Does history repeat itself if the players change?
September 5, 2012 6:24 PM Subscribe
Moving in with my SO - but worried that I'll end up in the unhappy situation my parents were in. What do you do when you didn't grow up with a positive example of marriage/co-habitation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My dad was verbally, emotionally and physically abusive to me from the age of nine - it messed up my self-esteem, I felt I was unwanted or unloved and my views, privacy and opinions were not respected, I'm prone to headaches due to constant blows to the head with fists or implements such as trays, and I tend to shrink away or become over-apologetic in conflict. I've had a lot of therapy to deal with this, and my dad died six years ago, so that's the only way I can really reconcile all these feelings. Not long after he died, I had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder - if it's relevant - at the tail end of an unhappy relationship. Since then, I met my SO and we are happy and discussing getting a flat together.
However, the relationship between he and my mother was similar, bar the physical abuse. She was treated as another child, my dad very much ruled the house and what he said went - he was the breadwinner and was in a professional job whereas my mother did a manual job and was unqualified, and I think he liked that situation. As an adult, I realised more and more how unhappy it was and how trapped my mother felt, particularly during two incidents where her 'talking back' to him during an argument led to him not speaking to her for months at a time - coming home and going straight to the spare room, eating food from a drawer rather than using the kitchen, and throwing refuse from the window rather than crossing the living room to put it outside.
Now, after four years of a long-distance relationship my SO and I are in a position to move in together soon (he's male, I'm female) and given what i observed growing up, I am worried we'll start with the best intentions and end up in a conflicted or unhappy household. There are tons of things we've had to work through in our relationship which I won't go into here, but we do disagree on some aspects such as tidiness/clutter and his method of addressing problems tends to be passive-aggressive whereas I like to have everything out on the table. Although we discuss things properly and talk a lot about compromise, I keep going back to how unhappy my parents were and wonder if this is something that happens to all couples eventually. Also, I worry I won't be able to rationalise or put forward my views when we disagree or fight (as is natural when two people share a space!). Has anyone had similar feelings/upbringing and how did you reconcile this?