Everything my boyfriend does irritates me, but I’ve come to realize that I need to change more than he does. It’s always dumb little things—phrases he overuses, foods he won’t eat, socks on the floor, too much football. I even know where it comes from; my mother spent her marriage of 50 years being aggrieved and angry at my father (who was a very nice man). On the one hand she had no self-confidence and no sense that she had a right to ask for anything, but she also had this idea that people should intuit what she wanted and do it without being asked. So she never told him when she was angry, but was furious he never changed on his own. I am working really hard not to be this way, and I do discuss the more important issues with my boyfriend, who is always sympathetic and responsive. But I also feel like a nag who carps on a million little things. How do I get past this?
—Tired of Being Irritated