DEAR ABBY: My husband often points out my flaws and shortcomings. For 20 years now, while I try to make changes, I find myself in the same place on most issues. He's increasingly impatient with me, and I get a daily rundown of what I should or could have done better.
I don't want to lose our marriage. He thinks of himself as a "coach." As he sees it, some of my most annoying habits are tied to my now deceased parents, who were displaced persons with no education during the Second World War. I understand his frustrations. I agree with him and want to be the best person I can be, but I'm often mired in sentiment for my parents and act and do as they might have.
I talk with a therapist, which sometimes helps, but I still feel tied to their old ways and can't seem to stand on my own feet as my own person. I'm at a loss about what to do. Thank you for any direction you can offer. -- STILL LOST IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR STILL LOST: Start discussing "generational trauma" with your therapist. The psychological and physiological effects of trauma experienced by people (e.g., refugees from WWII and other conflicts and genocides) often impact subsequent generations in that group.
When a couple marry, they are supposed to accept each other the way they are. Over the last two decades your husband hasn't done that. He may mean well by his "coaching," but from where I sit, it appears more like a never-ending stream of criticism. Rather than so readily blame yourself, please discuss this, too, with your therapist.