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Q. My mother has a lot of anxieties that she refuses to address or get taken care of. She is a fun and spirited person who used to be adventurous, but the older she has gotten, the more afraid of germs/planes/unusual foods/changes in routine she has become. It makes me sad because I always visualized that we would travel together once she retired. We have always been close and she raised me as a single mom. I have a lot of flexibility with my job and can go to some pretty cool places and I want her to come along. But she has gotten more and more rigid, and now that she has finally stopped working and is in a place to enjoy life, she is balking at accompanying me because of these irrational fears and worries. —Sad Daughter
But does she view these fears and worries as irrational? And more important, does she actually want to change them? It’s unclear to me if travel has always been a joint vision for you both, or if it’s more what you think she should do. But she’s got to be on board mentally before getting on board a plane, train or automobile.
Many people become less adaptable as they get older, whether just from routines getting ingrained or from heightened anxiety about being less autonomous within their daily lives. If she really wants both to travel and to work on the barriers she has in getting there, then you can help her get help through cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that gradually nudge her out of her comfort zone. But if the only motivation is coming from you, you’ve got to ask yourself: At what point does a nudge toward adventure become a shove off of a cliff?
He cheated. Is it my turn now?
Q. My husband had a three-month affair with someone he worked with. I believe it has truly been over for a year and he did come clean about it on his own (after we started having tension about him being distant from me). We have communicated well and I believe I have forgiven him, but I can’t shake the idea that I should sleep with someone else to “even” it out. I know it sounds terrible. Is this part of my not being over it yet? —Can’t Shake It
Well, it depends on your definition of “over it.” There are many aspects of infidelity that need to be healed. It could be that trust and love are being rebuilt, but you still feel like you’ve been cheated in a different way: that he got to break the rules and experience something you can’t. This might be made worse if you feel like he’s gotten away with other things too, or that you are putting in more “work” than he is. But given that (let’s agree on this) your sleeping with someone else would only damage your marriage further, you need to decide how to address these feelings in a constructive way. What is the deficit that’s still shouting that it needs to be filled? You can start with some individual therapy of your own to figure that out, and learn what to do about it.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.
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