Your Husband, Not Your Mother

Dear Karen,

 My husband is not being very understanding about something, and I need your advice.  He is angry with me because of the way my mother is, which is, in HIS opinion, very meddlesome.  How is that my fault?  I love my mother, and we’re very close.  She cares about our family, and she is just trying to help.  How can I get him to see that? ~ Diane

Dear Diane,

Wow, what a hornet’s nest this opens up!  Good question, and one that I’ll bet will have plenty of women reading with keen interest.


No matter what else is going on, I will come out very strongly on this: you must side with your husband when it comes to any issues between him and your mother (at least as far as your mother, or anyone else, is concerned).

If you don’t really agree with your husband’s point of view or approach to something, take that up with him in private.  Present a united front to everyone, everywhere, and you will gain his trust and appreciation in a BIG way!


When you married your husband, you left your family of origin in order to create a new one with him.  This is the typical (though not always) process: grow up, leave home, get married, have a family, create your own life.

Typically, men do a more extreme “leaving” of home and family to create a new one with their wife, and women tend to stay more connected in a day-to-day way with their parent(s).  Women who stay too attached to Mom and Dad, however, miss out on establishing as strong a bond with their husbands as they could have (and some would even say should have).

Of course, there are plenty of men that stay too attached to a parent, as well, but generally speaking, it’s more likely to be a woman in that situation.


Many women are close with their mothers, as I certainly was with mine.  Sadly, many are anything BUT friends.  The thing to remember is that your mother will always be your mother first, just as you will always be her daughter first, before you are friends.

If your mother isn’t clear about, or willing to honor boundaries (which YOU must establish, as she is not as likely to), there can be a very slippery slope from “supportive friend” to “controlling mother”.  And since it’s such an old and familiar relationship for you both, the one that is more apt to sense the “crossing of the lines” that may be going on is going to be…you guessed it: your husband.

So when he’s telling you that your mother is “meddlesome”, please be willing to listen to him.  He’s seeing something that you’re probably too close to, to see.


When you get to the point where you can see that perhaps your mother’s caring about you is, in fact, interfering with your marriage, your next step is going to be to draw the lines clearly, so she knows where to stop.

That can be so tricky, particularly if your mother’s feelings get hurt easily.  Here’s the approach I’d suggest you take with her (obviously, modify to reflect what’s a fit for you):

“Mom, I love you very much, and I treasure our relationship.  You are always there for me, and you always have been.  I can’t thank you enough.  It’s one of the reasons I was able to find such a great guy as (husband).  Now, I need your help with something.  I’ve been sharing things with you and getting advice and help from you just like it used to be when I lived at home, and I realize I need to turn more toward my husband, and be a mature wife.  It’s the right thing for us, and for me, and even though it’s going to be hard on me, I need to do it.  Here’s what I need from you: when you ask me a question that I don’t feel I should answer, please respect my wishes and let’s drop the subject.  When you have a critical thought or observation about (husband), please keep it to yourself.  If you see either of us parenting our kids in a way that you don’t approve of, please don’t comment – we’re doing it our way, and even though we’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to be ours.  Mom, can you help me with this?”

And then prepare for the hard part (yes, it gets even harder!): she is going to test you and the boundaries you set.

By the way, many women deal with a different challenge, which is the “Perfect Daddy” issue; their father is/was so perfect that no man could possibly measure up.  These women spend their lives judging and rejecting perfectly good men because they’re not like their father (who’s been put up on a pedestal for the world to see).  We’ll talk about that in a future newsletter, because it’s absolutely worth being the main focus.


Then, the other thing that may happen is that without the relationship with your mother the way it was, and with your commitment to turn toward your husband more than you had been doing, be prepared to feel more critical and judgmental of him (it’s just going to be your fear of growing up – no big deal, right?).  Be gentle with yourself and everyone else through this process; it will get better, I promise.


The next piece of this is to make sure that you acknowledge everyone (mother, husband and YOURSELF) for any and all progress on the path to having things be the way you want them.


Leaving home and growing up is a hard thing for people, and it happens at various points in life, not necessarily when you physically move out of your parents’ house.  With enough compassion, a clear vision of what you want, and humor, you can navigate this process with grace and ease.