Believe it or not, parents influence who their children marry. Parents help shape their thinking about potential mates. When you raise a child, you shape how they think about relationships and marriage.
That is why triangling creates such damage. It inserts into children some flawed thinking about themselves and who they are attracted to. As a parent, you are not only an example, but you also help develop their thinking about a future spouse.
For your boys, you may be teaching them that their spouse needs to be a more controlling woman – just like mom, who is in charge. That does not mean that he likes the way his mom is, but it represents a standard of “normal” and his family system.
Jump back to the roots and wings idea. Consider Louie and me. My development was more separate, and Louie was more relational. I was less social than Louie was. Somehow in me, I was attracted to that social component. Many other things attracted me to Louie, but that social element and her finding fun in almost anything played a part. Louie’s attraction to my being separate, stable, and independent is also true.
Our development encouraged us to be attracted to someone who would “fill a hole in their life.” While that sounds good, it backfires.
We continued our relationship and finally got married. Now that we are married, what do you think will happen? We complain about the things that attracted us to each other. I complain about her wanting to attend parties, social events and be with people. I want to stay home. Her strength or development now irritates me.
Well, what about Louie? She was attracted to me because I had this stability, being dependable, being independent. She wanted that like I wanted her relational ability. One interesting aspect that she liked – I would stand up for her in fights she had with her mother. She would allow her mother to take issues with her, and I would not put up with that.
So, the very things, the power that I was exhibiting, and the relationship she was showing became irritable to each of us once we married. I would say something like, “Well, can’t we just stay home—I don’t want to go to that!” “But, Hermann, it will be fun!”
This brings us to two wonderful truisms that we learned from Dr. Howe
Couples deserve each other
We tend to marry someone of similar emotional health
Those are interesting statements to say to couples when they come to us with problems. It often helps couples understand that both contribute to the problem, not just one.
Those two statements helped me see my brokenness when Louie and I were in our crisis in 1991. I am so arrogant that I believed that I was doing everything right. My spiritual and emotional health was as damaged as Louie’s. That is a harsh truth to swallow for me!
Those sayings are not absolutes but truisms, but please consider them.
You and I tend to focus on another person’s behavior, not ours. You tend to give a lot of grace when dating, but where does it go after you say I do? It is like a psychological switch in your mind. Click! Now I do not like what attracted me to you.
Often during premarital counseling, Louie and I say, “The person you married at the altar is not the same person you see at the reception.” Why? Because time has passed, both of you are changing, and that psychological switch is flipped. All of the family system issues will be more predominant in your relationship.
So, what attracts you to them may irritate you later.