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Baggage Check: Too close for comfort; an uneasy proposal

Q: My husband and I work in the same large office and have commuted together for years.

I’m tired of it, and I think I need more space, but I know what he would say – it doesn’t make any sense for us to drive separately.

Any way to broach this without ending my marriage?

A: You bring up ending your marriage so cavalierly that I’m not sure if it is a far-out joke or something that’s ever-present on your mind.

Of course there are superficial solutions that’ll help you find space even within the commute.

Talk with him about how you need more “me” time, and that one way you’ve come up with is to read books/discover music/reconnect with old friends, etc. Yup, the talk is mandatory.

Otherwise, it’s just case number 1,987,258 of one spouse annoyingly tuning another out with an iPhone.

But is getting tired of commuting together most of the problem, or is it one symptom of something deeper and uglier?

Think about the ways you relate in general, and how they may or may not be suffering.

Not all marriages can withstand working together professionally; I hope you’d consider switching jobs before divorcing.

Q: I’ve been thinking of proposing to my girlfriend. I can’t picture myself with anyone else, but her mental health problems scare me. She has been hospitalized for suicidal “gestures,” has issues around past sexual abuse, and has struggled with eating disorders.

She’s made progress with a therapist over the four years we’ve been together, but these issues will always pop up in unexpected ways.

I love her, and we’re good together. But these things are scary.

A: These issues may never be gone, but they won’t necessarily cause serious problems again.

They also may have helped your girlfriend become who she is in positive ways – she might have more empathy or passion or strength because of the experiences that she’s had.

Of course, she could also be frightened, pessimistic, hopeless or distant because of them.

You know her and I don’t.

The question is whether she’s someone you love and respect and want to grow with, even when the not-totally-predictable happens.

That – and whether she’s dedicated to her healing, and doing it alongside you – should be your guide.

(Andrea Bonior, a Washington, D.C.,-area clinical psychologist, is author of “The Friendship Fix.” For more information, see drandreabonior.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @drandreabonior.)

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