Friday, March 27, 2009

Mom and Dad, Part 2

Now that you've shared the greatest achievements and greatest failures of your parents in raising you (and you've let your answers percolate in your mind), I have a follow-up question for you.

If you are married or in a long term relationship, what is the greatest part of your relationship? What is the worst part, i.e., the thing that causes the most disappointment or strife?

Now, can you find any similarities to your answers regarding your parents? Are there common themes?

We often depart childhood with unfinished business, and that business will be taken up with our future partners. Why do we tend to choose to be with people who remind us of our parents on some deep, subconscious level? First, because they seem comfortable and familiar. But more importantly, they offer us another shot at taking care of that unfinished business from childhood. As an extreme example, suppose that you grew up with abusive parents. You may drift toward abusive partners in the hope that you can finally take whatever action is necessary to make them love you and stop hurting you. Just as you always wished for your parents to love you and not hurt you as a child.

How about you? As you've thought these questions through, are you chasing after unfinished business? If you are, it may very well be poisoning your happiness. These cycles often bury themselves beneath our ability to see them. How do you find them? Their footprints will be on those areas where you've tended to feel threatened, unsatisfied, or unhappy in your relationships.

If your relationships follow cycles, you may very well be carrying unfinished business.


Aniket said...

"If you are married or in a long term relationship"...

Not yet married, no. :)
Nor in a relationship, sadly.

So sadly, I am not entitled to participate in the discussion. But I guess "were in a relationship" people could also give inputs, right? :-)

Now, when you put it that way it makes me wonder... :-)

But infact I did the exactly opposite... My parents are the sort who like to plan everything to the smallest detail, live a suttle life, and for them 'Everything Normal' is good.

While I fell in love with a person, who lives in the moment, never makes or goes according to the plan, and hates if anything is just 'normal'. So I guess, in a way I saw in her, the things I had never experienced, but wanted to. She braught the sort of change, that I desired in life.

I don't know if any of it was connected to my subconcious mind (my concious one gives me more trouble that I can handle :-) ), may be Aine would know better.

Aggie said...

Some of that might be true, but on another level I tried hard to change things in my life. Part of my personality was a tendency to "break the mould."

the walking man said...

First marriage lasted two sperm shots and 20 years of child support payments...My parents did not divorce.

My current marriage is approaching 27 years now. The greatest part of this relationship is that we both realize neither of us is Ward or June Cleaver and our kids ain't Wally and Theodore.

We live within our means have some savings and very little debt so the most common frustration in marriages is not there. Which is opposite of how my parents lived.

For me, and it is not a disappointment, but something left over from my childhood, is that I much prefer to be alone. I can go for months without wanting to see another human being. My old lady understands this but rarely leaves me alone long enough to be overly solitary.

Both of my parents are dead, I loved them but I do not miss them. They are quietly asleep in the house of the ancestors. The issues I had with them I resolved long, long ago and never think on those days anymore. Unless a question like this comes up then the short answer is *shrug* they were what they were and I am as I am.

The one thing I do know though is that everything in my path, and I mean everything had to happen in order for me to be what I am today, and at this time in life I am satisfied; not despite my childhood and all that it entailed but rather because of it.

Margaret said...

I'm happily married 29 years. I do see a lot of similarities between my marriage & my parents. So I think I learnt a lot from their example. They were married 53 years before my Mom died on the day of their 53th wed anniv.

I seem to have brought up my 3 daughters in almost the same way I was brought up. Trying to teach them the important things in life and relationships. And I now see a lot of myself in my girls.

But I did make sure they got the best possible education which I lacked and missed.

My choice of partner differs from my parents. They both came from the same small town, had the same culture, religion etc. I, on the other hand, married an Indian, different culture, different religion. Although, I must say, my husband, although he's from the other side of the world, his character isn't all that different from my fathers.
So, all in all, I can't say I'm carrying unfinished business, most probablly because I enjoyed a very happy childhood.

jason evans said...

The more contentment you feel, the less likely unfinished business is weighing on you. Yet, it still could be coloring your interactions. Benignly, most likely. Or, there could be a slow burn.

Just to be clear, when we're drawn to people like our parents, I don't mean finding a person who has the same interests as our parents, the same beliefs or appearance. Often, we think we are looking for someone UNLIKE our parents. But there's the trap. Many times if you dig, you can find a common dynamic. A common tenor of interaction. For example, you may have very rigidly religious parents. You go and find yourself a rebel who is not religious. However, over time, you find that the causes and activism your spouse holds dear are actually just another kind of dogma and inflexibility. You were drawn to that "difference," but ended up with the same dynamic.

jason evans said...

Aniket, the one thing that strikes me the most about your current situation is something you didn't mention. The fact that she holds you at a distance, yet your desire for her persists. Perhaps there is common thread in that dynamic.

Aggie, maybe you are drawn to molds so you can have the opportunity to break them.

Walking Man, you sound at peace. No difficult or unhealthy dynamics are working against you.

Margaret, you're getting at the heart of what I'm saying. Your husband and your father may be very different, but there may a similarity in the ultimate impact of their character. You may have a tendency to have a similar dynamic.

Aniket said...

Yup, that angle is there Jason. But I couldn't think of linking it to my parents. As they have always been approchable and I could talk anything with them, well almost anything. (They don't know about my smoking and drinking :-) )

But I tell, about everything to my mom. And she can always tell if I am holding something back. So she's always been there when I wanted and also when i didn't. :-)

Never gave it a thought that way. :P

jason evans said...

Aniket, then maybe it's the positive dynamic at work, rather than a negative one. In some deep way, perhaps you expect the same attention (as your mother's) to be given by the people you are attracted to, and you're drawn to get it, one way or another, no matter how long it takes.

Aniket said...

Ahh, Now THAT can most certainly be the case. ;-)

Hoodie said...

Well, I feel confident that my husband of 8 years has the same value system as my parents. When I started dating him people would comment that he was very unlike boys I'd dated in the past. Very much on the straight path. I think that's how I knew he was the one I should marry. He was ethical, kind and unselfish, very much like both of my parents. And I have to say I have considered myself blessed every day for pouring my whole self into our relationship in the hopes that he would remain mine. We've got a very open and loving relationship. I trust him completely and he has never done anything to betray my trust. He's like my own little security blanket. I feel safe with him. That feeling is very much how I feel with my own parents, particularly my father, and I think that is how my parents feel about each other.

As far as my parents not really encouraging my endeavors, I think that my husband understands better than they did what things are important to me and how my own personal successes light me up. I think, however, that he has learned this skill. He's a pretty laid back guy and I have had to explain to him how much his support means to me.

Maybe not as interesting as other cases, my familial relationships contain very little dysfunction, but I thank God for that every day of my life.

Jennifer said...

This is hard. The first part, yes, I think my husband shares with my parents that total support, that belief that I can accomplish anything, etc. But the second half is harder because I said my parents greatest failure was that they got divorced. Obviously that affected me, and I am sure it somehow affected who I married, but I can't quite get from point A to B yet. So now I have to do some thinking, which I suspect is the crux of your evil genius plan anyway!

jason evans said...

Aniket, thank you for helping me understand.

Hoodie, that sounds wonderful. :) I'm not suggesting that everyone is suffering from these sorts of dynamics. However, if people find themselves down a curious or difficult path in the future, maybe these considerations can help bring some understanding.

Jennifer, thinking...yes. :) That was my diabolical plan. Some of our deepest motivations are so ingrained that we can't effectively see them. It's like trying to see your own eyeballs while you're looking out of them. All of our perceptions are outgrowths of our psyche. We don't realize our uniqueness or twisted dynamics, because we have no experience being anyone else.