Did You Marry Your Dad?


  • by The_Stir, on Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:58am PDT

Experts say that women seek out men who remind them of their father — whether we mean to or not. Studies even suggest that a process called “sexual imprinting” causes us to marry men who not only act like our dads — but who look and smell like them too.

I’m not so sure about that.

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My husband doesn’t resemble my father in the least. My dad has dark, thick hair and green eyes. He’s 5’10” and a little on the heavy side; my husband has fine brown hair, sort-of-green eyes, and he’s 6’5″ and thin. I haven’t done an armpit test as of late (or ever, actually) but the two men in my life don’t exactly smell like twins either.

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And if you had asked me two and a half years ago if they had much in common, I would have said no. Although my dad and my husband get along great and are both wickedly smart, these aren’t two guys that would likely have become fast friends under different circumstances. My dad grew up in a housing project; my husband with a silver spoon in his mouth. My dad is kind of a guy’s guy — he loves basketball and baseball and football. My husband is more of a European guy — he loves skiing and climbing, soccer, and wine. They probably wouldn’t have found themselves in the same place at the same time were it not for me.

But if you ask me today. I just might change my answer. Now that my husband is the father of a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, my basis for comparison has changed. I’m not comparing them as men, but as dads, and as it turns out, they are alike in so many important ways.

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Here’s but one example I can share:

The day I graduated from high school, my father gave me a big, bulky scrapbook of my entire high school “career.” He included photos, certificates, newspaper clippings, hall passes (that he took out of the rubbish), notes that I’d left him (“Dad you owe me $20 for scoring 20 points” or whatever). He put funny captions under all the photos (this was in the days before scrapbooking kits, so he typed them all out and pasted them in) and added little pictures of our town’s landmarks throughout. He included a page called “boys, boys, boys” that had pictures of me with my dates for different formals. He had pages covering my years playing basketball, and other sports. My father did this all without my knowledge and worked for months to make me this thoughtful, creative gift that I treasure to this day.

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In the months leading up to my daughter’s first birthday, I knew my husband was up to something. He was being all secretive in a not-so-secret way. He talked to an artist that we knew in hushed phone conversations. He brought home strange supplies and hustled them into the basement, where he retreated night after night when he got home from work. The big surprise? My husband made my daughter an enormous mobile to hang in her room. Each letter of her name was hand-cut and painted in a fabulous way. One is silver and glittery, another is orange with stripes, another purple with polka dots. My daughter loves it. Of course, she’s still too young to know the extent of his thoughtfulness or the labor he put into it, but someday she will.

I could go on and on and on about what great dads both of these men are, but they’re both pretty private people and I want to respect that.

This is all to say that if someone now asked me if I “married my dad,” I’d say yes without hesitation, and that’s a really, really good thing.

I had the best dad in the world — and now I know my daughter does too