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How The Relationship Between Your Parents Can Shape Your Love Life

Christina Coughlin
mbg Editorial Assistant By Christina Coughlin
mbg Editorial Assistant
Christina Coughlin is an editorial assistant at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a degree in psychology and music.
A Family Of Four Playing And Having Fun Outdoors Together

Image by Kristen Curette & Daemaine Hines / Stocksy

Nothing teaches us more about relationships than the first one we witness when we're young. For many of us, that's the relationship between our parents. New research shows that our parents may have a stronger impact than previously thought—the quality of their love can shape their children's lives in more ways than one.

The authors of this study looked at 150 families in Nepal, collected data from a survey that began in 1995. Married couples were interviewed separately at home and asked the question “How much do you love your (husband/wife)? Very much, some, a little, or not at all?”

Researchers then followed the children of these marriages for a period of 12 years, monitoring their progress through school and the status of their own romantic relationships. 

They found that children who grew up with parents that loved each other not only stayed in healthier relationships themselves, but also did things like stayed in school for longer and waited a longer time before getting married. 

Why Nepal?

Nepal is a country where arranged marriage used to be a common tradition, which makes this data especially interesting. Now that more couples are marrying for love rather than obligation, the researchers were curious to see how universal this idea of parental love could be.

"In this study, we saw that parents' emotional connection to each other affects child rearing so much that it shapes their children's future," says author William Axinn, Ph.D. "The fact that we found these kinds of things in Nepal moves us step closer to evidence that these things are universal."

In the future, the researchers are hoping to answer the question of why the love between parents affects children in this specific way. Among their hypotheses are the fact that parents may invest more time in their children when they are happy in their relationship, or the fact that these children look up to their parents as role models, eventually reflecting that love in their own relationships.

According to author Sarah Brauner-Otto, Ph.D., "Demonstrating and providing evidence that love, this emotional component of family, also has this long impact on children's lives is really important for understanding the depth of family influence on children."

Here are some tips for cultivating a conscious relationship, plus some secrets to making a relationship work. Bottom line, it's important to remember relationships affect more than just the people involved—how we live our lives and show love to each other can serve as an inspiration to everyone around us.

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