Ben Claassen III (for Express)

Q. My fiancee comes from a conservative religious family, and many of them will be meeting my family for the first time at our wedding this spring. My sister has been with her female partner (whom we all love) for six years. My fiancee thinks it would be easiest if my sister keeps things “low-key” at the wedding and does not make it obvious that she and her partner are a couple. My fiancee is not against my sister’s relationship, but her family is very anti-gay and she thinks it will keep things peaceful if they don’t have public displays of affection. I say I would never ask my sister or her partner to do that. —Help!

If she’s not against your sister’s relationship, she sure is acting like it. I get that she doesn’t want to watch her Great-Uncle Harold squirm during the champagne toast. But your sister’s about to be her family too. Her choosing to stifle love that she supposedly supports, all because of some potential grumbling from people she supposedly doesn’t agree with in the first place?

Make it clear that this is non-negotiable. Sure, there can be general caps on PDA — no twerking for anyone — but say your sister will not be shoved in a closet for the sake of indulging some bigoted views. It’s your fiancee’s responsibility to handle her family in whatever way she wants. Give your sister a friendly heads-up, so she and her partner can choose how and whether to calibrate their behavior. Not because someone is making them do so, but because no one deserves to walk unknowingly into a land mine just by showing they love their partner.

I cheated and it hurts me too

Q. Recently, I cheated on my girlfriend of 18 months. I couldn’t hold it in and I told her 12 hours after I cheated. I love her and feared losing her, and this whole episode made me realize that my girlfriend is the girl I want to spend my life with. She told me that she loves me and that I need to work really hard to have her trust me again. What makes this harder is that I can’t forgive myself. I look in the mirror and I hate myself because I almost lost her and because of all the pain I caused her. I don’t know if we will ever be OK, because I don’t know where to begin the healing process. —I Screwed Up

You’re lucky that you get to focus not on convincing her to give you a chance, but instead on working to make sure you are worthy of her decision.

Figure out what contributed to your actions. Alcohol? Boredom? A sex drive left unchecked? A need for attention? An inability to set boundaries? An underlying crack in your relationship? You will forgive yourself, in time, only if you start being the partner that she deserves, and you’ll do this by better understanding the gap between how you want to behave and how you actually did. Your pain can be an asset if it’s a motivator to do right, and a deterrent from doing wrong again.

Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at baggage@wpost.com.

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