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Are You Married to a Momma's Boy?
by Jenna Barry

You probably fell in love with your husband because he was a loving, generous, thoughtful, responsible, honest person. Maybe you loved the kind way he treated his 5-year old niece, his yellow Labrador retriever, or his sweet little grandma. Whatever qualities attracted you to him, there’s a good chance that his mother is a big reason why he turned out so great. Moms are usually a wonderful influence in their son’s life. Guys who have a close relationship with their mother usually make great husbands.

Unfortunately, sometimes a man has such a close relationship with Mom that it interferes with his ability to be a great husband. When you first dated your husband, you may have admired the fact that he really enjoyed being around his mom. You probably really liked her, and she liked you too. But then maybe she had a hard time letting go of her son, which is understandable since she has known him since he wore Huggies. Perhaps she became a little bit jealous of you, and then you began to feel the need to compete with her.

When a man marries, he is supposed to transfer his loyalty from his parents to his wife. His behavior plays a key role in how well his wife gets along with his parents. Some parents accept their new role quickly, but others have a hard time adjusting to the idea that they are no longer the center of their son’s life. A mother with healthy behavior will gracefully step aside—even if she doesn’t want to—and encourage her son to make his wife his main priority. It can be extremely difficult for a man to transfer his loyalty if his mom tries to make him feel guilty for doing so.

Here are five ways you can become the most important woman in your husband’s life:

1. Put yourself in your husband’s shoes. He probably feels caught between a rock and a hard place. He may think he is being a bad son whenever he tries to be a good husband. He feels terrible when his actions upset his mom. Rather than calling Hubby a gutless parent-pleaser and criticizing his mom, be supportive and help him through the process of transferring his loyalty to you. Let him know that when his mom gets upset, it doesn’t mean he did something wrong; it just means he is becoming a great husband, and his mom is just going through a period of adjustment.

2. Communicate your feelings and needs in a loving, tactful manner. Tell Hubby what he can say and do to show that he is a loyal husband. You could say something like, “I feel betrayed when you listen to your mom gossip about me. From now on when she starts to say something bad about me, I need you to say ‘Mom, I’m not willing to listen to you criticize my wife anymore. From now on, I want you to talk to her directly instead of putting me in the middle.’apostrophe Thank him whenever he makes your needs a priority.

3. Anticipate problems and prepare your husband for his mom’s reaction. If you and Hubby want to invite everyone to your own house for the holidays this year, then help him be prepared to handle a negative reaction from his mom. Suppose you think his mom will say, “Son, you know it’s tradition for you to come to our house for Christmas. We’ll be very disappointed if you don’t come here.apostrophe Your husband could respond by saying, “I’m sorry you’re upset, but we’ve decided to start a new tradition of our own. I hope you’ll come join us at our house.apostrophe

4. Set an example by having healthy behavior patterns. If your husband’s mother is controlling and manipulative, then your behavior should be such a contrast that Hubby can see the difference. If the only reason your husband makes you a priority is because you scream or cry the loudest, then you need to adjust your behavior. Your goal should be to have a marriage based on love and respect, rather than intimidation and guilt.

5. Make sure you are a loyal wife. When your husband’s needs conflict with your parents’ needs, do you make him your first priority? Or do you say “noapostrophe to him so you can say “yesapostrophe to your folks? Do you gossip about Hubby to members of your family? If you want your husband to make you his first priority, then you need to reciprocate.

You can have a great marriage even if your in-laws aren’t so great. All you need is patience, persistence, and a whole lot of love.

About the author:

Jenna D. Barry is the author of “A Wife’s Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents.apostrophe Her articles have been published in various newspapers and magazines. She leads a support group for daughters-in-law and has a website at http://www.wifeguide.org/.