Who did the dishes in your house growing up? Who mowed the lawn? Who got up at night with you when you were sick? When you think of your mom, do you see a pant suit, a briefcase, a dress or an apron? When you think of your Dad do you think of a suit, a ball cap, a uniform, or a tool belt? Whether we like it or not, we are shaped by our childhoods. The way we are raised seems “normal” to us until we reach a certain age. In the movie The Truman Show, the creator and director of the show, Christof, was asked “How do you keep him from figuring out that it is a show?” Christof responded, “We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.”
Many of us came to the conclusion that our family was abnormal once we reached our teen years. However, no matter how much we admit that our family is strange, we are shaped by them. We cannot walk away from their influence. For those who experienced a difficult childhood, the Lord can heal the hurt and allow you to walk away from the chains of your past. Regardless of the type of childhood you had, you are in many ways the person you are today because of your childhood.
In college, I had a professor walk into my Gerontology class on the first day of class and boldly exclaim, “You are your parents. I’m sorry, but that is just the way it is.” She was an amazing professor with great insight and I have found her statement to be true. When did I realize the truth of her statement? After I got married. Before marriage I was free to pretend to be whatever I wanted! No one had to see me at night but my roommate, and that was only for a few minutes. It wasn’t until I got married and had to suddenly consider someone else’s plans, goals, ideas, and schedule that I found my parents coming out of me. The disapproving looks I caught myself giving my poor husband were my mother’s “angry eyes” – the ones I promised myself I would never use. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I enjoy watching “The Andy Griffith Show” and randomly quoting it. Where did I pick up this fun habit? From my dad!
More and more each day I see my parents influence coming to the surface in my life, and especially in my marriage. When we married, I assumed Eric would mow the grass. It was not even a question in my mind. Much to my surprise, I found out that my husband would rather drill his own teeth than mow grass. He is tremendous at almost everything, but he hates to mow grass. In a weird way, it rocked my world. Men were supposed to mow grass. Where had he been? Everyone knew that, right? Apparently not, and to this day, someone else cuts our grass.
When you are considering someone as a potential spouse, it is important to have an idea of how they were raised. Who “wore the pants” in the family? Who cleaned, cooked and took care of everyone? Was it Mom? Was it Dad? Was it Mom and Dad? Regardless of what plans you make for your marriage, you will find your parents popping out in various areas of your life. Before setting up housekeeping with someone, I strongly recommend spending as much time as possible in the company of his/her parents… watch them interact… watch their interactions with your potential spouse. Do you like what you see? I assure you, you will see it again! 🙂