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

Why You Shouldn't Be 'Just Like Your Mother'

Why You Shouldn't Be 'Just Like Your Mother' [EXPERT]
Love, Family

Avoid the mistakes that your mother may have made in her relationship.

It happens for just about everyone. At some point while growing up or as an adult, the vow is made, "I'll never be like my mother!" This could be a rejection of her habits, values, opinions, or lifestyle choices. This also possibly includes the way that you perceive how she mis-handled her marriage or love relationship. Falling For Your BFF? 3 Things To Know BEFORE You Spill It

Even if you didn't grow up with your biological mother, there was probably a mother figure in your life — a woman or a man. It is natural and normal for an adolescent or young adult to differentiate him or herself from parents or important adults. This is part of forming one's unique identity. This is also part of learning from the observed mistakes of others.

Perhaps you grew up listening to your parents scream and shout at one another. Maybe you lived in the silent hostility of them refusing to acknowledge that they were angry, but showing it nonetheless.

You may have witnessed your mother making what you deemed to be colossal mistakes in her relationship with your father or her partner. These mistakes may have contributed to her marriage ending in divorce and possibly subsequent relationships being unhappy or breaking up.

Again, the promise to yourself may have been ... "I'll never make the mistakes that my mother made!"

Life, however, can be ironic. For the vast majority of us, we end up saying and doing the things that we watched our mother do! Maybe it's not in exactly the same way or all of the time, but it happens more often than we want to admit to. Stress Management: Balancing Work And Love

At some point in life, you might catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or hear words that have just come from your mouth and realize that you are being just like your mother (or father)! You may even find yourself repeating her relationship mistakes too.

We want to be clear here ...

We are not saying that mothers (or women) are the only ones to make mistakes in relationships. We're also not saying that your mother only ever made mistakes in her life. It's likely that — just like any other human being — she made her share of mistakes and also had her share of healthy and well-adjusted moments too. Babies Before Marriage: Did Brad & Angelina Do It Right?

Be aware of these relationship mistakes that your mother may have made:

#1: Nagging

This is the stereotypical image of a woman in a relationship — nagging her partner to finish a project, take a share of housework, talk about feelings, etc. Unfortunately, the stereotype is accurate in some cases, at least some of the time. Nagging is generally a result of two things: 1. Frustration because an agreement isn't being kept and/or 2. Mistrust because the desired action isn't happening in a way or on a timetable that was expected.

Just as your mother may have discovered, nagging is only going to amp up the tension and lead to an argument or to passive-aggressive behavior. What you wanted to happen, won't. How To Handle Your Jealous Spouse

Instead, create clear agreements. If you make a request, make sure that you and your partner have the same understanding of what you'd like and when. Give your partner the chance to say "yes" or "no." If the answer is "no," respect that and look for a different solution that will truly be okay with you both.

#2: Storing up irritation and annoyance

Conflict is rarely fun. A lot of us avoid it whenever we can. You might pretend like your feelings aren't hurt or that you don't care what your partner said or did. You may try to convince yourself that what's bothering you is "no big deal," when actually it is.

This could be what your mother did with her partner. Stored up irritation, hurt feelings, and annoyance can turn into resentment. Resentment is going to create walls and distance in your relationship.

While it's not beneficial to go to the other extreme and lay a tirade on your partner every time you are annoyed or angry with him or her, it's healthy to release frustration and find resolutions to disagreements and arguments. Advice: My Husband Checks Out Other Women

Communicate how you feel without making your partner to blame. If there are specific behaviors that you'd like your partner to change, be specific and ask for what you do want.

#3: Sacrificing her passions

Another mom stereotype is the woman who gives up everything for her family. At first glance, her life seems to revolve around her kids and her partner. This might not have been what it looked like with your mom, but maybe it was.

There is a tendency — and not just in traditional or conservative households — for the woman to sacrifice her passions and focus mostly on her family. Even if she has a paid job outside the home, this unrealistic and unhealthy expectation is still present for many women. It can cause inner conflict when a woman is drawn to pursue something outside of her relationship and family that she's excited about, but she feels guilty or as if she shouldn't.

The big negative of sacrificing your passions for your kids, your partner, or anyone else is that it breeds regret and resentment. You can end up feeling like a martyr whose only value and meaning in life is in what you do for your family. Are You Worried Your Partner Will Cheat...Again?

Give yourself permission to cultivate interests outside of your relationship with your partner and kids (if you have them). Open up to the possibility of there being more than enough time, energy, resources, and you for both your passions and the care of and attention to your family.

This is the key to truly having it all ... a happy and fulfilling relationship and a satisfying and thriving life individually as well. Rather than criticize or put down your mother for whatever limiting and destructive habits she had or the choices she made in life, we encourage you to learn from her mistakes and be inspired by her positive attributes too!

Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.



To Read Great Relationship Advice:

Explore YourTango