63. Relationship Realities: Has Your Partner Become Your Parent?
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Why do we create situations that force partners to become parental figures?
Over many years I have observed the following:
1) During therapy, clients often regress and a trained therapist will be able to detect what age a partner or indeed the couple, have regressed to.
Regression is a useful tool. It communicates to a therapist the age that the client or clients may have become emotionally stuck during their childhood development.
More importantly, usually a couple is unaware of all the issues they may share, and a couple’s regression helps the therapist, as well as the couple, gain a better understanding of themselves and also, how they relate and why.
When the partners regress, they can start behaving like children or teenagers, and in some cases they may even expect the other partner to parent them.
This could lead to frustration especially if a partner is consistently expected to play the responsible all-knowing parent. On the other hand, the other partner may be consistently expected to play the needy helpless child.
And these roles can be swopped or interchanged as one plays the child and at other times the parent, and so on.
However, if this pattern develops into a habit that is regularly repeated, then the couple could get stuck emotionally and the natural maturity of the couple may stagnate.
2) Also, if a parent or indeed both parents were absent, then partners who are older may seem more attractive.
But ‘hovering over the couple’, would be the unconscious hope or fantasy that a ‘parental partner’ would emotionally provide what parents never gave them.
But this could become tiresome for both partners and they too may get stuck in the roles that they find themselves in.
3) What is also evident is that there is often a need for a replacement parental partner if indeed either one or both partners come from single parent homes or wherever a parent was either emotionally or physically absent.
You may of course wonder why a partner would ever want to play a parental role?
a) Some may prefer to have a younger person boost their ego.
b) Others may have learnt a rescuing role in childhood.
c) And they may even have become the responsible care giver within their family and therefore, a parental role may come naturally to them.
d) Others may even like the control that taking on a parental role may give them.
But there can also be an age gap between two partners for the following reason:
4) If there was a big age gap between parents, then often children repeat the same patterns.
But choosing an older parent isn’t always about needing a substitute parental figure. Sometimes it is only a repetition of the parental pattern.
It is important for a couple to understand why they have chosen one another.
Although being in a relationship is not a form of therapy, understanding the past and how or why we choose our partners is important so that we can learn to make choices to suit our life goals
Understanding this basic principle, allows for a deeper understanding between two people.
Jean Paul Sartre once wrote, ‘We are our choices, but before that – we are and were products of our parental choices’.
Accepting this is the first step to relationships success.
© 2017 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace
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