FAMILY OF ORIGIN
If you’ve spent any time in counseling, family of origin is critical to understand because of the impact it has on your life. It appears most people start looking back once they hit their 30s. Perhaps it’s due to the stage of life where you are settling into your career or starting a family. I, Danielle, stayed really busy with my career and was single during my 20s and 30s, so my settling in didn’t happen until my late 30s. If you’re strong enough to step back and learn the impact of your history, it will reveal why you think they way you do, why you act the way you do, etc…as much as we think we are our own person, we have been heavily influenced by our family of origin.
“DON’T GET MARRIED!”
Case in point – my father told me on many occasions not to buy into this thing called marriage. He told me to take care of myself and not to lean on anyone. He had been married before and his second marriage was to my mom. Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for my parents. I took my father’s advice and swore not to make the same mistake. As I got older and started dating, I didn’t have an end goal in mind. I didn’t want children of my own so there was no biological clock ticking and I always seemed to run from relationships as they grew more serious. If I did date anyone, I told God I would date only “clean” men (no divorce. no children) because I wasn’t sure I could handle marriage, much less marrying into a blended family.
Then I met Russ. We were both in a non-dating season of our life so there were no expectations. It was one of Russ’ closest friends who introduced us. I thought Russ was a kind and gentle soul and enjoyed meeting him. We had no intentions of dating but after 6 months of emailing and talking on the phone, Russ asked if I would be interested in dating. He did qualify it that there were no guarantees it would work out. I agreed and was gun shy myself. We both hesitantly and cautiously stepped into dating. My friends and family were confused because I had been so strong on this value of not dating divorcees.
We dated for 2 1/2 years and a couple times I tried to back out. Emotionally, it was easier for me to run than to take on something so risky. I really wasn’t sure this was my place. I learned from counseling (I started seeing Russ’ counselor a year before we got engaged) there was something much deeper going on. It turned out that I was 38 and not married for a reason. My Dad’s words carried more weight than I had imagined. I was never able to seriously move forward with anyone because I never felt I had permission from my Dad. Unfortunately, my Dad had passed away in 1994. Years into our dating, Russ and I took a trip back to my hometown in Orlando. I had set up a couple meetings with my childhood pastors. The pastors had played a key role in me becoming a Christian and I wanted their blessing if Russ and I were to move forward. The conversations with my pastors turned from getting their blessing to giving us permission. Both pastors knew my Dad well. My Dad was not an easy person so when they talked about the “big tough guy” they also talked about his soft heart. I walked away with their blessing and the permission to get married.
I had hoped for my pastor’s blessings but I never expected I would get my Dad’s permission. Family of Origin is always running in the background. Some people grow up and normalize the behavior of their parents and some do the opposite of their parent’s behavior. Know which behavior you are acting out.
Comment below if you have spent time learning what family of origin behavior is playing in the background of your marriage.
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