Exploring the Impact of Our Parent’s Marriage on Our Marriage

This post was written by Rhonda Wasserman

Original content by Ashley Berges

When trying to understand the issues in our current marriage it may be helpful to go back and look at our parent’s marriage. This was the marriage that we watched daily. We need to understand how that marriage impacts our current relationship. Some things may have taken place when we were growing up in the family dynamic. We need to understand this dynamic and see if it taking place in our marriage right now. 

The first very interesting detail we need to look at is when the parents spend a lot of time with the children but not with each other. It appears that there is little interaction between the spouses and that everything is focused on the children and what they are doing. The children may become the center of attention while walls are being built up between the parents. Because of this, when the kids leave home and the parents are left with only themselves, they start to doubt their lives and their marriage.

This happens a lot in marriages. We may be dealing with the same thing in our marriage. If we were the center of attention growing, up we could be doing the same thing with our children in our marriage. Your children may be the center of attention. The children give the parents a buffer, the ability to avoid that important conversation. 

If this is happening right now in your marriage eventually when the children move out, they will not be around anymore. This will put strain on the marriage because there has not been a lot of work on the relationship, because of the lack of communication outside the topic of the children.

Another interesting concept is that the fun went away. It appears when you were young your parents would laugh and joke and have a good time. Eventually over time, as you got older it seemed like your parents were always at each other throats. There was not a lot of smiles and laughter.

Sometimes we look at this and mimic it in our relationships. We figure it worked for our parents; it must be able to work for us as well. We write off the things that did not work because we are looking at the longevity of their relationship, not their happiness. 

Think about your marriage. Do you still have fun with your spouse? We have fun with our friends but not together with our spouses. How do we work on this? Fundamentally in any friendship, there must be some fun. If we no longer have fun, how did we let it get to that point, and when did it start? There must have been a time when you did have fun. Over time the fun began to wane and change and now there is not so much. We have learned that it’s acceptable but is it ok or is it just going through the motions? We are married for marriage’s sake, and we are going to stay married no matter what.  

A final concept is when one parent is always home and one is never home. We realize that one parent was around and one was not. It is not something we think about when it’s happening. We may have been a little lonely that mom or dad was not home but eventually that becomes commonplace. There is a constant void of one parent not being around. This becomes a learned concept.

When we get older and are in a relationship, it’s acceptable that one person is not around. This could be because we have to, or it could be because we do not want to be around, we want distance. Is this happening to avoid the big conversations in the relationship? When we have this type of relationship, how can we move the relationship forward in a positive way? When we saw this growing up, we accepted it as this is how marriage should be. 

As we look at our marriages, we do things because we choose to do them. Some are patterns and learned responses and some are because people do not have another way out. They do not know how to communicate and would rather just avoid it at all costs. Sometimes this is because of the fear of speaking one’s truth. Other times we just do not how to make these changes to turn our relationships around. 

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