If you plan on being with a man for a while (maybe even your whole life), you may want to consider that his mother may be with you for the ride, too. But what do you do when it feels like the man you’re dating is in a relationship with someone else—like his mom?
Sure, it’s great when a man and his mother have a good relationship, that is, until it begins to take a toll on the romantic relationship shared between the two of you. Research supports the notion that healthy bonds between a mother and her son help create a sense of respect that enables him to be respectful, positive, supportive, and loving of future partners. But often, when it’s time to finally “cut the cord,” many mothers have a difficult time letting go and encouraging their son’s independence.
If your partner doesn’t believe that his relationship with his mom has faults, or that the closeness of their relationship is problematic, trying to change his mind may create resentment towards you from both him…and his mother.
Before deciding whether all hope is lost, first have a conversation with him and discuss where you fit on his list of priorities.
When a man is ready to settle down, if you’re the person he truly chooses to be with, you’ll move up the ladder of importance above mom (or at least on the same level as her). It’s important not to aspire to come before mom, but rather to be as important, just in a different way. You will become his partner; she will always be his mom, and both of you will have prominent roles in his life that will need to be respectfully differentiated for a happy and healthy outcome.
Oftentimes, when the relationship between a man and his mother becomes overbearing, it can be considered a co-dependent relationship. Co-dependency is when we can’t exist without the other person and the other’s person’s actions define our feelings. If you notice that the relationship between your man and his mother has begun to interfere in your life with him, it’s best to bring it up before it festers and eventually forces you and your boo to break up.
Usually, opening lines of communication will foster healthy outcomes, especially with couples who want to achieve the same goal (a.k.a. staying together!). Therapy can be a great thing here.
That said, initiating this conversation with your man can be quite difficult, even nerve-racking. If you’re struggling with finding a tactful way to talk to your man about being a mama’s boy, here are seven positive steps you can take:
- Write Down Your Thoughts
It’s very easy to verbalize all of the things that make us feel angry and frustrated. Writing them down puts things into a different perspective and gives us an opportunity to re-evaluate the total picture in front of us, rather than what is solely in our minds.
- Expect Him to Be Defensive
Remember, you’re talking about his family. They’ll always come first until you become family to him as well, and maybe even after that. The best way to counteract his defense is to be supportive and explain why certain things bother you. For example, you can say something like: “It hurts my feelings when you talk to your mom about our problems and my feelings.”
Focus on your feelings, this way no one can dispute them as no one has the power to tell you that you can’t feel a certain way.
- Encourage Him to Take Responsibility for Himself
He can do this by making his own doctors appointments, keeping track of his finances, or even doing his own laundry. In this case, instead of telling him you think it’s ridiculous that he depends on his mother for these things, encourage him to do it alone, help him, and then praise that he did it without her.
- As a Couple, Seperate Your Finances from Hers
This includes bills and access to viewing your bills. Unless your parents are financially supporting you, or you have another important reason, allowing parents to monitor your spending can make things sticky. At the end of the day, you and your man are going to have to learn how to financially support yourselves and deal with the financial struggles that you’ll face as a couple.
While people do live longer in today’s world, the truth is, we don’t live forever and independence is a necessity to a happy and healthy future.
- Let Him Confront Her
This applies even to issues that may arise between you and his mother. Most importantly, you want to make sure your man is fully ready, willing, and able to say NO to his mother.
Be Careful How Much You Share
Your struggles are between you and your man, and so is your intimate relationship. Regardless of how much mom may like you, he will always come first, so be careful what you share with her as it can taint her image of you and make the future between you and your man more difficult.
- Stop Seeking Her Approval and Cheer Each Other on Instead
There comes a time in our lives when our parents can advise us, but no longer make decisions for us. Keep this in mind as you and your man are making decisions for your relationship.
Every relationship in your life (whether with your partner, his family, or your friends) will have its challenges.
It takes effective communication and brave work to help those relationships thrive. So stay open and honest with yourself and others, including your moms.