Sep 262017 3 Responses

5 Ways Your Parents’ Marriage Might Hurt Yours

The number one influence on our marriage is the state of our parents’ marriage. Long before we ever have a romantic thought, we are learning from the relationships around us. Our parents’ relationship greatly influences expectations, attractions, attitudes, and actions. Nearly every couple has a disagreement early on in marriage based solely on some aspect of their parents’ marriage.

How our moms and dads relate to one another influences how we relate to our spouses. Here are 5 ways your parents’ marriage might negatively impact yours.

1. Too involved. When your parents are too involved, you may not know healthy boundaries. Enmeshed families appear healthy. They often assume they are the best types of families. But when parents are too involved, there is no distinction between parents and children. While the social bonds are strong, the individual identities are lost. Overly-involved parents tend to demand their ways, disallow distinction, and draw their identity and emotions from their children. This places too much pressure on the children and their spouses. Many potential husbands or wives run from these types of families long before they say “I do.” Others who enter into these families quickly discover an ugly underbelly. Things aren’t as good as they appeared. If your parents are too involved, learn to establish and apply healthy boundaries. Your parents won’t like it, but your spouse and children will appreciate it. (See: Think Twice Before Marrying Kevin Durant)

2. Not involved enough. When your parents aren’t involved enough, you might be emotionally cold. You may not know how to express emotion or feelings. Having not received affirmation or physical touch, children who grow up with uninvolved parents will long for those things while having little idea how to receive or give them. For many from this background, establishing relationships is difficult. When they are created, they are difficult to sustain. The individual may not see anything wrong, but the boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse will easily feel unloved and marginalized. If your parents were not involved enough, learn how to identify and express emotions in a healthy way.

3. Too dramatic. When your parents are too dramatic, you might think the only way to get attention is through stress. Homes that are full of drama unintentionally train children to seek attention through bad behaviors, exaggeration, or anything which might put the spotlight on them. While this is unhealthy as a child, it is fatal to a marriage. Anyone who marries someone addicted to drama is destined to have an exhausting marriage which normally ends by the spouse learning to ignore their dramatic husband or wife. Too much drama weakens a person’s trust and confidence in love. Instead of resting in the love of their spouse, they continually chase their spouse’s attention through unhealthy means. If your parents were too dramatic, learn to differentiate yourself from the problems of others and appreciate the peace which true love brings.

4. Too avoidant. When parents never confront difficult issues, you might learn that true love never rocks the boat. Avoidance has the appearance of peace, but it’s a mirage. True peace is not the byproduct of avoidance, but the fruit of the hard work of peacemaking. Homes which avoid issues appear great. Everyone is always happy and loving. Yet underneath the surface tension is present. Since no issues are ever confronted, bitterness and resentment are allowed to build. Like black mold, it grows unseen until it creates other symptoms. Never confuse avoidance for healthy. It isn’t. If your parents avoided difficult issues, learn what hard conversations look like. Discover the courage to confront difficult issues. (See: Use Hard Words Not Harsh Words)

5. Not healthy. If your parents did not have a healthy relationship with you or each other, you might not know what healthy looks like. Behaviors which others can clearly see as wrong or unproductive, might be totally natural to you. While screaming at one another is not useful, it might seem normal to you. Where it’s obvious to others that over-consumption of alcohol is inappropriate in a marriage, you may not know any different. Unhealthy couples give birth to unhealthy children. As those children grow, if they do not take ownership of their past and learn new skills, they are destined to replicate their parent’s lack of health. We aren’t locked into our history, but we are shackled by it until we choose otherwise. If your parents weren’t healthy, recognize it, seek counseling, find wise mentors, and do the work necessary to create a new path. (See: Healthy Families Can Talk About Everything)

The marriage (or lack thereof) that you were born into greatly influences every relationship you will ever have. Nowhere is this truer than in your own marriage. Understanding the dynamics of your parents’ relationship with one another can give you great insight to blindspots within your own marriage. Don’t judge, but learn. Don’t blame, but take ownership of what you do.

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