The Washington Post

Baggage Check: A Buffet of Bad Behaviors

My mother is particular about food. She and I have a great relationship, and we enjoy spending time together, but the moment a meal comes into play, she is almost intolerable. She criticizes everything, and is not afraid to be rude to waitstaff or claim she has allergies that she doesn’t really have. I love her, but I hate this thing about her, and it’s starting to affect our relationship. — DAUGHTER

I imagine that you’ve talked about this with her. Or is she too busy grimacing about a piece of cilantro? But whether or not she’s capable of change, being able to keep from banging your head against the dining room table is a reasonable expectation. Thankfully, the foundation of your relationship is solid, and she is otherwise pleasant. Use it to your advantage by hashing out some ground rules.

There are people who are particular about food — and thank goodness, or restaurants would serve nothing but Pop-Tarts — but they don’t have to make others miserable. Figure out how you can minimize the stress (choosing a la carte establishments without table service, for instance) and try to prioritize what behaviors you most would like her to quell.

He Can’t Always Send His Regrets
My husband hates doing social things, and he’s gone from putting up with them but complaining to downright refusing. I understand he doesn’t want to go to happy hours and parties — the ones that matter to me, I’m fine going to alone. But now he doesn’t even want to go to weddings with me, or big work events. He says he hates small talk and “life is too short” to bother to put up with things that are that trivial. I am tired of having to make excuses for his absence. — MARRIED TO A FUDDY-DUDDY

Yes, life is too short to fill it up with unenjoyable experiences. But life is joint when you’re married.

Of course a homebody shouldn’t be forced to constantly tag along on playdates arranged by a social butterfly spouse. But it sounds like you’ve already made adjustments and are asking him to come only to a fraction of your events. And one of the basic rules of relationships is that if he values you, he should also value the things that are big to you. It’s simple: You should be able to pick a handful of things that he makes an effort to attend. And if he’s socially anxious, depressed or has another reason for hesitating, he needs to address that as well.

Talk back to Dr. Andrea by leaving a comment below. To ask a question for Baggage Check in the Express print edition, e-mail or submit an anonymous question here.

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Dr. Andrea Bonior writes Express' advice column, Baggage Check.



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Beth Luberecki · June 13, 2011