The wives who ad­mit: I mar­ried my fa­ther!

They don’t just look alike, they share all the same char­ac­ter traits, too. Read these cou­ples’ in­trigu­ing sto­ries – and hear what the psy­chol­o­gists say...

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - by Feli­cia Brom­field and Sa­man­tha Brick

F rOM the match­ing ro­man noses to the iden­ti­cal bushy eye­brows, thick, dark hair and slim build, the re­sem­blance is star­tling. But it was only when Suzy Monty saw the two men stand­ing side by side for the first time that she re­alised she was dat­ing her dad’s dou­ble.

the death knell for her bur­geon­ing ro­mance? Not a bit of it. In fact, four decades later, Suzy in­sists mar­ry­ing her fa­ther’s clone has been the key to 44 years of wed­ded bliss.

‘I’ve en­joyed a very good mar­riage and I do put that down to my late fa­ther alec and my husband John be­ing so sim­i­lar,’ says Suzy, 66, a for­mer tele­phon­ist who lives in Corn­wall. ‘Not only do they look alike but I find the fact that John acts so sim­i­larly to my won­der­ful dad re­as­sur­ing.’

It may be an un­com­fort­able ad­mis­sion, but mar­ry­ing the car­bon copy of your fa­ther is sur­pris­ingly com­mon. and the psy­chol­ogy be­hind the phe­nom­e­non harks back to child­hood. Sci­en­tists have long known an­i­mals such as birds, mam­mals and fish ‘learn’ what a suit­able mate looks like based on the ap­pear­ance of their par­ents — known as pos­i­tive sex­ual im­print­ing — but it seems hu­mans do it, too.

and it’s not just about ap­pear­ance, but the na­ture of your re­la­tion­ship with your op­po­site sex par­ent too.

Study af­ter study has demon­strated women who had a good re­la­tion­ship with their fa­ther as a child will go on to choose hus­bands who phys­i­cally and char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally re­sem­ble him. a fa­ther, in fact, in­flu­ences his daugh­ter’s fu­ture love life more than you might imag­ine — if he is a demon­stra­tive and ded­i­cated dad, you are more likely to fare well in love... and vice versa.

ther­a­pist Lizzie fal­coner ex­plains: ‘ev­ery sin­gle thing we do in our life is re­lated to our mother or our fa­ther. We re­act to them as role mod­els or against them. all the re­search shows us that the re­la­tion­ship a woman has with her fa­ther in child­hood will in­form her re­la­tion­ships with men.’

But isn’t there a slight awk­ward­ness to find­ing a man who re­sem­bles your fa­ther at­trac­tive? af­ter all, it’s not dis­sim­i­lar to psy­cho­an­a­lyst Sig­mund freud’s Oedi­pus com­plex: the con­tro­ver­sial be­lief that a child se­cretly de­sires their par­ent of op­po­site gen­der. ac­cord­ing to freud, this is key to our psy­cho­sex­ual de­vel­op­ment. But many find it a dis­turb­ing thought.

and if you marry some­one just like your fa­ther, does that mean that you, in turn, be­come more like your mother?

Psy­chother­a­pist Jen­nie Miller, who spe­cialises in cou­ple coun­selling, says there are side­ef­fects to mar­ry­ing your fa­ther’s dou­ble: ‘We all have our par­ents im­printed in our psy­che.

‘We’ve learnt what a re­la­tion­ship should be like from them, so it stands to rea­son we be­have like them. Women will take on the traits of their mother too.’

for Suzy, it wasn’t just John’s ap­pear­ance that re­minded her of her fa­ther, but all of his lit­tle foibles.

She says of the husband she met at a disco when she was 21: ‘Both he and my dad have al­ways been in­cred­i­bly pro­tec­tive of me. as an only child, my dad was al­ways warn­ing me not to do things that might hurt me. I wasn’t even al­lowed to use the slide in the chil­dren’s play­ground.

‘today, John is ex­actly the same. We live near the beach and if I walk near the rocks, he is for­ever warn­ing me to look out, to be care­ful — just like Dad used to.’

and then there were the sim­i­lar at­ti­tudes to money. She says: ‘While we were court­ing, John would check the prices on the res­tau­rant menus, and if the dishes were too ex­pen­sive we’d end up walk­ing out and opt­ing for a take­out on the pier. While other women might baulk at such stingy be­hav­iour, I was used to pen­nypinch­ing at home. Dad was al­ways very care­ful with money, to the point of mean­ness some­times.

‘We even mar­ried on a bud­get. John pro­posed af­ter two weeks, we were madly in love and of course I said yes. But my husband and fa­ther’s mantra was: “You’re only get­ting mar­ried!”

‘ev­ery­thing was ar­ranged with min­i­mal fi­nan­cial lay­out, my fa­ther even re­fused to pay for flow­ers. thanks to their fi­nan­cially pru­dent ways I even ended up buy­ing my wed­ding dress on the cheap. It cost a fiver in a sale.’

re­searchers in the U.S. found that choos­ing some­one who be­haves sim­i­larly to your op­po­site gen­der par­ent is en­tirely nor­mal — al­beit un­wit­ting —

be­hav­iour. The re­search team from Wayne State Univer­sity, Detroit, said: ‘There seems to be an ad­van­tage for an­i­mals to se­lect a mate some­what sim­i­lar to them­selves ge­net­i­cally.’

Pre­sum­ably this means your cho­sen part­ner will get on swim­mingly with his fa­ther-in-law then?

Cer­tainly that was the case with Alec and John. ‘Be­fore we mar­ried, Dad in­sisted on meet­ing John and giv­ing him the once over,’ says Suzy. ‘Of course they hit it off. They loved play­ing chess, go­ing on long walks and gar­den­ing. While nei­ther suf­fer fools gladly, they’d both go out of their way to help you.’

As for Suzy’s mother, she ‘adored John be­cause he looked like Dad’.

She says: ‘Mum was very taken with him. He charmed the socks off her. She thought he was the best boyfriend I’d ever had.’

Sadly Alec died of Parkin­son’s when Suzy was 35. Al­though 30 years have passed his in­flu­ence still looms large in the Monty mar­riage.

‘Since John re­tired he has taken up the same hobby as Dad. He loves mak­ing things out of wood in his man cave. All the bang­ing Dad used to do would drive my mum mad. Today I un­der­stand why.

‘When John’s frus­trated, just like Dad, he’ll never swear but use the same ex­pres­sion Dad did: “Gor­don Ben­nett!” Hear­ing it even today re­minds me of my fa­ther. It’s com­fort­ing re­ally.’

So has Suzy turned into her mum over the years, too? ‘I don’t think so,’ she replies, ‘though John thinks oth­er­wise!’

And what does John make of be­ing com­pared to his wife’s fa­ther? ‘I was sur­prised at first when Suzy re­marked on the sim­i­lar­ity,’ he ad­mits. ‘I could see what she meant, though.’

But John in­sists it doesn’t bother him. ‘I take it as a com­pli­ment that she fell for me be­cause we’re so sim­i­lar. Al­though our re­la­tion­ship is an equal one — I am very much her husband and not her fa­ther.’

When stay-at-home mother-ofthree Sa­man­tha Davis, 37, in­tro­duced Rob, 41, to her mother, Jill, 62, the lat­ter was in­stantly taken with him.

‘I was amazed at how eas­ily he slot­ted into my fam­ily,’ says Sa­man­tha. ‘Every­one loves him! Mum said to me, “If you hurt Rob, I’ll kill you Sam!” ’

Sa­man­tha, who al­ready had chil­dren, Harry, now 14, and Molly, 13, de­scribes meet­ing Rob as ‘a thun­der­bolt mo­ment’. Al­though she didn’t re­alise his like­ness to her fa­ther at first, it didn’t take long for her to cot­ton on.

She says: ‘I don’t find the sim­i­lar­ity un­set­tling. Dad’s a very steady guy. When I see how he lives his life today, I know I’m look­ing at Rob in 30 years.’

Not only do both men look strik­ingly sim­i­lar but, ac­cord­ing to Sa­man­tha, just like her fa­ther Dave, 69, Rob is a fam­ily man and good with chil­dren.

Rob is a soft­ware en­gi­neer, while Dave used to work for the elec­tric­ity board. Both men en­joy tak­ing things apart and putting them back to­gether again. Fa­ther and son-in-law love ac­tion films, play in bands and are ‘com­pletely pho­bic’ about filling in forms.

Today the cou­ple, who have been mar­ried seven years, live in South­wa­ter, West Sus­sex. They also have a son, Wil­liam, six. Yet Sa­man­tha’s younger sis­ters haven’t mar­ried men who mir­ror their fa­ther. ‘While Dad and Rob are two sides of the same coin, my sis­ters’ hus­bands are lovely chaps, but they have dif­fer­ent senses of hu­mour and tem­per­a­ments. Is it be­cause I’m the el­dest child that I went for some­one like Dad? I couldn’t say.’ Psy­chother­a­pist Jen­nie Miller says birth order does play an im­por­tant part: ‘El­der daugh­ters are likely to go for some­one like their fa­ther. We know that the re­la­tion­ship with first chil­dren is al­ways closer and more in­tense.’ Their spouses also do not share the same do­mes­tic in­ep­ti­tude as Rob and her fa­ther. Sa­man­tha con­tin­ues: ‘I speak to my mum most days. We al­ways have a laugh about our hus­bands be­cause there is al­ways a story to tell. They are both in­cred­i­bly lit­eral. ‘Re­cently, I asked Rob to pick up six eggs on the way home from work. Most peo­ple would know that I meant a box of half a dozen eggs. Not Rob. He ar­rived home with six boxes of eggs. The same thing hap­pened when I ask him to get a four-pint car­ton of milk. ‘When­ever I have a light-hearted whinge about things like this, Mum will al­ways say: “I did tell you you’d mar­ried your fa­ther!” ‘But the up­side is they are both fam­ily men. I’ve re­cently suf­fered a bout of ill­ness and Rob stepped up to help with the house­work. Since Dad has re­tired he has taken on a more ac­tive role around the house too. They love their wives and the kids. So I can’t com­plain too much.’ At the same time, Sa­man­tha ad­mits she is be­com­ing more and more like her mother: ‘Ev­ery day I no­tice it. From how I talk to the chil­dren to the habits I’m de­vel­op­ing.’

For his part, Rob ad­mits he has a fair bit in com­mon with his fa­therin-law — but he’s adamant the sim­i­lar­i­ties aren’t the rea­son his wife fell for him.

HE SAYS: ‘I sup­pose I do see some sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween us. But I don’t be­lieve for one mo­ment she was at­tracted to me be­cause I re­minded her of her dad. I think it’s a to­tal co­in­ci­dence.’

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant Sally Grant, 62, is an­other who will­ingly ad­mits to mar­ry­ing her fa­ther’s mir­ror im­age. In fact, she says it helped to smooth a rocky start to husband John’s re­la­tion­ship with his in-laws.

The cou­ple were friends be­fore start­ing to see one an­other in 1988 and mar­ry­ing in 1989. But it wasn’t un­til a fam­ily hol­i­day in 1990 that the re­sem­blance dawned on Sally.

‘In 1990, my husband John and I were on a sail­ing hol­i­day in Scot­land with my par­ents. See­ing my fa­ther and husband to­gether side-by-side in the mo­tor­boat tak­ing us up the loch, re­laxed and with the same healthy com­plex­ion and zest for life made me take stock. It was then I re­alised how sim­i­lar they are.

‘They were both in their el­e­ment. It was a happy mo­ment for me be­cause it had taken my par­ents a while to warm to John. He’d been mar­ried be­fore and there was a 15-year age gap be­tween us — he’s now 76. But when Dad [who’s also called John] got to know him, he re­alised how much they had in com­mon. They both loved sports, along with the coun­try­side and moun­taineer­ing. They are stoic and re­source­ful.

‘John’s face lights up when he smiles, he is over 6ft tall, with an ath­letic build. Those char­ac­ter­is­tics could equally have been ap­plied to my fa­ther, too. It’s un­canny.’

As for be­com­ing her mother, she says: ‘I hope I am like her. I’ve in­her­ited her love of cook­ing and gar­den­ing — she used to be a school cook in charge of a kitchen.

‘We are both fru­gal, hate waste, love the out­doors, do­ing fam­ily things and hav­ing the house full of peo­ple, but she is more or­gan­ised. A close-knit fam­ily is the bedrock for us — we both re­duced our ca­reers to look af­ter our hus­bands and fam­i­lies. Our kids wor­ship her, so I hope I am like her.’

Ac­cord­ing to Sally, John, too, is pleased with the com­par­i­son to his fa­ther-in-law: ‘My husband adored my dad, who died in Septem­ber 2011 aged 90. For his kind­ness, gen­eros­ity, hon­esty and de­vo­tion to the fam­ily. He says it is a com­pli­ment to be com­pared to him.’

But John, like Rob, re­fuses to be­lieve there is a sub­con­scious psy­cho­log­i­cal rea­son be­hind his wife’s at­trac­tion to him, say­ing: ‘I gen­uinely don’t be­lieve that my wife chose to marry some­one like her fa­ther at all.’

Nev­er­the­less, Sally agrees with Suzy Monty that mar­ry­ing some­one like your fa­ther is the key to hap­pi­ness. She goes as far as to say: ‘I’d say to any woman who has a lovely dad that mar­ry­ing a man like him is the recipe for a long and happy mar­riage.’

HUSBAND

FA­THER

HUSBAND A young John, and with Suzy FA­THER Suzy’s dad Alec

Rob, and with wife Sa­man­tha HUSBAND

John with son Roly, and with Sally Sally’s dad John with his grand­son HUSBAND FA­THER

Sa­man­tha’s dad Dave FA­THER

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