10 Ways to Avoid the Parent’s Marriage Mistakes – Part 2

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10 ways to advoid the parent's marriage - part 2
10 ways to advoid the parent's marriage - part 2

Things sure were different in our parents’ day, especially when it came to marriage dynamics. While we may not do marriage better than our parent’s marriage, we can learn a lot from their relationship missteps. Check out these old-fashioned marriage philosophies, and discover why they could be damaging.

>>10 Ways to Avoid the Parent’s Marriage Mistakes – Part 1

Women were more financially dependent on their husbands

Women were more financially dependent on their husbands
Women were more financially dependent on their husbands

It wasn’t uncommon for the family’s bread winner—the husband—to control all the money and not include the wife’s name on the bank accounts. “Women had to stay with their spouses to keep eating and taking care of their children’s necessities,” says Dr. Lombardo. This put husbands in dominant positions. Today, not only are there more two-income households but also more joint accounts and individual accounts for women. “Financial independence allows us to decide what’s best for us,” says Dr. Lombardo. “Instead of feeling helpless, women are empowered.”

Divorce was taboo

Divorce was taboo
Divorce was taboo

The notion that marriage is for life is lovely, but in years past, there was no way out for unhappy people, even those with abusive or unfaithful partners. “They were afraid of how society would look at them,” says Dr. Lombardo, and how mortified their families would be. Legally, it was more difficult to obtain a divorce, and the financial ramifications for women were often too much to overcome, explains Dr. Wish. No, divorce shouldn’t be the go-to way to manage marital problems, but women in danger now have some place to go. “To the police, to a shelter, to a job, to a lawyer,” says Dr. Wish.

Sex was more of a chore for women than a pleasurable act

Sex was more of a chore for women than a pleasurable act
Sex was more of a chore for women than a pleasurable act

Women were raised to see sex as a marital duty, and since more women were virgins when they married, husbands showed their wives the ropes, says Dr. Walfish. And what wives can get out of sex probably wasn’t the focus of those lessons. Modern women are more apt to have sex before marriage and expect reciprocity, Dr. Walfish says. Instead of viewing sexuality as negative, women want to be sexually active with their husbands, says Dr. Lombardo. And that’s good news for marriage. “Physical intimacy can deepen emotional bonds,” she says. Other perks include less stress and more confidence, in and out of the bedroom.

Parents were more involved in their children’s marriages

Parents were more involved in their children’s marriages
Parents were more involved in their children’s marriages

Even if parents didn’t arrange their children’s marriages, they certainly had a lot of input as to how their sons and daughters lived, says Dr. Wish. Back then, Dad brought his future son-in-law into the family business, people lived closer to relatives and the extended family ate Sunday meals together, she explains. “These too-tight bonds can make wives feel their husbands are ‘mama’s boys,’ while husbands can feel their mothers-in-law rule the roost.” Now it’s all about setting boundaries, says Dr. Walfish. Couples can seek their parents’ counsel but are more comfortable making life decisions without their parents’ participation.

Women were more likely to submit to their husbands’ preferences

“When you pretend to be someone you’re not, it depletes your happiness,” says Dr. Lombardo. That’s why women must “be comfortable saying ‘that doesn’t work for me,’” agrees Dr. Walfish. “Open, honest direct communication between partners is required to constantly learn about what feels good to your partner as well as to you.” There is one way we can mimic our mothers, though, adds Dr. Walfish: There’s something wonderful about occasionally giving in to your partner without a negotiation. He should afford you the same once in a while.