You are a product of the environement in which you grew up. The family provided a prototype for future relationships. They taught you how to trust,how to deal with conflict,how to treat women,how to deal with failure,and so on. You learned healthy ways to relate,dysfunctional ways,or a combination of both.If you learned dysfunctional ways,you are probably experiencing relationship problems now.
Who Cares About My Family,I Am Married Now
You may be thinking, “Who cares about my extended family? I’m married now. They don’t have any influence over me now that I live away from home.” If these are your thoughts,change them! Your extended family did- and does- exert tremendous influence upon the person you have become. Your ability to be intimate is determined,in part,by early family experiences.Problems arise when you deny this influence.
If you believe your family has no bearing on current problems or that you are nothing like your father or mother,you are living in denial.The similarities are often remarkable whether you admit to them or not.
Once you recognize the similarities between you and your family,you will begin to do something about them if you need to.If you had a wonderful mother or father,pause and give thanks now.
Now,here’s some good news. Your original family do not determine your future relationships. You are not a victim of that system.Even if your family was nuts,you aren’t doomed to be nuts- you just may need to work real hard at not being nuts! You can learn to be different.
Identify The Baggage
Dispelling this myth begins when you become aware that you bring family baggage to any relationship.Then you must work hard to avoid potential problems. How do you do this?
Upon arrival at a destination’s airport,you go to the baggage claim and identify your bags. You pull them off the carousel and claim them as your own.Bulky or heavy,they are yours,and you lug then to the next stop.
When you leave your original family home,baggage goes with you to the next stop of marriage. It’s checked whether you claim it or not. You may need to claim it so you can begin to unload it.
The purpose of understanding your family baggage is not so you can blame it,kick it,get mad at it or wish
it ill luck. To understand the baggage is to understand yourself better. Did you get a bag that you like? Which bags needs to be discarded? You can work on the parts you do not like,then dump that baggage.When you do,you will make a better relationship partner.
Family members learn by watching each other’s specific ways,and they take that learned behavior with them into their own marriages. For example,when your father yelled at your mother,you watched and learned that it is okay for a man to yell at a woman.A girl who watched her mother avoid arguments will probably do the same.These interactional patterns are passed down through the generations.
Generational patterns are learned and rehearsed by family members over years. It doesn’t matter if you like the patterns or even if you think they are unhealthy.Most people repeat and reinforce them anyway.This is why problem people hook up with other problem people. On some level,people with problems are more comfortable with other people with problems.Its what they know and are used to,and it feels familiar.
Problem people do not band together because they like to experience pain.For example,women do no consciously say, “I grew up with an alcoholic dad,so I will find a man who is an alcoholic.” But when they are with alcoholic men,there is something familiar about them.And if they have not developed appropriate reactions to their alcoholic dad,they may end up with another candidate to work on(an alcoholic husband) until they get it right.
Here’s another example,if you had a controlling,critical dad,you will unconsciously choose a controlling man.Or conversely, you may so fear you will marry a controlling man like your father that you find one at the other extreme-passive and uninterested.
This unconscious choices also works in the positive. If for example,you had a very affirming mother,you will look for a woman who affirms you. If your father was involved in your day – to – day activities,you will look for an involving man. Understanding how families pass down patterns helps explain your relationship choices.
Your ability to distinguish between the thinking and feeling parts of you is also important. When emotions and intellect can’t be seperated,you function more poorly.You need a balance between the rational and the emotional. It’s unhealthy to allow your emotions to rule at all times or,conversely,to be disconnected from your emotions.Failure to achieve balance between thinking and feeling is also a generational inheritance.
The importance of recognizing your family baggage is a major one.Couples who have marital problems typically have not dealt with this aspect of their lives.They go through life saying, “I am who I am and I can’t change.” This is a ridiculous excuse. If we couldn’t make the changes,there would be no hope for any of us. You must be willing to make changes. Have the courage to embrace your past inorder to enjoy a better present.
Remember that you have the power to make changes in your life. You are not a victim of your family pattern,but only recognize their powerful influence on you.Deal with your past where it negatively influences your presence. Claim your bags so you can sort through the laundry and lighten your load.