When Should I Worry About My Boyfriend’s Mother?

By M. GARY NEUMAN 

 Dear Gary,

I have begun dating someone who I like very much. However, there is one issue that has raised a red flag. He talks about his mother a lot – in a good way. They have a very close relationship. However, some of my girlfriends (one who is married and does not get along with her mother-in-law) told me to beware of marrying a “Momma’s boy” because then you’re marrying his mother. Is this a real concern when dating?

Concerned

Dear Concerned,

Having a good relationship with Mom and being a Momma’s boy isn’t the same thing. First of all, I’d be wary of someone who does not like his mother. This doesn’t mean he can’t be a great husband, but in all likelihood it would be a greater challenge for him than for someone who gets along well with his mother. Remember that a young man’s primary female relationship is with his mother. His attitude and opinion of her will likely be brought into every other significant female relationship he experiences. If he is demeaning or makes dismissive jokes about his mother, he may be doing the same about his wife one day. However, even if he perceives that he’s had a troubled relationship with his mother, with some focus and psychological work, anyone can overcome struggles and learn to create a genuinely loving relationship with his wife.

So, how can you know whether his relationship with dear old Mom is healthy or not? When you feel there is a controlling element handed down from mother to son, that’s the giveaway of dangerous ground. If you feel that he’s unable to make common personal decisions without the approval of his mother AND that his mother is very comfortable making these decisions for him (meaning she’s not so approving), be aware – it is likely Momma will be making decisions for you as well. It’s one thing to consider a parent’s sage advice in making a decision. It’s quite another to have parents make the decision for us.

As your dating progresses and you feel closer, simply bring the topic up and discuss it in a kind and respectful manner. It’s always to your advantage to get used to being communicative about these kinds of issues, so that both of you can develop your style of decision making together.

 

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M. Gary Neuman is a New York Times best-selling author, and creator of Neuman Method Programs. He was on the Oprah show 11 times as well as having made multiple appearances on Today, Dateline, the View, NPR and others.  Oprah referred to Gary as “One of the best psychotherapists in the world.”