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Common Habits That Are Toxic In Love and Marriage

married couple

The history that is destroying your marriage, one step at a time.

Sharon’s Fantasy About Love and Marriage

Sharon and Jack had marriage problems. Sharon described her feelings — 

“It’s not as if I don’t love him anymore. Some days I do feel love and affection for him. On those days I can’t imagine being married to anyone else. And then there are the other days … when I fantasize that he’ll get into an accident on his way home from work. I pretend how I’ll react, what kind of arrangements I’ll make and how I’ll spend the life insurance that will come to me. And when I come out of the fog of the dream, I feel guilty. So when I see him after work in the evening, I treat him extra, special nice.”

Love and Marriage Brings Out Jekyll & Hyde

All the married women I have ever known, including myself, experience ups and downs in their love and marriage. Some wonder, ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ So know that if you can relate to Sharon’s story, you are not alone. Maybe you don’t fantasize about your husbands demise but you probably run the gamut of feelings about him. I refer to this type of emotional swing as the "I love you, I hate you" cycle.

If you’re like the women I’ve coached, you most likely learned this cycle from your parents. Either mom or dad — maybe both of them demonstrated it in their relationship with each other, which is why you do it. It’s also why, when it occurs, it feels as if it came out of nowhere and you might not even be aware that it’s happening at all. It’s also the reason that it feels normal to you. These are all signs that you're acting out a family pattern.

Family Patterns in Love and Marriage

Have you ever said, ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree"? Well, that cliché — as tired as it may sound, refers to family patterns. Family patterns are passed from generation to generation. When you were born, you began learning your family patterns. You arrived on earth dependent on Mom and Dad for your care. They were your world, especially mom if she was your primary caregiver.

As you grew, you observed your parents and interacted with them all the time while making sense of the world, who you were and how to survive in it. You also internalized what you saw and experienced, which means you made up that it was all about you.

Don’t misunderstand me here and think family patterns are bad, they aren’t. In fact, each time you've adopted a family pattern for yourself, you did it to get along in your family. Bob Hoffman, founder of the Hoffman Quadrinity Process, refers to this phenomenon as the Negative Love Syndrome. He says that we act like our parents as if our behaviors are saying, "Look at me, Mom and Dad.I’m just like you! Will you love me for it?"

So family patterns are neither good nor bad. But they do serve a purpose and help you get along in your own family. Then over time, they become habit. As you grow, you drag them into all your other relationships. The pattern that once served you, stops serving you and began to limit love and marriage in your adult life, setting you up for difficulty.

In the Happy Marriage Program, we go in depth into family patterns. You learn about the patterns that wreak havoc in your love and marriage, and you learn what to do about them.

The I Love You – I Hate You Cycle in Love and Marriage

We learn many different patterns from our family, this one in particular is based on manipulation. When you don’t get what you want, you act out the ‘I hate you’ part of the pattern. When you do get what you want, you act out the ’I love you’ part of the pattern.

And now that you understand that you learned and internalized the pattern when you were an infant, you can understand why it feels natural. As an infant you had to manipulate your world and you did so by crying. You cried when you were hungry, soiled or tired. And you got your needs met.

The "I love you, I hate you" cycle may still be a way to get your needs met. However, depending on the family patterns that your husband engages in, your pattern may not be very effective. It will not build a healthy marriage. Why? Because using love to manipulate your experience is not love in any way, shape or form.

Breaking Family Patterns in Love and Marriage

Is this pattern interfering in your love and marriage?  Would you like to break the pattern? Breaking any pattern is do-able but it takes awareness, willingness and consistent effort to break the habit and replace it with a new one.

Here are a few steps you can take to begin to break the family pattern that keeps the ‘I love you, I hate you cycle’ alive and well in your love and marriage.

  1. Identify what occurs before you engage in the pattern. This step is so important. The more you know about the pattern, the more likely you will be to change it. How does this pattern operate in your life? What happens to trigger it? When the trigger occurs, what do you do?
  2. Catch yourself before you begin to do whatever you do once you’re engaged in the pattern. Once you catch it you have to stop yourself from going there.
  3. Change your mind about it. Once the trigger has occurred, you need to re-interpret it so that it makes sense not to follow with your ‘patterned’ response.
  4. After you’ve re-interpreted the trigger, you need to choose a new response.
  5. Practice, practice, practice until you’ve created a new habit.

Suzanne Ferguson, the Happy Marriage Coach at Save My Marriage with Love created the Happy Marriage Solution. Contact her to learn about this groundbreaking program. Download her FREE E-book, “Rekindle: How to Save Your Marriage and Family Now!".

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.


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