One of the conversation killers of my former marriage was being on the receiving end of the angry finger point, and the accusatory “You’ve got issues!”
This was one (of many!) unsubtle ways in which I knew whatever topic was on the table at the moment was no longer going to be discussed, at least for a while. In his mind, the case was closed. I had “issues” and thus there was no need to figure things out about any other matter.
Well, in a way, he was right. I did have some issues. A healthier person never would have married him. Of course, that’s not what was he was referring to.
But if I had been healthier, I probably would have paid more attention to some red flags that were prevalent before we got married. However, I waved them away, due to my own family of origin issues.
Family of Origin
Your family of origin is the family you grew up with. Usually you were born into this family, but not always. These are the people you lived with, who surrounded you and guided you, shaping your values, traditions, customs, and worldview.
This family is usually (but again, not always) made up of your parents, your siblings, and any significant caretakers. For example, my mom lives with us now, so she would be considered part of my four sons’ family of origin, even though she is one generation removed.
And of course, your family of origin influences your current relationships, for better or worse. This article on goodtherapy discusses more.
Everyone Has Issues
No one is perfect. (Duh?!)
That’s an obvious statement, but knowing this with your brain versus knowing it with your heart are two different things. If you come into your marriage with family of origin (or other) issues, and then are consciously or unconsciously expecting your partner to make you feel better, good luck!
Even worse if they are expecting the same of you. It’s like two broken pieces of pottery trying to glue each other together, but none of your jagged edges match, and your glue isn’t right.
You are Responsible for Your Own Issues
It’s best to come into a relationship whole, not looking to another person to “complete you” or give you what you are missing. No other human being can do that, anyway.
Relationships are not easy (though they are worthwhile!). Marriage is very hard, even the best ones. Parenting can seem impossible. If you are still resolving your own issues while in these relationships, or even worse, unaware that you have unresolved issues, it adds another layer of sludge to swim through to reach oxygen when you need it.
In fact, you might become so frustrated by the slow pace of moving through the sludge, that you point your finger at others and accuse them of having issues.
You Can Only Change Yourself
But you cannot change someone else. You cannot control someone else. You can only change yourself. And that’s hard enough!
How? If you are a reader, there are so many helpful books. If you attend a good church, there may be counseling services you can get. Your work might have a counseling service or helpline. Talking to a wise friend, journaling and reflecting, taking a walk and thinking, or deep breathing are other ways.
I will let you in on one secret, though. You can’t solve your issues by pointing an angry finger at someone else, and telling them that they have issues.
Amy is the writer behind A Lady and Four Gents. She is a self-employed single mom to four boys, including twins. Amy traded her full-time career and outrageous commute for more time with her kids. She hopes to inspire and equip other single moms to build confidence, pursue personal independence, and design the life they long for.