It is so important to understand that how we react to emotional stimuli in the present moment is very much influenced by where we travel back to in our feeling-memories. How we cope (or do not cope) as adults with any given situation will also depend on the tools we have developed along our journeys.

Over the last few weeks we have been blogging about the important role our past experiences have played in the evolution of how we have become the people we are today. Here are two questions to ponder in your quest to become an expert at your own story: Where did your methods of coping with challenges come from? Who “taught” you how to behave as an adult?

In previous blogs we have mentioned that when we are children, we are, in effect, attending Marriage College. Our professors are the adults we grow up around – our parents, adult friends, and extended family members. The lessons we learn are related to how to behave in adult relationships, or more often than not, how not to behave.

If our education is a negative one, we swear we will never be like that, and we often blame our role models for what they have taught us. What we must understand though, is that they never realized they were “teaching” anything; they were simply living their lives the way they themselves had been taught when they were in Marriage College.

Rather than living that same life and blaming them for it, it would be better for us to study where they went wrong and learn how to get it right.

We are blessed with choices. We can emulate the things our parents taught us, the good and the bad, or we can choose to search through all those lessons and separate the useful ones from the ones that challenge the new-found values that we have learned in recovery. Our fathers may have told us that women will always hurt us or our mothers may have taught us that men are only good for bringing home a paycheck. That does not mean we have to accept our parents’ skewed sense of the world.

With the honesty and intimacy that we are learning in recovery, we can reject what does not fit in our lives and continue to grow together in our romantic partnership.


This article was written by John and Elaine Leadem.