Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend and I are both 19, and we'll be having our five-year anniversary this summer. We've dated long-distance the entire time. To celebrate this milestone, we are going on an overnight trip.
My parents strongly disapprove of this. I told them about the trip immediately after I booked it and have been honest throughout the process, but this seems to cross a line for them. They've always been very protective of me and my sisters, but I don't know why this in particular is so hard, because I've traveled on my own internationally and my boyfriend stayed with me for a weekend at college.
I feel my boyfriend and I have proved ourselves to be in a mature and healthy relationship, but my parents still don't like that I'm dating someone on principle.
Recently, my mother told me that if we go on this trip, we will be jeopardizing my boyfriend's relationship with her and my dad for the long term. Every adult I trust besides my parents (rabbi, therapist) has told me it's OK for us to take this trip, and I don't like that my mom threatened my boyfriend, but at the same time I love my parents and I don't want to make things difficult — life is tough as it is. Should I go on this trip, or keep the peace?
Carolyn says: I think you've got a tough choice there.
And I think 19 is a good age to take on a tough, adult decision, one between two things that each will cost you something you value. The only thing you can do is figure out your values and priorities, rest your decision on them, and accept the consequences.
Whatever you decide, it's generally good policy not to cave to emotional threats.
Who does what
Dear Carolyn: My husband and I each do the chores we sort of enjoy, or, at least, don't entirely hate, and the workload seems pretty evenly divided. However, I've noticed a lot of these chores seem to fall along traditional gender roles.
Our 3-year-old already seems to think daddies don't cook and mommies don't drive. We don't need to blow up our whole system, do we? Are we teaching outdated ideas?
Carolyn says: No and no. It works. And that's all you need to say: "It came out that way in our family, but all families are different." Repeat till it verges on self-satire and you'll be fine.
Dear Carolyn: I have a good problem to have, but one I'm still struggling with. After a divorce and more than a decade of basically being single, I've unexpectedly started seeing an old friend, and it's amazing. I have no doubt that our relationship is real and very healthy. It's more the idea that something so unexpectedly good has happened to me, so I vary between disbelief, shock and happiness. Without complaining, my life hasn't been very easy, and I guess I feel like I have to work extra hard for the good things in my life. How do I get over the feeling that I don't deserve this happiness?
Carolyn says: If you don't, then who does? Real question, not rhetorical. Congratulations to you both.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at email@example.com, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.