Your relationship with your parent(s) trumps your relationship with your spouse.
The power and ingrained nature of your feelings, perceptions and coping patterns you experienced or did not experience with your parents carry into your marriage.
Whether your parents are alive or dead, whether you have contact with them or have broken contact and whether they are biological or adopted, you are tied to them with a strong emotional and perceptual bond.
Therapies have been developed around this reality. Some go so far as to believe that you marry or are attracted to someone who has a likeness to your parent of the opposite sex.
If you are a parent you know the power of the parent-child relationship.
Now, I’m not saying you must spend months in therapy railing on your parents or trying to “understand” the complex dynamics of family interaction.
I am saying that your “family” assumes a vitally important place in your personal and marital development. A gentle ongoing awareness of this fact will take you a long ways in disrupting the out-of-date and often intimacy hindering patterns you carry with you.
You and your spouse want your present “family” to be your solid ground. You need your feet and the feet of your marriage firmly placed around those who care.
Work toward these traits:
- I feel continually surrounded by people I care about who care about me.
- I create time to be with my children and my close friends.
- I accept my parents, siblings and extended family for who they are; I don’t try to change them.
- I have expressed myself completely with my friends and family; I am current with everyone.
- We surround ourselves with people who model what we want in our relationship.
- At least one person speaks objectively with us about our relationship (such as a coach, therapist, close friend or family member).
- I support and encourage the relationships my spouse develops to pursue his/her goals.
- I have all the friends I want, male and female.
- As a couple we are attractive; people seek our company.
- We contribute to the lives of people around us as a way of life.
Now, here’s what I want you to do.
Copy this list. Print it out and take it with you. Spend two days reading it periodically. Paste it on your fridge. Make it desktop on your computer. Tape it to your mirror. Keep it in front of you, just for two days. Think about the list. Reflect on the list. Allow the list to sink deeply in to you.
Then, put it aside for a week.
Come back to the list a week later and see what sifts have taken place in your mind or in your relationship. Describe how the list has impacted you and your marriage. What did you do differently? What new attitudes do you now possess? What mental breakthroughs did you make, if any?
If you are separated, divorced and/or single, feel free to use this exercise targeting any relationship of significant emotional investment.