How Your Husband’s Childhood Impacts Your Marriage

Is it possible that no matter how old your husband is, his relationship with his father has had a greater influence on him than any other relationship or event throughout his life?

According to Patrick M. Morley, the answer is “Yes!”

In his book What Husbands Wish Their Wives Knew About Men (Zondervan, 1998), Morley states that

Teachers, preachers, coaches, and peers form the supporting cast, but the single greatest influence on the manhood of a boy is a dad.

He goes on to say,

Many, perhaps most, of the expectations I have of my wife were formed as I watched the way my father moved around, looked at, talked to, and responded to his wife.  Initially, with my wife, I merely copied what I saw my dad do.

There are 7 life lessons that your husband learned from his dad:

  1. What it means to be a man
  2. How to treat a woman
  3. A strong work ethic
  4. Common sense
  5. Value systems
  6. Integrity
  7. Spiritual heritage

If your husband’s father was not involved in his life due to death, divorce, or abandonment, your husband has probably felt a huge sense of loss for not having that relationship in his life.  If he was fortunate, there was another man in his life to take on the role of a father.  If not, consider the impact of not having a father to turn to as he was learning to be a man has had on your husband.

Your husband’s father might have been in your husband’s life but not involved in his life.  If this is the case, your husband may not know how to be involved in your marriage and in your children’s lives.  These men often become workaholics or have a great preoccupation with sports or other hobbies.  It’s not necessarily that your husband doesn’t want to be involved, he just doesn’t know how to be involved because involvement was not modeled in his childhood.

On the other hand, your husband’s father might have had a negative impact on your husband.  Perhaps instead of being disengaged from your husband’s life, his dad was emotionally or physically abusive or was involved in self-destructive behavior.  If this is the case, your husband may have spent many years as he was growing up, and maybe continues to this day, trying to please his father, to hear him say just once, “Son, I’m proud of you.”  Even though your husband may understand this negative influence his father had on him, it is difficult to overcome without a great deal of understanding that it was not his fault that his father was abusive or indulged in self-destructive behavior.

In the best case scenario, your husband’s father had a positive impact on your husband and was supportive, encouraging, and loving.  He might be the man that your husband most admires because of his integrity, the way he treats people, especially his wife, his work ethic, his value system, his spirituality, his common sense, and the man that he is or was.  If your husband’s father was a good husband and father, chances are your husband is, too.

When you think about your husband’s character, how much of his father do you see in him?

How is your husband similar to his father?  How is he different?  If your husband’s father was absent, uninvolved, or abusive, how has your husband overcome these influences and determined to “not be like his dad”?

If your husband is estranged from his dad, encourage him to reconcile.  Don’t push, be gentle, and let him decide for himself.  Your husband might fear that his desire to reconcile with his father will only cause more rejection, abuse, and hurt.  Certainly you can understand that.

If your husband is a Christian, help him to understand that God, his heavenly Father, is not at all like his earthly father.  Help him to trust in God to heal the hurts of his childhood and fill the void that has been left by the most influential man in his life.

If your husband is willing, talk to him about his childhood and the impact his father had and still has on him.  You might just gain some much-needed insight into this man who is your husband.

Yours for the celebration of marriage,


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5 thoughts on “How Your Husband’s Childhood Impacts Your Marriage

  1. Yes, one can learn so much about one’s spouse (not just husband) by getting to know his/her parents.

    Sometimes, though, one’s spouse has made a conscious choice to be as unlike their father/mother as possible, if that parent had been unsatisfactory.

  2. I’m constantly amazed by how much parents impact their children and how children become their parents. It’s also amazing how the opposite sex parent impacts their kids. A daughter’s bond with their father is equally unique an powerful.

    It’s just like the commercial said– parents need to talk with their kids because their kids will listen.

  3. You make some good points here, and I think these make it that much more important for people in the dating world to really pay close attention to how their boyfriend or girlfriend speaks to and treats his parents.

    Oftentimes, observing this very closely will allow you a clear window into what you may be getting yourself into, “for better or for worse”.

    I’ve read many times that the determining factor of how a man will treat a woman is based on how the father treats the mother, even if the parents are divorced. The son sees and hears this throughout his life and it molds him into becoming just like dad. This is also the case on the flip side, with how a man can see how a women will treat him if they were to get married.

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