Does your relationship sometimes feel like more of a trio than a duo: you, him, and his mom? Maybe his mom’s outspoken opinions on everything from where you work, to how you dress, to where you spend the holidays are starting to get under your skin. Or perhaps, he just seems a tad too close to his mom, talking to her all of the time or constantly doing things for her.
No matter what the irritating symptoms are, chances are the real nagging issue is that your man appears to choose his mom (and her needs, values, and opinions!) over you, making it seem like she’s always in the room, between you. Just as maddening, no matter how many times you ask, he just doesn’t seem willing to stand up for you to her face.
Ultimately, this irksome situation comes down to boundaries. Growing up and becoming independent means that you guide your life by your needs, standing on your own two feet. But sometimes, mom has a hard time letting go, meddling in ways which can keep a guy acting like he’s in his teens rather than an adult.
There are lots of reasons your man might find it hard to cut those apron strings once and for all, and he might need to address those before he’s truly successful. But from your perspective, it’s all about creating some solid boundaries around your relationship, so you can form a real two-person team with your beau, just you and him.
Here are some ways to start building that cozy cocoon that will meddle-proof your bond.
Meddling Moms: How To Protect Your Relationship
Step 1: Tell Him How You Feel
Choose a quiet time (when neither of you are already upset about the mom stuff) to have an open conversation about how his relationship with his mother really makes you feel. Let him know that you respect his need to have a close relationship with his mom, but that his lack of boundaries makes it feel like there are three people in the room, instead of just two, and that it hurts.
Step 2: Get His Agreement
To move beyond this issue, your guy is going to have to agree that there is something that needs to shift here. So ask him if he wants to create a two-person team with you: where the needs of you both take precedence over his mother’s wants, needs, and opinions. See if he is ready to create new boundaries that will honor your union. If he can’t see that there is a problem or he isn’t interested in protecting your relationship, than nothing is going to change and it’s time to move on to a guy who is willing to be a grown up.
Step 3: Make a Team Showing
Until now, the biggest problem has been that your man has been unwilling to set a solid boundary around your relationship and insist that his mother respect that. So the next step is a public declaration of his intent stated to his mom, in your presence. If you can get together in person, this is best, but it can also be done on the phone. Let him handle giving the message, but she needs to see that you and him are the primary team now, so you need to be present. Ask him to set clear expectations of what he will and will not engage in from now on.
Step 4: Follow Through with Team Support
The most important part to changing any habit is to catch the old habit creeping in and re-set the new expectations. Chances are his mom will test the new boundaries many, many times, and your man will be inclined to fall back into the rut. But if he stays steady in his new role, she will eventually back off. So set a weekly or monthly team meeting, for you and your guy to handle any new situations that crop up- together. Keep the focus on acting as a team, with the goal of protecting your relationship from outside distractions, and eventually you can win the battle of the meddling mom, and maybe even develop a relationship you can all enjoy.