Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

Why We Marry People Just Like Our Parents (And How It Can KILL Your Sex Life)

Love

It's kind of spooky.

Have you ever heard the saying that we marry our parents?

Turns out, there's actually some truth to it!

A study out of University of St. Andrews showed that we tend to find partners who share a lot of physical characteristics of our parents, as well as personality traits.

It's always fascinating when science backs up generations of gossip and folklore. 

But the question is, why?

And perhaps more importantly, what does that mean for our marriages?

In our latest Expert video, Senior VP of YourTango Experts Melanie Gorman asked a group of relationship Experts exactly that.

The responses from our team of Experts — Debra DupreeCarolyn MeinJohn Gray, and Hans Stahlschmidt  — offer insight into the psychology of why we marry our parents, how if affects our relationships, and what we can do to change it.


Giphy

First, let's understand why.

Let's start this off with something comforting: it has nothing to do with you sexually wanting your parents ... so don't worry.

It does, however, have to do with how we imprint templates as a child.

What does that mean?

When we grow up, we take what we see around us and use that to build a template in our minds of what something should be. For example, we see how our parents handle situations and challenges, and we internalize that subconsciously. When you get older and face similar challenges, you might notice that you handle them exactly as your parents would. 

It's a similar concept here. Growing up, you saw how your parents were together and how they handled challenges as a couple, and your mind took that image and used it as a template for how a relationship is supposed to be.

So when it came time to finding a match, yes, you found someone you're attracted to and someone you love. But you also found someone who would fit nicely into that mold your mind made.

In order for your partner to fit the mold, they would have to have shared some traits with your parents.

 

So how do we know that it's happening, and what does that mean for our relationships?

Are you and your spouse having less sex?

If the answer is yes it's a pretty good indicator that, whether you realize it or not, your mind has started to see your spouse as one of your parental figures and not so much as a spouse. It can be in the way they help to run the house or do the chores, not just in how they take care of the kids.

That doesn't mean you don't love them. Basically, all of your feelings of respect and love and attraction are still there.

You just might not feel sexually attracted to your spouse because, well, your mind sees it as wrong to be sexually attracted to your parents.


Giphy

Finally, what can we do about it?

Good news: just because you now look at your spouse and see a striking resemblance to your parents doesn't mean your marriage is over!

It's actually not that hard of a fix.

You need to see your spouse as your spouse again.

Expert John Gray said he fixed this problem in his marriage by calling his mother more often.

Yes, really!

He would call, let her talk and tell her about something going on in his life. Inevitably she'd try to offer suggestions on how to live his life as a grown man which would annoy him so much that when he hung up, he would no longer see his wife as his mother anymore, and they'd have great sex.

If, however, your relationship with your parents is strained or toxic or they are, unfortunately, no longer available to talk to, there's another easy solution.

Take a break. Not from your spouse but from the situations that bring that side out of them.

Spend a weekend away from your kids, away from household chores and bills and just see each other as the people you fell in love with.

To learn more about this phenomenon, watch the video above! Our Experts always have a way of clarifying even the most complicated familial situations.

 

If you need help seeing your spouse as your spouse again, or are having troubles in any of your relationships, please visit the websites of our Experts and contact DebraCarolynJohn, and Hans directly. They’re here to help.

 

 
Author
Expert

Expert advice

Save your breath because you only need two words to make him commit.
Are you REALLY thinking about their happiness?
If you keep finding yourself in heartbreaking, dead end relationships, listen up.
It seems like you can't do anything right.
Contributor