Does our parents' relationship affect ours?

Our minister (who did our pre-marital counseling) did an entire session on our parents' relationships.  He said whether we like it or not, what we grew up seeing is reflected in how we treat our spouse.  How did your parents fight?  Yelling?  Passive aggressive silent treatment?  As much as I hate it, a lot of the negative qualities I saw growing up often flare up with me too. What do you think?  Are you like your parents or no?

Posted on November 22, 2009 at 6:58 am
wildfirej29
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(22) Comments

MountainBride
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THAT is a loaded question Wildfire. . .


I think the fact that you recognize those 'negative' qualities in yourself is a good thing, because you can combat it.


Which is exactly how it is for me. . .it's not just relationship stuff but how I was raised in general.  My parents big stressor was money, and it doesn't matter WHAT kind of financial situation I'm in (good or bad) I get major anxiety. . .and that could easily translate to marital problems.  I have to check myself once in a while.  


Rarely did we hear or experience my parents fight - but sometimes my mom could get a little bit pms'y with my dad if he brought home the wrong canned beans or took an extra day to return something, and THAT used to make me nuts as a kid. . .I work really hard to make sure I don't do that to DH, because I could see the hurt and exasperation in my dad who really thought he had done the right thing.


 


 

Posted on November 22, 2009 at 9:29 am
chaboogey
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Mountainbride is right, that is a loaded question.


My parents displayed some destructive behavior as I was growing up.  But they got divorced and my mother remarried.  And that has got to be one of the most loving relationships I have ever seen.  So now if what Wildfire says is true, am I going to or already am displaying the loving behavior that I currently see or the dysfunctional behavior I saw from many many years back?

Posted on November 22, 2009 at 10:52 am
Sankofa24
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my parents have been married 36 years. My father is an incessent alcohloic and my mother ignores and enables him.


The way I cater to my fh is because I saw my mother doing that for my father.


I've always heard that you always marry a man like your father. However I pray that doesn't happen


 

Posted on November 22, 2009 at 11:16 am
Niecy
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My dad moved out when I was 7 and moved away so we didn't see much of him ....


My mom didn't date until I was 12 -(mostly because my brother and I made it difficult for her)  :(


I was raised by a strong , determined , VERY independant woman ... and everyday I notice I am more and more like her ... maybe not quite as strong ... but Im very stubborn :)


My current DH shares some personality traits with my stepdad (mom remarried when I was 13) 


My father is a musician and my mothers biggest complaint was that he put the music before me and my brother (though we were grown adults before she admitted this)


I overheard enough as a child to know that the music and cheating ended my parents marriage ..... My first marriage was to a man that had cheated on me before we were even married .... DUH!  


My brother and I both love music and love singing and performing ...but we never pursued it .....the farthest we go is singing karaoke ..... deep down I know that is because of our dad ....he's still trying to make it big after all this time .... my brother especially strives to NOT be like him ,.... almost to a fault

Posted on November 23, 2009 at 1:17 am
al0626
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well my parents have the absolute BEST relationship.  They've been married for over 25 years and they truly have a strong, loving relationship.  I say all the time that Danny and I will strive to have a marriage half as good as theirs.  Danny on the other hand:  His parents divorced when he was two and both remarried.  Neither step parents are very good spouses.  The stepmom is a HUGE bitch (huge.) and his step dad is no fun, serious all the time, not overly nice or affectionate to danny's mom at all.


so, from my parents we have someone to try to model our relationship after.  but from his, we've learned how NOT to treat each other.  actually when danny asked my parents to marry me, he talked about both his parents being divorced and how terrible it is and that its not even an option in our future.  i thought that was sweet :)

Posted on November 23, 2009 at 1:34 am
mrspre
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I think that can be true to a point, BUT I also think that some of the things you grow up seeing teach you how not be in your relationship.


Similarly to al0626 my DH's parents divorced when he was in high school and his dad is a very grumpy old man.  My DH is very aware of why his parents relationship didn't work out and he strives to do things differently than they did.  We've talked at length about this.


I on the other hand come from a family of strong marriages and my parents have been married for over 30 years.  I do find that I am a lot like my mom, who is a little stubborn but the very organized and caring one in the realtionship.


I think there are a lot of things you can learn, both good and bad from watching other peoples relationships...

Posted on November 23, 2009 at 5:03 am
wildfirej29
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I think it can go either way too.  For ex, I grew up with a strong, dominant father figure and a meek, submissive mom.  I am the COMPLETE opposite of this.  I have always said I would refuse to allow someone to control me/manipulate me.  My relationship with my husband (and when we were dating/engaged) has always been much more equal/balanced than my parents. 

Posted on November 23, 2009 at 5:08 am
Missie1284
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My parents are still married, but shouldnt be. They're emotionally divorced and $$ is the big reason why they don't split. I do think they love each other, but they're not IN love anymore and should not be married. 


I remember some fighting when I was growing up, mostly during my teen years and there's definitely still a lot of it now. My mom likes to vent to me about it, which I get tired of, but she doesn't really have anyone else to talk to who understands how my dad can get (we think he's seriously bipolar, he gets really mean, says terrible things, yells, etc.) They pick on each other over dumb stuff and criticize each other a lot. I have made it a point in this relationship to not do that! I think my husband and I communicate more effectively and we try not to sweat the small stuff or insult each other. I married a guy who is the complete opposite of my father, but I could have very easily fallen into the trap of marrying a guy just like him! The guy I dated for 3.5 years before my husband was a lot like my dad and it scares me to think that I almost went down that path. I think your parents' relationship can definitely affect you positively or negatively if you let it!

Posted on November 23, 2009 at 6:22 am
Chica
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omg missie1284, your post hit home.  My parents have been married for 39 years and I don't think they should still be married.  I grew up in a very "machista" household, where the only opinion that mattered was my fathers, since he was the money maker.  I remember being concerned about what my father would think, even as I became an adult.  He has always been very overbearing and controlling.  He has never been physically abusive, but he is very emotionally abusive and its put a toll on my mother.  I feel bad, b/c I just want her to be happy.  She thought about divorcing him when we were younger, but didn't do it b/c of us.  My brother and I are both adults now, but I think she's scared of change and what it will mean for her financial stability. I think this made me be a strong woman who could support myself with or without a man.  I don't know if this is good or bad, b/c when we (meaning me and DH) make financial decisions, I always think about if "I" can afford to it on my own if I have to, rather than can "we" afford it together.

Posted on December 15, 2009 at 8:13 am
soon2beMrs.Jackson
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YES! i see so much of my mother in myself now. my parents were married almost 32 years. my mom was waaaaay  more dominant and my dad was much more soft spoken and passive. mom made the decisions, mom was the disciplinarian. my dad rarely stood up to my mom when he really should have and he was also the one who let me get away with everything! i also feel that my parents could have handled some of their conflicts alot better than some of the ways they choose to.....my FI is no where near passive so i have learned that me being dominant in our relationship just wont' work lol!


i STRONGLY believe that what we see in our households growing up is our first exposure to what our perception of a relationship should be like. this was discussed at our pre-marital counseling session as well and it was definitely eye-opening. FI and i came to the conclusion that even though we both were fortunate to grow up in mostly happy households with little drama, there were still 'issues' we saw within our parents' relationships that we do not want to have in our own (none of us are perfect and marriage is HARD work!). we are grateful for and love the examples that our parents provided for us, especially knowing that they did the best that they could with what they knew about marriage but we also want our relationship to be even BETTER than our parents'! Great topic!!  :-)


 

Posted on December 15, 2009 at 11:24 am
Kaytana17
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Wow - this group has such wonderful topics! So thought provoking!


I have to admit that I've inherited some of my mom's PMS-yness but I try to keep it in check. FI is pretty good about my PMS stuff b/c it rarely comes up. I feel like FI has inherited the way his parents argue - he shuts down which is what his dad does..and he can also flare up like his mom w/a bottled anger. We're both working on this stuff b/c we see how it's affected both of our parents relationships'.

Posted on December 22, 2009 at 3:59 am
wildfirej29
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Chica, Amen!  I came from a VERY similar situation!  I love my dad of course, but sometimes it scares me how much his opinion still means to me. 


For ex, we got into a HUGE hour long debate the other night about whether or not being gay is a sin.  He will think it is until the day he dies, and I feel strongly convicted that the complete opposite is true.  He told me I may as well just throw the Bible out the window and be an athiest if I believe that.  While I KNOW his beliefs are very extreme (IMO) it still bothers me so much that he said those things to me and that he is disappointed that I disagree with him.  I guess I'll never be able to stop caring about his opinion, no matter how much I disagree with it.  :(

Posted on January 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm
LauraSweet
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I don't know.  To some degree, but it's not irreversible.  My parents divorced when I was 2 and my mom never remarried.  They were not hateful about each other in front of me, but I really didn't ever see them interact at all.


My FI's parents were married for 30-something (at least) years until his dad passed away, but FI and his sister both had failed marriages.  


I don't think it's necessarily true that the relationship will mirror your parents'.  I do think our marriage will mirror his parents' marriage a lot more, though.  He is a lot like his dad and I am a lot like his mom.  I find that strangely reassuring because his parents had a good, strong marriage.

Posted on January 6, 2010 at 5:55 am
BlingBride22
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I see a lot of my mother in me.... She was horrible at hiding fights between herself and my dad (now divorced) I started to notice this bad quality in myself and started on the path at changing it.... I have learned that I just need to walk away from the situation and calm down before talking, me and DH call it the 5 minute rule.... 


I am preggers and DH and I have talked about how if we are in a disagreement that it needs to be talked about behind closed doors and not in front of her.... I remember the tension that I felt when my parents would fight and I don't want our kids to ever feel that way.... Also, the stress that fighting brings on when preggers can't be good for the baby so that has helped when we are in a disagreement....


 

Posted on January 20, 2010 at 12:18 pm
LauraSweet
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@BlingBride - I agree to an extent. I don't think it's good to have an all-out fight in front of your kids. But they do say it's good for kids to see their parents disagree and then work it out and everything be okay. It's an important part of resolving conflict. They don't have to see every moment of how you work it out, but they need to see that mommy and daddy can be upset with each other and work through it and still love each other when the spat is over.


If you shield them from all disagreements, you don't equip them to resolve things in their own relationships.  You know?

Posted on January 28, 2010 at 7:08 am
BlingBride22
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Lol, @Laura I meant BIG fights.... My parents would have full on yelling matches in front of us.... I don't think that fights like that need to take place in front of the kids....

Posted on January 28, 2010 at 7:50 am
LauraSweet
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=) I agree.

Posted on January 28, 2010 at 7:56 am
HISRIB2010
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On the positive side, yes, my parents been married for 40 plus years and through the good & bad, they hung in there. I like the fact that my mom shown me examples of how to be a wife, even if & when he gets on your last nerve.  


On the negative, I see how as people grow older, they can grow apart. My parents bicker about about stupid things IMO. Those are things I'm scared of and I constantly tell my FI these things because I don't want us to go through these things as we grow older.      

Posted on February 19, 2010 at 6:51 am
abattyref
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This is a fascinating topic! It's been interesting reading all the responses.


My parents have been married 36 years and have a wonderful relationship, not perfect, but they do their best to make sure they are happy. With 4 kids, my mom was the disciplinarian and the visibly dominant half of their relationship. While my dad is more soft spoken and calculating. My mom is the talker, my dad is the thinker. But when important decisions need to be made, my mom won't make them without my dad. As a child, I never saw them fight, ever. I know they did, but they made sure that we never knew it. The key to their happy marriage is honest, open communication... and to truly know the other person, know what irritates them and what makes them happy.


My DH's parents on the other hand are quite different. They have also been married 36 years and I believe they are only married because of their money... and because a divorce would be expensive. I have never seen them show the tiniest bit of affection towards each other, and I've known them for over 10 years. My FIL is rude and has no care or concern for other people's feelings, or that his actions affect the people around him. My MIL is the same in some aspects, but not nearly as bad. FIL treats MIL like crap and seriously thinks she's an idiot... and she's not. They don't communicate and they clearly don't love each other, heck I don't even think they respect each other. Based on stories I've heard from when DH was growing up, it amazes me that DH turned out to be the thoughtful, wonderful man that he is.


I don't believe that you will have the same relationship as your parents. But, we should all take them into account. I consider my parents' relationship to be a role model... and my ILs as a "what not to do" example. DH and I have talked many times about how I won't take the same kind of crap that his dad dishes out to his mom. We both agree that honest communication is really important. And I did marry someone who's very much like my dad.

Posted on February 24, 2010 at 9:45 am
Laceandlove
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I agree that our parent's relationship gives us something to consider in our own, but I'm not convinced that we will have the same relationship as them. 


Now that I am out of the house and in my own relationship I can see my parents relationship more clearly.  I know that they are comfortable, and that they will never split up (they've been married 34 years), but I can now see why I was such a volatile teen.  My mom picks and bites at EVERY little thing my dad does, and although I didn't notice it as much when I lived there, I'm sure she did it to me and my siblings.  I love my mom, and I think she was an awesome mom, but I have had to build SO much confidence in myself since I've moved out and gotten married.  She never asks my dad nicely to do things, and STILL after 34 years of living with him, thinks that someday he'll be able to read her mind and do random tasks she wants without being asked.  I know my dad well enough to know that he's in his own little world, and that he would gladly bring the groceries in from the car if he knew they were there.  But she'll bring the whole load up from the car without saying a word to him, and then be REALLY pissed that she had to do it all herself - all while he's in his own world reading a book.  Of course he didn't help, you didn't bother to mention there was a load of groceries.
Anyway, this is kind of a rant.  I really try not to treat my H like my mom treats my dad.  My dad puts up with it, quickly calmly actually, but H would not.  I try to communicate with him calmly, nicely, and often.


DH's parents seem to be ok.  His dad annoys me to no end, but his mom is very tolerant. 


I just try not to be like my mom, and HOPE to no end that DH doesn't turn out like his dad, and I think we'll be fine!


 

Posted on April 8, 2010 at 3:41 am
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