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Your Past and Its Influence on Your Marriage

Both you and your spouse have your own relationship histories that include not just your previous romantic partner, but also your parents, siblings, relatives, friends, coworkers and mentors. All of these relationships and histories shape your behavior today. They also have a large impact on the roles you assume in your marriage. Your history of your close relationships with others has a lot to do with how your fight, how you act when you are happy and how you behave during intimate moments.

The way your parents raised you plays an important role in who you are today, but the emotional climate that prevailed when you were growing up was even more important. It plays a crucial role in how close you let your spouse get to your emotional world and how far you allow yourself to go into the world of your partner. For example, if your parents took care of you when you were unhappy as a child, you will be likely to do the same. If a sight of a crying child is making you angry, your parents were probably telling you to keep it to yourself and not complain.

Over time, most married couples find themselves playing predictable roles in their relationships. Many of the conflicts and arguments also become predictable.

Couples often find themselves stuck in dealing with the same subjects and arguing about the same issues. Most of this is content, the topic, things that they talk and fight about. Examples of content include deciding who is going to take out the garbage, stop by a grocery store or drive kids to school. However, the content itself doesn’t matter as much as the roles you and your spouse taken upon yourselves in your marriage.

If your parents had a bad marriage and you watched it unravel when growing up, it most likely had a profound impact on what you believe about intimate relationships today.

For example, if you were raised by a single parent who went through a lot of relationships, you may find it difficult to trust your romantic partners. One of your fears may be that your partner is going to leave you once he or she gets to know you better.

If your parents never showed any emotional intimacy with each other, you may find that your intimate relationships feel as if you are living with a roommate. If you have parents who went through divorce, you may have a fear of bringing danger to your relationship, which may result in avoiding discussions of sensitive topics and making yourself vulnerable and open in your marriage.

Think about your past and ask yourself what kind of beliefs a person who has been through such a past is likely to carry. Then, examine your relationships and your current beliefs. Realizing that some of your beliefs belong in the past may give you a lot of power back. When you start seeing that many of your reactions and fears are misplaced, you will be able to step out of them instead of being consumed by them.