Are you struggling to understand why your husband chooses his mother over you?
You’re in the right place—we’re shedding light on why this happens, and how to get your husband to reset his priorities.
In a nutshell, here’s why your husband puts his mother first:
- He has co-dependency issues with his mother
- He struggles with confrontation and saying “no”
- Family upbringing and cultural differences can place his mother at a supreme level of importance in his life
- His mother is a master of guilt and persuasion
If you’re at your breaking point but you don’t want to do couples therapy, there’s a middle option—
Learn how to use the relational techniques that will permanently change how your spouse treates you from an expert guide like Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage.
Click the link above now, or keep reading to learn why your partner lets his mother rule his life, and how to change that.
Table of Contents
Why Does My Husband Put His Mother Before Me?
If your husband is a mama’s boy and you don’t feel like the most important person to him, that can be a frustrating and at times disempowering experience for you.
But chances are, it’s not because he doesn’t respect you, or because he loves his mother more, or anything like that.
In reality, men who allow a controlling mother to take over aren’t usually trying to put their wives second.
However, there are definitely cases, especially when there are certain cultural expectations, when a man might consciously prioritize his mother.
Below, we’re going to talk about all the common contributing factors when husbands put their mothers first so you can get the whole picture of what’s going on.
Then we’ll talk about how to switch the dynamics around so that your husband is prioritizing you and your nuclear family instead.
In many cultures, there’s said to be a special bond between a mother and her son.
If you think about the fact that the mother is typically the main character who is supposed to provide unconditional love, care and support, this makes sense.
She becomes her son’s safety net and source of comfort and security.
However, this bond doesn’t usually in and of itself make it difficult for her adult son to prioritize other relationships.
But it definitely shows how easily a man might slip into a mama’s boy dynamic.
Co-dependency refers to a relationship in which one or both parties excessively rely on each other for emotional, practical or psychological support.
In the context of the mother-son relationship, this can manifest in various ways:
- Excessive emotional reliance: Does your husband go to his mom first when something’s wrong or with every personal achievement? This may signal emotional co-dependency.
- Lack of boundaries: Some mothers find it challenging to let go of their role as the primary caregiver and nurturer. A lack of clear boundaries between the mother and son can blur the lines of their respective roles, leading to over-involvement in each other’s lives.
- Difficulty making decisions independently: Does your husband need his mother to weigh in on every little decision, regardless of your opinions and input? If he can’t make his own decisions without your in laws, it can undermine your position as an equal partner.
Guilt and obligation
Sometimes a husband may prioritize his mother over his spouse because of the ugly but highly effective tactics of guilt and obligation.
Guilt can stem from childhood experiences with a controlling mother or a skewed sense of duty to his parents.
If a man was raised to believe he should always put his mother’s desires first, he may carry that belief into his marriage.
And let’s not forget, some mothers-in-law are just very good at guilt trips.
However, it’s important to recognize that, while irritating, your husband’s actions based on guilt are not malicious or consciously intended to hurt you.
Lack of emotional intelligence
When a husband lacks emotional intelligence, it might be difficult for him to understand the reasons behind his spouse’s frustration and dissatisfaction over being put second to his mother.
On the other hand, his inability to manage his own emotions might result in him feeling torn between the two most important women in a man’s life.
This struggle ultimately leads to a weak emotional bond with you, his spouse.
If you marriage is suffering from low emotional intelligence, learn how to completely shift the way you relate to each other for a healthier marriage in Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage Program.
Fear of conflict
If your husband is the type to shy away from conflict in any way, shape or form, that could be contributing to your difficulties with the in laws.
His people-pleasing is a problem when he lets his overbearing mother cross your boundaries.
Obviously, his avoidance of confrontation doesn’t work because he’s going to have to deal with an angry and upset wife.
At some point, he has to confront the fact that the path of least resistance is not always the best one, especially when it could create resentment and deepen existing issues.
Dynamics between various family members can play a crucial role in shaping someone’s behavior.
If your husband’s father worked a lot and left his mother to raise him, that could create a strong reliance on her.
Or perhaps he wasn’t made to do chores or make decisions for himself, again creating a reliance on his mother.
A husband who grew up with a helicopter mom may also find it difficult to speak up for himself, and thus protect the husband-wife bond.
Additionally, in families with multiple siblings, a man may feel a stronger need to remain connected to his mother, as he might perceive her as requiring more emotional support.
Different cultures have varying expectations when it comes to family relationships.
In some cultures, children are expected to maintain a strong allegiance to their parents, even after marriage.
Cultural beliefs about gender roles can also play a part.
In societies where traditional gender roles are more prominent, a husband might feel obligated to take on the role of his mom’s protector—even if that means putter her priorities above his wife’s.
Should a Man Put His Mother or Wife First?
You may think this is a no-brainer—a man should put his mother first.
If you want the short answer: Couples usually expect a man to put the needs and opinions of his wife first.
In contemporary American society, for example, a healthy marriage is generally not one where your mother-in-law is allowed to make all the decisions and take over every family holiday.
But when you factor in aspects like cultural and religious ideologies, the question of who has more clout gets complicated.
Historically, men have been expected to maintain strong ties with their mothers, who often played an immense role in raising and nurturing them.
On the other hand, when a man enters a marital relationship, it is expected that he forms a new, united partnership with his spouse.
Today, this usually means a man chooses his family that he created when he said “I do”—that is, you and your children, if you have any.
Anything less is typically considered disrespectful and short-sighted.
What Do You Do When Your Husband Is a Mama’s Boy and Puts Her Before You?
Be honest about how your husband’s strong relationship with his mother affects you
It can be incredibly hurtful to feel like your husband chooses his mother’s needs and wants before your own.
To address this issue, it’s essential to have open and honest conversations about your feelings for your own well being.
Try to identify specific instances where you felt that he prioritized his mother over you.
Note how these moments made you feel, whether it’s unimportant, unloved or simply frustrated.
This will help you to express your concerns clearly and precisely, without him feeling you’re exaggerating or making false claims.
Don’t criticize his mother to him
If you bad mouth his mom, he’s likely going to shut you down and defend her if he has that strong of an attachment to her.
And in a way, rightly so—you would hope that he would do the same if his mother were saying nasty things about you.
Bear in mind that you are both important to him.
Asking him to respect you as his wife doesn’t mean taking away respect from his mother.
Also, make sure to take into account the culture he was raised in.
Questioning his cultural background in the way mothers and sons relate to each other is tantamount to attacking his identity.
Uncover what’s really going on
If your husband places more importance on his relationship with his mother, then you need to address why that is.
Ask for his perspective.
What were his childhood and upbringing like?
Invite your husband to share his thoughts on the situation, which will help him open up more.
Ask him to shift his perspective for a minute
You may also ask your husband to think about how he would feel if he were in your shoes.
Ask him questions like:
- Would you be OK with me discussing our private matters with my parents?
- How would you feel if I compared you to my father or mother?
- If I took my mother’s advice over yours all the time, would you start to feel unimportant?
These questions can help make your husband realize the importance of putting your marital relationship first.
If you’re struggling to have constuctive conversations and there are deeper issues to sort through, there is also professional help such as marriage counseling and expert resources like Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage Program.
Set ground rules for him, his parents and your own parents to follow
It’s crucial to establish clear expectations for yourself, your partner and other family members.
Talk with your husband about what you believe to be acceptable behavior from in laws and from each other.
A helpful tool is a list of ground rules that applies to a variety of situations.
- Establishing a designated “date night” for just the two of you each month. Spending time together can reestablish your connection and emphasize its prominence in your lives.
- Setting limits on how often his mother can visit your home unannounced, for example if you’re spending time together as a nuclear family, so that in laws don’t undermine that.
- Creating a safe word or some sort of signal that you and your husband can use when in laws are overstaying their welcome or there are behaviors making you uncomfortable.
- Deciding how to divide your time during holidays and special events.
- Setting boundaries on the frequency and duration of visits with his mother.
Be open to finding a happy middle ground that satisfies both of you.
And avoid using ultimatums that could create additional tension.
The upside is, implementing solid guidelines can make it easier to clarify to your husband what you expect and put the responsibility on him to check his own behavior.
This can be an easier way to get that harmonious relationship you want between you, your husband and his mother.
Let your husband know he has a choice to make
If he doesn’t like confrontation and tries to play the pacifist, enlighten him that when he lets his mother take over, your husband chooses her by default.
Like it or not, he has a choice to make.
If he chooses his family, that means needing to find the courage to stand firm and say no to his mother.
Make it clear that no one should have more importance than those in your husband’s nuclear family, including you.
You are life partners. That has to mean something to him.
And if he can’t stand by your side, then you know you have deeper issues to solve and it’s your choice where to take it from there.
There are many reasons why your husband might be prioritizing his mother over you, but you do not have to live with it in silence.
The primary goal is to make your husband aware of the issue and create an open environment for change, supported by solid boundaries.
By working together, you can help him understand the importance of prioritizing your marriage and creating a healthy balance between your relationship and his connection with his mother.
How to deal with a husband who is too attached to his mother?
If your husband is way too attached to his mother and it’s affecting your relationship, you need to say something to him about it.
He must understand that over-reliance on a parent can negatively affect married couples, and how exactly it affects you—so address specific incidents when they happen.
Most importantly, set firm boundaries.
If he still allows his mother to cross them, then your husband is not respecting you the way he should be and you have to decide whether you will continue to tolerate that or not.
When a man is enmeshed with his mother?
A man becomes enmeshed with his mother when his mother’s feelings and needs subsume his own.
He may have had to play various roles of protector, friend and confidante to his mother growing up.
This tends to lead to persistent feelings of guilt and responsibility for his mother that is undue and damaging to his emotional life and adult relationships.
What is mama’s boy syndrome?
Mama’s boy syndrome is a term usually applied to men who are still dependent on their mothers for basic responsibilities when society believes they should be more independent.
A mama’s boy might do things like overshare about his love life and constantly try to win her approval.
He may also let her do things he should be able to do for himself, like his laundry and cleaning his apartment.
Signs your husband puts his family first
Here are some tell tale signs your husband puts his own family before yours:
- He sees nothing wrong with spending every holiday and vacation with them
- His family’s traditions are the only ones he values continuing
- He always agrees with his parents and never takes your family’s perspective
- He allows his family to influence his decisions without consulting you
- If you have kids, he lets his parents do whatever they want and doesn’t make them follow the rules
- Your husband lets his family mock, criticize or be rude to you
If your relationship is at its breaking point, we strongly recommend retraining your brain to relate to each other differently with a guide like Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage.
In it you’ll find simple but effective techniques to overcome communication difficulties and differences in your values, personalities and perspectives.
You’ll also learn what the true “glue” is in your marriage—the “we.”