In the color of water: Ruth's father was a cruel, abusive human being. What influence does the relation with a parent have on one's choosing a spouse?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If there are any studies on this issue, I would imagine they have differing results. Ruth, of course, tried to find a man as much unlike her father as she could find, but other people will choose a spouse who resembles a terrible parent.

I know people whose parents were alcoholics, who married alcoholics.  I know people whose parents were abusive, and they married abusive spouses. On the other hand, I know people who had terrible parents and who managed to marry wonderful people,and conversely, people who had wonderful parents and managed to marry terrible people.  Of course, there are also people who had wonderful parents and then married wonderful spouses.  The human heart is truly a mystery, and while I am sure that different theories of psychology have explanations of some sort for all of these outcomes, I am also sure that no theory is able to completely predict what we will do when we make these choices.

There are many scholarly articles about this issue, but most of them are available through subscription only. If your school or public library subscribes to EBSCO or another good database collection, you can learn more about this subject.

You may want to conduct your own informal research on this issue, not by asking any personal questions, but by observing families that you know, or even, perhaps, people in your own extended family.