Marriage Myth #119: the past is in the past and it will not affect my adult life.
You see, our greatest sense of identity, confidence, triggers, value systems, fears, and expectations all come from our family of origin. Most of who you are and how you respond to life was picked up in those formative years under your parents watch. The ways you were loved, disciplined, affirmed, and appreciated created behaviors that remain with you to this day. And sadly so many people were raised in dysfunctional homes where there wasn’t a lot of healthy love, healthy communication and healthy conflict.
Here’s the tricky part: these traits are hard-wired. This does not excuse bad behavior (like abuse, avoiding issues, and using language like a sailor) but does help provide a healthy context to understand your spouse’s actions as well as your own. Our goal for all of you reading this is to talk through some things in your past, heal the things that need to be healed and recognize the patterns and behaviors that you brought in to your marriage.
The Non-Emotional Home
Some of you were raised in a home where feelings were not allowed to be shown and you rarely saw your parents emotional. If someone was lonely, angry, or – God forbid – sensitive, your family would run for the hills and avoid emotions at all cost.
A connecting question to ask your spouse: If you were raised in a non-emotional home, what does it feel like when you have to deal with emotions either in yourself or with me?
The Perfectionist Home
Did your parents want you to be well behaved, look perfect, and expected a lot from you? The thought of being messy or failing was never really discussed, teaching you that being in control will create a happy life. Of course we know that perfection is impossible and your parents did have their problems… they just didn’t show it.
A connecting question to ask your spouse: If you were raised in a perfectionist home, are you ever afraid that people will judge and criticize you if they see you don’t have it all together?
The Angry Home
When things got tough, people blew up. There were no calm conversations and throwing, yelling, name calling and blaming were all the norm. Arguments were rarely, if ever resolved and it felt like you walked on eggs shells your entire childhood.
A Connecting Question to ask your spouse: If you were raised in an angry home, do you believe that you have learned how to express your anger in healthy way?
Here are a few more Connecting Questions to ask your spouse about their childhood:
Do you have a lot of memories of your family having fun together?
How did your parents show you love?
Describe an event from your childhood that made you feel unloved.
When there was conflict, how did your parents handle it?
When you cried, how did your parents sooth you?
Since we can’t re-write history, it’s really important to spend some time processing and diving into your childhood. Be honest with yourself and never minimize what you experience growing up.
If you’re wanting to learn more about your childhood and the direct impact it has on your marriage, be sure to check out the video “How Your Childhood Impacts Your Marriage” where we talk about:
The Hyper-Religious home
The Divorced home
The Abandonment home
The Infidelity home
The Abusive home
The Poverty home
And of course, the home we all want… the Healthy home!
Written by Meygan Caston
Meygan Caston is the co-founder of Marriage365 and lives in Orange County California with her husband Casey and their two children. She loves the beach, dance parties, writing, spa days, and helping couples connect in their marriage. Her life long dream is to walk the Camino, have lunch with Brené Brown and get on The Price is Right.