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Don't Let Your Parents' Divorce Impact Your Relationship

Updated on September 5, 2017

Divorces are more and more common these days. I have many friends whose parents are either recently divorced or are in the midst of marital issues. During these times, it is only natural for a person to focus in on and pay attention to those areas of interaction that have caused the relationship to break down. However, when your relationship is not the one breaking down, this can be dangerous. Most people whose parents get divorced when they are a bit older have some semblance of an idea of what it was that damaged their parents’ relationship. The key is to keep yourself from honing in on these too often in your own relationships.

Keep Your Relationship Separate In Your Mind

A friend of mine recently came to me with a concern about her boyfriend. He holds himself to very strict standards, and does everything in life based around what he should do, rather than what he wants to do. This concerned her, because her recently divorced parents fought often about her father’s propensity to do what other people expected of him, rather than what he, his wife, or his family wanted. She was extremely worried that her boyfriend’s propensity to live by the terms of what he believed he should do would damage their relationship, like it had damaged her parents. Luckily, she decided to sit down and talk things over with him rather than just breaking it off. After sitting down with him, she realized the major difference between the two situations. She is not her mother. She reacts differently to his actions than her mother did to her father’s, and because of this, his views of what he should do are not hindering their interactions with one another. It is easy to see the same problems in our own relationship that we see in our parent’s. However, it is important to remember that the conflict is not always what damages a relationship. The way people handle a conflict is what damages a relationship. Therefore, every conflict is different. No two people are the same. No matter how similar the problem is, the outcome will differ based on the personalities of those involved. So be careful not to write off a relationship because it resembles a problem you once saw harm a different relationship. You are not your parents. What hurt their marriage may not even affect yours. Your relationship will react in different ways to trials than any other relationship on earth. Do not let other peoples’ experiences tell you what will and will not work for you.

Don't Limit Yourself

Another issue to be wary of is avoiding relationships with certain people because they have traits that resemble your parents’ personalities. Just because your parents split up does not mean you need to look for a partner who is the entire opposite of your mother or father. Even if you and your mother share personality traits, or even views about relationships, you are still not your mother. Therefore, dating someone similar to your father does not mean imminent failure for your relationship (obviously the same applies for the reverse gender situation). This is not to say that if you hate a certain trait your father possesses, you should date people that possess the same trait, but rather that if you know your mother hated one trait your father possesses, that does not mean you will automatically hate someone who possesses the same trait. While learning from others’ interactions is important, do not overanalyze their relevance to your life, and certainly do not let them damage your own chances of finding happiness.

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