Parenting and marriage meet in a sort of bizarre way: sometimes we assume that our mate is going to be like our parent. And sometimes our mate ends up being like our parent.

Crazy, right?

A few people commented the other day that they felt their partners really thought they were marrying someone just like their Mother. What does that mean? It means that perhaps a man thought that because his Mom did things a certain way, for example, took complete control of all child rearing duties, that his new wife would take on the exact same responsibilities. So when the couple had children, the man was shocked to find out that his wife wanted to share parental responsibilities.

What do you mean? the guy thinks. The wife is supposed to do the kid stuff. My Father didn’t change diapers and I’m certainly not changing diapers…

And then the trouble starts.

Why do we often think that all relationships are the same? Why do we assume the power dynamic will be exactly how our parent’s was?

Then you have the other side of the coin; people who marry someone without realizing how many traits they share with their parent. And it isn’t always the good traits. I know this first hand.

It took me years after my divorce to realize that I had married someone with some of  the same bad traits as my Mother. I’m guessing my rationale was that if your parent is supposed to love you the most, you need to find someone who treats you the same way. And while that theory is somewhat sound, the reality is that even parents with the best intentions don’t always do the right things. As we know from yesterday, the parent child relationship is often a rocky path, and sometimes only maturity will make you see how things really were.

Why do we often do this? I have no idea. But it sure makes me wish I studied more psychology. I’m hoping Deb jumps in here with some sociological explanation as to we unconsciously seek out people like our parents.

Today I am battling a bit of a cold- I think the stress of Saturday manifested itself deep in my sinus cavities. So this is all you get from me today.

But, as always, think about your relationships: Did you seek out a partner like one (or a combo) of your parents? Were they good traits or bad traits?


Did you expect that your partner would act just like for parent did?

Write my blog for me please:

68 thoughts on “I’m Marrying Who?

  1. Aww.,I hope your manifestation goes away.Yes, it is so true. I married a man who was like bot parents at that time. My mother was critical of herself and me. My father was a loving, very intelligent man who was always teaching me things. My husband was also very intelligent and shared things with me. Thanks for an interesting post.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t think that I can speak to sociology on this one as it seems much more aligned with the ways in which children see and relate to their parents as the cause, rather than a social or environmental thing.
    I would guess that it has something to do with how parents “parent” and the ways in which that might bring about dysfunction/negativity in the relationship or a sense of security/positivity for the child.
    I bet Freud would have had tons of opinions on this specific trait/need that many of us seem to have! 😉

    Hope you feel better!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. No, not stretching at all. I have to assume that once we are used to responding to our parents in specific ways it goes without saying that we might also be drawn to others in our environment who also display/encourage the same behaviors. I just think psychology would want to take credit for the initial cause in this case!! 😉

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  3. I wish I had married someone more like either one of my parents. They began dating at 15 and 16 and were very happily married. My mistake was marrying the guy I met at 15 (technically we didn’t date until 3 years later.)
    I’m not likely to marry again, but last night a friend and I were just discussing what to look for in a future relationship.

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  4. Thats interesting…I never gave it any thought and never tried to find someone like either of my parents and though they were both great and I loved them very much, I’m glad I found someone who was very different.

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  5. Without realizing that we’re doing it, I think we often seek out people who feel “familiar” to us for many different sorts of reasons…it’s what we’re used to, it takes us back to childhood, or it puts everything back in its place, somehow. Even if we don’t like everything about our parents, this could explain why we might choose someone who is like them in some way.

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  6. I am going to have to ponder this. Interesting! I hope you get to feeling better. My daughter is battling a cold and my son is still trying to get over a bad cough. Somehow my husband and I are still managing to stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting. I don’t think I had any preconceived ideas about the kind of mate I wanted. My husband and I are polar opposites on a lot of things, including our background home life. While it is true he has some similarities to my dad and I think my dad would have liked him had they been able to meet, the traits they share are things like a love of tools, which is common in a lot of men. Maybe I just married him because he told me he loved me?

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  8. I don’t know where I heard it, but it stuck with me and I was always a bit conscious of it, though I didn’t really believe it at the time. It was something about “Men marry their mothers and women marry their fathers.” Basically what you said, that people tend to marry someone that carries specific traits of their parents.

    I think that in a lot of ways it is a subconscious thing. Our parents are normally our first and most impactful impression of what a marriage is supposed to be like, so that is where you sort of instinctively get drawn. This is one of the reasons why you see abuse cycles perpetuating down through generations.

    My ex’s parents were… odd. At least from my perspective. How they interacted with each other, their sleeping arrangements (didn’t sleep in the same room) and a few other things that stuck out. I didn’t think about it much at the time, but I honestly believe that my ex sort of expected our relationship to be similar. He thought that was just the way it was done because that is what he grew up seeing. He also had a lot of my own dad’s more negative traits, so I apparently also fell into a similar default.

    Now, my current Hubby still somehow managed to end up with certain traits that are like my dad, but thankfully the better parts (if you consider “dad joke” humor to be a good thing). That said, I think you can also find similarities if you are trying to find them. Just because they both have that type of sense of humor doesn’t actually make them all that similar.

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  9. I think we are drawn to the familiar, whether we consciously know this or not. I thought I was marrying a man vastly different from my father. Dad was a very quiet man, my husband is not. However, they share certain traits that I did not recognize when we first married – many of them detrimental to our relationship. After a separation and much help from a therapist we were able to navigate the pitfalls. I did take an introductory course in psychology and wish I could have delved more deeply into the mysteries we call the mind. Still, I did learn a few things. LOL

    I hope you feel better really soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hope you feel better soon, we need someone to keep coming up with these great subjects. I for one went in the opposite direction of either of my parents, both their good as well as bad points. Don’t know if this is better or worse than finding that you married someone like your own parent. I think my husband went in the opposite direction too. But these things are personality traits not core values.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My sweetie and I have been married almost 22 years. I’m glad he doesn’t seem like my parents, but we get along together and have a similar sense of humor.

    I’m also glad we aren’t stuck in traditional roles. He helps me with the dishes, which is a big plus. I really don’t mind cooking as long as he and dd help with cleanup.

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  12. I married someone who is different than my father and I am very, very different than his mother. We meshed together mostly because we weren’t like each other’s parents. Funny how we figured that out at such a young age, but we did.

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  13. I knew my husband was nothing like either of my parents. My mom was a perfectionist and something of a bully. My dad submitted to her in almost everything. He was good natured and just wanted everyone to get along. He did have a passive aggressive streak, though, and that’s some thing I picked up from him.
    Studly (David) grew up in a family in which his dad was the bully and his mom the easy going one. It took us many years to work out our own roles. He thought I’d be like his mom, while I was glad he wasn’t like my parents. Occasionally he’s acted like his dad, and those have been the times I’ve put my foot down. I was bullied for way too many years.

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  14. I can’t really say. I think at one point I thought my husband was a bit like my mother. Worse was the ways he was like his father. I think we related to each other well, because we grew up with some similar dysfunctional family history. One result of that is neither of us had any desire to be parents.

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  15. Both times I married, I did not marry someone like my father, thank God. He was someone who was truly unemotional and cruel. He actually walked away from anyone who cried. However, the second time I married (been married for almost 30 year now), I did marry someone who was an extravert and competitive like my mother. This is the complete opposite of me. Despite his competitiveness, he’s an extremely kind man. Did I see these things in him before I married him? I knew he was outgoing but I didn’t know about the competitiveness.

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  16. My mom told my sister and I that we’d pick someone like our dad. Thing is, I’m attracted to healthy, intelligent, kind people; my sister routinely went for the cliché bad boy. I ended up marrying a healthy, intelligent guy; she dated a lot more than I did and married a tall, strong, reasonably intelligent guy.

    My dad is soft-spoken, avoids conflict, is intelligent, and somewhat tall. He works hard. You could say we both patterned after him, but you could more accurately say that my sister and I went for what makes us feel safe.

    As to the other thing you noticed: yes, I expected my husband to do the same ‘man jobs’ my dad did, especially because my husband is a strong believer in gender roles. Yes, it’s been a sore spot but we’re really making progress. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Right, so that may be patterning; may be subconscious judgment.

        (I also just remembered that my mom’s family all thought my dad was boring. They still don’t really understand what she sees in him. 😀 )

        Liked by 1 person

  17. As I responded to Deb above, Freud’s fingerprints are all over this, but more relevant in my opinion is John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory. There’s a fair bit of stuff online about the individual attachment styles (broadly secure/anxious/avoidant/fearful) and how the style we experienced first-hand as children impacts on our future relationship choices. As you’ve experienced, you can learn from later life experiences … we’re not doomed to forever repeat the bad stuff 🙂I think you’ll enjoy learning about it. Here’s a link to a quiz …

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