​‘It’s more than just love’: What your family means to you

When I married, I expected my husband to be supportive. My parents had separated when I was a teenager, and I was uncomfortable with the idea of yet another split. They were very close when I was growing up and had worked through it, but I didn’t know if he would show the same support.

I didn’t plan to have this conversation, but the Christmas we were having my younger sister and I started talking about how much my brother and I like to drive each other crazy. He laughed and said, “That’s true. I always have a whole bunch of crazy shit going on. I keep those emotions bottled up so they don’t always come out.”

I was fascinated by this statement. I knew how to act like a little brother, but now that I’m an adult, I see that my brother is that much more perfect a mate. He recognizes my flaws; he acts like I’m the star of the show and treats me like one. I’ve begun to ask him what else I’m missing about myself. How are we so similar that I don’t even notice it?

In the last few months, I’ve interviewed dozens of people whose lives were forever changed by their parents’ divorce or separation. It’s fascinating and sad to hear what they’ve gone through, but there is a great lesson I have gleaned.

There’s a bit of an unconscious hold on us that keeps us from seeing how much we’re alike with someone we like. Although we both love different things, at the end of the day we share common interests, values and experiences. They make us laugh, and we find comfort in stories of their childhoods. Even when we’re in different places, we can relate.

People who attended a workshop once told me that they could see their parents’ divorces were their way of connecting with their moms. In my own divorce, I discovered that my mother has many things in common with me, both negative and positive. Although I spend most of my life away from home, I still appreciate going home.

Sometimes we just have to be honest about who we are.

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