I love being curious, it helps me learn a lot of things. Sometimes I am curious about silly things such as, what inspires the lyrics written by Simple Boy? Or, how much grey hair did Einstein have before he died? Other times, my curiosity spurs the need to seek answers and understand situations, relations, or mere opinions.
This time, my curiosity sent me on a research mission on something I have always wondered about. How true is the claim that women marry their fathers? Do they seek out men similar to their fathers? Or do they note the similarities after marriage? What drives them to make that claim? Is it the good or the bad traits that they observe?
So, I reached out to about twenty women on WhatsApp to find out what they thought about it. Here is what some of them said (their names have been anonymised to protect their identity). Read with an open mind.
I think the phrase 'women marry their fathers' is used by women to console themselves for the red flags they did not see at the beginning of a relationship. I say that because I have rarely heard this statement used positively. It is mostly used if the father being referred to is a drunkard, an abuser, a promiscuous man or has bastard children, and now, the woman's husband has started to show or is showing the same qualities. When one has a good, hardworking, responsible, or faithful father, and a husband with similar traits, you hardly ever hear this statement. What you will hear is "He trained his children well". Therefore, if you see a good trait in the man you like that is similar to your father's, appreciate it. However, learn more about him and decide if you will marry him for who he is.
On the other hand, a woman may get into a relationship with a man who portrays negative traits. This could happen if they think that the wrong example they saw growing up is okay or normal. For example, I think, a woman who grew up seeing their mother being physically abused and staying in the relationship is highly likely to stay with a violent man. Does this mean that they married their dad? Not necessarily. Maybe they even swore never to marry such a man but ended up staying because their mother stayed or encouraged them to stay.
First, I think this comes from the notion that women raised in abusive homes often get into abusive relationships. I have always felt like this statement is somewhat being misused to blame the victims rather than the perpetrators.
Do women marry their fathers? If anything, life has taught me that people change. The impressions of a minority cannot be considered as the blueprint for the vast majority. Fathers do play an important role in how their daughters relate to the opposite gender. However, today, women have so many father figures that reducing their impact to consider just one man is both ignorant and unfounded.
Women love who they want and marry the men they choose. They are capable of changing their lives' trajectory to what they want it to be. As such, I do not agree with that statement. We must evaluate the wholesome effect of the environments we grow up in to judge behaviour and not just one causality.
Yes, some women marry their fathers because their model of romance is most likely based on their parents' relationship. I do not think it is wrong to pick a few traits that you like from your dad and seek them when searching for a partner. However, one first needs to question if their parents' relationship is a healthy one. They should also determine the kind of relationship that they consider healthy and normal. If a woman perceives an abusive relationship as normal since that is how her father behaves, she may end up choosing an abusive husband. All in all, every woman is different.
The reason behind the making of this statement is that as a girl, you have that father figure you look up to. You see qualities in them that you admire because they model how a man should be and act. So, when you meet a guy with some of those qualities, you are likely to be attracted to him. For example, I cannot explain the excitement I get when I see a guy with a certain hairstyle that my dad used to have.
Yeah, the statement is somewhat true for ladies who have had a strong and good relationship with their fathers since childhood. They are more likely to choose partners who are like their fathers. For me, I would very much like to have a husband who is like my father.
Some of the women whose thoughts have not been included above said that ladies are likely to marry their fathers because they grew up regarding them as role models. Their fathers, in a way, set the example of how a man should treat his wife — a manual they carry into their precious lives.
You may have seen, heard, or even been involved in a fight between a couple. You saw the woman get hurt; a black eye, swollen arm, or maybe some bleeding. You tried to intervene but ended up as the enemy who does not want the relationship to work. After some time, it happens again and she continues to stay, maybe because she saw the same happen to her mother during her childhood. She buys time, as her mother did. Who knows? Maybe prayer might change him. After all, he is not always like that. He is just drunk. He will be alright and love will blossom again.
Psychology calls this kind of behaviour the Stockholm Syndrome. Simply Psychology defines it as a way of having positive emotions toward your captor or abuser.
It would be biased to state that women marry their fathers or that they do not. However, from the responses above, you can tell that there is a likelihood of both. I do not agree with either side of the argument. Maybe it is the wrong way to approach one of the most crucial things one has to do in life — choosing a partner. The concern should be more on whether he is the best person for you than if your potential suitor resembles your father. It is therefore important for women to dig deep into who they are and what they want, understand themselves, determine the kind of partner they want and not compromise on it.
We might be carrying around these biases unconsciously and making wrong decisions. It takes intentionality to be aware, to learn and unlearn them. Perhaps on your next date, you might want to stop focusing on his cute nose that resembles your father’s. Flip the coin, and observe its other side. Please note that this is not to demonise or romanticise fathers in any way.
Also Read: The Marriage Contract: Is It Even Worth It?