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Importance of Your Family History to Your Marriage

Family of Origin Issues and Baggage


Baggage in Your Life
Photo: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Aside from the fun of it, keeping a family history has many other benefits. Knowing the medical history, and relationship history of your ancestors can give you not only life but also the courage to make it through some of the hard times.

Understanding what you bring from your family of origin to your marriage can also help you understand one another's behaviors and attitudes more fully.

Hard Times and Good Times

When you learn of the obstacles your grandmothers and great- grandmothers or grandfathers overcame, or their skills in dealing with the bad times and their joys in the good times, you can be motivated to hang in there, and to try again and again.


Questions to Ask Your Relatives

Paul McLoughlin says in his book, A Family Remembers that you should videotape interviews with family members, especially your parents.

An important question to ask is "What do you know about our family history from the days before you were born?" or ask them to describe some of the houses and places where they lived.

Some other examples of things you can ask are:

  • "What were your relationships like with your parents, brothers or sisters?"
  • "What memories do you have of holidays, parties, birthdays, family fun?"
  • "What did you do for fun?"
  • "Were you rich or poor? How did you measure that?"
  • "Where did you go to school?"
  • "Any serious illnesses in your family?"
  • "As a kid, were you happy, sad, shy, outgoing, good in school?"
  • Did you like to read or draw?"
  • "Who was your first love? How did you meet ______?"
  • "Who influenced you the most in your life?"
  • "Any major turning points?"
  • "Major life changing decisions?"
  • "Any regrets?"
  • "What are you most pleased about?"
  • "What did you do for a living?"
  • "Any tips for raising children?"
  • "Any advice for future generations?"

Important Note: Don't put this off. Do it soon. Do it now. Make that call or visit. Memories can fade and loved ones may die.

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