How Your Parents' Relationship Affects Yours

Just as we share a facial resemblance with our birth parents, our relationship patterns could also bear a similar resemblance to theirs.

Our parents are examples of many things to us. From watching them, we consciously or unconsciously take in what they do and follow in their footsteps, whether good or bad. We absorb their thinking patterns, their attitudes/behaviour, mannerism, and live in the same manner.

Whether we admit it or otherwise, many of us have taken after our parents and we've begun doing relationships just like they did theirs. You may say you don't want to be like your parents if they had a behavior you weren't pleased with. But you see, you may already be living according to their patterns.

Whether your parents relationship were good or bad, it has a great effect on you - the effect of which cannot be overlooked. We would look at this from the perspective of conflicted and unconflicted marriages. 

1. Conflicted Marriage

If you grew up with parents whose marriage was conflicted, you could grow up thinking marriage isn't worth a second thought and even if you didn't think that, your relationship could be that conflicted too.

Aside that, witnessing your parents fight could make you develop passive and aggressive habits. It could also make you prone to depression and anxiety. If either of your parents left or your parents were separated or divorced, it could make you develop an insecure attachment style, causing you to be fearful or scared of rejection. It could even cause you to be somewhat withdrawn towards your partner, because in your opinion, being too close could send you into depression if that partner decides to leave, hence, you act withdrawn so as not to be too affected when a break-up occurs.

For example:

Tolu grew up with a father and mother who got divorced when she was five. Her father left and she was left with a mother who was not so 'there', that is, she was emotionally unavailable. Tolu became used to being alone and even when she gets into a relationship, she acts withdrawn with her partner because she believes nothing lasts forever. As far as she was concerned, her partner could leave at any time, just like her dad did. Hence, she acts withdrawn so she wouldn't get hurt a second time. She had been once bitten. So, of course, she should be twice shy.

Now, with Tolu's story, you get a mental picture of what we have been discussing. But things could also turn out to be quite the opposite. Not everyone can be as rigid as Tolu. Some other persons could become possessive or even obsessive as they seek all the love they didn't get from their parents, in their partners. They hold their partners responsible to make them feel happy, loved and secured and it's impossible for a person to always meet those requirements all the time.

For such people, they would have to learn to love themselves individually. They must learn to appreciate themselves and not hold any person responsible for making them feel secured or loved. I believe it is mentally distorting to think you cannot be happy, loved or secured on your own. This could be a hard pill to swallow but guess what? Nobody can make you happy, secured or loved at all times. You are responsible for your own happiness. You must understand that you are loved by God and grow in the understanding of the same, otherwise, every partner will seem imperfect because you expect them to meet all your demands at the same time - something only God can do. Your partner is not a super hero. Your partner may be a Christian but s/he is first human. Which means they have limitations and cannot be the perfect picture you have painted in your head at all times. 

2. Unconflicted Marriage 

On the flip side, if you hardly saw your parents fight, that is, if your parents marriage were healthy, it could give you a positive view of marriage. It could help you develop healthy and secure attachment style as you never saw the need to feel unloved or insecure.

Seeing your parents having a healthy marriage could make you confident that marriage is indeed a good thing and you in turn, learn to be with partner who shares the same opinion.

However, if you never saw your parents fight or argue at all. If all you saw was their lovey-dovey attitudes without knowing about the fights or arguments that occurred behind closed doors, you could also be a little disillusioned or unrealistic about marriage. You could grow up thinking a relationship or marriage should always be without a fight and if a fight or argument occurs in yours, you may think the relationship was never meant to be, hence, you quit it. It's important to balance our idealism with enough realism.

Possibly, some of the things mentioned in the post will be detailed on in subsequent posts. It may not come in any particular order, but you sure can keep in touch for more value.


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