I was always pretty resistant to marriage, but—because I looked up to my mother so much, because we were so close, and because I felt that she presented to me such a healthy version of both motherhood and long-term love—I ached for a traditional family. Now I'm almost 30, I recently celebrated my three-year wedding anniversary, and my husband and I are trying to have children.
This worries me.
He's never home, I tell my mother. And when he is, he's working. I flail my arms about in frustration. He's not romantic. He doesn't take risks. I think about the fact that I'm tied to this person forever. He's always worrying about money, I tell my mother, and no matter how much he moves forward, I feel as if it will never be enough. He's tied to his work, and I'm afraid he'll always let his employers and clients walk all over him. I'm afraid his work will always come before our marriage.
My mother shakes her head, unsurprised and unfazed. "Congratulations," she tells me. "You married your father."
Should I be surprised?
We recently wrote about a study in which researchers found that divorce may run in the family. This study focused on the influence of siblings rather than parents, but that's probably because the parent-child connection is already so obvious. Of course children will model the relationships they've seen growing up. Are Divorced Friends Bad For Your Marriage?
And the likelihood of whether or not your marriage will last is probably not the only thing that's affected. There's a pretty darn good chance that balances of power, family values, and other aspects of your life together will end up similar to what you've observed throughout your childhood.
On the flip side, perhaps your spouse comes from a wildly different family environment. Perhaps your marriage looks nothing like your mother's marriage... and you like it that way. Or perhaps you hate it. Because, when it comes to the way he was raised vs. the way you were raised, it feels as if you're speaking a different love language. Does this make you value your mother's marriage even more? Which Love Language Do You Speak?
Relationship expert Andrea Syrtash, author of He's Just Not Your Type and That's a Good Thing, is writing a book about marriage, and this is one of the many areas she's doing research on. If you'd like to weigh in and be quoted in her latest book, tell us below:
How is your marriage different from your mother's? And is that a good or a bad thing?