Ben Claassen III (For Express)
Express Advice Columnist

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Q. My husband’s sister nitpicks me a lot, and always has. She can be warm and loving one minute, but then harsh and cold the next. When we first met, my husband was getting over a broken engagement, and I think she never got over the fact that she didn’t get my husband’s ex as a sister-in-law (they were close and have much more in common). My husband and I are expecting our first child and she is expecting to be the child’s godmother. Honestly, I’m not even thrilled about her being the aunt. How can I help convince my husband to resist this?

I understand this, for sure. But if you go into the conversation with the agenda of absolutely barring his sister from having this role, it’s going to be difficult to get him to hear your point of view. This has to be a more nuanced discussion, with alternative options presented (both in terms of who else would be godparent and also how to frame the decision to her when she learns of it), a calm expression of your specific concerns and feelings about why she wouldn’t be the best choice, and — perhaps most important — a willingness to listen to his point of view. Being a godparent can look very different across different families, and it’s possible that the two of you aren’t imagining it in the same way. A more thorough reality check could make it more palatable for you — or, on the other hand, help him to see your side. The sooner you have this talk, the better.

Her big story is really a big lie

Q. I have recently realized that a close friend is a habitual liar. She had always been an exaggerator, and she likes drama and big stories and entertaining people. However, she had a pretty big story about what happened at her workplace — an extreme situation — and I have since gotten to know a co-worker of hers at yoga and apparently this thing never happened. At all. The co-worker had no idea what I was talking about. I don’t know what to do with this information.

First, it’s worth my saying: Can you be certain that this wasn’t a big misunderstanding? (All right, all right. I didn’t think so either.) Pick a private time that won’t feel like an ambush, and bring this latest discrepancy up in a polite, “curious” and “puzzled” way. Be aware that no matter how kind you are, she might go on the defensive — especially if she feels like she’s been found out and had never imagined her fabrications would ever be a problem. Say that something strange happened when you were chatting with X, and you are confused, and want to get her take on it. But since you already suspect that her lying is a chronic issue, you have to figure out what you are looking for out of this conversation: her side of the story? An explanation of why she does it? Her awareness that you are onto her? Her chance to make things right? Her being put on notice that if it keeps up, you are jumping ship from the friendship? Be prepared if this starts a fire.

Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at

Read more Baggage Check:

My ex wants to bring a date to a wedding we planned to attend together. Now the bride’s put me in a tough spot.

My husband keeps putting off our big move. How do I light a fire in him?

I think I’m ready to go off my anxiety meds. Is it OK to try this on my own?