That's too much to ask of your spouse.

Well, I think every couple needs to figure that out for themselves, right?

Waking up in the middle night for me, for instance, is not nearly as bad as-- say-- putting away laundry.

Just get him to agree to take on some other chore / chores in lieu. The rights and wrong are irrelevant and you can point out the logistics until you're blue in the face - it won't change. You've tried that. That way lies madness resentment. Make lemonade by having a chat with him about where he can see a trade-off.

Another vote for back to the drawing board. Thanks.

Thanks for answering my question! It really helps to hear someone say that. I'm working on dealing with my own feelings (the self-guilt is incredibly surprising, was not expecting it). Follow up question: husband says that family will specifically ask (him) whether we're still trying when they hear about the trip, and wants to know what to tell them. Is this the place to set the boundary, with something like, we appreciate your concern but we're good? (Husband is going to have a hard time with that I think...)

Yes, yes, yes. Boundaries are best set early. And really, if you zoom out here to the big picture and do a reality check, I think you'd be surprised that there's even a QUESTION of whether you should give yourself permission to limit details of your sex life.

Trust me, the sooner you set that boundary, the easier it will be to enforce! Glad that this may help you in that process.

I've had a devil of a time getting a psychiatrist to call me back in this town. A lot of them are at capacity for patients. Maybe there's a time in the year that it's easier to start with a new therapist, or is it just something that you just need to keep calling, or what? Do you have any advice on finding a new therapist?

I am sorry. I hear this complaint a lot, and I always hate that it happens. I really try my best to get back to potential patients, even when the answer is that I'm fully booked. But I know there might be times that some fall through the cracks, and I assume most providers have this same challenge. 

I know you used the word "psychiatrist" and "therapist" interchangeably here-- any chance you are calling people who might do more med-checks than actual therapy, and that's part of the problem? In general, psychiatrists tend to do shorter, less frequent sessions that may not involve actual psychotherapy. Whereas psychologists (and counselors and social workers, for that matter) would do more regular talk therapy. Might you refocus your search a bit?

I definitely tend to see an uptick in calls in the early Springtime, so yes, that could be part of the problem. Hang in there and keep trying!

Can vouch that this is a great resource for work-related questions!! I read it daily.

So good to know. Thanks!

He took up the slack in other ways. It worked for us, and was not as the commenter suggests, a one way street.

Yup, that's what I assumed. Bravo!

Is he in AA? Does he have sponsor with whom he's working the steps? This is really an important part about changing behavior - above and beyond the not drinking. My husband is 14 years sober and one of the great things about him is the way does personal inventory and takes responsibility. He has a wonderful sponsor and a gaggle of great sponsees.

I had assumed that he was working the program, but it's a good question to be sure.

There are a lot of different opinions about what works "best" for addiction, and it's clear that there's no one-size-fits-all. I really believe that the more tools someone has at their disposal, the better their chances.


Waking up in the middle of the night would probably make me psychotic after a while. Seriously, nothing is worse for my mental health than sleep deprivation. I will wash every dish by hand and scrub all the clothes on a rock down by the river before I would ever do anything that would constantly wake me up in the middle of the night. And no, I do not have children. That was intentional.

This made me laugh-- and good for you for knowing yourself.

It's true; I think every person has their list of no-can-do's, and it's not the same by any stretch. Couples need to figure out that balance on an individual basis!

THANK YOU! It seemed so reasonable when I typed the whole thing out, but now I see how ridiculous it all is. *face-palm* Working on boundaries immediately.

So glad!

Give me a B! Give me an O! Give me a U!

And so on!

I was feeling all kinds of off over the weekend (I'm pregnant), and my normally balky/has to be asked before he'll do things husband volunteered to get my vegetable garden set up for the year. So it's good plant, and good marriage, news.

New life growing all around! Love it. Thanks.

See, OP? We are not all thunderstorms here!

in case you haven't heard this from anyone else yet.... it is no one's gosh darn business how often you and your husband have sex, for procreation purposes or not. *AND* if you do decide to draw a boundary line here (please do, please, please do... if you don't start now it's only going to get 10000x worse when you do have kids...) and if family get's irate about how you used to tell them everything and don't anymore, you can tell them politely "sorry, we've decided to keep our sex life private from now on".

100 percent.

Thank you!

I feel for this person (similar boat). I plan things with friends and new acquaintances, but people bail on plans and seldom RSVP. I'm left hanging. It's frustrating, and despite the outreach you recommend, I too am still trying but getting nowhere!

I am sorry. But I think it's so helpful for OP to know that there are others out there in this boat.

If you keep trying, perhaps you will find each other!

I dated for years a well known guy who did something literally heroic. He went around the country speaking about that - to encourage people to know that one person can make a difference. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly getting attention. I was so proud of him - and proud that other people were inspired by his story. I don't know why your boyfriend is famous - but aren't you proud of him for that? Don't you appreciate the recognition he gets for what he does? At the other end - how does he treat you? Is the problem that he treats you more as an acolyte? Is the problem not so much that you don't get attention when you're together but that you don't feel he makes you feel equal in the relationship.

This is really helpful.

Part of me got the vibe that this relationship was very new.... so OP was still sort of feeling her way around, and couldn't necessarily feel "proud" of him yet. It will be interesting to see where it goes over time.

I appreciate your input!

It's worth considering the reactions of those you have told for future reference - there are some you don't want to let that intimately into your business. In fact, you might think about curtailing how many people in your life you to whom you tell these sort of things. It gives them power, as you can see,

Yes. Exhibit A of the lack of boundaries was maybe casting too wide of a net with the news in the first place. Now it is coming back to bite them a bit, I think!

Thanks so much for joining us today. What a great mix of questions and comments, and even some new resources to check out.

Can't wait to see you next week-- and in the comments and on Facebook in the meantime.

Until then, here's to boundaries and vegetable gardens (and boundaries with your vegetable garden!)

In This Chat
Dr. Andrea Bonior
Dr. Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist and the voice behind Baggage Check since its start in 2005. She serves on the faculty of Georgetown University and is the author of the Publisher's Weekly best-seller "Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World" and "The Friendship Fix.”
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