Were you shocked when you realized your significant other was the one for you? You shouldn't be -- we marry people like one of our parents in looks, personality and professional successes quite often, say experts.
"When you grow up familiar with a certain type of person, you're attracted to that same type of person because it feels comfortable, whether you like it or not," says psychotherapist Elayne Savage of Berkeley, Calif., author of "Breathing Room: Creating Space to Be a Couple." "That's what people mean when they meet a potential partner and say, 'It feels like I've known him my whole life.'"
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And it's not just women who do it. A Hungarian study of 52 families found similarities between the facial appearance of men and their fathers-in-law and women and their mothers-in-law. University of Iowa researchers surveyed 2,700 successful men and concluded they are more likely to marry women like their mothers in terms of education and career. (A positive note: 72 percent of mothers of high-achieving men worked. So a chap like this won't expect you to be barefoot and pregnant while he earns the change.) Scientists have yet to explore if the same applies to gay and lesbian couples.
Daddy's Little Girl
Some readers told Lemondrop they did marry men just like their dads -- and it's worked out great.
"My father is intelligent, hard-working, honest, devoted to his family, creative, kind and a great dad. My husband shares those character traits with my father," says Debbie from Pennsylvania. "The two of them have a lot in common, including military experience, political opinions and a fantastic sense of direction. I knew I wanted to marry someone who would be as good to me as my father has been to my mother. And I did."
Pamela from Maryland said she absolutely married someone like her dad, but she didn't realize it until after the fact.
"I didn't realize it at first, because the only physical resemblance was his height. But then, I realized their work ethic, sense of humor, quick smiles and love of family and friends were so similar, it was scary. Don't get me wrong -- neither were pushovers. They were strong-willed, faithful and gentle men. I got lucky in birth and marriage!"
When It Doesn't Work Out
Lori from Arizona, however, had the opposite experience. She married her mom, the more "dominant character in her life," with poor results. Psychologists say some people go this extreme route of settling down with someone resembling a parent they don't get along with, again because they are used to that personality, however crappy.
"My soon-to-be-ex-husband is very much like my mother," Lori says. "Both are very strong-willed, controlling and angry people. I hope now to choose someone who is more like my dad. He is laid back and thoughtful. He works hard (even at 75!) and is very humble."
If you're like Lori and think marrying one of your parents would be a match made in Hell, therapist Barbara Swenson, director of the Couple Center in Sherman Oaks, Calif., suggests talking about issues and not being afraid to argue with your partner. Doing those things can help ensure a healthier and more honest relationship, regardless of whether you want to be with someone like Mom or Dad.
Tell us: Did you marry someone who is just like one of your parents? Is it a good or bad thing?