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?
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 then with some focus and psychological work, anyone can overcome struggles and learn to create a genuinely loving relationship with his wife – even if he perceives that he’s had a troubled relationship with his mother.
So, how can you know when it’s more than just a nice relationship with his mother, something that you’d want and encourage in a husband? When you feel there is a controlling element handed down from mother to son. 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 a stage that every person experiences, considering parents’ sage advice in making our own decision instead of having parents make the decision for us. It is a smooth transition for some but difficult for others.
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.
M. Gary Neuman is a psychotherapist, rabbi and New York Times best selling author. He is a frequent guest on the Oprah show as well as multiple appearances on Today, the View, NPR and others. He and his work have been featured in magazines including Time, People, Parents, Redbook, and newspapers including USA Today, the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. He consults with couples and families throughout the world and has a private practice in Miami Beach where he lives with his wife and five children. To contact him, visit: