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One woman, the daughter of a hypercritical and demanding mother, recently talked with me about her recently-ended, two-decades-long marriage: "I still have issues with feeling capable and doing things right.

Unfortunately, I married my mother and was never able to feel competent in my husband’s eyes, either.

What individuals respond to in relationships is not what they actually said or did during an interaction with their partner," the researchers surmised.

"Rather, what they respond to is memories of the interaction filtered through their working models.” This research explains why it is that if we have, indeed, partnered with someone whose internalized scripts are very different from our own, the discord is likely to be endless, with little resolution in sight without some kind of intervention. “Attachment Styles Among Young Adults: A Test of a Four-Category Model,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1991), vol.101 (2): 226-244. “Perceived and Actual Characteristics of Parents and Partners: A Test of a Freudian Model of Mate Selection,” I have not read your article yet but yes I married my unloving mother.

My wife rules the roost with a dissatisfied look on her face which is depressing and familiar.” How can you end up marrying your mother (or father) if, on a conscious level, you’ve been on the run from her?

The answer has everything to do with attachment theory and unconscious mental models.

A body of psychological research reveals that our earliest relationships, especially with our mother, not only influence how we are able to connect to others as adults—in romantic and other contexts—but also create internalized scripts or working models of how relationships work.

Briefly, children, with loving and consistently attuned mothers grow up to be adults who see themselves positively, are comfortable seeking out close relationships and depending on others, and don’t worry about being alone or being rejected. According to the work of Kim Bartholomew, anxiously attached people will be “preoccupied” in relationships; they have a negative view of themselves and look to others to validate them.

Avoidants use humor in dating situations to create a sense of sharing and detract from their essential aloofness.

Our working models of relationships not only shape how we act but how we acting—they actually skew our recall, Jeffry A.

Simpson and his colleagues discovered, which makes it even harder to get along when the working models of two romantic partners are different.

They were then asked the same question one week later.

What the researchers found was that the more distress there was in the conflict discussion, the more activated the individual’s working models became: Anxious people rated themselves as being supportive when they remembered the discussion than they did initially; avoidant people reported themselves as being more emotionally distant as well.

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