Your mother or your father – which one did you end up marrying?

Whilst knowing that Sigmund Freud was decidedly sex-obsessed, I can’t deny that there’s often a kernal of truth in many of his concepts. It’s his theories on relationships that have led to the stereotype that girls “marry” (or couple up with) their fathers and boys their mother. If we start from the perspective that it makes good (attachment theory and common) sense that children base their later relationships on their earliest ones – the ones they had with their parents, then this is as likely as any other to be true.

My question to you all is – did you?

My relationship history is – let’s be generous here – chequered. And whilst John Bowlby’s attachment theory would have lots to say on that subject, this little essay is going to stay focussed on good old Freud. I’ve had two long-term relationships – my long-term partner which lasted 14 years and my current one which is approaching five. Outside of these two, all my relationships were counted in timespans of months – with oh so many in the lower number range.

Like any single person who’d prefer to be in a relationship but who’s spent more time out of one, I’ve examined the situation over the years from every perspective and via every psychological theory known to man. So I had to get round to Freud … eventually. Cutting to the chase, it seems that I “married” first one (my mother) and then the other (my father). Casting the net a little wider, I’ve realised that the closest of my female friends have been my mother (with one notable exception), whilst my close male friends have been my father. Read into that what you will (and do share your thoughts and opinions in the comments) as I still ponder on the subject from time-to-time (usually when on long boring drives alone).

I’ve always had the better relationship with my father. A tomboy growing up, I was his constant shadow, even on the golf course (I’m rubbish at and hate it now that I’ve tried it myself). I look like him (and my brother) whereas my two sisters look like my mother. In terms of interests, I’m a blend of the two. Hindsight has provided me with the insight that number 1 (the 14 year guy) had my father’s interests and my mother’s personality. Current guy – the bloke or Himself as I tend to refer to him online – shares interests with neither, but is close to my father personality-wise.

Does that mean I’ve finally got it right? Only time will tell.

Crazily, I’ve never thought to look at the whole ‘you marry your mother or your father’ strain of thought before a close friend mention – during a discussion about issues in her current relationship – that there were many echoes in it of her parent’s relationship.

So, did you (marry your mother or your father)? Do Freud’s theories have a kernal of truth, or was he just a dirty old man? Do share these and any related thoughts here …


© Debra Carey, 2018

8 comments

  1. Love this one Debs – very insightful in so many ways. Something intriguing though – I thought you had one brother and one sister (Nick and Mandy) – you say you have two sisters? Sarah x

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  2. Thanks Sarah! Ah yes, you wouldn’t have known the little one – Sherry. She’s 15 years younger than we are and was an afterthought. She was born around the time we left Nigeria for Bangladesh.

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  3. I’ve never heard of this idea. I’d say I married the opposite of both of my parents, but one of my mother’s friends told me I married my father. I could not be more different than husband’s mother– or father. Thus I’m going to say that this idea is poppycock! [Yes, I used the “p” word. Deal with it.]

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    1. Ha ha! I congratulate you on proving Freud to be poppycock-filled 😉 I tried to, but appear to have failed miserably in the attempt.

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      1. You’ve not failed! You’ve enlightened us, and caused your readers to think about Freud’s poppycock. Which I don’t know that I’ve ever done before. Thank you.

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  4. Yeah, I’ve heard all this before (was a Psych major at one point in college). If I had to go with either parent, I’d have to say more mother, although I tried my best to shy away from either type. My mother was shrewish (“Funny, you don’t look Shrewish”) and my ex definitely was one, so there is that. I have tried to live my life away from my parents, as best I could. We’re all products of our surroundings.

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    1. You were a Psych major eh? It shows in your writing (in a good way).

      It is hard to break away from that which made us. Sometimes we get lucky and we have people in our life who demonstrate a different way and we can model ourselvse (knowingly or unknowingly) on them. But there’s no denying that nurture (not only from parents) has an enormous impact on the people we become.

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  5. Ally, thank you. I meant more that I’d failed in my desire (I can’t say I made any sort of serious attempt) to not be with anyone who bore a resemblence to either parent. But as Stu says, we’re all products of our surroundings.

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