I often hear from women who are angry and tired of fighting for their place beside their husband, a “mamma’s boy”, or also from disappointed girls when they fail to overcome the obstacle of “his possessive mother”. I also remember a positive example of the initial position. A woman told me this about the beginning of her relation with the future mother-in-law: “At the very beginning, when I met my mother-in-law to be, I felt that she was a bit restless and distrustful. At that time I was already sure that I will marry her son, my husband. Oddly, I wasn’t offended, but I thought to myself: “I’ll grow on you in time.”
Mamma’s boy profile
He is a well raised man of a fitting appearance, successful, educated and with good manners. He isn’t aggressive in intimate sense – does this confuse you; does this raise any alarms?! (It doesn’t mean that I consider the aggressive ones to be the right ones!) Better still if he is from a wealthy family. As a candidate for marriage – he is to wish for! Very often the mothers and aunts of the girl are thrilled with him. A girl who has been trying for a while to meet someone and settle down, or who has had some inadequate relationships, sees in him the potential for a lasting and quality relationship. True, there might be some problems, but to her they seem insignificant compared to the long marital bliss smiling upon her.
How to recognize him from the start
A full-grown son still lives with his parents – he is well into his forties!? (Ten-fifteen years ago I would have written thirties are alarmant, but times change and nowadays late separation have become common). Or he only has a mother who is “very attached”, she was always “committed to her son”, so even now he doesn’t have any other important relation. Or both the parents are together, but a real partnership is lacking among them so the mother is fixated on the boy while the father remains marginalized.
Alarming signs for a girl who already lives together with a mamma’s boy
He often has to phone his mother because he is “very worried”, she gets sick, “she only has me”
Mum is the source of wisdom, trust, she knows everything about her son
He visits his mother often, he cannot refuse it even when he would like or need to do something else
He conspicuously idealizes his mother; even when they don’t get along, he can’t confront his mother
He asks of his girlfriend to understand his mother, to give in to her – for example, they have to regularly attend a dinner at his mother’s lest she be blamed: “It’s not hard for you, is it?”
What you need to know about your boyfriend if he is a mamma’s boy
He is a son who lived with his mother for a long time and has listened to her; in his development he somewhere stopped and didn’t question her deeds, nor did he see them critically as most young adults do. When we realize that our parents aren’t perfect, aren’t almighty, that they are people with merits and flaws, that we can accept them for who they are – our maturement is on the right path.
I remember a statement from a client of mine from the time of his divorce: “Mothers are as sweet as ice cream and children consume them in enormous amounts… and then they get stomach ache.”
His mother is ubiquitous, she pleases, but also rules. If there is a lack of male figure in the family with whom the son can identify, his growth could be even more difficult; for that reason combined with either comfort, sometimes with repressed aggression, or with a feeling of guilt – the son fails to emotionally separate from his mother. He cannot easily nor quickly go away and find a different way of communication and closeness with his mother. That separation doesn’t mean the rejection of mother, but neither of them sees it that way: mother can’t let her son start his own independent life, and son doesn’t know how to distance himself.
What would be a desirable, mature relation?
The mother actually is supposed to remain an important and close person, but now on another, mature level, which includes son’s ability of mature affection for mother while he is in a partner relationship with another woman. Both sides have to have insight and the will to do so (which is difficult to attain given the dynamics of a mamma’s boy). These sons often have a strong feeling of guilt, most often they themselves are in a sandwich and are having a difficult time, they feel powerless. That’s why it’s important for the girl to know herself and her own emotional needs, her own insecurity and to bring to her consciousness her own choice of a mamma’s boy.
What to do if you are in a relationship with a mamma’s boy?
Don’t be his mother’s rival. Don’t pose as if you were two opponents. Observe what’s happening. It has nothing to do with you, it is their story. You need only see the outline and the volume and then realize what to do…
Try to understand the situation. It is the worst if they are both similar and possessive, and the girl is insecure and excluding: “Either me or your mother.” Mother will be the wiser one, at least in the beginning, and won’t start vigorously if she notices that her son cares about the girl. But don’t stand between a son and his mother. It doesn’t mean you should give up your appropriate place in his life, which deserves a try, only by a different than excluding means.
Tell him considerately how you feel. You will succeed if you are honest and appreciate his situation. After all, you have a mother of your own whom you love and are attached to.
It is not wise for you to “deal” with his possessive mother. Everyone should resolve their own relations with their parents.
Arm yourself with patience, assess your motives, needs, your insecurity and jealousy. When you feel secure and mature enough, you’ll know how to achieve the right mode in the family relations and not give up your place as the wife. That way you will more easily understand if you can fight maturely for your relationship or marriage and if you can continue with your man, even if he won’t be able to change his relationship with his mother.
Written by Zdenka Pantić, psychologist – psychotherapist, family therapist
Photo by nuttakit, FreeDigitalPhotos.net