Mothers and Daughters

Step 3: Talk to Your Mother about Romantic Intimacy and Men

In the last step, we covered self-image and beauty, an often entertaining, if complicated, subject. There, you took a small step toward opening up to your mother as a woman with a life -- and a past -- of her own. But of all the conversations that are sure to arouse joy, suffering, tears and laughter, it's those about romantic relationships and all the roles they play in our lives that can be the most interesting. Your mother is no exception to this rule. Whether she gave birth to you or adopted you, she has experienced a few things about love and marriage that she may not have shared with you. Yes, she may have offered her wisdom, criticism and advice to you about your relationships, but she may also have kept much of her personal experience of loving to herself. That's a story you want to know more about, not only for what it can tell you about her, but for what it can teach you about yourself.

What made you decide to marry Dad?

One lighthearted starting point for discussion is asking about your mother's early experiences with love. Who was her first boyfriend? Who kissed her first and how old was she? Was she ever engaged to someone who wasn't your father? How did she and your father meet? What made her decide to marry your dad?

Asking your mother what specifically helped her decide to date or marry your father can spark the conversational fire about men, rekindle positive memories and add insight into your own decisions about men and marriage. Whatever choices we make about marriage (to stay single, get married, stay married, divorce), our reasons are usually complex -- much more complex than what our mothers experienced. Depending on your mother's age, she may have grown up when divorce was still the exception rather than the rule. If our mothers have been unhappy in their marriages, we want to know why they stayed, and if they're happy we want to know how they've kept the romance alive.

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