As a child my home was filled with love. However, you never would have known just by watching us. While my sisters and I were confident that our mom loved us by all of her sacrifices and actions, we never participated in a tremendous amount of physical contact. We just weren’t big on all the kissing and hugging. And neither of us had a problem with it. This was our family, our way and at that time we didn’t require it, at least that’s what we thought. I never felt as though I needed that sort of attention when I was a child. Not having that physical interaction only became a concern once I got married. Although my husband was raised in the same type of household (limited physical touch) he seemed to recognize the value of it in our marriage. But his frequent random hugs, as I cleaned up or did the laundry, were initially met by a little reluctance.
I would respond but not with the same amount of enthusiasm as my husband offered. After so many unsuccessful attempts my spouse, quite naturally, began to limit those frequent displays of affection. More than likely the conclusion he came to was that I simply did not appreciate him or even want to be bothered. Not until after they had slowed down did I notice how much they not only meant to him, but how good it actually felt for me.
As I mentioned above, there was never a doubt in my mind as to how much my mother loved us. But as an adult, I now realize the impact that hugs and kisses truly have. Although this was the childhood habit I brought into my marriage, there are many others who have brought certain beliefs into their relationship that stem from childhood. One particular idea that comes to mind is the role each spouse plays. I have known men who grew up in households where women did all the housework (cooking, cleaning and fixing the husband’s plate) and men take out the garbage. These beliefs affect how we show up in marriage. I have witnessed couples struggle in this area because the husband wants his household to resemble the one he came up in and so does the wife. When we bridge two lives together part of that bridging includes merging those ideas that may vary from one another’s upbringing. The key is to make sure the marriage works for the two present individuals involved.
Just because we may have been raised a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean that way will work for our spouses. A few of those habits can actually have a negative bearing on our relationships. Creating a marriage with new values that honor each spouse is critical. Of course there will be those that definitely work for our marriage and then there will be those that won’t. When the beliefs cause more harm than good, we can’t force them to fit into the marriage we are creating. I recommend setting new goals, being flexible and willing to do whatever is needed for the marriage as a whole.
BMWK, what childhood beliefs have affected your marriage?