In addition to the patterns learned in our families of origin, our early dating
experiences as adolescents and young adults can set up patterns that we follow
in subsequent relationships.

When I was fifteen, I began dating an eighteenyear-old; the relationship lasted for three years, and it introduced me to the concept of intimacy and commitment.When I went to college I didn’t know how to date someone casually, but boy was I good at long-term attachment— because that was all I knew.When something didn’t feel right in my relationship, I worked really hard to fix it.

The thought never crossed my mind that I could learn from one relationship and move on to something else, because I’d never seen that lived out. Kids in my high school stayed together for a long time: a year was considered a short relationship. Girls who had six-month relationships were seen as being promiscuous.

That tidbit of information was stored in my brain under the definition of how good girls acted in positive relationships.We are each made up of all these random pieces that determine how we think, feel, and act.

Had I attended a high school where dating was a casual, short-term thing, I might have dated more than one person in college, but instead I met my husband the first month at university and married him a month after we graduated! Each of you has to look at your own past to determine why you are the way you are.

Undoubtedly, early dating relationships, communication skills that were learned, sexual patterns, and ideas about how men and women were supposed to love each other filtered into your marriage whether you invited them in or not.

I can finally understand why my mom kept telling me that when I got married I would be marrying my husband’s famil —and all his friends, schools, and entire past life. I thought she was just trying to scare me. But think about it.

Your world looks and feels a certain way. Then you meet and fall in love with someone whose world looks and feels completely different from yours. In the beginning that doesn’t matter because the physical sensation of being in love is so yummy. Then, all of a sudden, sometimes years down the road, you find out that your husband’s family didn’t celebrate birthdays, at least not to the degree that your family did.

You now understand why your husband looked on like you had lost your mind as you were hanging balloons and posters around the kitchen the night before each child’s birthday. He was uninvolved when you passed out the hats and announced the party games the family would play. You thought he was being awful, but he was dealing with his own issues—like why no one ever did that for him when he was a kid.

Then, because he didn’t want to feel the pain or loss in his own childhood, he decided that you just blow birthdays completely out of proportion and that his kids would be spoiled because of this bizarre behavior. Now you have an issue that you don’t agree on and that might cause you to argue as each child’s birthday approaches.

There are many reasons for divorce, and each one of them includes accompanying patterns within the marriage that are extremely painful. The curse of having experienced these painful patterns with someone who was supposed to love you is that whenever something happens that feels remotely similar, you revert to your old feelings.“The other day my boyfriend told me there was a piece of old cheese on the dish in the refrigerator,” said Amy. “I saw red. In that instant I was right back in my old marriage, feeling criticized for not doing a good enough job.

I was so hurt by the comment that it actually made me doubt whether I was ready to be in a relationship with someone.” Your view of the world really does determine how you interact with other people, so you have to investigate your own life and actions if you want to enjoy healthy relationships in your future.