Have you ever had someone say “you remind me of your father” or “you look just like your mom”?
We’re a direct result of our parents and the family in which we were raised.
There’s a family resemblance in our appearance and our behavior. The same happens in marriage. Your parents’ relationship, habits, roles, and more will be reflected in your marriage. The good, the bad, and everything in between. So it’s important to 1) be aware of the impact your family will have and 2) make a conscious decision about what stays in your marriage and what doesn’t.
Now, if you're reading this and your parents aren't together or you were raised by a single parent, you were still influenced by that situation. Everything below will still apply.
Here are a few ways our families impact our marriages:
Every family is different. Maybe your mom handled the checkbook while your dad made sure dinner was on the table. Maybe your mom stayed at home with kids while your dad worked. Maybe you had a single parent who took on the roles of both mom and dad.Make a list of the roles your parents filled (list out what your mom did and your dad did), and have your fiancé do the same. Then, compare your lists. Where do your lists differ? Where are they the same? Which roles do you expect each other to fill?
As a quick example, in my family, my mom and dad both worked and split housekeeping duties. In Britt’s family, her dad worked and her mom stayed at home and filled most of the housekeeping roles. I expected us both to work and split duties while Britt expected to stay home with kids at some point. Once we knew these expectations, we were able to make sure we were on the same page and set our goals accordingly.
We have a worksheet to help you with this!
School didn’t teach us much about finances, books on finance are a little... boring, and society doesn’t seem to understand money, either. As a result, much of our knowledge and habits around money are learned by watching our parents.
If our parents were big savers, we're likely to understand the value of saving. If our parents made church giving a priority, we're likely to do that as well.
Take a minute to think about your relationship with money. How much of it was shaped by your parents? Are you happy with your relationship with money heading into marriage? Understanding how our parents impact our view of finances will allow us to either continue the legacy they set, or to make some changes.
I have vivid memories of my parents kissing and hugging while I was growing up. I remember that it made me feel loved and safe. Maybe you grew up in a similar environment, and maybe you didn’t. Whatever the case, our memories of how our parents were publicly affectionate with each other will influence our intimacy in marriage. How often did your parents go on dates? Were they affectionate toward each other? Did they say I love you to each other?
Intimacy extends beyond physical, too. How was your parents' spiritual intimacy? Did they pray together? Spiritual intimacy is a vital part of a healthy marriage, so knowing how your parents' spiritual intimacy impacts yours will be important.
Like it or not, your family will influence your marriage. Being aware of that fact will help you figure out how much of this influence you’ll allow and how much you want to change.