Is Your Critical Father Still Affecting Your Love Life

June 8, 2011

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Two times in two days I heard two women say something astounding about their husbands. At least it was astounding to me. The stories were so similar that I only need to share one for you to understand the nature of the dilemma. One woman, who is quite beautiful, said that her husband is never happy with her hair.

“What’s wrong with your hair?” he says. “It looks terrible. I want you to do something with it before we leave the house. It’s embarrassing.”

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She told me that it’s not unusual for him to critique her outfit, her shoes, her make-up. “He told me that I needed to go and put more make-up on. That whatever I had done so far wasn’t enough.” I was shocked, but as the conversation began to spread the women all around were sharing similar tales.

“My husband told me my hands are ugly.”

“My guy said he wouldn’t leave the house unless I change my dress. He said I looked like a tramp.”

“My husband gives me the once over every morning. If he sees something he doesn’t like, he lets me know.”

Now, these women weren’t wall flowers. They all admitted to pushing back on these personal criticisms, and no one just did as she was told, but I could tell it hurt deeply to get this kind of cold negative feedback from the man they loved. It made me wonder why these smart, attractive women would be with men who chipped away at their self-esteem. So, I asked, and again the reason given was universal. All these women grew up in a house where their father was very critical. He was critical of them and of their mother. They, essentially, learned that this is what love looks like. This is how men act, and you have to be willing to love a man even though he is at times harsh and belittling. In fact, since their fathers acted this way they sub-consciously look for a critical man to love.

One woman admitted that men who aren’t critical seem weak to her. She finds these men unattractive, and as much as she dislikes having her husband verbally dress her down she fears that a extremely sweet and kind man couldn’t keep her.

Have you felt like you suffer a parental “hangover”? Do you still carry around a scar from your childhood? Perhaps you only find yourself attracted to crazy makers, or rage-a-holics, or hyper-critical naggers. The self-awareness necessary to make such an observation can be substantial. If you’re searching for a mate, and you suspect that you may have residual issues from childhood, it is vital that you talk to someone about it prior to dating seriously. No pop psychology here. Talk to a professional and get real help.

Being single can be frustrating and lonely, but being inside a marriage racked with pain and abuse is far worse.

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