Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Of Children and Husbands

I read a post from http://www.livingorsurviving.com on why we love the person we love and it really took my breath away. Let me outline the points I found particularly interesting and why.

When we’re little, our mother is the center of our attention, and we are the center of hers. So our mother’s characteristics leave an indelible impression, and we are forever after attracted to people with her facial features, body type, personality, even sense of humor. If our mother was warm and giving, as adults we tend to be attracted to people who are warm and giving. If our mother was strong and even-tempered, we are going to be attracted to a fair-minded strength in our mates.

The mother has an additional influence on her sons: she not only gives them clues to what they will find attractive in a mate, but also affects how they feel about women in general. So if she is warm and nice, her sons are going to think that’s the way women are. They will likely grow up warm and responsive lovers and also be cooperative around the house.

Conversely, a mother who has a depressive personality, and is sometimes friendly but then suddenly turns cold and rejecting, may raise a man who becomes a ‘dance-away lover.’ Because he’s been so scared about love from his mother, he is afraid of commitment and may pull away from a girlfriend for this reason.

While the mother determines in large part what qualities attract us in a mate, it’s the father–the first male in our lives–who influences how we relate to the opposite sex. Fathers have an enormous effect on their children’s personalities and chances of marital happiness.

Just as mothers influence their son’s general feelings toward women, fathers influence their daughter’s general feelings about men. If a father lavishes praise on his daughter and demonstrates that she is a worthwhile person, she’ll feel very good about herself in relation to men. But if the father is cold, critical or absent, the daughter will tend to feel she’s not very lovable or attractive.

I have 2 kids; a son and a daughter. You can imagine why this excerpt was very interesting to me. I knew even before I had my kids that parents affect their future relationships in many ways. But the difference is the reality that now I am a mom and what I do, how and who I am, can directly affect my little boy. This is scary, very scary. I am not the most easygoing person. Neither do I think I am particularly extroverted. I can be exacting as well. And I am a self-confessed nerd, bookworm, geek. I often place a lot of weight on knowledge and logic and reason. But I try not to judge people as best I can, and I am working everyday on seeing the positive in the situations I find myself in. It is scary to think that my son can use me, and all my neuroses, as a benchmark for what he would want for his future wife/mate/partner or that he can turn out as a reaction to who and how I am. For my son, I would hope for a woman who would bring out the best in him, inspire him, and love and be faithful to him. I would also like for him to love knowledge but to be open to experiences that could give him knowledge books never could, to be more sociable and not so uptight when he grows up. Gosh, I hope I am not damaging him in any way.
My daughter's development is of equal concern to me. My husband is very extroverted, not much of a bookworm or an academic even, very free with rules and ideas, and has a tendency to lean on self-centerdness and selfishness. Now, this is in no way meant to bring him down. But naturally, for my daughter, I would want for her to grow up with a thirst for knowledge and pushing the boundaries to become anything she wants to be, to have clear limitations, clear ideas of what would acceptable and unacceptable to her, and one who would be capable of loving greatly. As for an ideal mate, I would hope for a person with much the same qualities as the person I wish for my son- someone who would inspire her and bring out the best in her, someone who would love and be faithful to her. I hope my husband inspires her to be these things.

Or as George Burns, who was Jewish and married the Irish Catholic Gracie Allen, used to say: his marriage was his favorite gig, even though it was Gracie who got all the laughs. The two of them did share certain social similarities–both grew up in the city, in large but poor families. Yet what really drew them together was evident from the first time they went on stage together. They complemented each other perfectly: he was the straight man, and she delivered the punch lines.

This excerpt was what spoke to me the most. I believe my husband and I are rather opposite in most our ways but that these traits not only make the relationship interesting but also make us complement each other in our own unique way. Even if he sometimes wishes for more commonality, and I sometimes agree that some arguments would be easier resolved if the just automatically agreed, I still end up thinking that they way we are and who we are is what makes "us" work the way we do. And that differences aren't necessarily bad. And that there can definitely be beauty in discord. I am hoping that I am showing and convincing my husband of these points every day we spend together and every time we work to make our relationship better.

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