May 10, 2011

Momma's Boys In Marriage

Sunday was Mother’s Day here in the states. It was a day to honor the woman who gave you life, raised you, and who is, for many of us, by your side even now that you’ve grown up, moved out, gotten married, and had children. There is a very special bond that exists between mothers and sons, but sometimes that bond goes a little far. Today I want to ask you a very important question:

Does your relationship with your mom have a negative impact on your relationship with your wife?

I’m not sure what it is, but there is often a very uncomfortable rift between mothers and their son’s wives. I think it has something to do with another woman taking care of her baby and not doing it in the way she thinks best, but that may be oversimplifying a complicated situation. Regardless, husbands often sit on the fence while a battle takes place between the first woman in their life and the current woman in their life. Wives are often left in tears because they’ve had their feelings hurt, their abilities questioned, their children used as leverage, and they’re mad at their husbands because they feel like they just sat there while their mom-in-laws walked all over them. If this sounds familiar in anyway, let me give you some very, very important advice:

Get off the fence and stay in your own yard.

When you signed up for this marriage gig, you told your wife that she was the number one person in your life. You told her that you were behind her come what may. You told her she was your best friend and that you’d do anything for her. But now, when your wife expresses her frustrations to you about your mother, you defend your mom. But when your mom expresses her frustrations about your wife, you don’t say anything. I also know of husbands who simply choose not to get involved in the “mess” and let their wives and mothers go at it.

Not cool, guys.

If I’m not making my point here, let me explain it to you practically. I knew of a mother-in-law who absolutely couldn’t stand her son’s wife whatsoever. It was so bad that she refused to visit when the wife was there, so for the “sake of the grandchildren,” the wife would leave town when the mom came to visit. In case it’s not clear, this is not okay. What this husband should have done was tell his mother that if she could not accept the woman he had married, than she had no business coming to visit. Tough call? Yes. But it’s the right one. If you don’t take the lead, your mom will.

If you are letting your mom dictate aspects of your marriage, it’s time to cut the umbilical cord. You left home to start your own. If your mom disrespects your wife, you must stand up for her. You do not allow her to talk poorly about your other half. (And, along the same lines, you do not complain about your relationship with your wife to your mom when issues come up. Because your mom is always on your side, this will not help her relationship with your wife.)

A teacher of mine once advised that each spouse was responsible for their side of the family. If your wife is struggling in her relationship with your mom, it’s up to you to step in and settle it. In the same way, if your wife’s dad really can’t stand you, it’s up to your wife to lay down the rules of your household for him to understand. I think this is very good advice. It solidifies your relationship as a couple, and it shows the respective families that you are serious about living your life.

You can’t be a husband and a momma’s boy at the same time. That momma’s boy allegiance was supposed to be transferred to your wife at the altar.

Get it there.


  1. Sadly, came across an example of this in the past week. I know of a guy with a pregnant wife - first time mom-to-be who decided that it would be better to take his own mom to a race track (free track time for moms) instead of celebrating the day with his wife. Yes, honor your mothers, though not sure this is the case here, but honor your wives and put them first. Needless to say, the wife was less than pleased with the way this day went. Go figure. I can take some comfort that I've grown beyond stages where I'd do things like this regularly. I now just do thoughtless things semi-regularly. :) Hopefully the same can be said for this husband at some point in the near future.

    I've known of MILs like the ones you describe as well, but I've also known of wives who despise the husband's family. It's a hard line to walk sometimes and worse if those sides of the family just can't stand each other - whether for good or (usually) bad reasons.

    As for standing up for my wife, I've had to do that before. My parents think that we don't do the right things by our kid. Times have changed. We're in a totally different geographic location, with totally different neighborhoods and family/friend structures. Yes, we do things differently, but despite that she's turning out well. I support my wife because she does a phenomenal job with our kid.

  2. Most guys are really attached to their mom. They follow everything their mom tells them to do. Good for me, I have talked to my mother that from the day I got married, my wife is my top priority and the family comes next. She doesn't like my wife so much, but after we talked, she gradually changed and talks to my wife more often now.

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  3. "You can't be a husband and a momma's boy at the same time. That momma's boy allegiance was supposed to be transferred to your wife at the altar." That's right. When a man steps in front of the altar, he announces his devotion to his wife, not his mom.

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  4. I'm a wife who is stuck in a situation like this. Please, men, stand up for your wife. For your marriage. And thank you, sir, for writing this.

  5. I am a husband in this situation.

    I am NOT a mama's boy.

    I stuck up for my wife. Left my mom to stay separately with my wife. Though I resisted it at first. Not because I was mama's boy. Because I thought that was right. To keep them under one roof until they started respecting each other and loving each other. But that I guess is never meant too be. Now I am happy with this separation and at much more peace. My wife did show me the right way.

    But what I cannot accept is that she from time time says that I still support my mom. After all this ! I just want my faith rewarded. Am I wrong ?

  6. I am currently separated from my Momma's boy. At first she loved me when he and I were friends, but then once we started dating she didn't like me so much anymore. She would say things like "you really know how to pick them" to my husband. When we went through tough times in our relationship or marriage, she would insert seeds of doubt within his mind and he would come back telling me that I was the cause for his anger or that things in our home should be done a certain way. His mother is OCD and it was very hard for me to keep up doing what he wanted, to his exact liking. He was enabled by his mother and then ultimately his family for every wrong behavior he had because his immediate family is afraid to rustle the mothers feathers. She has isolated everyone else from their family...they have no contact with aunts, uncles, grandparents (when they were alive), nor do they even know their cousins. It's a sad situation and now he has listened to his mother when she told him to leave our home and our 3 children after a big fight we had. She has helped him get a new apartment within a MONTH of our argument and is there all the time to clean it and make it homey for him. When he lived as a single man, his mother would come and clean his home constantly and his grandmother would come and do his laundry and ironing for the week for him. I was in for it when I married into this family, but I believed in our love and the fact that we were best friends. He has broken my heart and soul. Does anyone know how to stop this???

  7. OMG, You have just nailed my last week on the head. Only the witch from hell has moved in with us because he can't look after herself because of poor health. With a tube up her nose and an oxygen machine running 24/7, I have to watch her 'step outside for a cigarette'. She has COPD, emphysema, diabetes, agoraphobia, and host of other things. My husband has tended to his mother since birth. He is the middle of 5 with a father that finally walked out after 30 years because he couldn't stand to be with this woman anymore. She whines when she can't have her own way. (goes right through me). She drinks periodically, eats candy all day, does absolutely nothing to control her diabetes. and I am not allowed to say anything. She practically raised her 14 year old granddaughter who is now a permanent fixture in my home. She eats and eats, doesn't do chores or help cook. She is granny's best friend. No matter where granny lives, the granddaughter must go as well. Here is a 14 year old with severe holes in her education because it was important for her parents to see that she was in school. They would both lie to me when I asked why she wasn't in school. They sit in my kitchen and whisper and when I walk in, dead silence and I am expected to leave the room. She makes things up and tells my husband who, of course, freaks on me because 'I have to make an effort.' I have spent the last 7 days trying to defend myself against lies and threats. If she leaves, he has to go with her because she is not capable. Everything we have saved for a home, will have to support her. But she can't leave and won't leave because he told her she doesn't have to. She now knows she has the control and is telling me that I am not wanted in my own home!!!! Family members that we have chosen to not socialize with because of their negative actions against my husband and I, are now 'allowed' in my home because 'she' is entitled to her company, even though she is their worst critic. He has enabled her bullshit way of life and now I am expected to live it. We have been together 7 years and I have a 14 year old son that he has helped raise. I gave him an ultimatum yesterday. I will stay if his mother leaves. He came back with if she goes, my son has to go.

  8. My mother in law and my birthday is on the same date.I have been marriedfor 13 yrs and every year he spends my birthday,he told me he does'nt have to spend it with me cause its his mother's birthday.He let's her make decisions in my house.there is so a lot of problems I think I can write a book,I can't take it anymore, we are sleeping in seperate rooms I think next will be a divorce