Home Featured The Children of Divorce: How Divorce Influences Our Relationships

The Children of Divorce: How Divorce Influences Our Relationships

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A while back, I asked my Twitter followers a simple question: @WisdomIsMisery: if your significant other is a product of divorced parents, do you take this into consideration when dating them?

Now before I get into the general theme of the responses, I’ll share my motivation for asking the question. I take into consideration whether my significant other’s parents have divorced. If I’m privy to the information, I also factor in when their parents married, how long they’ve been married, and how happy they appear to be together in their marriage. None of these answers are a deal breaker but it is something I keep in the back of my mind.

Some people find this weird. I find it weird that some people find it weird. For a country that spends billions of dollars following the successes and failures of celebrity couples, whom we do not know behind the manufactured headlines of entertainment magazines, it seems strange that people balk at the idea of considering the effects our own parents have had/will have on our relationships. After all, they only had 18 years to influence us. On the other hand, Kobe’s wife leaves him and we have hundreds of blogs discussing infidelity and if women are entitled to the amount of money Vanessa Bryant acquired, even though she wasn’t with him shootin in the gym. But heavens to Betsy if we do something as crazy as focus on our own upbringing to assess the effect it will have on our lives. – #Sarcasm

The risk of divorce is 50 percent higher when one spouse comes from a divorced home, and 200 percent higher risk when both of them do, says Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah and author of “Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages.” – CNN

Getting back to the original question, as expected, most people didn’t want the success or failure of thier parents’ marriage to act as a prerequisite for estimating their future marital success. Also worth noting was how much more vocal children of divorce were in expressing their views on the issue. That is fine and I understand where you’re coming from. However, while I understand how a person whose parents divorced would not want the dissolution of their parents marriage held against them, they must also understand that they cannot dictate the terms of how other people judge them.

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Many argued that their parents do not define them, and while I agree, I do believe our parents have a varying degree of influence on our future, positive or negative, whether we like it or not. Of course we should not be punished for the sins of our parents. But, it is our parents sins which often have the greatest influence on our own actions.

Many people use the excuse that since divorce rates are so high, they shouldn’t get married. This is a poor excuse. As @Yo_Q_Crush pointed out, this excuse is not cited in other relative analogies: You don’t drop out of High School because High School dropout rates are high. You didn’t refuse to go to college because the rates of college graduates is low. You don’t refuse to drive your car despite the chance you might die in a car wreck. There are a million other similar analogies, yet marriage is the only one where we use divorce as an excuse not to marry. Further, even if the divorce rate is 50% that means 50% of marriages are successful. Why focus on the rate of failure rather than the rate of success, unless you of course consider yourself someone prone to failure. If you don’t want to get married, that’s fine but recognize it’s your own choice or at least don’t use a convenient excuse like “divorce rates are high” when it really has nothing to do with your predisposition not to marry.

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I see marriage in my future but I often wonder do I see myself married merely because that’s how I’ve been conditioned? Had I been taught that marriage was bad and inevitably ended in divorce, then perhaps I wouldn’t have such a positive, albeit passive, expectation to eventually marry.

Regardless, we all have our baggage. At some point, we will have to find someone who can deal with our own baggage as well as accurately gauge whether we can deal with theirs. This is made more difficult because you have no real way of knowing what life will throw at you as an individual, let alone a couple. Personally, I’m looking for someone whom I believe will weather all of life’s storms with me, rather than someone who retreats the first time it gets cloudy. This may very well be a woman who witnessed how difficult making a marriage work can be, such as a child of divorce, rather than a woman who was the product of successfully married parents who never faced substantial challenges. Either way, I would fault neither for their upbringing or much of anything else that is completely out of their control but I will take it all into consideration. Will I choose correctly? Only time will tell.

When seriously dating, do your take into consideration whether your partner’s parents are still married or divorced? Does your partner being a divorcée or widow have any influence? If it applies, has being the child of divorced parents or parents that have had an extended marriage (10+ years) positively/negatively influenced your relationship experiences/expectations? If you have been divorced yourself, has it adjusted your expectations for relationships? If applicable, do you believe your divorce will affect your children’s views on relationships? On a related subject, do you think children of single parent homes have similar views on relationships as children of divorce? Lastly, what are some non-traditional characteristics you take into consideration when dating, such as only child, astrological sign, or other?

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Admin Note: Today on my personal site, I also discuss The Children of Adoption with guest blogger, Christina White, who shares her personal story on being raised by extended family members in her mother’s absence and the affect it had on her views on dating, personal relationships and her view on her role in the relationship.

Comment(58)

  1. I think it's perfectly legitimate to look at divorce rates when deciding whether to get married. All the analogies you mentioned aren't truly analogous because marriage requires two people. When I look at going to college, high school, buying a car etc, the only question I ask myself is whether or not I can take care of business ie, get good grades/drive safe. But, when you're thinking about marriage, the success of it depends on someone else as much as it depends on you. So, in so far as divorce rates represents the ability of people in our society to commit to a marriage relationship…I think it's legitimate to use consider those rates before you get married.
    My recent post Being Hard to Get: The Do's and Don'ts of Dating

  2. When seriously dating, do your take into consideration whether your partner’s parents are still married or divorced?

    To date, I haven't. However, I've only dated one person whose parents are no longer together. Although he has now deemed marriage "inevitable," he was questioning its usefulness at some point. The others always looked at marriage as something they hoped to take place in their future, and it was without question a forever after deal.

    Has being the child of parents that have had an extended marriage (10+ years) positively influenced your relationship expectations?

    Absolutely. I've seen the challenges that marriage can bring, and the fact that you can make it work if you are so-determined. I know it's possible for it to not be a fairytale, and yet to be possessed of strong love for one's partner decades into the relationship. My parents just came back from a trip all lovey dovey and stuff.

    On a related subject, do you think children of single parent homes have similar views on relationships as children of divorce?

    It depends. A kid who grew up without a second parent may be less inclined to strive towards marriage and committed relationships in general, depending on the values he's been raised with. Or he could want really badly to find someone with whom to provide a child of his own with that balance that he craved growing up. One who grew up and experienced her parents' divorce may be more jaded, or she could be more motivated to make things work such that their kids don't experience the same trauma. What they'll definitely have in common is knowledge that relationships don't always work out. However, their reaction to that knowledge is highly contingent on their environment, character, and particular experiences.

    Lastly, what are some non-traditional characteristics you take into consideration when dating, such as only child, astrological sign, or other?

    I don't think I really have any of those. It's hard enough coming by someone who interests me to that level and meets the basic checkmarks (shared values, religion, etc.).

  3. I am in two minds about this. I have parents who have had an incredible work ethic (father was an entrepreneur & mother a tenured teacher whose sick days I can count on my hands) and I attribute my subsequent work ethic to them. But in the parenthood (father)/relationship (mother) category? Well, let's just say I have sought alternative methods of education in that department. Now, while I am proud to claim the lessons taught by my hardworking parents, I do often find myself dodging questions about the relationship part for fear of judgement.
    Now, I should note that I am at peace with my parents' history, have long acknowledged that they were both human and do not use my past as an indicator of my future, whether it regards parents OR ex'es. I also recognize it is a hard thing for men to believe. I think a person should only be "judged" on their past if it seems apparent that they have not gleaned the LESSONS from it **cough**CHRIS BROWN!!**cough***and moved on without bitterness or contempt.

  4. I’m a child of divorce… My parents divorced when I was 21 (but separated when I was 6). My dad lived 5 minutes away. My parents always sat together at events, traveled together for family weddings/funerals etc. Their brothers and sisters still hang out with each of my parents. All that being said I saw how two people (who probably should not have been married in the 1st place) who loved each other behaved.

    I say all this to indicate that I’m more interested in figuring out what influences my guy’s relationship-mind versus who influences it. I dated a guy whose parents were still married but his view on how a family should operate were completely against my thoughts. I would think that would have more bearing on the future of our relationship than whether or not my parents still were attached to a piece of paper.

  5. Hrrmmmmm. You look to a woman's mother to see if she'll turn into a whale by the end of life so I think it's natural to also look at the parent's relationship to see what may have shaped her mind on the subject. I'm a child of divorce. What I know of, my mom has two divorces and a failed common law situation under her belt. I'd definitely say that her attitude towards men and relationships has influenced me in my relationship. The way she talked about things, I felt like I found the only good dude left in the entire world and I'm sure that had some influence on me when I was thinking about marriage. I felt like I defied the odds, hit the man lottery or something. Matter of fact, I still feel that way. I'm just glad he didn't hold my upbringing against me. He said he considered it too. Wondered if he could handle it. Yup.

  6. I think it is perfectly natural to look at someone's parents and factor that into how you relate with them. Lets not forget that one of the greatest minds of psychology, Freud basically became famous for linking people's problems to childhood events. I think it is safe to assume that the state of your parent's marriage affects the way you relate with others. That being said there are other factors that could also affect the person positively or negatively. I would not write off a partner because their parents are divorced but I would put it into consideration in addition to the person's character and it will help me know how to relate with them.
    My recent post When Fashionably Late Goes Wrong, On Nigerian/African/Colored People Time…

  7. I like your writing WIM…very thoughtful. Anyway, I think all of the relationships we observed and were raised in have a great impact on our future selves. But at some point you have to make up your own mind and assess some things. Are the traits you retained from your childhood experiences beneficial to what you want in a relationship? If not, go to therapy (if it would take that) or actively change your lifestyle. For me, I've wanted nothing more than to be married and did a lot of pleasing and sacrificing of self to get it. Then I realized he wasn't the right man so I left just before I said "I do." I think I wanted that because I am a product of divorce but I have no recollection of my parents ever being together. I did a complete 180 afterwards and focused on myself. Eh, not the best thing to be in a relationship like that, but I did discover what I want and who I am. I think the hard thing for me now is to go back to supporting, pleasing, etc. my significant other just cause I got out of the habit. I consider all of it when I date and for the record, I prefer a man who had a man in his life (uncle, father, cousin…a role model). Good post!

  8. I can honestly say that I've never taken into account my partners parents or my own when I've dated women. I don't know if I may have been doing it subconsciously, but I never really thought too much about the dynamics of their relationships. I never thought my future hinged on the outcome of their experiences. I thought they were independent to one another.

    You made some great points in WIM and you definitely have me looking at things from a different perspective. Thanks for that.
    My recent post How Important is Her Daddy?

  9. 1) When seriously dating, do your take into consideration whether your partner’s parents are still married or divorced?
    Your parent’s marriage or divorce is usually mentioned on the first date. When I hear that a man’s parents are divorced I wonder if he believes in commitment, if he’s jaded, or generally well-adjusted. It seems that if your parents, who you thought were perfect for the first 5-10 formative years of your life can’t make marriage work, how can you in your infinite imperfections superseded them?

    2)If it applies, has being the child of divorced parents or parents that have had an extended marriage (10+ years) positively/negatively influenced your relationship experiences/expectations?
    I always wondered how my mother withstood marriage for 11years and then called it quits. When you see certain things in a marriage your bottom-line/standards raise. What you can handle and what you can’t abide become more influential in choosing a mate. You ask your self tough questions like “will I stay with him for all the good he’s done, if I find out something bad?”

    3)Lastly, what are some non-traditional characteristics you take into consideration when dating, such as only child, astrological sign, or other? I always ask if they have strong male friendships or are being mentored by someone in their life and judge them accordingly.

    One thing you didn’t mention is that children of divorce always choose a side, and the grudge they hr against the other parent shapes some of their decisions in life. It shapes how they form relationships and what guards they have up. It takes a long time to uncover those barriers since the child hisself doesn’t necessarily know they are there. You have to ask yourself are you willing to make an investment with an unpredictable return.

  10. Having been married and divorced myself, I never put much weight on whether a significant other's parents marriage lasted or not. Mainly b/c I look at my own relationship failure at a lesson of mistakes not to make again. I do however pay attention to how she relates to her parents' divorce. For example, who's advice does she tend to give more credence to? How does she perceive the option of divorce in general? Does she place fault on 1 parent over the other for them divorcing? Minor details like that. With my current relationship, my parents were married until my father passed and hers are still married. Both sets of parents had their flaws, but they always worked it out. So as a couple, that's the type of commitment we wanna have.

    I also think it's funny that non-married people would rather pay so much attention to the divorce rate than the marital success rate. To me, the success of marriage is like anything else w/ a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you go into it expecting it to fail, you'll be less likely to wanna prevent it from failing. Unlike college or a job, marriage takes a unique commitment from both parties. Plus you can't measure your relationship by the standards of someone else's, even your parents.
    My recent post I Want That “Old Thing” Back: Old Lovers, New Perspectives

  11. 1. I could take it in consideration but then again I'm not a saint. My parents were divorced when I was 5 so I have only vague memories of my parents as a couple. I saw my mother marry again when I was 20, so I have no point of reference as far as being a couple. I've lucked up and met women who had both parents in the house, but it doesn't gauge whether or not our relationship is going to last or not.

    2. I think my parents' divorce has left me with a very incomplete understanding of marriage and it's purpose, religious ideologies withheld. Since I lived with my father mostly, I did not have that feminine component in the home unless you count my sister, and going between both parents seemed like warping into different worlds each time. They were never nasty towards one another and they always were pleasant, so that helped, but at the same time, sub-consciously it affected the way I handle relationships and see them at the same time. A little voice always tells me: "nothing last forever, what's great now can go bad later." So…as a result I cannot get attached that easily. Tried it, can't do it.

    3. If they were an only child I check for selfishness. Astrology is for fun only but never an accurate guage. I'll come back when my damn work computer finishes unf*cking itself.

  12. As a child of biological parents who were never married…and divorced parents (Mom divorced the man who raised me…he had a bad drug habit…they were together 20 yrs), I think I can say from a place of experience that how you cope with any trauma (divorced, motherless/fatherless, foster care, drug addicted parents, molestation, rape, etc.) is what really matters. I believe you should be just as concerned about the type of marriage your partner's parents have…they may be together and unhappy…which is just as destructive as divorce. Look at and weigh EVERYTHING!

    1. I am divorced. And I think my willingness to walk away had to do with not only the knowledge gained from watching my parents, grandparents, etc., but my personality/character as well. I intend to be very honest with my children regarding what happened between their father and myself so that they don't repeat our mistakes. I also intend to take whatever time I need to make sure I don't repeat my mistakes…which is why my current relationship is not being rushed along. I've been effected by my parents divorce/my divorce in the sense that I know that I need to allow time and evidence to prove that my relationship can withstand life before I marry.

      I weigh when your birthday is cause I will NOT date a Taurus again. EVER. EVERRRRRRRR! And not cause I'm all into astrology. Its because I've dated 3 seriously and it just didn't work. I don't need a 4th go 'round to tell me what I know now. I can't do a Taurus. It will not work. lol

        1. I am a gemini. And for whatever reason, this gemini cannot rock romantically with a taurus. Mentally…the way we think and process information is just…way too far off. I'm always initially attracted to them. But, they all lacked depth to me…and not trusting the way they "think" always kept my respect for them on the decline.

    2. I think what you're saying here is very wise. I wasn't smart enough to weigh everything before we took that plunge but I did notice my hub's parents' relationship and I think that while it has lasted all of these years for them, the state of their relationship has had an impact on him/us. Honestly, I wouldn't want a relationship like their's although it would appear that that's where our path is leading. It's hard to think that far ahead though because they're in a totally different space in life. They're in their sixties for crying out loud and when they had him they were in their late thirties.

      1. Do pardon me for prying, but what path do you seem to be heading down that you would rather not? If you don't mind sharing, that is.

        1. Basically, aside from attending church together every week, it looks like they just ignore each other. Aside from fixing dinner and sleeping, he stays on his computer ALL day. She keeps herself busy with work, church, ripping and running with her best friend and trying to take care of her grown azz daughter. But even when she is home, he's still on his computer. Part of me thinks this is just because they are old. My hubs and I have realized that we don't have a lot in common and I'm afraid that once the kids are out of the house, we'll just go on to ignore each other the way they do. I don't care how old I get, I don't want that kind of marriage.

        2. I'm pretty sure there is some common ground…such as a restaurant you both like or vacationing, a TV show, something that you can consciously make sure you do together on the regular basis.

          I can understand your concern cause that sounds like me and my ex…except we were both musically inclined (I sing, he plays keys) and shared more mutual friends than I'm completely comfortable with now that we're not together. But oh well to that cause I'm not gonna cut my friends, lol. But if we weren't with our friends or in a rehearsal, he was in the basement watching sports and playing video games and I was in my room watching TV. Hated that. We really drifted apart that way. So stay on top of that….

        3. Thanks hon. You know, now that I think about it, perhaps this is why we have been trying so hard to get a date night established. It's been hard to get it up and running but maybe once we do that'll help us find more things in common. We do love pizza.

        4. Hey Krys……imo one of the ways to keep the fire burning is to be ever mindful of what very first attracted you to the person and the reasons why you wanted to be with them.
          Hopefully all those things that first made you want to be together are still there and you can draw from that.
          You can always get new hobbies together. Like learn a language together, take up a sport together or travel and take vacations to your favorite places together, cook together, go to karaoke, play cards or board games, something anything. I'm sure you will find some things….*smile*

        5. I hear that. It's unfortunate that you don't have much in common, but do you try to engage in activities that interest the other? The sacrifice of enduring something you may not enjoy 100% is less than the benefit gained from snuggling up to each other and spending some kind of time together. As CO pointed out, those kinds of behaviours are a fast track to drifting apart.

          Also, you could actively try to seek out things that are new to you both, and maybe entail some aspects that appeal to both your senses. It's probably easier said than done, but you do seem correct in your assessment that that's the way you're headed unless something changes.

        6. "Also, you could actively try to seek out things that are new to you both, and maybe entail some aspects that appeal to both your senses."

          Great advice, Naija!

        7. *fist bump* This IS good advice Naij. I've read somewhere that if you keep trying new things with each other, that is how you keep the flame flickering because the feelings you get doing new things mimic the ones you had in the beginning of the relationship.

      2. "Honestly, I wouldn't want a relationship like their's although it would appear that that's where our path is leading."

        Have you talked to him about this? Maybe making a conscious effort for this not to happen could prevent it from happening…

        1. Communicate Communicate Communicate! Yall will come up with something I'm sure…..*smile*
          If all else fails get that "whipappeal" goin for you……lol

  13. If it applies, has being the child of divorced parents or parents that have had an extended marriage (10+ years) positively/negatively influenced your relationship experiences/expectations?

    I'm a child of divored parents, but I may have a separate outlook possibly because my parents divorced when I was one. Therefore I have no recollection of them ever even being together and I always knew life as them living in two separate places. I have a good relationship with both my parents and lived with both during my adolesence. (mom up until H.S. and then moved with pops). I don't belive the fact that they divorced has had any influences on any of my relationship experiences, however my mother never re-married and my dad is currently on his 3rd marriage so I guess that gives me more motivation to be sure I choose efficiently so I never have to choose again…if that makes sense.

  14. First, I have to say, I am a product of divorce. My parents divorced when I was two, however, both have been married to their respective spouses for more than 10 years. My father and his wife have been married since I was 4, and my mother and stepfather since I was 9. I never was privy to the bickering of my divorcing parents and as a group, all of my parent s have spent birthdays and holidays together. When I gave birth to my twins, the nurses in the hospital were astounded at the fact that my mother, step father and father were all in one room together for hours at a time without any problems. I say all this to say….I guarantee divorce isn’t “baggage” for me. Hell, until I was about 6 or so, I didn’t even know I came from an abnormal family structure.

    If anything, MARRIAGE has been my baggage. I come from a family full of married people. It was an issue that my mother divorced so quickly, but, if anything I see it as a blessing as she’s been with her current spouse for so long. Outside of my parents, I have aunts and uncles and cousins and extended family in terrible, but long lasting marriages. But, in my experience, generally those are the relationships that are praised because of longevity.

    In my opinion its short sighted to judge based on divorce, unless you are going to also take your time and observe and judge on the type of marriages that are influencing factors as well.

  15. Also, I remember when you posted this on Twitter and got me to thinking that my grandparents on my Dad's side have been married now for almost 70 years and have 11 children including my father. All 11 were married and out them the 11 only 2 are still with their first spouse. So, in reverse, with them seeing a positive influence of marriage it appears the children of my grandparents went the opposite route with their initial foray into marriage. Not sure what that means…if anything…but found it interesting.

    1. I think they could've possibly rushed into marriage hoping to have what their parents have but then realized they were too hasty in such an important decision.

      My son is only six but he is already talking about marriage. Crazy.

  16. There are an infinite number if things you can consider when choosing a mate. And there is no combination of qualities, calculus that can guarantee success. Because you have free will and unexpected events. But I guess I think its helpful to know if the person comes from divorce insomuch as it predicts how much a person is willing to stick it out when things get rough. Maybe people have more non-negotiable things. More things they won’t put up with because what they saw was life after somebody decided marriage wasn’t worth the sacrifice.

    I guess having married someone who didn’t grow up with a father and didn’t have what it takes to stick it out I can see your point. I don’t have a lot of non negotiables cause I’ve seen two unhappy people stay together and eventually be happy together. But currently I don’t feel like sacrificing happiness for anyone.

  17. There are so many variables that go into how a child of divorce feels about marriage that I would not hold it against them. My parents divorced when I was a few months old and have been angry at each other ever since. They had an argument just about every time they were face to face.

    I am 100% in support of marriage. My parents also agree that marriage is the best thing and feel bad they couldn't raise me in a 2 parent home. On the other hand I have cousins who were raised in a two parent home and think marriage is no big deal, or are co-habitating for years and raising children.

    I rather ask people how they feel about marriage rather than assume based on their parents choices. If I'm 23 and still have baggage based on what happened when I was a few months old, then that's silly.

  18. "When seriously dating, do your take into consideration whether your partner’s parents are still married or divorced?

    Honestly, until today, I never even thought about it. It makes sense, but I haven't noticed a major difference between the children of divorce that I've dated and the ones that had parents with successful marriages. I guess we all have problems.

    When dating someone, I have a different list of rule-breakers to filter out the ones to make an unlikely partner, and assumed being a child of divorce didn't have much bearing on what a person's marital aspirations are. Apparently it can have an effect.

  19. Hmm. Being the product of divorced parents, or a non-traditional family where they never married (which is becoming more and more common), doesn't count AGAINST anyone I would date, but I definitely give A LOT more leeway to someone who, like me, is the product of parents who married and never divorced. I've gone out with guys that were very borderline, mainly because I thought having similar familial backgrounds meant we valued the same things: love, marriage, commitment, stability, family.

    I also get tired of hearing the anti-marriage musings from the many "realists" out there, and figure sticking around folks who are the product of healthy marriages might lessen my chances of hearing that. Surprisingly, that's not always the case.

    Either way, whatever their background, I am drawn to people who, like me, consider marriage and family included in their life goals, and stay away from those who have problems with either.

  20. Speaking as a kid who had divorced parents, I think it’s a non factor really. You can be affected in that you may view relationships differently, but that never really had anaffect on me. I was like 9-10 when my parents split, but i saw the good times also.

    It depends oin the situation, but people are a measure of their experiences, and worse things can happen in a persons life other than divorce of parents. Have healthy discussion to see where there mindset is located and determine for self!

    1. "Have healthy discussion to see where there mindset is located and determine for self! " couldn't have said this better myself Streetz.

  21. For a lot of people, a wedding is more important than a marriage, and it isn't just women who think that way.

    I'm a child of divorce, and I have been divorced and yet I still don't look at someone's parents as a guide to how our relationship will work. What I do look at is how they treat people – from their peers to their mentors – to their subordinates. And I look at how I am treated and if that all makes sense for what I most need in a relationship (things like honesty, openess, and love) then together, we can decide what kind of relationship works best for us and go from there. Like one of the posters above says, we all come with various forms of baggage – the trick is to work on that so we're not carrying all of it into each new relationship. Or using our parents relationships as excuses for our own issues.
    My recent post What Color Is Love?

  22. I think it's perfectly valid to know if the person your dating is the product of a divorce and it's even more impnt to know the nature of their parents relationship, what led to the divorce and was it amicable or nasty. WIM this was a great article and you make some very valid points in it. Whether people realize it or not the nature of our parents relationships affect us as adults in our relationships. For example a woman whose mother was cheated on by her father is 9 times out of 10 goin to pass that animosity on to her child. Many women unfortunately who have had very tumultous relationships with their childrens father have talked very badly about them to and around their children.

  23. Many women have passed on bitterness and hatred for men to their daughters and contributed to their non trust in men and thinking that all men are liars and cheaters. Also women can be very jealous of their own daughters and do all they can to jeapordize their daughers relationships and constantly plant seeds in their heads of how men are liars and cheaters because they have been scorned by that womans father and other men.
    I see more women influencing their daughters ideas about men than men influencing their sons and daughters. This is why I used so many women in my examples. I think men in particular should definitely know about and be mindful of the relationship of the parents of the lady in his life. Many times it does affect how the woman will relate to him and treat him.

  24. First things first, let me be clear that considering something and something being a dealbreaker are not the same. While I most certainly consider dang near everything about a man when deciding to let him into my life or not, my preferences and my requirements are not the same thing.

    When seriously dating, do your take into consideration whether your partner’s parents are still married or divorced?
    Yes, absolutely. And the relationship he has with them and his siblings, and when they divorced, and why, and how his parents interact with each other now – it all factors in.

    Does your partner being a divorcée or widow have any influence?
    Of course it would. When we get married, it'll all be brand new to me, but not to him. They have experience in marriage that you can only have by doing it before. We have an ex to deal with, possibly a co-parenting situation. I really don't see how anyone could say that this doesn't factor in at all. If his wife passed away, there's most likely a soft spot surrounding all things her and that should be taken into consideration. Knowing me, there'd most likely be a sense of competition as well.

    Has being the child of parents that have had an extended marriage (10+ years) positively/negatively influenced your relationship experiences/expectations?
    I think it's had both a positive and negative influence. I have high expectations, some say too high. I'd much rather stay single than be in a bad relationship and this has led to many lonely night and perhaps I've missed out on some flawed, but good men – who knows. But it also gives me a hope, a certainty that even if I've missed out on some good, there's great around the corner. That I'd much rather have 2 quality relationships in my life than 30 mediocre ones. That I refuse to settle for anything less than what I want in the name of being able to say I've got a man. That I am surrounded by positive relationships, not just in my parents and that I believe that I deserve that for myself and won't stop looking for it. Most importantly IMO, I know that even "good" relationships aren't "perfect" relationships and I've seen that play out on an intimate level.

    Lastly, what are some non-traditional characteristics you take into consideration when dating, such as only child, astrological sign, or other?
    Birth order, I totally ask and make assumptions based on birth order. Again, it's not a deal breaker kind of thing, but it's something I actively investigate and factor in. And being from the country, I've noticed that city and country mentalities vary greatly too, so I definitely ask about where their people are from. I've noticed that I mesh better with folks with a lil country in them somewhere.

  25. I take everything into consideration: family, birth order, astrological sign, EVERYTHING. That's just how my mind works. There are few things that I consider inherently negative or positive. It's more about seeing how whatever info I gather shaped them, how they reacted to it.

    My bio parents were never married. They had an extended relationship that dissolved before I made my debut. They both eventually married while I was still a minor. One separated (or divorced–can't recall) and reunited with the estranged spouse. The other was done apart by death. I know how their relationships affected my views on relationships, but I can't say that they were simply negative or positive influences. Life's complicated. I know sometimes you have to cut your losses. I know what swallowing your pride and making it work looks like. I know what hanging on "for worse" looks like too.

  26. You can make a case a few different ways for this… I don't think that it really matters all that much. There are some deeper issues when you have so many generations go by with no strong men in the lives of the women. Once men lose their place or role in a family it's hard for him to get it back. Divorce happens. What I think it's less about if they are divorced and more about the relationship they have with their parents. Like if a woman really really hates her pops, then more research must be done to see why, because that's a serious indication of how she views men.

  27. It’s an interesting discussion going on with this. As a man who spent his formative years growing up in a single mom household, my views on relationships were certainly skewed. I was used to seeing a woman in charge, so it was only natural to look for that in the women i dealt with. However, it used to cause problems in my marriage also. It took me a while to want to even step up and be the leader of my home, but once I did, I noticed a change in how my wife and I began to interact. So for anyone who was not part a nuclear family, amid all the other issues that can transpire because of it, having to reprogram the mind is something else that they must contend with.

    1. I cosign this. With my Dad being an addict, my Mom def ran the house. So, when I found myself being the decision maker in my relationships, I initially wasn't put off by it. It was normal for me. Actually, it took a relative to point out to me that I kept dealing with weaker men that I could control to a point…and that I needed to stop or else all my relationships would fail because my personality is too strong to ultimately respect a weak man. Now, I realize how important it is for me to have a man who I trust be the man of my house.

      SN: "Weak", in this context, is describing men who are less inclined to stand their ground and put me in my place when they are right or its necessary.

      1. "SN: "Weak", in this context, is describing men who are less inclined to stand their ground and put me in my place when they are right or its necessary.

        Stop the presses!! Men are actually…*gasp*..right at times???? lol!

        In all seriousness, I find this dynamic interesting. I saw a Twitter convo amongst women stating how they need a man that can "check" them and put them in their place and how it more or less turns them on, etc…etc… I think this must be reserved for marriage, because many scenarios I see when a man is giving a "suggestion"…solicited or otherwise….that doesn't agree with the counterpart's an arguement normally proceeds with verbage such as, "Don't tell me what to do!….Who you think you are, my daddy?!…You got the wrong one, boo!…" etc, etc.

        1. Honestly, when I see someone "checking" someone and then the woman gets upset I think the woman is taking it from the vantage point of someone talking down to them or using a condescening tone quite possibly….I think that's a subjective grey area, though…and a thin line to tow

        2. LMBO! Nobody is always right. For me, not just anybody, male or female, can check me. Its gotta be someone I respect…whether a friend, boyfriend, or husband. And, if you've earned my respect, its also partly because you know how to communicate with me without talking down to me. The wrong tone can destroy a good point.

          When I get rowdy, my bf will calmly say, "check your tone or you'll be talking to yourself". When I argued with him about which route to an exit on the highway was the quickest, he pulled over, pulled up the map on his navigation, and silenced me, lol. When I couldn't get the hang of not reaching for the door handle or letting him walk by the street, he started bumping me out the way or over…playfully, of course. I started remembering, lol. If there's something I'm supposed to do, he'll nag me till I do it. Point blank, we aren't intimidated by each other but we have a high level of respect for one another. So, when one of us is talking, we listen.

      2. Its about whether the man has shown he is worthy of respect. I wont let just any man check me. He has to have certain characteristics to be my “man”. If hes my man, I’ll stand down when he checks me. Otherwise he’s just a guy I’m with and ill take his opinion into consideration. But he’s probably not gonna get to check me.

  28. My parents have been together 40 years and my views on relationships would probably be less cynical if they had divorced long ago. My aunt and uncle have been together for 30+ years and though they seem happy now, the road it took for them to get to this place is one I would never want to take (physical abuse being on the top of that list).

    You can never know just by looking at the paperwork what's going on in someone's life. If a divorce is handled amicably and everything is kept out in the open, it'll benefit the child if the alternative is watching their parents fight every day. If your parents stay together just for the kids and basically hate each other, it can't have a positive influence on how you view marriage and relationships in general.

    That said, I don't care if a man is divorced or not. What I do look at is the relationship he has with his parents, especially mom. Does he respect his mom, is his mom an independent woman, has she always waited on him or expected him to do his part?

  29. My fiance’s parents divorced when he was 2 and my parents divorced when I was 30- sending me into an obvious tailspin. I know for the both of us we are adamant about making sure we are putting in the effort our marriage will need. When you date someone, often times what they have bern exposed to is how they may operate and their first relationship exposure is their parents. What can sometimes happen is people making a point to do the exact opposite of what they learned. So I think it is a factor.

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  31. I no longer date men whose parents divorced. My repeated experience was that these men were so extremely insecure that they were astonishinly volitile, demeaning, and boarderline abusive. I understand their pain, but I cannot heal it and will no longer subject myself to the abuse.

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