Whether you like it or not, you married a mama’s boy. We all did. A mama’s influence –negative or positive– hugely impacts how your husband sees himself and how he treats you.
If you’ve been married for any length of time, you probably understand this. As frustrating as it can be at times, you can learn how to deal with a mama’s boy.
If you’re looking at your husband and scratching your head, look to the kind of relationship he has with his mom for answers.
What Kind of Mama Did Your Husband Have?
His mom was most likely the first person to meet his emotional needs. So expect your interaction with him to be colored by emotions he experiences in his relationship with her.
Can you identify the kind of mama he had? Did his mom affirm his masculinity? Or did she constantly instruct him to be sensitive to the needs of women? Was she overly critical or did she praise him? Did she give him freedom to make decisions or did she try to prevent him from ever getting hurt–physically or emotionally? Did he manipulate her or did he respect her?
Identifying the type of relationship your husband has with his mother will help you understand why he reacts to you as he does. If you don’t like what you see, don’t fret. No matter what kind of mom he had, you can rehabilitate him. It may take some time, but you may be able to change the way he responds to you by changing the way you respond to him.
Does your husband try to manipulate you, expect you to lie for him or take risks? If so, he may have had an overprotective mama. She thought she was doing what was best for him but probably ended up hurting him instead. She picked up after him and made excuses for him. She tried to control almost everything in his life. She rarely allowed him to take part in activities where he could get hurt. Because she smothered him, he learned pretty early on how to manipulate her. Because he manipulated her, he may think he can manipulate you, too. If your natural bent is to be a pleaser, you may end up under his control instead of at his side.
Does your husband respond negatively to criticism? His mom probably gave the impression she expected him to be perfect. She left little room for mistakes. For example, when she told him to wash the dishes, she probably inspected them. If she wasn’t satisfied (and she usually wasn’t), she’d wash them over herself. She was the boss. As a result, he felt like he couldn’t do anything right. If your husband had this kind of mom, he’ll be overly sensitive to criticism and may get angry, even when your criticism is constructive. You might think it’s minor or even helpful to point out that the walls need another coat of paint. What he hears is, “You’re a failure. I knew you couldn’t do it right.” You didn’t say that or even infer it, but because of his relationship with his mom, that’s what he hears. In his mind he either passes or fails. Dr. Kevin Leman, author of Have a New Husband By Friday, suggests instead of directly saying the walls need another coat of paint, thank him for painting the room. Tell him it looks great. Then say something like, “It’s probably just me, but I wonder if the walls need another coat. What do you think or is it just me?” He’ll likely reevaluate.
- This man needs to know you are happy with him.
- Build him up. A lot. Brag about him to others and directly to him.
- Let him know, you appreciate him even if he doesn’t do something perfectly.
Does your husband work hard and play hard? Does he always have to be on the go and have trouble sitting still? His mama probably kept him busy and had high expectations. She filled his life with after school and weekend activities. She expected him to perform at school and at home. He rarely spent time with his family or had down time. If that was the case, he won’t understand why family time is important to you. He may not know what you want from him, so you’ll have to let him know.
- Help him slow down.
- Tell him how important he and his presence are to your family.
- Tell him you miss him.
- Plan family time.
Did his mother insist he pull his weight around the house? Did she follow through when she threatened consequences? This mama’s focus was on preparing her son to become a responsible man. She demanded his respect and got it because she took care of business. She didn’t put off discipline until the end of the day when dad got home. She was tough but loving and fair. He learned to understand the consequences of his actions. If she promised consequences, he got them. She rarely did anything for your husband he could do for himself. He was expected to contribute around the house. She wanted him to be self-sufficient. Because he had respect for his mom, he’ll have respect for you, too.
He’s had at least 18 years of his mom’s influence. It’s tough to compete with a mama’s upbringing, but it’s not impossible. More than anything, he needs to know you respect him and need him. He also needs to know his role as a husband and father is important to you and your kids.
Change the way you respond to him, and you’ll minimize any negative impact of his home training. And most likely, he’ll change the way he responds to you, too. It won’t happen overnight, but a steady stream of praise, accolades, affirmation and unconditional acceptance will change your mama’s boy into the man you want.
Need skills to build intimacy?
- Get on the waitlist for my next group coaching session–Change Your Mind; Change Your Marriage.
- Visit my website, like my Facebook page and join my private Facebook group.
- Check out my FREE resources and download How to Be A Wife No Man Will Ever Want to Leave.
- Apply for private coaching with Sheila.
Also known as the Not So Excellent Wife, Sheila Qualls understands how tiring a tough marriage can be.
She went from the brink of divorce to having a thriving marriage by translating timeless truths into practical skills. She’s helped women just like you turn their men into the husbands they want.
She and her husband Kendall live in Minnesota with their five children and their Black Lab, Largo.
In addition to coaching, Sheila is a member of the MOPS Speaker Network. Her work has been featured on the MOPS Blog, The Upper Room, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Beliefnet, Candidly Christian, Crosswalk.com, The Mighty and on various other sites on the Internet.