The Flip Side … Mama’s Boy, Daddy’s Little Girl

Married to a Mama’s Boy …

It may have been cute, even endearing when you first met and started dating, after all, a son should love his mother, and having a great relationship with her is a sign of a good son. But how tied is he to his mother? Does it seem as if there is still an invisible umbilical cord stretching the distance separating them? Has his behavior crossed some invisible line from being a good son to becoming a bit uncomfortable for you, or unhealthy when viewed in the proper light?

Here are some signs that may clue you in if your husband is a full-grown mama’s boy:

  • He has daily, or almost daily, contact with her, whether by phone or in person. If there is truly a need for his constant attention, such as care-giving and assistance for an ailing or elderly mother, then it’s understandable. But if he’s calling all the time to gossip and chit-chat like girlfriends, or his mother is the first person he calls to tell all to, it’s a red flag. Especially if he’s revealing personal confidences that should be between husband and wife and no one else.
  • Whatever mom wants, mom gets, at any time day or night. And his need to oblige her every whim is at your expense. Even worse, he always chooses mom over you and never comes to your defense when mom disapproves. Or, mom has indulged her boy in every way, spoiling him to the point that he expects, maybe even demands, you to continue this one-sided pampering.
  • He lives close, or still lives in the same house. Not a pleasant start to a marriage if you are required to move in with mom as well, and that puts son on a really short apron string, convenient and controlling. If he has financial ties to his parents, this may tighten the tether even more.
  • Instead of making a decision on his own, or between the two of you as it should be in a healthy marriage, he always turns to mother for advice. Parents can be a good source for sage advice, but the nail in the coffin is a son who always makes decisions based on what his mama says, and rarely if ever considers your input in the process.

Okay, so you’ve come to the realization that the love of your life is a mama’s boy. So what do you do now? As in all things with marriage and relationships, communication is the key. Unless he knows how you feel, he will not know to change his behavior. He needs to understand that these are serious issues that may damage your marriage and how the two of you relate as a couple.

First, don’t attack his mother verbally, either in person or behind her back. This is an approach with caution situation. Anger or lashing out will only make things worse; he will most likely feel the need to protect and defend her. It will also force him to choose sides and his mother will win. You should set firm boundaries, allowing for private time together as a couple without the third wheel. But you should also allow him enough time with his mother so he does not feel he has abandoned her totally. Some of this time together should include you as well; you don’t want to give her a reason to dislike you. Professional counseling may be a good option. Constructive advice coming from a neutral third party is less threatening.

The final choice will be his to make, and, even if he doesn’t realize it, growing up and breaking away from mom is the right and only choice he should make. You and your marriage should be his priority now — he cannot be a mama’s boy and a good husband at the same time. And as a parent, mom should want her grown son to be a good husband and father, too — it is the natural order of life.

Married to Daddy’s Little Girl …

On the flip side, what if you are married to daddy’s little girl? This, too, can be a problem in a marriage. Fathers are meant to be the protectors and idealistic heroes in their little girls’ lives. They set the first example for their daughters to aspire to when men come into vision. But for some women, the heart-strings to their fathers can be hard to break. And if daddy’s little girl has also been given the princess treatment all her life, it can be a combustible combination in a marital relationship.

Does she …

  • Speed-dial daddy for his answers, his opinions, his help on everything from the everyday little things, to the big, major decisions and should-be-between-a-couple things? If you have already discussed and arrived at a decision, does she second guess you and ask her father if it (which means you) is right? Do you feel she doesn’t respect you and your abilities as her husband?
  • Did daddy pamper his daughter and give her everything she ever wanted and more? But the more troubling question is: does she expect and demand the same treatment from you? Whether or not you can afford to continue to indulge such behavior isn’t the issue. The issue is the fact that you shouldn’t be expected, nor should you want to treat her, as a father would. She is a grown adult now, your wife, and keeping her in a child’s frame of mind is not healthy. Not for her or for you.
  • Are there darker issues lurking in daddy’s little girl? Did she discover as a child that she was the one who made daddy smile and laugh? Sometimes, little girls are so eager to please their fathers that they take on the responsibility to always make them happy. As a grown woman, her self-worth has become connected with her ability to make others happy, to the detriment of her own well being. Once married, it could mean she doesn’t know how to be her true self and suppresses expression. Deeper, emotional issues should be dealt with by a professional.

What should a husband do about a spoiled daddy’s little girl? Much like the advice above for the mama’s boy, you must approach this problem in the same cautious manner. Two key things to remember: communication and keeping anger at bay are absolute requirements to resolving issues. What if you’re daddy’s little girl? Being daddy’s little girl is a perfectly normal part of growing up. But now that you’re no longer a little girl, it’s time to let go of that part of your life. Remember, you are married to a man; he doesn’t want to be married to a little girl.