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Living with a Child-like Parent

Are you in a parent-child marriage?  Are you the parent or the child in your marriage?  So many couples can identify with this unhealthy marital dynamic. The spouses assume inappropriate roles and are no longer equal partners assuming joint responsibility for the relationship.  It may be that the wife is the nagging, scolding, and demanding parent; while the husband is the defiant, rebellious, and immature child.  Or it may be a little more subtle, where the wife does all of the emoting for the family and the husband remains emotionally unavailable and disconnected.  She is more emotional and socially comfortable so figures that it’s best to assume this role for the family.  Over time she becomes frustrated, angry, and resentful.  The husband may feel that his wife can be emasculating, condescending, and overbearing, while she would describe him as impulsive, passive-aggressive, and stubborn.  Can you relate to any of this?  The consequence of this dysfunctional pattern is resentment, hurt, and disconnectedness.  The position of parent or child can change depending on the situation.  For example, one person can be the parent when it comes to the finances and the child when it relates to emotional expression.  What can be done to change this dynamic?  For starters, each party has to clearly identify their roles and be motivated to change.  The key is for both parties to engage in adult-like behaviors.  Adults communicate assertively, don’t hold grudges, apologize/forgive, assume responsibility without prodding, and deal with conflict constructively.  Other adult behaviors include avoiding blame and defensiveness and replacing it with taking responsibility for actions and words.  Step up, take charge, and be an adult in your marriage.

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