Mogul Mothers, Suppressed Sons

Grima Wormtongue

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy there is a character called Grima Wormtongue. Wormtongue is an advisor to the king of Rohan who is constantly pumping the king full of verbal toxins, keeping the king weak and looking aged beyond his years. When Wormtongue is finally exposed for the controlling, venomous leech he is, the king is released from a state of zombie-like submission. He is restored to his natural state and stands boldly as the fearless warrior he is meant to be.

While pondering the causes of relationship dysfunction recently, I was struck by the disturbing realization that many men who treat their partners poorly have inappropriate relationships with their mothers. Furthermore, it occurred to me that, in a majority of examples I could think of, these men have mothers who spoil them and take every opportunity to be involved in their lives. Because they have never known anything else, these men regard their mothers’ behavior as normal.

In a country where fathers are largely absent due to passivity, personal choice, or work commitments, mothers are often the primary influence in their sons’ lives. While some mothers lovingly raise their sons and set them free into the world as functional adults, others become permanently entrenched in their sons’ lives, refusing to let go of them when they reach adulthood.

Instead of becoming full-fledged men who are prepared to attract and maintain healthy, committed relationships, men whose mothers never cut the apron strings may exist as perpetual adolescents. They may never fully develop the emotional skills necessary to have productive, adult partnerships. Their mothers’ Grima Wormtongue-like control, however well-intentioned, may set them up for a lifetime of hell and heartache.

In Kenneth Adams and Alexander Morgan’s book When He’s Married to Mom: How to Help Mother-Enmeshed Men Open Their Hearts to True Love and Commitment, the authors point out that, “There is a universe of difference between a mother who loves her son dearly and a mother who makes her son the primary focus of her passion and preoccupation in an attempt to compensate for her own emptiness.”

Adams and Morgan note that such “mother-enmeshed men” frequently become involved in sex and/or relationships quickly, have trouble being faithful in relationships, or stay in a relationship for awhile without taking it to the next level. These men often experience sexual dysfunction, direct their anger and dissatisfaction with life at their partner, have a long history of being people pleasers, and have difficulty standing up for themselves.

The problems caused by overly involved mothers can manifest in a variety of ways, but at the root of these problems is a concept Adams and Morgan call The Disloyalty Bind. They say that men who are too close to their mothers unconsciously, and sometimes consciously, make their mother’s interests first and foremost in their lives.

These men are always concerned with pleasing their mothers whether they realize it or not, and so when they have trouble committing or have relationship problems, they push away their partner instead of their mother. Adams and Morgan assert that a man distancing himself from his mother causes him too much anxiety and guilt. Some men would rather destroy a relationship that is good for them than stand up to the omnipresent female power that gave birth to them.

An overly involved and controlling mother will not put up with being backed off or having boundaries put in place, so some men do the right thing to the wrong woman. They project their mommy issues onto their wife or girlfriend, forcing them to distance themselves or even to leave. Wives and girlfriends become surrogate mothers in that they get blamed for all manner of evils, from being control freaks to not wanting what’s best for their man, when they’re not the actual guilty parties at all.

When a mother makes her son a stand-in for his father (which frequently happens to eldest sons), lavishes attention and privileges on her son to keep his favor, or maintains a constant presence in his life without respect for his autonomy, she has, in a way, castrated her son. She has not taught him to have proper boundaries with other people and he may have grown up to find himself attracted to other controlling women. He may have difficulty saying no to sex or no to relationships that are bad for him. He may also be fiercely defensive of his unhealthy relationships and people who harm him.

Having a mother so tightly woven into the fabric of his life may well have kept him from maturing emotionally, especially if a mother always strokes her son’s ego and tells him he’s never wrong. As a result, he may not be able to function in a partnership or solve problems as a team, because doing so requires objective listening and conflict management skills. Such a man may not be willing to admit that he is wrong, because he can always count on mom to tell him that he’s just fine.

Unfortunately this may not just predispose men to bad choices and relationship problems, but also their children after them. A man who is concerned with his mother’s approval and whose lifestyle is a result of that will likely raise children who don’t know how to maintain boundaries themselves. Children are little sponges who learn from their parents’ behavior, and parents who live to please others will probably raise children who do the same. These behaviors can persist for generations.

Unless a mother-enmeshed man seeks help and learns how to have proper boundaries with his mother, he is unlikely to ever have a successful, lasting relationship. The only way that could happen is if he finds a doormat that is willing to go along with what his mother wants. Sadly, I know of situations in which wives placate their domineering mother-in-laws to preserve their relationships with their spouses. That is a miserable way to live, and it completely denies wives the autonomy and intimacy that they are supposed to have with their husbands.

Mother-enmeshed men who are supposedly in committed relationships may seek out soothing, mother-like voices that stroke their egos to supplement what their mothers do. If they don’t feel like they’re getting validation from their partners, they may be quick to turn to female friends or lovers who give them the same assurances that they’re doing nothing wrong. Real relationships are going to have challenges and issues to work through, but mother-enmeshed men may run to those reassuring voices instead of engaging in mutual problem-solving with their partners. They flee from reality.

Not all overly involved mothers exhibit obvious mafia don-like behavior or bark orders. Some selfish, controlling mothers disguise their intrusions by being generous, helpful, or sacrificial to excess. Their need to fill their own emptiness or feel important by maintaining a strong presence can be masked by an exuberant “benevolence.” Look deeper, though, and you may find that these same women expect a significant degree of loyalty and amount of attention in return.

These mothers will make it clear that they come before their sons’ wives or girlfriends. Breaks, holidays, and vacations should be spent with them even if that means their sons’ spouses get left behind. They call frequently or expect calls at set times, and they remind their sons’ spouses that their families already have set ways of doing things. They don’t hesitate to trivialize or look down upon their daughter-in-law’s family and their commitments.

Such mothers will seize upon problems in their sons’ relationships and use those issues to drive their sons’ partners away to maintain their control. They will ridicule suggestions that their son seek help for himself or his relationship through counseling or support groups, and continue to reinforce the belief that there’s nothing their son needs to do better. They may present their knowledge and know-how as superior to any means by which their son can better his life. Such mothers can be gasoline on the fire of dysfunction and domestic violence. They can destroy families.

Some of these women are so desperate to keep their position in their sons’ lives that they will lie, cheat, slander, and steal to preserve their “throne” when their sons forge a commitment with a partner. Whether they realize it or not, their actions show that in their world, life is all about them. They do not back off and let other women take their rightful place in their sons’ lives.

This is not love, this is slavery. Women who should be finding their worth, companionship, and self-esteem elsewhere latch onto their sons like vampires, draining their very life from them. They keep their sons from being whole people and living the life that God intends them to have. God has been very specific about what happens to a man when he grows up—“a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). But some mothers never cut the apron strings, and have conditioned their sons to cling to them instead.

Many men realize that they live with a horrifying degree of guilt and anxiety, but don’t know why. They may feel that they’re always going to fail, or they may feel that women are always out to control them. They may embark on a near-perfect relationship and then hack that relationship off like a diseased limb later when the mysterious guilt and anxiety overtakes them. They may hate their wife or girlfriend for things she hasn’t even done, and accuse her of the very things that their mother is actually doing, without realizing that their mother is the root cause.

Some mother-enmeshed men function under an illusion of self-sacrifice. Adams and Morgan have noticed that many mother-enmeshed men work in caretaking or heroic professions in which they are people rescuers or people pleasers. These characteristics may stem from their having to continually rescue or please their mothers. The self-sacrifice they display in their work is reflective of what they have always done for their mother’s sake, forfeit part of themselves to gain the admiration or approval of others.

This self-sacrifice can occur when mother-enmeshed men break off relationships. They may forego having a serious relationship for a number of reasons, including “for their kids’ sake”. They may engage in casual relationships that no one else has to know about. By doing so, they keep their relationships off of their mother or other controlling women’s radar screens, placating them and “keeping the peace” by sacrificing their own desires. While that may appear noble on the surface, no man should live in bondage to his mother or anyone else. If a man has to water down or hide his desire for companionship to avoid the wrath of other women in his life, there is something terribly wrong with that.

Men, if anything I’ve said bothers you or touches a nerve, please see a therapist or talk to a minister before you tell me that I’m wrong. I am extremely concerned about the number of men who put themselves, their mothers, or other women above their partners. No other woman should come before the one who has committed her life to you. She should be number one in your life and never blamed for the wrongs inflicted on you by other women.

If men won’t cut loose from the chains their mothers bind them with for their partner’s sake, then they should do it for their own sake or for their children’s sake. Having an overly involved mother is keeping all of you from becoming the people you were born to be. It prevents you from becoming autonomous adults with the ability to form healthy, joy-filled relationships.

You should be living in freedom, constantly learning and growing. Maintaining inappropriate attachments to your mother will keep you depressed, angry, submissive, anxious, guilt-ridden, and possibly even impotent. You were created for so much more than that.

I find it very distressing to think that millions of men may spend their entire 85-plus years living milquetoast, mediocre lives caused by their hurting or narcissistic mothers’ ideals. Thankfully millions of women have raised emotionally healthy men with a strong sense of individuality, and have remained a powerful source of love and support for those men their whole lives. But how many more have dominated their son’s existence and kept him unnaturally focused on them?

Moms, love your sons, be close to your sons, and be there for your sons, but do not impede their God-given mission to live adventurously, love passionately, and accomplish feats that no one before them or after them can. When they grow up and you refuse to let go, you are stifling their masculinity, their maturity, and their marriages. Please love them enough to let them be who God wants them to be, not who you want them to be. They—and their women and children– deserve no less.

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We are separate people with separate identities, and we must not be conformed into someone else’s wishes that may conflict with what God has designed for us. We must own what is our true self, and develop it with God’s grace and truth. –Henry Cloud

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©2010 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com.

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94 thoughts on “Mogul Mothers, Suppressed Sons

  1. Hi, I just broke up with my husband who now i am sure was already married when we married and sure to divorce him.
    My story is, he was living in another country and we fell in love. We had some time of long distance relationship. I visited his house where he was living with his mother. I was 32 and he was 33 at time. I would never be with a man living with mom at that age. And i had concerns but he said, his mother suggested they buy a house together and he was struggling to rent a place at the time and he accepted this offer at 26 years old. His mother put cash and he had the mortgage dept. He said he never imagined to live with mother and has no mother issues and when the debt is finished we can go on our way. It was 3 years left that is is finished. I was so madly in love i quit my job,and married him to be at his country. I met his mother and while she was different i thought of this as a cultural difference. And my husband told me we will all adjust living together and i wont be like a third person in the house. While i could not get a work visa and had almost 0 chance to find a job without it before at least 6 months. So i moved there very excited to start a new exciting life with him in a different place. I had some signs like his mother did not write me on our wedding date, which was in my home country. When i arrived she gave me no presents or anything. But at the same time she acted kind of friendly, although it looked forced to me. I thought again well maybe this is cultural. The problems started just the 3rd day of our living together. My husband when he asked to marry with him meant i marry him and his mother. I wanted to eat together with my husband because its the beginning of our lives and i wanted to have some special time together. And i barely know her mother to spend all the time together. Her mother stormed that day when she learnt about it. I would like to remind this is a western culture country and in fact i am the one coming from the eastern. But here families leave space to newly weds. I was so shocked why this became a problem. His mother sit there in the living room while we cook and watch tv and put her evil eyes on his son. He really felt so sad and panic. We took our plates and to the garden. And when i came to leave the plates i saw that she is trying to wash what we left.In the meantime because of the stress he feels my husband started to cry and when the mother hear this she yelled at me that she never saw his son this unhappy!!!!

    These kind of issues kept on going and by not taking any side my husband took her mothers side . My hearth fell apart to be treated this way by the man i moved country. And also felt so stupid to take this decision. Although i was doing good to settle to the country, i hated being at that house. Me not earning any money, and him paying most of his salary to the morgage i got stuck there. At another storming of her ( i cooked another meal while she cooked something else) She shouted at me not to insult her. Than i could not take it anymore and moved back to my country thinking to divorce. I just loved him so much, we started again. While he accepted there is something wrong the way he lives with his mother, at one email he addmitted that he feels stuck but can not do anything. I saw a sign that he accepted and thought things could get better.
    But for us to reunite again he had to finish paying the debt which is another year after he increased the payments. But him never agreeing to sell the house and spare shares broke my hearth. He put her instead of our life and could accept that we stay apart a year. By the time we are long distance again i started to feel lonely and hard to cope with the feelings that i feel he does not care for me. I turned to him to speak about my feelings but he got overwhelmed and everytime i wanted to speak with him he was usually quiet. Meantime finding a job again and settling, and the things i dealt there left me in a depression. I could not deal anymore. And at one time when he shut himself down again, i told him in an email i am getting out of his life although i love him.
    When we fight he usually shuts down, and make me question myself if i am a controlling, nagging person. Couple of times he said i feel overwhelmed and left to be on my own.
    I guess selling this house and buying a bit less cheaper house that her mother could live was an option. But he never had the courage to speak with his mother.
    I thought even after i wait a year he might change his mind to move out as he promised me. And a year in a persons life is precious. I am missing him like crazy now but i can accept that he can not love me like the way i do because he is broken emotionally. I can not heal him. He has to want to heal and take action.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. This is such a common issue and it affects women all over the world.

      Your last two sentences contain truth that many women need to hear– you can’t heal him, and he has to want to heal and take action. That’s wisdom.

      I’m sorry that you went through all of this. I’m saying a prayer right now that God will bless your daring, generous heart and give you a husband who is worthy of your love. I know God has a plan for your life and he can take this misery and turn it into your misery. Thank you for speaking out– it shows your strength. Never forget that you are a daughter of the King and He wants His very best for you.

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  2. Wow, I actually know quite a few people like this! It is very sad. On a somewhat lighter note, there is a show called “The Goldbergs” that deals with this very issue from the perspective of a young boy.

    The show’s creator based it on his own family and experiences with a domineering mother.
    While there is no doubt that she loves her son and the show makes it seem humorous, it is also very unhealthy the way she smothers him and shadows his every move, especially as he hits puberty. I wonder what the real Adam Goldberg really thinks about his mom’s overbearing ways now that he is an adult.

    But this is also why Norman Bates is a character that seems all too real, because his mother views him as an extension of herself.
    Norman’s relationship with his mother is what creates his mental illness.

    There is nothing at all wrong with a mother loving her son and being there for him, but he also needs room to grow into a healthy, happy, well-adjusted man.
    No woman wants to be with a “mama’s boy”. We want men who love and care for their mothers, but we don’t want the type of unhealthy dynamic described here.

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    1. Excellent points. And isn’t it crazy just how many people we can think of who are in these situations? An overbearing parent can ruin someone’s ability to function as a healthy, autonomous adult completely– and sadly, their victims don’t even see that it’s happened. They just continue on as slaves to the parent and their selfish point of view. They attack those who point out to them that they need to put some boundaries in place and grow up.

      Because of your comment I caught a few minutes of The Goldbergs tonight and see what you mean. Unfortunately overbearing mothers are often portrayed in a comedic light on TV shows, so in real life we don’t take them as seriously as we should. I have an older post on here called “Sitcom Wives” in which I feel that stereotypical portrayals of strong mothers/wives have conditioned us to accept self-centeredness and negativity as normal.

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  3. I am coming up on 6 years of marriage to my MEM. A little over a year ago when I was 8 months pregnant with our second child his explosively alcoholic parents went crazy and both verbally and physically attacked me in front of our 3 year old daughter and my 9 year old son (from my first marriage). Making it impossible for him to deny how they tried to break our marriage apart. Since then we have ceased communication with his parents and he had read “When he’s married to mom”, but he continues to mentally abuse me. He is always telling me that I’m controlling, gaslighting me, and making me feel plain crazy. If I try and talk to him he get defensive and angry and the situation quickly turns into what I have done wrong and how he is the victim. We are starting couples counseling in November, but I feel so stuck and my gut is telling me to leave, but we have two children together and my oldest son and of course, I am the care taker and have no means of financially supporting myself. I’m worried that he has been visiting live cam chat sites and I know for a fact that he watches porn regularly. He is very demanding sexually and frustrated with me when I say no, but how am I supposed to be intimate with him? He is also very controlling and emotionally abusive to my 10 year old son causing a lot of fights and stress as well. But he blames the 10 year old and says that he is trying to change if he admits any faults at all. I suppose I just need guidance and prayers. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. This sounds all too common. I would strongly recommend connecting with a domestic violence advocate in your community without him knowing. You should have a safety plan that is completely off his radar– abusers can track your cell phone, computer, etc. activity. I cannot recommend the documenttheabuse.com website or Susan Murphy Milano’s book on leaving abusive and stalking relationships enough (Time’s Up).

      Couples counseling isn’t what’s needed. That was reiterated in a lecture I was in last night. Individual counseling, maybe. But nothing you do, say, or change will make him stop that abusive behavior. He wants you to think that it will, but it’s his job to change. Don’t let him convince you that ANY of his behavior is your fault.

      He sounds narcissistic. He won’t take responsibility for his actions; it’s always your fault or your child’s fault. He’s projecting blame onto you guys.

      This won’t get better on its own. You need to talk to someone, and even if you’re not willing to leave yet, start planning a way out. Never discuss this with him. Don’t trust the times he says he’ll change or do better. It’s just part of the cycle of domestic violence. They keep you off balance with those more calm “honeymoon” periods.

      You’re clearly an intelligent, educated, caring woman who loves your children and you KNOW God wants more for you than this. Your safety comes first– worry about the safety of yourself and your children first and let him figure out his own issues and what he wants to do about them.

      Listen to your gut. It’s time to connect (in secret) with an advocate.

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  4. Thank you for your enlightening article! I am going through a recent breakup and a lot of points in this article described my ex in ways I didn’t know how to explain to him – the guilt over disloyalty, misplaced self-sacrificial feelings, never thinking he’s wrong (only when it comes to me!), etc. My ex took it a step further and called it his principles to provide her with companionship and overcome her insecurities. It was his top priority, I felt like I was only getting leftovers. I tried to explain to him that some of these obligations are more husband-like, but he said these are a son’s duty, that he cannot abandon family values for a girlfriend. This results in any arguments re: his mother ending in him calling me controlling for trying to restrict his relationship with his mother. By the end of the relationship, I was starting to believe him, and thought that maybe I could solve our problems by putting her needs as my top priority as well.

    My question is: what are your thoughts on sons who voluntarily and willingly take on the role of a surrogate husband? From the outset, while his mother does seem to make him her best friend, she seems quite normal (apart from a few incidences of very, very, very subtle guilt tripping). She seemed genuinely excited for him to have a girlfriend, and was very nice to me, inviting me over for dinner and showering me with gifts. When he told her he was going to move out, and move in with me, she cried but said she understood (they previously planned to live together permanently). She does give him freedom to explore and develop. He was a people pleaser but very ambitious.

    At the beginning, my ex seemed normal too. We went from 0 to 60 in a few short months, planning a timeline to move in together and get married. He did care for his family deeply but has also shown that he puts me first. Then suddenly it’s like a switch is turned off. His mother returned to top priority, cue a lot of fights. Then he went back on his promises and told me he couldn’t move out of his mother’s place / leave her behind because he wanted to give her a sense of belonging. Told me he felt guilty for hurting her by not being around her much when we got together. I went from being his future, to a mere girlfriend.

    I am still trying to come to terms to how this could happen, could you shed some new light on this?

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. As many people who post here do, so many answers are contained within your own words. He’s married to mom– so how can he truly marry you?

      In many faiths and cultures the son does have certain duties. When a husband’s not there he might have to financially support his mother and help out a lot. But he should not BECOME the husband emotionally, putting all other relationships below his mother. As a Christian I look at God’s model for marriage, which means his WIFE should come first, not his mother. Since this guy can’t even model that to you as a girlfriend, he won’t be able to as a husband either.

      One thing you said that really jumped out at me is how fast this relationship developed. That can be a red flag. It sounds all too familiar. Perhaps you were the long-awaited escape from his indentured servant sort of life, but these guys can’t sustain that excitement or commitment. Unless they recognize how much power they allow their mothers to have in their lives and commit to changing that, they will always run out of steam and return to their default setting, which is that mom comes first.

      Another thing you said that’s familiar is how his mother lavished you with gifts. Scary… because the initial overdoing it on the part of the mom can be an attempt to get control over you too. I touched on that in this post.

      You asked how this could happen. Unfortunately these guys have been so conditioned to allow mom such a high level of control in their lives that they’re programmed to feel guilt when they start to break away. They can only get so far, and like a yo-yo, they snap back to their original position. Some will go as far as getting married, but then they’ll expect their wives to take a back seat to their mothers because they still can’t maintain appropriate boundaries with them and keep their priorities straight.

      Yet another point you made that will resonate with people on this thread: YOU were accused of being controlling for asking him to set and keep boundaries with his mother. That is domestic violence in the making. YOU become the bad guy. YOU are to blame. Don’t be with someone like that. If he can justify blaming you because he’s so tied to mom, then he can justifying siphoning off your paycheck to her, punishing you for disrespecting her, and all the other ugliness that guys who’ve never truly grown up display.

      There is an umbilical cord here that you cannot sever. He has to decide to do that himself. He can love, respect, and care for his mom, but if he can’t handle putting a wife above his mom, he’s incapable of being a consistently good husband. This battle will always exist, and it could get worse as she gets older and needs more care.

      The bottom line is that you can’t change this for him. As with domestic violence, you can’t be good enough/beautiful enough/thrilling enough/giving enough to make it stop. This is his problem and he needs to own it and seek help for it. Chances are he can’t see what a problem it is anyway.

      You are an intelligent and articulate person who deserves to be in the front seat of the relationship, not sandwiched in the back with all his and mom’s baggage. I know these relationships are confusing and keep us guessing and off balance. Many of us women also have a strong desire to fix things and make his life sunshine and lollipops. You can’t fix it.

      I believe that the closer we draw to God, the more likely it is He’ll provide someone who will truly puts us first. He never said, “Man, act as your mom’s husband, but then go out and find a wife too.” No. He said a man will separate from his parents and be with his wife. Wife comes first. That’s the original design. Man’s not supposed to have his most emotionally intimate relationship with his mother and then go seek a wife out to have sex without giving her that intimacy. As a wise man once said, marriage is going all the way emotionally.

      Hope this helps. We’re supposed to have an equal partner, not someone who beats us up when we dare (gasp) to suggest that we be top priority when we’re their spouse. It shouldn’t be a battle. It should be a given.

      Also check out http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com/. I’m betting some of the essays there are going to ring a bell. You can sign up for their weekly newsletter. If you haven’t read Sandra L. Brown’s books Women Who Love Psychopaths and How to Spot a Dangerous Man, as extreme as those titles sound, I’m betting certain red flags will jump out at you from those too.

      The bottom line: How could this happen? It was already rigged this way before you came along.

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  5. My partner and I have been together for 3 years in a long distance relationship. He is 36 years old and lives at home with his parents in a unit beside his parents. The father has emotionally neglected his wife and children and the mother has made my parter the golden boy. He doesn’t have a job even. His mother cooks, does the laundry and is his confidante and best friend. He has become like her surrogate husband. My partner also suffers from BPD and thinks that by some magic things will ‘right’ themselves when I get there. His mother consequently wants to be my best friend. I don’t trust her as far as I can throw her with all her sacrificing, victim plot she has legitimately made my partner her victim. I’m reading all this and truly freaking out here………..I mean what is my problem that I’m still with him? Apparently I am the only woman that my partner has ever made more important than his mother. Before I came into his life my partner was convinced that he was not meant to be in relationships or be with anyone because GOD blah blah blah and he wasn’t meant for them. Along I come and now he wants to marry me and move out.

    Someone help me see straight here.

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    1. Thanks for opening up about your situation. You said that you’re the only woman your partner has ever made more important than his mother. Are you sure about that? Or are you more of an accessory or an escape route? Perhaps he’s sick of his mother and their family’s dysfunction as well, but he needs to prove that he can live life as an independent adult, not just attach himself to another strong woman to detach more from his parents.

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  6. My story (sorry it’s long – it’s the first time!): several years ago I had been assaulted and in more recent times I had been diagnosed with an illness which I had been told may be terminal. I was vulnerable and a mess and I became best friends with XXX and he had helped me open up, tell my story and was the first person I had told everything to in such detail, I shared things with him that today I desperately regret as you will see why…

    Before getting together he offered to visit somewhere I feared with me (related to assault) but scheduled this around going to sleep with a woman who was visiting the country having had a one night stand with her months earlier. The week after I was assaulted again in a completely unrelated incident. He picked me up from the hospital and I asked him to stay with me. He didn’t and went to sleep with the girl who was still here again. He regretted this hugely and I tried to forget it…We got together and life was perfect. We adored each other but cracks that annoyed me began to show. Women ringing in the night screaming at him, offers of sex being texted to him, people that he didn’t know coming up to him patting him on the back for the one night stand with the girl he betrayed me with because he bragged about it and his friend spread it around with him. I felt that it was dirty and cheap and it caused months of me being what I guess is abusive – asking questions about his past. I took a disliking to some of his friends that were related to this part of his world and I asked him not to have contact with these friends. There was lots of conflict around this. Around the same time I went to a party and sat alone listening to a group of wives sitting around talking about me being the “elephant”, a “fat witch”…. His ex pinched his ass in front of me, he “didn’t notice”. This all led to high levels of insecurity and a sense of being hated and disliked by these people, who had no reason to shun me in this way. We got pregnant and the day I had a miscarriage and was texting him from hospital he had received an email from his ex with a video of them both and told me he “refused to tell her not to contact him again, because that shouldn’t be important on a day like today”. I lost the baby that day, and forever more I have been the one to blame for him not being there because I was too busy being angry at him about his ex. It’s all my fault.

    I tell you this as background to the hurtful nature of his friends and family and their actions toward me. We told his sister that we were pregnant and I lost the baby on her birthday, but because their unreliable father had let her down, we went to her party and I sat feeling like dying while everybody (who didn’t know about the baby) talked about how we’d be having kids soon, and his sister looked excitedly at me, not realising we had lost the baby. I put myself through so much to try to be a good friend. I arranged occasions to meet with all his friends and sister to have dinner to cheer him up, I messaged them regularly online to keep in touch and arrange things and make sure they were looking out for him in my long-distance absence. I tried my best to be part of the family.

    I met his mum. I had been warned his stepdad was a “pervert” a “show off” and would “love me because I’m hot”. He was lovely to me and afterwards I was told he had hated XXX’s ex because she was a nobody, but that I had impressed him and that was acknowledged by his “good behaviour”. I then got a friend request online from mother to find pictures of XXX and his ex kissing and hugging all over the website, including recent conversations on there between his mum and the ex’s mother about them having been a couple. I asked XXX to ask her to delete them. She said she had. she hadn’t. I told him, they argued. she said she had. she hadn’t, and I was suddenly blocked. I told him to make it clear I did not want anything to do with her, if our relationship wasn’t respected. he did. She was asked never to contact me again which she was so upset about and agreed to… Then texted me two days later ignoring everything in a friendly checking-in type text message. There were a couple of instances like this. Things became tense and I deleted his sister at his request, and our holidays were ruined by a text from mother to him saying sister had been in tears on xmas day (he had been with them in the morning) because she had noticed I had deleted her. I texted immediately apologising and letting her know I loved her and the reasons why. I got a reply nearly 3 weeks later and spent loads of time helping her pick out presents for him, to find she also had been re-adding his ex and ex mother in law against his wishes. I cut off contact. He had a period of conflict with them. I then saw abusive messages calling me horrendous names on fb by his friend. XXX called him and he told us that XXX’s mother had been contacting him and told him about me being nuts and causing problems. He spoke to mother who admitted it but “hadn’t said anything nasty”. I reported to police and mother texted XXX asking why he would want to get his friends into trouble with the police, and that I’m a liar about reporting it anyway and the police wouldn’t care. It resulted in XXX agreeing with me reporting it all to the police, including his mother keep contacting me despite him begging her not to. I went to the police station with him and he accompanied me whilst making me report. Today I’m accused of “making fake police reports” by him, he tells me “he only came to make sure I didn’t lie about anything” and that he “sat there laughing at my exaggerations” when in fact he sat quietly whilst I spoke to the police. Having been told for months by XXX that motherj ust wanted the best and was so sorry about everything, he then showed me a text from her saying “I didn’t want to delete your friends” and he told me “why should she have to?” It was here that the siding began….

    Since then I have been harassed by the people around him and he justifies it by saying it’s because I control him and have not let him see them and that they are right to be angry that he’s disappeared. When in fact it is due to my assault, illness and miscarriage being branded all over the internet and mocked. I feel humiliated and ashamed. He’s recently regained contact with his family and spends most of his time ignoring anything I have to say blaming me for being “controlling”. I’ve just lost my job because of this, I’ve just broken up with him because of this. and I am “evil” “abusive” “controlling” “100% to blame” “destroyed his life”. The most hurtful thing is that he switches between justifyng the abuse that he cannot ignore i.e. posts online that he sees about me, or if it is in the form of emails, tells me I am sending them myself to sabotage his relationship with his mum. In an argument about this, he smashed my laptop, losing my revision before final exams, but was then desperate to celebrate his sister’s uni achievements with her. He calls me names that were used during me being assaulted and contrasts this by telling me “you’re jealous of my sister” “my sister is a better person than you will ever be” “I love my mum more than you” and the recent one is “we’re not family”. I point out that in mocking my miscarriage they are mocking part of their own family and he tells me none of that matters. He ignores the months we had of planning and getting excited and telling people about the baby and just tells me “I can’t have any anger towards them about that because you are a murderer and wanted to get rid of it anyway”. When that was an initial couple of days of panic at the beginning of the pregnancy.

    The most hurtful thing is that I am now to blame for everything. and in desperation to prove myself, I’ve exaggerated, embellished and lied about things to desperately try to make him see what is happening to him, me and us…. but now having been honest about that, I’m the “liar”, who he didn’t get a valentines gift for, but whose mother got a wonderful mother’s day present last month.

    Having read your article, I realised the pattern: his father abandoned the family and his mother would call on him to come around and abuse XXX when she couldn’t “control his behaviour” as a teenager. And now, having lost him to me, she got other people again to do her dirty work and she remains the helpless victim who he defends.

    Also, when I was with my ex and relying on XXX as a friend he always told me “i shouldn’t be supporting you with this, your bf should”. Now he is my bf I get told “your mum should be supporting you with this, not me”. It’s always about shifting blame, it’s about never being responsible. I accept that I was rigid and mean and that I shouldn’t have given ultimatums and banned him from doing things, going places etc etc…. but he cannot distinguish that from me protecting myself by asking similar things of him to protect me from abuse.

    So, the daily harassment continues…. and they have destroyed my life and it’s been dismissed, justified and blamed on me by the man that I loved and dreamt of spending my life with. And he will never see it.

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    1. And I should also add to that, that when I met him he was full of shame, anxiety and guilt. Didn’t know what he looked like as couldn’t face seeing himself and didn’t know where anything came from. Now the shame and guilt he feels is attributed wholly to me controlling his family and friends relationships with him.

      He told me that the only thing that would make him a proud man, would to be in touch with these people. Oh how he’s got it all backwards, for the sake of his mother’s throne.

      And sadly, I either have to be the doormat, or I have to defend myself, which makes him depressed and plays into their hands, because it means that by contrast, his time spent with them is happy, and I’m the monster.

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    2. Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m so sorry for the loss of your child. I’m especially sorry that people were not sensitive to you in light of it.

      My gut feeling in reading this is: get as far away from these people as you can. Don’t have any contact with them. The farther away from them you get and the more time moves on, you’ll see how selfish and dysfunctional they are. They sound like they thrive on drama.

      I need to write a whole post on projecting– selfish and evil people projecting what they’re doing wrong onto others. They blame you for what THEY do. You find yourself held responsible for every bad and unbalanced and sinful thing they do. It’s a very common trait in these situations.

      A huge red flag is this guy’s lack of boundaries with other women including exes (I wrote about this in another post… the concept that an ex is an ex is an ex). He wants a convenient woman, a base of operations who will always be there for him and who he can come home to, while he’s out there having sex with other women.

      This is a dangerous guy and I’m glad you’ve chosen to protect yourself and walk away. He’s proven to be very hazardous to your psychological health. Even though you know you’re not the moron his people try to make you out to be, if you stay involved with a group like this long enough, you might start to believe their lies. They can wear you down and make you feel like you’re not good enough for anyone else.

      Have you read Sandra L. Brown’s How to Spot a Dangerous Man? Certain chapters will jump out at you because of your experiences.

      You are better than this. You don’t deserve to be harassed or abused. As a Christian I want other women to understand that they are daughters of the King and should not allow themselves to be treated like fast food or gas stations. Your worth to your Father is beyond measure and any man who treats you as if you’re a commodity or something to be used and thrown away has no place in God’s plan for your life.

      See the clarity and strength you’ve shown already? That will grow as you distance yourself from these toxic people. You can’t fix them and playing their games will only drag you down to their level.

      This is my most read blog post and you having the backbone to extricate yourself from the wreckage and move on could show a lot of other women that they don’t have to take it either. Good job, and keep moving on!

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  7. I am finally strong enough to share my story here.

    I got in a relationship with a 32 year old doctor which progressed into an engagement after 8 months and ended with him texting me that it was over because his mother had told him I would be “hard to live with” after a year.

    I had thought he was the kindest most loving person I had ever met in my life. Although it was a long distance relationship and I was in school at the time he came and visited me once a month and we were on the phone 24/7 it felt like. We fought like every other couple but never in the year of our relationship did we ever end the day mad at each other. I had always thought my ex lacked self-confidence and was always very socially award but I loved him all the same and saw a change for the better as we progressed that he was eventually becoming more confident. His mom made sure to wipe that all out soon enough.

    Now comes all the red flags I missed along the way that led to what seemed like a perfect relationship crashing and burning.

    I knew right of the bat that he lived with his mom and dad in their basement. This wasn’t strange as a lot of South-Asians tend to live with family until they get married. In the two weeks we first started talking he wanted to get a new phone. In 2012 and being a doctor he did not own a laptop/computer, tablet or a phone with texting abilities just a regular early 2000’s flip phone. He was super excited about getting a certain phone talked about it for a month. One day he called saying he had bought a new phone but not the one he had raved about but the one … wait for it … his mom, aunt anddd sister told him to buy. Okkkk I let it go.

    From talking to him I got a picture of his family. His dad worked 16 hours a day (paediatrician) while his mom, a home-maker who had never worked a day in her life was never home due to her being a social butterfly. He would wait for his dad to come home at night to heat up dinner. I found out that he had a joint account with his mother and that he would keep it like that until he married. I also found out that his mother checks all this credit card statements but when we became serious he told met that he had asked her not to do this any more. At the end of I found out that this was a lie.

    4 months in our relationship he finally got his first real job as a doctor and he put up a post on facebook that he was “happy to be on his own” meaning that he was no longer a student or in residency. His sister (also a doctor) who lives in another city called up his mother and told her that he was going to move away and had expressed this on facebook. His mother completely stopped talking to him for a week without even telling him why!! He had to beg and ask her what was wrong to finally be told the reason and then he had to apologize for something that was never the case and even it if was (a 32 year old doctor wanting to move out) there was nothing wrong with. So this was a first glimpse I caught of the control his family has over him.

    But since we were long distance none of this effected our relationship at this point yet. When he visited it was like a mini honeymoon for that whole week. We were progressing and he seemed to value me so much. He told me he loved me first, he told me he wanted to marry me first and he told me that he wanted to move away from his city to mine because he no longer wanted to be under his dad’s shadow as a doctor. I was so glad to have found a man that I didn’t have to ask anything off. I had found someone who treated me like gold without having to ask.

    The first time I met his mother she was the nicest person I had ever met. I had never met someone who was so eloquent and so friendly. I immediately chided myself for thinking that she was controlling from all the things I had previously heard and seen of her. After visiting me, his family went to visit his sisters home. There was a issue between them where the sister (a 35 year old doctor) threw his whole family out of her house during Christmas so they all had to move into a hotel. He told me this but never the reason for what went down that day. Since that day his mother’s attitude towards me completely changed. A woman who called and texted me and my family regularly became distance and uninterested. But it never occurred to me that someone who had treated me with so much kindness at our first meeting could later devastate me.

    After 8 months my ex surprised me by flying down to me unannounced and proposing to me that night. I was blown away. Right after the engagement we call him family for their blessings his mother only said |” that’s nice” and his sister said “oh great”. This was her first time ever talking to me. And I had made multiple attempts to talk to her previously. Now that I think back his mother sounded extremely angry on the phone that day. I had bought this up to him but he brushed it off as nothing. No one in this family called to congratulate me about the engagement. He never saw this as an issue and couldntt see how it was hurtful. The first conversation i had with her a month after consisted of her telling me that she wouldn’t be able to buy me anything for the wedding and I was flabbergasted because who says that as the first thing to your son’s fiancee. Later I had a call from his aunt saying that I shouldn’t buy anything expensive for the wedding and that I should keep it low budget and that we shouldn’t even get married because I hadn’t found a job yet. I again didn’t say anything out of respect for her and didn’t even mention this to him because I didn’t want to cause conflict.

    Since we wanted to get married soon, he called him parents while he was over again and asked them to book a venue that I liked. It never once occurred to him or his mother that I would like to choose my own wedding day. She picked the wedding day and it just happened to be the exact same day as the day one of his good friends was getting married, a wedding he had been invited to and she knew about. After I found out I tried my hardest to get him to change the day but he told me that he wouldn’t because his mom chose it and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. In picking this day she had in one swoop ensured that my ex would not tell anyone because he would be too anxious to tell his colleagues that it was the same day as all their common friends’ and at the same time she could now say that of course she wanted the wedding, she had picked the day herself! I was trapped after this. His mom completely fell of the radar after this but I could never get him to see that she didn’t want the wedding.

    My engagement ring cost my ex a $1,500 please remember he is a doctor and I was in law school. His mother had convinced him that If i expected anything more than a days pay from him I was a gold digger and he went along with it. He promised be that he would buy me a real ring soon. But that never happened. Since his mother had a joint account with him she never allowed this to happen.

    Worse after our engagement this woman introduced me as a “friends daughter” when I visited him 2 months after we were engaged. She told him and I that in her family it was unlucky to announce an engagement verbally and that she wanted to announce with a wedding card. He clearly fell for it but so did I. All this time she had kept it a complete secret that we were engaged and that we had even set the wedding date from all her friends and acquaintances.

    We were now nearing the wedding date and nothing had happened. Whenever my dad would call his mom to get the wedding cards made she was never available or would never return his calls. Then finally father’s day last year my dad and his dad started planning the wedding (customary again for South-Asians). His mother took the phone from his dad told my dad that her son and I were having relationship problems and hung up the phone. When I confronted him about what she had said she called my dad saying he had misunderstood, how she had never said that and that she loved me like a daughter.

    I was sitting next to my dad that day. I heard her say it and I heard my dad’s response. She was a blatant liar. That night when I tried to tell him that his mom had said it he screamed at me that “I will always take my mom’s side never yours”. That was the first night I cried to where my soul heart. I never realized that it would never end. His mom came on the phone and kept telling me that we needed to stop fighting and be happy. I never got up the guts to tell her that the only fights we had were about her not allowing anything with regards to the wedding. Not allowing him to tell anyone that our wedding date was set, not giving me a real ring yet, going back on his words that he would move here like he had promised me at her say so etc.

    After that his mother lost all civility with my family. In another conversation she told my family that she didnt like banging on drums which is what she compared telling people that we were engaged and that wedding date was set. She complained to my parents that her son had lost enough money coming to visit me in the year of our relationship and the days he had taken off. That I would have to do with the $1500 engagement ring he had given me as he had already spent a lot of money on me by travelling to see me. My parents could not fathom that someone who was so wealthy could be soooo small-minded and say these things. My parents kept quiet and didn’t say a word back scared that she would break up the wedding if they did. This happened with my ex and his dad listening without a word of protest!!!

    It spiralled after that. We kept fighting about these things but still we always expressed our love for each other and that we still wanted to do this and be with each other. He kept asking her for an engagement date (a ritual south Asians have) and she refused saying she had talked to an astrologer and this was an unlucky year to get married. She caused soooo much drama like arguing with him to the point where he would leave the house, but he always came back within a few hours and would have to apologize to her in turn and beg for forgiveness when she was the one who had created the situation in the first place. It never occurred to him and he had to set her straight and lay some boundaries.

    This went on for a month. He was to come visit me again for a week. I had asked some of his extended family in the past to visit me if they were ever in my city. His mother took this opportunity to send these people to to my house to ask me when I would start earning money, how much my dad and I could pay for the weeding (when only my dad had dropped any money so far on booking the venue as directed by his mother), that I had to be more flexible and move to his city and did i know what divorce was? Imagine the fire this cruel person was setting my relationship on. After enduring her cruelty for so long my family and I endured further humiliation by the rest of his family. When i questioned him about it and why his mom had sent these people, he said she was concerned about us and was trying to help our relationship. He never ever saw how cruel and manipulative she was.

    Within a week of that incidence, after going back home. he texted me that his mom is right, I would be hard to live with and that he had to end it. Never heard back from my ex after that, not even after I tried to call him back. I was left devastated to say the least. The man who was by best friend for a year, a man who had proposed to me on bended knee had broken up with me with a text msg and $14K venue contract to pay back?!

    Its been 8 months since. My healing is still ongoing but I still have days where I am left reeling with the pain of such betrayal.

    But I am also left to analyse his family dynamics;

    1) Joint bank account
    2) Her checking of his credit card statements
    3) Her setting up of his loan repayment at $250 a month on a docs salary on a $140K loan.
    4) Making him completely dependent on her with regards to financial matters as he was never allowed to handle his own finances event at the age of 32 leaving him completely ignorant when it comes to money
    5) Her never giving him a penny of his dad’s money to help out with his loan or our wedding despite
    6) making it customary that he hand over all his pay cheqes to her which he used to do in front of me like as if it was a the most normal thing in the world
    7) Her making him take out a life insurance policy where she was made the beneficiary right after we got engaged all with an explanation that this would protect ME!! How am I protected when she’s the beneficiary?
    8) The fact that she bought all his clothes and shoes which consisted of one pair of shoes and shirts from 10 years back. I bought him most of what he wears now. keep in mind that his mother only shops at the best and most expensive stores for herself: Holt Renfrew, Birks.
    9) The fact that she picked our wedding date, dictated when and if we were allowed to go on honeymoon, what him and I would be wearing for the wedding, what engagement ring I would be allowed to have ALLLLLLLLLLL of which he allowed and I capitulated to thinking it would melt her non-existent heart.
    10) Fact that there is no respect for the dad in the family whose status as a doctor and the money makes this woman who she she is. Even his smallest requests were shouted down and she still speaks badly about his side of the family after 40 years of marriage. The son finds nothing abnormal with any of this.
    11) The father is completely castrated just like the son and deals with it by working 16 hours a day and letting her run wild with his money and status. Although he did treat me kindly he was never able to speak over his wife’s cruelties.
    12) The sister has a life that is completely different from his, moving away from home at the first chance she got. Living a lavish life away from home with absolutely no financial or emotional duties to the mother and yet the mother caters to his sister like the star-child that she is while my ex is the scapegoat.
    13) Despite coming from such a lavish family my ex has been bought up to think that he wants or needs nothing, which is evident in that he lives in their basement with just a bed and old dressing table in his room with old clothes
    14) Fact that after our engagement she told him that his family was having financial problems and that they would not be able to contribute to the wedding – this coming from the mouth of a woman who is the wife of a man who has been a doctor for 40 years, has maids clean her house, weekly landscaping, a regular handyman, goes on $15K trips yearly and buys only designer clothes for herself $5K at a time!

    THE FACT THAT A 32 YEAR OLD DOCTOR DIDNT SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH ANY OF THIS and JUST COMPLETELY TOOK HIS MOMS WORD AS THE BIBLE.

    I have never met a more narcissistic, manipulative and selfish person in my life and at the end of it all no mater how much I bent over backwards and capitulated to her demands I was never able to win over her heart because there was no heart to win over. Get this a month after she successfully split us up, she fixed up my ex with another girl she found and he actually started talking to her. Yup!!!

    Anyways, life moves on and so will my pain. I’m stronger and wiser now and no one will ever break me like this again. My best-friend found this page a while back and sent it to me and it was to the dot what my ex’s relationship with his mother is like. At the end of it all he projected all of her cruelties and the frustrations he has with her on me and hacked off what used to be a perfect loving relationship all to stay safety under her boot where he is her got lil boy (he actually called her once from my house and sniffled that to her because of his frustration as to why I kept asking him about our wedding not moving forward).

    Enough said. Ladies if you are in my situation it will NEVER EVER get better. Run now and save yourself the pain like I couldn’t!!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m sure a lot of women reading this are going to have the same reaction I just did: it’s like we’ve all dated the same guy.

      I appreciate you pointing out the cultural differences since there are some cultures in which the man lives with his parents until he is married. From my American perspective, that’s very strange, but it’s how it is for many people.

      What you’re describing sounds all too familiar to me– the financial dependence on the parents, the odd living arrangements, the busybody sister, and the secret engagement. Ladies, I’ve been through this– there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for your engagement to be a secret. If it’s something that has to be hidden, you can bet that guy has other secrets, like he’s still involved with his exes, is using your presence in his life to curry financial favors from his benefactors (because being “engaged” to you is a nice smokescreen for this other sins, making him look like a good guy), and so on. He’s trying to avoid conflict or letting others know the truth about his life by using you.

      I don’t doubt that the father in this case lost himself in his career so he didn’t have to be around the controlling mother. But in doing so, he sacrificed his son and didn’t teach him how to live or love other than getting a similar career of his own.

      Also, beware these mothers who automatically say weird things to you when you meet or instantly tell their sons that something is wrong with you. It’s a good indication that they feel threatened by you and are trying to establish dominance up front. They don’t want anyone to topple them from their queen bee throne. Lines that come from women like this often pack a one-two punch, seeming like a compliment, but with a hidden jab or jeer. One used on me upon a first meeting was, “You’re prettier in person than you are in pictures.” The way it was said, it did not strike me as a compliment at all.

      Like this brave woman said, if you are in a position to, run. Don’t commit to a lifetime of pandering to a monster-in-law and having children who must bow to her as well. It’s not her place. If you’re in a marriage like this, stop waiting around for things to get better and get help.

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  8. I was just reading Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s “Moments with You” devotional for couples and am going to paste this one in its entirety. My main argument that men should not cling to or be dependent upon their mothers rests on the fact that, from the beginning, God did not intend parents to be above spouses. (This is a great book for couples to read day by day.)

    MARCH 8

    Setting Up House

    A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife. GENESIS 2:24

    On the morning of our oldest daughter’s wedding, I sat on a picnic table near our backyard fire pit and wept. This was the very place where we’d shared hundreds of family experiences together over the years, but I knew my relationship with Ashley, who I called “My Princess,” was about to change—forever.

    Genesis 2:24 instructs newlyweds to “leave” their parents. This doesn’t mean cutting off your relationship with them but instead committing to place a higher priority and loyalty on your spouse. This was what Ashley was about to do. As you think about your parents, here are some healthy boundaries that will enable you to leave, cleave, and protect your marriage:

    1. Never speak disrespectfully about your spouse to your parents. Early in our marriage, I shared one of Barbara’s weaknesses with my mother. I was astounded at how quickly Mom rushed to my side, like a mother hen coming to shelter her wounded chick. My mom never forgot that weakness. As a result, I promised Barbara I would never again discuss negative things about her with my mom.

    2. Be deliberate in the way you plan your holidays. At some point, it will be time for you to start establishing your own traditions in your own family. And even when those traditions include visiting with parents and inlaws, keep your stay brief.

    3. Don’t depend on your parents for finances. There may be a rare situation where their assistance may be appropriate, but if you depend on them habitually you can play to a weak spot in your parent’s lives where they create “emotional IOUs.” And if you’re the parent or in-law in this scenario and your children don’t build these hedges around their own marriage, be mature and loving enough to build them around yourselves. Encourage your children to leave, cleave and establish their loyalty to one another.

    DISCUSS

    How well have you done in leaving and cleaving? What still needs some adjustment?
    PRAY

    Ask God to give you wisdom in how you relate to your parents and, when the time comes, to your adult children.

    Visit the FamilyLife® Website, http://www.familylife.com/?utm_campaign=MKT&utm_source=crosswalk&utm_medium=email, or Own Your Own Copy of This Devotional, http://shop.familylife.com/p-1379-moments-with-you-hardcover.aspx?utm_campaign=MKT&utm_source=crosswalk&utm_medium=email.

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  9. Did I say that these mother’s create narcissists and BPD’s in their sons? Well they do. Through their lack of implementing boundaries and making their sons into their best friends and intimate partners they allow the sons all manner of ill behaviors. They justify and deny any wrong regardless of the son’s horrible rages which are many! They manifest in their sons a perfection and acceptance that allows them to believe that they are special “golden boys” and in this way they are exempt from any responsibility or any true accountability that is related to ‘reality’.

    Instead they are raised believing that they are special and entitled. Here comes the narcissist and the emotionally dysregulated tortured soul because they are riddled with shame, guilt and all manner of insecurities. They literally hate themselves and as much as they LOVE their mommies who they are incested by………….they feel so overwhelmed and incested that they rage against them feeling utterly engulfed. That is where their fear of getting close to anyone comes in, even their soul mate!

    They were engulfed and utterly taken care of for a secret price that was never spoken of. That price was their souls, their cocks and every piece of manhood for a chance at independence and success. Through the covert guilt that their mother’s induced them with they stole their entire life. My partner’s cock might as well belong to his mommy along with his life and any chance at a relationship. I am sorry but in my mind I might as well see them both embraced in a sick sexual embrace because that is what she does to him every frikkin day of his life and he doesn’t realize it. He just knows he is sick and that everything is wrong inside him. He is ruled by guilt with regards to her and feels that he needs to live at home in order to help take care of her. He feels responsible for her happiness and stability. Meanwhile his dad is out gambling and thanking God that his son has taken his place as husband.

    Meanwhile mother closes her body in towards her son as she clasps his arms while walking down the street together. It’s a Saturday afternoon and son should be out with friends but instead he is out with mom walking holding each other like an old couple.

    WTF am I doing in this picture?????

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    1. Exactly. Why waste your time putting fuel on this fire? You might be inadvertently contributing to the problem by going along with much of it to be able to spend time with him. You’re obviously worth so much more than that.

      You said something that resounds with me– men who are enmeshed with their mothers are raging narcissists. I know this from experience as well. Mom, to preserve her relationship with them, becomes the voice telling them they can do no wrong and defending them whenever they do. They will cover for abusers, make excuses for crime, and do just about anything to keep their sons’ egos puffed up so that they maintain their “queen” position in their lives.

      Any time you try to talk through a problem, address an issue, or call them out on bad behavior, you get a snotty, screaming little emotionally disabled two year-old coming at you in return. Being so tied to one or both parents has stunted their emotional growth and they have no idea how to handle adult problems without yelling, blaming, accusing, and attacking. It can be dangerous.

      What this world needs is more men. Not angry little boys who won’t keep healthy boundaries with their parents, but men. Men who can respect their parents but make their women number one in their lives over all others. I don’t mind if a man is close to his mother, but he should never expect his mate to take a back seat to her.

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  10. It is heartbreaking. I am in love with a mother enmeshed male 35 years old and still living with mom and the dad who neglects them all and is all too happy to have the son be the surrogate husband to take the pressure off of him. My guy is terrified of commitment and rages. He pushes and pulls and compares me when he is mad. So he either idolizes me or he demonizes me but nothing normal or healthy. He has no friends and feels guilty if he doesn’t meet her needs. He thinks that she has sacrificed everything for him and the family but he doesn’t understand that she has manipulated them all through the practice of that manipulation for her own needs. It is diabolical and permanently destructive.

    The end result is that my partner suffers from compulsive masturbation and an inability to ‘grow up’ or be independent or come into his own Manhood. Instead he is trapped like a little boy who is incest ed but doesn’t even realize it. It is the ultimate betrayal with every boundary crossed yet done so covertly that he doesn’t eve realize that it took away his independence, manhood and sexuality. His sexuality has been hijacked by being the surrogate husband with a mother and so he is lust filled, dysregulated and a sex addict who can’t go out in the world and become a man nor can he have a decent adult relationship because he has become his mother’s servant and sexualized slave even if it is the guise of emotions, trust me the end result is sex only inverted and perverted. That is why he feels bound to her and if he isn’t there to provide her with her emotional support he is ridden with guilt and then the shame comes in.

    Now with regards to a relationship, he has been utterly impotent literally incapable of having one until I came along. The only reason why it works is because I’m older, stronger and equally as strong as his mother not accepting the crap. But he is still utterly dsyregulated and owned by her. The only way this will ever change is if I move him away from her but short of that he is utterly ruined. She has and continues to incest him and although he feels indebted to her because she serves his every need on a deep level he knows he has been utterly betrayed in the worst way…….and knows he has been prevented from seeking his own needs in the world. She has turned him literally into a sex addict, compulsive masturbater, porn addict and an emotionally dysregulated BPD victim.

    Is that Love? No that is pure selfishness from a very diabolical selfish person who can only think of herself and not of what is best for her child. She is a malevolent person who has utterly destroyed the son she claims she loves. But why should she care? She has him the way she wants him even if that means it has come at the price of his independence, ability to cope in the world and be successful and his masculinity. She has effectually castrated him from not only his own masculinity but his ability to have a healthy adult masculine relationship with a woman that is not her.

    It is utterly sick and when I think about it I want to scream.

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    1. I’m sorry to hear of yet another one of us intelligent, insightful women involved with someone like this. The good news is that you can leave. You recognize what you are to him– just another mother. But until his mother passes away at a ripe old age you’ll never be his number one mother.

      It sounds like you already know this, but you’re dealing with a pathological person that no amount of your efforts can fix. Mom’s a vampire and dad allows it. This sure isn’t a situation that you’d want to bring children into– imagine what these people and their sickness could do to them. And what it could do to you if you stick around.

      You’ll never be the most important person in his life and he’s unlikely to give very much to satisfy you or meet your needs. He’s very unlikely to ever love you back the way you love him. Long-term commitment to change, a good counselor, and the grace of God could make the difference, but you already pointed out that he’s a commitment-phobe.

      I’m preaching to the choir, but a relationship like this is wasting your time and you only live once. If you’re not married to him, you can get out. If you are, seek help, because things might only get worse.

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    1. Yeah, this one’s the book I mention in the post. You’re right; it’s a good book on this topic. But I’d issue a caution with it too– people think if they read the book they think they can fix what’s wrong. What’s wrong will never, ever change unless the man acknowledges that it’s wrong, seeks appropriate help for the problem, and makes a long-term commitment to change. Meaning he needs to spend a lot of time working on it. For most of these guys, being married to mom is normal, so I wouldn’t expect them to see a problem with what’s going on. Why ditch the security blanket?

      We women know this but it’s more difficult to live it– we can’t fix these guys. They have to want to change. And only time will tell if they can sustain change. It’s helpful for us to understand what they’re dealing with, but if we’re talking about 30, 40 50, 60 year-old men, it’s unlikely that a pattern they’ve been entrenched in thus far is going to permanently change if THEY can’t clearly see what’s going on.

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  11. I am so excited to share this!! I found not 1 ..but yes 2!! .. 2!!! …Books on this subject!! 2 MEM instruction manuals!! The answers you seek but your MEM will never answer are all inside!!. LIFE CHANGING! All this time there was nothing and then 2…! Books!! I borrowed the first book for free from the open library. It is an online library where you can borrow books for free. I suggest signing up. It is 100% free but like any library you can only keep the book for a couple of weeks… Here is a link directly to the first book which I found on the open library site. https://openlibrary.org/books/OL7826159M/The_Emotional_Incest_Syndrome

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  12. A little more info….
    He is 51, I am 48. He has had 2 previous marriages both have had to deal with this MEM issue. She calls him pretty much every morning at 7 am, even on the rare occasion that we get away for a holiday. Still an early morning call. They live in the same town but usually speak 2-3 times a day. There are 3 other siblings. A daughter 53, who has been married twice before and her now partner will have nothing to do with mother in law, who ‘bags’ him publicly at any opportunity. The daughter is a salve to the mothers demands. Two brothers…. One lives 2000 km away, wife dislikes mother in law who rings this son every day. Younger brother is gay, lives o/s and has had the same partner for 20 yrs but has yet to meet mother in law. This son’s ‘gay’ lifestyle is never spoken of especially not to mothers friends. He also gets a phone call daily.
    Events have recently taken a turn as mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am sorry for her but the manipulation has now escalated to a whole new level. Phone calls, demands, everyone being made to feel so guilty if they say no to anything. When he and I first met, he had been on his own for 17 years, devoting all of his time to his mother and 2 children who are now 27 and 28 with partners and families of their own. Unfortunately, he also struggles to say no to his children and our plans have often been thwarted by a last minute request by one if them, particularly his daughter. They also have an interesting ‘bond.’
    The mothers husband left her 30 years ago but she lives the story as though it happened yesterday, reciting it for anyone who will listen. After 6 months of going out, we decided to make the 2000 km trip so I could meet his Dad. She made our lives hell before we went, while we were away and on our return. Every morning of our holiday, she rang whilst we were still in bed!
    I only stay at his house 1 night a fortnight and when she calls and I’m there, he never tells her, instead just speaking about what he and I may do for the day once he goes to my house to get me! I’m not to leave anything at his house as he feels guilty (his words) about me staying there both with his kids and his mum. They all have keys to his house so they would know if I’d stayed over.
    I’m confused as to what I should expect from him as far as ‘should I come before his kids AND his mother?’ I just don’t know. The mother thought I was the best thing ever while I kept quiet but once she went too far, I spoke up. I’ve been punished ever since and now with the cancer, there’s no hope of him ever saying anything. He is so tortured but says he is powerless (not) and she will react badly if he protests her behavior. He spoke up about 3 months ago and she had a huge meltdown, became depressed, had chest pains and generally sulked. He gave in….
    My instincts tell me this is hopeless and yes, there’s an urge to fix him. Just don’t know if I’m being selfish by wanting to be the ‘princess’ once in a while. Btw, I have 3 grown daughters, one if whom still lives with me who aren’t perfect, but respect my relationship with him and never ever demand my time. They ask if they need to and I’m there for them as a good mother should be but we all have an unspoken, healthy understanding.
    Enough rambling…..

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    1. Hmm. I just don’t see how he’s ever going to have a successful marriage unless he sets proper boundaries with his mother and children. It’s your choice, obviously, but remember that no matter how different you are from his previous wives or how keen you are on helping him overcome this, he’s unlikely to change. From way over here this doesn’t sound like the kind of guy who’s going to make you his queen, but an accessory.

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    2. Just wanted to reflect on a comment you made about his bond with his daughter. Do you think he is doing to his daughter what his mother has done to him, ie enmeshing in an unhealthy way. I have the same experience with my partner and his adult daughter and my partner and his mother. Just wondering if it runs in the family and the behaviour is passed down the line. They don’t see anything wrong with it because it’s generational. I wonder what role the grandmother plays in this dynamic, for example encourages it, or if it is pure coincidence.

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      1. The same sort of things can happen to fathers and daughters. If people aren’t raised to have proper boundaries with their parents and others, you’re correct– they don’t see anything wrong with it and that dynamic continues. I maintain that men should not be married unless they are willing to put their wife first, not shoving her into the back seat while mom, sister, ex-wife, etc. are driving the car.

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  13. Please, any advice for the man’s partner, not yet wife? He partly recognizes the issue but participates in the manipulation regardless. He’s a wonderful man…… Feeling alone ‘in’ a relationship!

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    1. What I’m hearing is, “he’s a wonderful man, but…” Why marry someone who’s always married? Marriage is supposed to mean that you become first in his life. If he’s already entrenched in a pattern of behavior that demonstrates his unwillingness to put you first, why marry him?

      I realize that’s probably not what you want to hear. Many women, when in these situations are desperate to fix him. We think that with enough love or self-sacrifice he’ll change (and when you spoil him you’re just reinforcing what his mother does). If he was sincere about changing, wouldn’t he do so before he marries you? That’s an excellent indicator that things won’t get better, and could possibly get worse, after you marry him.

      Marrying a man who’s married to mom means you get just a piece or two of the whole pie that marriage is supposed to be. If he has an abnormal relationship with mom everything in your life will be colored by that. Your children will be raised in that atmosphere, which predisposes them to dysfunction and choosing poor partners.

      Here’s an analogy to illustrate what the rest of your life could be like: He and his mom are in the front seat of the car. They’re doing most of the talking and decision making. You’re exiled to the back seat of the car and aren’t supposed to speak very often. You’re expected to defer to them. When your kids arrive, you’re often expected to put them in the front seat of the car at Grandma’s leisure. The net result is that you’re a shadowy supporting cast member in this farce instead of the leading lady you’re supposed to be.

      I don’t know your guy, obviously, but if you’re not yet married, please think twice before you make a lifetime commitment to someone who sounds incapable of loving you back the same way and giving you all of himself.

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  14. I am so hurt and angry. My boyfriend fits this profile. He was a rescue swimmer in the Navy. He is a MEM. He tells his mom all of our personal issues, spends every holiday with her, I am abandoned any time she has an issue and she hates me even though I been so good to him. She wants him to move home and jumps in any time we disagree on anything. She calls constantly and he ignores me, walks out of the room or gets angry when I try to talk to him about it. His mom can do no wrong even though she treats me like crap.

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    1. Sorry to hear that you’re going through this. Thankfully he’s your boyfriend and not your husband. Unless he decides to get help and commit to change, don’t count on him severing that relationship with his mother.

      He has a sweet deal right now. He has you and his mom. And you already know that you will always have to sit in the back seat and be quiet while him and his mother drive. I know you might love him dearly, but a woman with this kind of insight and intelligence deserves a man who will put her first instead of his mom. I know they’re not easy to find but not every man is a MEM.

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  15. Hi, this article made me feel sane. The only difference from the other stories posted is that i only ever met my boyfriend’s mum once and we were in a relationship for 3 and a half years. On the one time i met her she seemed pleasant enough but she did ask me if i had a close family as she told me her’s was extremely close!! Which i did think was abit odd at the time.

    My boyfriend was a fireman (which you stated may be a typical job of a MEM man). He was a very kind hearted guy and a big softie and i feel he loved me very much.

    When i first started dating him i saw him two days a week, which was fine with me as i had a 8 year old daughter, but over time I would press him to see him more, but it never went past the 2 days a week, there would always be something his mum would need him to do which would end up taking his time up.

    I think he played down our relationship because i never met one of his friends or any other members of his family apart from his mum on that one time. I felt like he was trying to hide me or trying to keep me away from that side of his life. Incase i may have seen something, like how he was being treated etc.

    It got to the point where i was seeing him maybe once every 10 days. There would be various excuses but it would be mainly that he had to look after his dad to give his mum a break as his dad was poorly. It got worse and worse.

    When i first met him he told me how his ex girlfriend’s (of 14 years) mum had met his mum in a shop by accident and he told me how his ex girlfriends mum had started screaming at my man’s mum saying ” if only you had left my daughter and him alone they would still be together, you called him up every minute saying can you do this can you help with that, how were they ever to survive this”. He seemed shocked and i asked him if it was true, did he always run back to him mum when she called. He said, “well yes, if she needed me i would”. Alarm bells rang then really.

    I remember we hadn’t seen each other for about 4 weeks as he had been on courses at work and he had to help out with his dad as his dad had to go to hospital for a week or so and he had to help his mum with that, and we stayed in a lovely hotel, as soon as we got there she called him, i mean surely she would know that we needed time. Another time we had been on a special night out and she called him at 1.40am in the morning to ask him if he had had a good night.

    He told me he would move in with me after 2 years of being together but in the end he couldnt becuase he felt too bad on his mum and dad as he had been living with them since he had split up with his last girlfriend. He didnt feel he could leave his mum. I was devasted, i’d never heard of such a thing, why couldnt he live with me and see them once a week like a normal person would do?

    I eventually broke it off, i was always last on his list, we would plan something then he would call and say he had forgotten his mum needed him to run her somewhere. My self esteem was rock bottom, and i ended up thinking whats wrong with me. This guy had told me he wanted to marry me and spend the rest of his life with me but he just could not commit to me. It was the most frustrating experience of my life.

    We planned to spend every christmas together but every one he would bale out of because he felt bad on his mum. We never went on a holiday for longer than 3 days because his mum may need him.

    He then went for full on therapy and councelling for 6 months and i really thought we were getting somewhere. I remember one night he called me to say, “are you free”. My therapist has given me a challenge, i have to get off the train and either come to you or go to my mums and i want to come to you! At the time i still didnt know i was dealing with a MEM man i thought he was depressed, he said he had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress due to his job so i thought it was that. Its only now i know what it truly was.

    Anyway, we ended up getting back together and he made lots of promises so we started looking at houses together, it seemed to be going ok but then one night he just said i dont think i can move in with you, there is something wrong with me, you are the most perfect thing in my awful life and i cant commit to it and i have no reason why.

    I sent him an amazing text, before i even read this article, just saying i thought he needed to be set free from the hold his mum had on him and he needed to become a man and put himself first.

    I think the frustrating thing for me and where i am different is that i never had any other conversations with his mum, I never saw her in action with him, i never saw their interactions, their conversations. I dont know if it was her at him all the time or just whether he played down our relationship so much that she never thought it was an issue.

    But, every paragraph in your article made sense to me, so i must be right.

    What an utter waste of a good human life. He will never find anyone whilst she is his number one focus in life and he can only hide her and the way she is with him for a short while before any girl will realise something is just quite not right!

    Thanks for the article. I’m single now, but certainly won’t be falling for another MEM main.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I feel that the more women go public with their stories, the more other women suffering from this won’t feel alone. They’ll feel more empowered to get out if they’re in a position to do so.

      Your story strikes me as an “other woman” story. As you pointed out at the beginning, you only met his mother once. What do you want to bet that you weren’t the only non-mother woman in his life. That is also common among public safety personnel (I’ve lived it).

      In other words, his behavior seems typical of a guy with more than one relationship on the burner. As someone told me once the fog cleared after my most recent MEM experience, thank God that you were able to get out of that relationship. You deserve better. He was compartmentalizing (also a public safety personnel trait that bleeds into their personal lives) and probably wouldn’t be faithful to anyone.

      As an aside, I’d add that sometimes MEMs are hard to spot. After all, what’s the difference between a guy who loves, respects, and cares for his mother and a guy who can’t function without her? Healthy boundaries, obviously, but MEMs can initially come across as devoted family men when things are worse than that; they’re actually married to mom, not just close to their mom.

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  16. Thank you very much for this deep article…
    This is my life story too…I married a man who was already married to HIS MOM. She still asks him to buy her bras…She is sick, evil and disgusting. He deals with their ‘marriage’ in such secrecy b/c she doesnt want him to tell me anything about their relationship (i.e., when he sees her, what they talk about, sometimes they go shopping without me knowing, she always make sure that he is taking care of her money and investment and on and on).
    I hate my life with him…but i am stuck..
    Thank you for helping educate ppl about this very important issue.

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    1. Oh my goodness, bra shopping?! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. I feel that the more of us women who do so will convince others to be on the lookout for guys like this in the first place. Together we can educate others.

      You say you’re stuck. There is so much pain in that statement I can feel it from here. People have probably asked you whether you’ve tried counseling, talked to a pastor, read the books on this topic, etc. Even if none of those are viable options and he won’t listen, there’s still prayer. Sometimes being alone with God can provide amazing solutions to our problems.

      I respect if you don’t believe that, and I’m a firm believer that no matter how hopeless the situation, we can always pray– and prayer is the best thing we can do and the first thing we should do. Right now I’m saying one for you because surely God has some solution for this horrible situation you’re in.

      If you are being abused– emotionally, financially, physically, sexually, etc.– please get connected to a local advocate who can help you. Too often women in these married to mom situations fail to acknowledge that what is happening to them IS abuse based on power and control.

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    1. Thank you! Isn’t it cool how God can drop a cookie crumb like that in people’s laps and it leads to more helpful info.? All credit to Him.

      I’m a woman who’s been through this and encountered some very abusive and addicted guys whose refusal to see their relationship with their mother realistically had a lot to do with their problems. That is NOT how God designed men or marriage and I see too many men living in bondage to the problems discussed here. Choose freedom, people! Do you really want to look back on your life and see that you lived it in slavery when you had a choice all along?

      Thanks for sharing your post. I’ll finish it a bit later and then probably chime in on your blog.

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      1. wow, thanks sooo much 🙂 Hopefully you will be able to sit through it till you get to the life changing part where your post came in LOL. Have you had the chance to read the whole book that your info is from? It is SCARY but SOOOO accurate! Thank you thank you for your post on it, I hope that me reblogging it can help someone else and/or their spouse find freedom!

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      2. Oh yeah. I read several such books before making that post, but my mind was already made up about the central theme: it isn’t God’s plan for men to remain glued to their mothers. That causes so much heartache later on.

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  17. This article is just enormously relevant and incredibly well-written. It’s given me so much peace and knowledge in the past 48 hours, and I sincerely thank you for sharing your knowledge for this benefit. I am married to a mother enmeshed man, in fact the first time I read this tears were running down my face. I recognized so many things about my husband, his mother, and our marriage. It made me feel sad to see the confirmation that he really does have a serious problem, especially knowing that he does not even realize it, and when I point it out or try to get him help, he becomes verbally abusive, and at times has been physical, because he cannot process what is going on. He pushes me away to protect his relationship with her. It’s so backwards. I’ve showed him books, this article even, his own sister has told him their mother is crazy and controlling and he needs to cleave to me, but he is just convinced I have manipulated anyone who sees things my way, and I am just trying to manipulate him too.

    Sadly, or perhaps not, we are at the fork in the road of our future together. I left him recently for 10 days and refused to come home until he agreed to reset boundaries with his mother for good this time. He fought and called me crazy and insane for the first six days, then had a sudden change of heart and said everything I had been wanting to hear for the next four. I’m 11 weeks pregnant, so I feel somewhat tethered to giving this every chance I possibly can. I came home on Monday, and Tuesday we were back to sleeping in separate bedrooms because I calmly asked, “When can we talk?” And he blew up like I took his favorite toy away during Saturday morning cartoons, whining “Reeeallly? Why do you have to do this NOW???”

    I have been begging him for space from his mother and so we can have intimacy with one another for nearly 5 years, the entire duration of our relationship. She undermines every single thing I try to do for him, and I have always told him I refuse to compete with her. She guilts him into attending a ridiculous number of events, always offering to pay for his ticket or buy dinner, saying how disappointed a niece or nephew or so and so is going to be if he can’t make it. She won’t let us have anything that is just ours – for example – hobbies. She immediately butts in and buys him gifts to support said hobby, and gets herself gear or a vintage car or whatever it is so that she can “join” us when we do things. She insists on a huge blowout of gifts and orchestrated flash at the holidays, and even after her time is over (which is usually at least 4 days non-stop as we live out of state), she refuses to respect my parents time and will call or text to invite us all to do things “together” once her time is over. If we refuse, she will ask again and again until he gets mad at me and we have to submit. I used to tell her gifts I plan to buy him and she would buy them first. She kept me out of a family picture for three years because we weren’t married yet, but they both insisted I ATTEND the photos so I could attend the cookout, hayride, and marshmallow roast that followed. He calls her everyday on his way to and from work (I peeped his phone two days ago, this still happens).

    His response is always, “she just _________.” She just wants to be nice. She just wants you to like her. She just wants to spend time with us. She just wants everyone to be together. She just wants to give you things you will like. I could go on…

    His response is also to tell me that I am completely insane, I am crazy, I am jealous of his mother and I need serious help, I am obsessed with being unhappy and I will create drama out of thin air to perpetuate it, I am using this pregnancy as leverage to try to get him to ostracize his mother, etc.

    I’ve actually been really nice and flexible and, per his instruction, “just gotten through it” for 5 years. I should not have married him, I know. I was naive to ignore so many red flags and think that marriage and moving two states away would fix it all, not in the age of iPhones and Facebook. But what’s done is done, and now I have a mess on my hands. I don’t know if I should try to stay with him, even though he refuses counseling because none of this is HIS fault. As diluted as it sounds, I feel like maybe I would have more control as a parent if we were still married. I could refuse to see his mother and refuse to let him take the child to her. Whereas if I divorce him, he will certainly get shared custody and that thought scares me into indecision. I have no proof of the abuse. A neighbor, I don’t know who, called the police a few weeks ago because we were fighting and it was really bad. The police came but I told them it was just verbal. Dumb, I know. So it would be his word against mine.

    I finally called his sister today and told her what was going on. I’m not super close with her, but I’m desperate to have insight into how I could reach him. She did not mince words, telling me right off the bat that her mother is crazy, that she has serious mental problems and control issues, and that she had to cut her off about a year ago because her mother was screaming at the top of her lungs at her in front of her 10 year old daughter while they were shopping inside a mall. She told her to stop, that she was scaring her granddaughter, and the mother stomped off and called her husband, who was two states away hunting, and demanded he drive and pick her up so she could get away from her daughter’s “abuse”. Then after she stopped talking to her, she was complaining to everyone that she had to go to therapy because her daughter was treating her so badly, and when my mother in law’s own sister told her that her daughter was an adult, deserved her own space, and therefore she needed to stop trying to control her, she completely lost it (they were on the phone) to the point that her sister sent HER husband over to her house to “talk her down”. They were afraid she would hurt herself.

    Mother in law is married, too. Her husband is such a doormat and she treats him terribly. He is so very nice, too. It’s just sad. He enables her completely, just like my husband. Isn’t one enabling and obedient man enough for her?

    My sister in law tried to call my husband to talk to him tonight, and now he won’t speak to me. Accused me of trying to manipulate his sister too, when SHE was the one telling ME how crazy their mother is, and telling me she understood everything I was going through. I’m also hesitant to leave because it sounds like everyone in the family knows she’s a manipulative nut, except her husband and her son of course. It just feels like surely this time, with the majority of his family on my side trying to reach him (Aunts and Uncles and cousins are involved now too), he will realize he has a problem.

    I just don’t want to leave too early, or too late. The physical stuff worries me, especially since I am pregnant. And his mom recently obtained her gun permit and carries a gun in her purse. It’s just one more thing to be uneasy about with her.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your situation and for the compliments. I’m sure a lot of women can relate to your story. I know I had a few, “whoa, that sounds just like something I’ve experienced” moments as I read this.

      I need to add a disclaimer that I’m not an attorney, mental health professional, etc. I’m a woman who’s been through it and I’m tired of seeing other women go through it.

      You are experiencing domestic violence. There are a great many red flags in your comments that speak to how dangerous this situation is or will become.

      First, many women, myself included, have downplayed incidents of domestic violence when the authorities or medical professionals get involved because we’re scared what will happen when our abuser finds out we told someone– and rightfully so. Please note that you’ve already done this at least once (when the police showed up). The fact that you instinctively covered his sorry butt to protect yourself is a huge red flag that you need to get out.

      Second, he does not respect you and neither does the mother he’s practically married to. That’s extremely unlikely to change. I have a theory that mother-enmeshed men marry just so they can have sex. Their boss and companion is their mother; that’s who they’re emotionally bonded to. It’s been said that having sex is going all the way physically, and marriage is going all the way emotionally. Mother-enmeshed men can’t or won’t go all the way emotionally. They will never be fully married because they’re too attached to their moms.

      Third, verbal abuse is domestic violence. Verbal abuse escalates to physical abuse. Physical abuse can escalate to death. Someone who physically abuses you isn’t going to have any regard for your child either. He’s already abusing you knowing there’s a life growing inside of you– that’s not going to change when the baby comes out. He might even be jealous of the baby, who knows.

      Everything you’ve told me says that you are scared for your safety and scared for your child’s safety. You’re already feeling the effects of the psychological abuse this family has heaped on you. Your abuser has anytime backup in the form of his mother.

      You want to protect your baby– bless you for thinking of him/her not only now but for thinking ahead. Whether you stay in the relationship or whether he gets partial custody, you’ll have to deal with these people to some degree. Dealing with them does not go away completely if you leave. But by leaving you can deal with them less. Frankly I’m hoping that if you have proper legal support and court orders he won’t even get custody.

      That said, your safety risks go up quite a bit when you leave an abusive relationship. So you need a domestic violence advocate to walk with you along the way. If you haven’t already, you need to do some safety planning that he won’t find out about. You need to develop a plan of escape. Some police departments have such advocates, some community organizations can do this. Find such a person (without him knowing) as soon as possible. There’s a domestic violence hotline on the sidebar of my blog if you need a starting point.

      You do need to document what he’s doing if you’re not already. Here’s a great website that can show you what to do: http://documenttheabuse.com/. Documentation (that he can’t find) protects you and your baby.

      After you put your safety planning into practice and get to a safe place, that separation will show him that you’re serious about not taking it anymore. Beware, though, that at that point is when abusers promise to go to class, to change, to go to counseling, they break down and cry, they send you letters and flowers, etc. I feel that if they were serious about change, or serious about you, they’d be doing it already. It’s important to remember that your abuser might not want you, but they definitely want to maintain control over you.

      DO NOT kick yourself for not seeing this ahead of time. You didn’t know. Forget about that. Focus on what you can do to give yourself and your child a good life that’s free from these scary people as much as possible.

      As someone once said to me, you’re up a tree, and the tree is falling. How much longer are you going to hold onto it? Until it crushes you?

      You are obviously a strong, intelligent woman who knows what she needs to do. My advice would be to find help– find an advocate– start safety planning, start documenting, and work towards freedom. You do not deserve this and your child certainly shouldn’t be in a dangerous situation. I pray right now that God would give you exactly who you need to help you through this and get you to safety. And if it’s any consolation, some mother-enmeshed men don’t even seem to care when their spouse or partner leaves. I’ll bet your spouse will because he’s an abuser and your leaving is a threat to his control. So BE CAREFUL, okay?

      What’s the number one thing that controlling and abusive people do? They blame the victim. They blame you for being manipulative, crazy, unstable, vindictive, too emotional, too needy, and on the list goes on. It’s called crazy making or gaslighting. But look at that list for a second. Who’s REALLY being those things? Your accusers are. Not you. But that’s what these people do. They project the blame. They blame you for everything that THEY are doing.

      Lastly, his mother sounds like a candidate for borderline personality disorder. I also completely understand what you’re saying about her husband being a doormat– women like this have to be the queen bee. They want passive guys who do their bidding to maintain the relationship.

      If you can do it safely and anonymously, keep me posted. I’d love to hear that you’re talking to an advocate and taking the power back. Bless you for being a tough mom who’s willing to stand up for her kid no matter what the opposition. You’re going to be a great mom.

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      1. Your support confirms what I finally accepted this morning – that I am being abused. He left me early this morning, in fact I was still asleep, and when we spoke later in the day he wouldn’t tell me where he is staying other than “in town”. He said he didn’t feel safe around me (?), and had some stern words about getting his family, specifically his sister, involved. We have a counseling appt scheduled on the 9th, and he said he would not be coming back until at least then, because I am “the aggressor” and he just can’t be in the same house alone with me. He’s always said things like that, that I am the one who abuses him, and it shakes me to the core because I am afraid of someone of authority believing him. I lied to the police on this other occasion as well because I didn’t want him to go to jail, and I had a scraped up arm to explain away. So, I guess they would have record of that abuse, and it’s me doing it to myself. I remember them taking a report, and I made up this story about running outside because I was so upset and falling down a few stairs and scraping my arm on the pavement. He told me that day after they left, that one cop pulled him aside and said he sees stuff like this all the time. Women hurt themselves and pin it on their husbands, so my husband should be careful. I felt powerless after hearing that, and have always assumed that conversation really took place, but he probably made that up too.

        Now that I’m noticing the reasons behind his words, I am certain that he says things like that to keep me from taking action and telling someone. I’m positive he told his sister something awful like I am abusing him, that’s probably why he left – she told him to and he’s got a story to sell. That’s why he won’t tell me where he is staying – he’s playing this victim. I don’t blame his sister even though I’m disappointed in her (more on that below), but really he lied to get her on his side. Either way, regardless of what’s going on in his fantasyland forest of fibs, I’m sticking to and acting on the facts, no matter what he says. I’m sure mother is heavily involved in this new spin as well. I am getting the locks changed next Tuesday. I don’t know what made me finally make that call to the women’s outreach, but I am so glad that I did. I attempted to get some legal advice as well, but will have to wait on that until the as-soon-as-financially-possible near future.

        You’re right, I will have to deal with them in some form whether I stay or divorce him. After speaking with his sister last night, I really felt she understood what I was dealing with and would fight to make him understand. She kept telling me this wasn’t my fault, that it was his and her crazy mom’s fault. I didn’t mention the abuse to her because, well, it’s his sister and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing that for some reason. I’m afraid that since then, he informed me that they have spoken several times today, and she is very concerned about the safety of my baby because of my mental state. After talking to him, she has supposedly advised him that I should seek counseling for MYSELF immediately to deal with my issues of anger management, depression, and violence. So it sounds like he has administered the correct dose of poison to manipulate her into seeing things his way while increasing his “team” in placing the blame back on me. I acknowledge that her supposed words are coming through a very dirty filter (him), but I tried to call and text her today, and she never replied or called me back. Just as well, I am not interested in trying to “fix” this with him so the less entanglements with his family, the better. He doesn’t care about or respect me and he never will.

        Thanks for the link on documenting. I journal when things get especially bad, but I never really write about the violence. I didn’t realize that until just now. Interesting.

        I’ll keep you updated, and I’m taking precautions as I proceed.

        Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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      2. Him leaving you seems to be a huge blessing in disguise. But don’t let your guard down. As you already see, this mother is going to come out swinging against you as if you’re responsible for what HE did. It’s textbook enmeshed mom-son stuff. Reality doesn’t matter to these people. Their perception of reality, no matter how false, is the basis for their actions.

        If you are taking care of yourself and finding help with this abuse, then ignore the other voices. Those on the outside might see anger, depression, etc. and act as if you caused those issues and are the sole source of them. They are failing to acknowledge the hellish effects of abuse.

        I went through that too, “oh, there’s something wrong with her,” as if it had nothing to do with my life being repeatedly threatened and terrorized during a period of illness. Yes, abuse does terrible things to its victims, but you are not responsible for what he has caused.

        Court orders are not always the answer because they can just fan the flames. But sometimes they are. I hope you work with an advocate to determine if you need court orders against him and his mother. Court orders are just a piece of paper, but they do provide boundaries and consequences if those boundaries are violated.

        It sounds like you already know this, but have as little contact with his family as possible. It’s unlikely that anyone will change opinions of him that they already have. Don’t try to convince them of his true nature; they’ll likely just circle the wagons and deny it because that’s easier than facing reality. Instead, seek out your own people and your own support group.

        Don’t waste time going to counseling. It endangers you and your child. It gives him access to you where he might both physically harm you and use that time to play head games. Abusers can use counseling to appear sincere about wanting to succeed but as soon as they’re back in your life the abuse becomes worse than ever before. They punish you for involving outsiders, and notice how he’s already trying to stop you from talking to his sister.

        Yes, emotionally immature, deceptive guys like this want so BADLY to be seen as the “real” victim. They distort reality and put everything back on you so they can avoid facing their demons. That’s textbook abuser as well, and in my experience, extremely typical of mother-enmeshed men. Mommy always tells them they’re doing okay no matter what evils they commit, so how dare anyone like you tell them they’re doing something wrong.

        You deserve more man than this. I don’t believe it’s God’s will that any of His daughters risk their lives by staying in relationships that are dangerous. You’re told me nothing that indicates this guy is ready to take responsibility for his own actions. He sees you as the sole cause of everything and Mommy will back him on that.

        Good for you for taking back the power. It can be very difficult to accept that us strong, intelligent women can be classified as victims of abuse. I didn’t want that label either because initially I felt that it showed weakness. But we’re not the abusers. The abusers are the weak ones who lack respect and ethics. So every step you take towards protecting your safety and towards freedom, remember that there’s a different word you should use– survivor. You are a domestic violence survivor. You will no longer allow yourself– or your child– to be a victim.

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      3. Hi there, I just wanted to pop in with an update on my situation with my husband. About 3 weeks after my last post, I moved two states away from him back with my parents. I had told a mutual friend’s wife before I left, she was someone I wished to say goodbye to, and even though she seemed sympathetic and specifically said she would not tell him, she promptly told her husband, who tipped mine off….not so smart move on my part to tell a mutual “friend”. Anyway, I was able to get out of town with all of my belongings and moved back with mom and dad. The whole time, and even in the days to follow, he begged me to “wait until the baby is here” before making any big decisions like divorce. I let him believe that I would.

        So imagine my shock when I found out just about a week ago that he filed for legal separation from me just 5 days after I left. Mind. Blown. So much for waiting for the baby? I actually wasn’t waiting for the baby, and had in fact begun legal papers of my own back home, but the day my attorney was filing I had a knock on the door and it was a process server. I didn’t answer. We’ve been trying to serve him for 5 days now and he’s been dodging it. I guess I am too. Basically, there will be an issue over jurisdiction since we are now living in and have filed in two separate counties, in two separate states. There will then be a separate jurisdiction over the custody depending on where the baby is born. Obviously, I would like to have it all decided in the same place, where I am now living and plan to have and raise my child, but he is fighting it and wants it decided out there. Why? I have no idea. Control, I suspect. Convenience to him, inconvenience to me, I also suspect, he gets a rise out of “punishing” me, and what better way to punish his pregnant and estranged wife than to make her drive 12 hours to go to court every time it’s necessary?

        He also sold a joint asset, a vehicle, and is attempting to hide it from me. I saw it posted for sale online, and he lied and told me he was selling it so he could come up with a down payment to buy the house from me. Big lie, since he then took the ad down, told me he decided not to sell the car. So he messed up and told another mutual friend, one who is actually sided with me unbeknownst to him, that he did in fact sell it and he’s already bought something to replace it that he thinks I will have no legal right to. I don’t know what to say, here I am purchasing maternity clothing, going on job interviews, meeting with an attorney, and he is obsessively selling, hiding, and obtaining new assets. I’m concerned about my pregnancy and securing a solid future for me and my boy (just found out…boy! :)), and he is concerning himself with material nonsense.

        I ran into my father in law about 10 days ago at the grocery store. I no longer consider him to be as nice and faultless as I once did, as I found out he helped my husband sell this vehicle and obtain a false title to do so, but when I ran into him he actually stopped and said, “Hi! How are you all doing?” I was with my mother, and we didn’t say anything, we just kept walking. But the nerve of him to stop and act as if nothing were wrong, knowing that his son had already filed legal papers for separation that would require I travel during an already difficult pregnancy, and knowing that he had assisted him in securing fraudulent paperwork to liquidate assets behind my back, just again, blew my mind.

        So the current situation is that I am trying to serve him with a legal separation and ask for temporary Alimony. And I am trying to not get served by him first. I feel like a criminal, as I am now hiding out in a hotel, but I just keep reminding myself that any scumbag can hire an attorney to sue you for something, it doesn’t mean you are a criminal. I’m hoping he gets served this week and things calm down soon.

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      4. First, congratulations!! That’s awesome that you’re having a son! I’m also thrilled that you’re asserting your independence and taking steps to protect both your son and yourself from an abusive situation.

        The first thing I thought of this morning when I read this is that you need a domestic violence advocate. Some police departments have them and a lot of nonprofits have them. Please don’t jeopardize your safety by disclosing your location online! But I’d encourage you to search online or make some phone calls to find people who understand what you’re dealing with to help you through this time. Having a good advocate might mean not having to risk your son’s safety by traveling.

        The things you’re telling me he’s doing are so very typical. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of such behavior. If he starts keeping you in court to maintain control that’s called abuse by paper. Remember, abusers can do just about anything to maintain power and control. At this point they tend to either pull out all stops to make your life hell or pretend to be terribly sorry to get you back. Don’t fall for the latter. It can be deadly. If he were serious about keeping you he would have already tried to show it.

        I’m glad you checked in. I was just thinking about you last night when responding to another post on this thread.

        Yeah, it does stink to feel like a criminal, doesn’t it? But God sees everything you’re going through and is keeping score. I pray that He’ll keep you and your mini me safe and use this situation to put you in a more loving and secure situation than you’ve ever had before. You are a strong woman– keep doing what you know is best for you and your child!

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      5. Hi there, I think about this blog post often, our few exchanges, and how it’s all been such an important sequence of “Aha” moments that got me pointed in the right direction. So, I wanted to update you on the current state of my struggles with him and his family, and where we are in the legal process.

        Great news – he was served!

        I know I’d mentioned previously that we had both filed for legal separation and were trying to get the other served. Well, he is still trying to gain the upper hand by having the proceedings 12 hours away in his state, even though he has been served, and I’m trying to proceed with things here in my home state, where I will be giving birth in less than 10 weeks (!!!).

        After lying to process servers on 15 occasions and using his employer to mislead server’s efforts, they threw in the towel, and sent us a signed affidavit detailing each attempt to serve him, stating that he had basically agreed to meet them at times and places then never showed up. So then we had to get service re-issued and elevated to the Sheriff’s dept for another attempt at service. I guess the Sheriff’s office got tired of his run-around, so they served him on the second attempt, at school (he’s a teacher – I know, great), and right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

        So of course the next thing we know, his dad is calling my mom (not my dad, or my attorney – information he also had at this point), he called my little 4’10” 100 lb mom and told her my husband had just come come for Thanksgiving and brought some of my things I’d left behind. He wanted to know if she would meet him to exchange “a few boxes” they thought I “might like to have”. Thankfully, she took my dad to meet him. The “few boxes” turned out to be 4 boxes and 6 contractor bags full of junk. As soon as my dad started transferring the bags and boxes into his car, my father in law made a beeline for my mother and said “we’re very concerned about (my) health and the well-being of the baby”. My dad immediately intervened and told him I was fine, but they had not been supportive and we wouldn’t be discussing anything with them, that it was a “delicate” situation right now. My father in law made two more attempts to talk to my mom, ignoring my dad. My mom had to go get in the car and shut the door. It was obvious they had been lured there so my father in law could get information out of my mom – probably per the instruction of my mother in law.

        When my parents got home with the stuff, we found that nothing was prepared for shipment, it was carelessly thrown into bags and boxes. In every bag, there were shards of glass from smashed glass Christmas ornaments. Among the other things they thought “I might like to have”: framed wedding photos that had been smashed, multiple strands of Christmas lights that no longer worked, photos of his family, costumes belonging to him that I had sewn, clothing belonging to him, rusty nails, wads of wrapping paper, empty and torn gift boxes, a relationship book I had bought for him after our last counseling session, and other debris. There were also dog costumes and coats that had belonged to my dog, who had passed away exactly one year ago to the day. No one else really thinks this was intentional, but I know him, and I know it was calculated. He just knows I would never forget that date. It was just cruel. And typical at this point.

        Of course, when my attorney found out about this meeting and exchange he told us under no circumstance are we to answer the phone from anyone in that family, and certainly don’t meet them anywhere unless it’s a courtroom. Ugh. So, to update – his dad is officially a scumbag too, in my book. I no longer feel sorry for him and his place under his domineering wife, he’s obviously more than willing to dish out the manipulation and lies to serve his master.

        Four days later, a man claiming to be a “private investigator and process server” showed up at my parents house, again trying to serve me with papers that would require me to hire representation 12 hours away and travel. I was at work at the time, my dad spoke to him and told him we had already served papers on my husband and had a court date in less than a week. I’ve been looking over my shoulder ever since though, a private investigator? This is surely the work of my mother in law.

        2 days after that, just before our court date, my attorney received a Motion to Dismiss that my husband filed, chocked full of claims he knows to be false. He is claiming that I’m not a resident here and I have no right to file legal papers here, so the judge should refuse to even hear my case, which would mean I absolutely have to deal with him in his home state. I have evidence to support my proof of residency, but this is exactly what you were talking about – abuse by paper! Our first court appearance has to be on his terms no matter what – instead of a separation, which I served him with, we have to first argue a lengthy response to even be granted the RIGHT to file for separation here. He knows I’m a resident here! He just refuses to comply with the legal papers that I served him requiring him to appear in court here. So he is abusing the legal system in hopes that he can maintain control over me that way. He’s also been causing significant financial harm, another control tactic. I’m documenting everything. This too shall pass.

        I have been spending a lot of time organizing all of my documents – text messages, emails, social media posts, doctor visits, major purchases, EVERYTHING, that took place during our relationship. I also have some recorded phone calls. The patterns that are emerging are chilling. In this instance with the Motion to Dismiss – this is a common pattern of retaliation when I achieve independence or appear to gain control of a situation. Instead of moving forward to deal with something “on my terms” as he sees it, he escalates it on his terms in an attempt to regain power or control. This is exactly how his mom deals with things too, so sometimes I wonder if it’s her driving, or if he is just more like her than I’d ever realized. Delivering the trash via his dad after he’d been served was the same thing. I just hope the courts see it. When I meet with my attorney, he tells me the courts are not going to get involved in this “he said/she said”, and that it’s going to move much faster than I realize, so I won’t have time to show all of this evidence I’ve timelined, etc, so we need to stick to what is relevant. I said, “By he said/she said, do you mean incidents of domestic violence? Because that’s still what’s going on here, and I’m going to be expected to be “reasonable” about sharing custody with this family?” He basically said I have an uphill battle to prove DV since I didn’t actually file that restraining order (even though I have a printout proving I was there to do so, and only withdrew it to talk to my attorney), he says right now our focus should be on proving I’m a resident.

        That’s frustrating to hear, and I guess time will tell how court turns out. I’m not against getting another attorney, although that will be a delicate situation. I’m just not sure this guy understands what I’ve gone through and what I’m trying to protect my child from. I value my attorney’s guidance, but I also feel incredibly and instinctively protective of my unborn son. I can’t ignore that. At this point, under no circumstance do I want to see my husband get any custody. He will not communicate with me about anything, and when he does, it’s all manipulation and lies. I’m reading a really good book right now called “Splitting”, it’s about how to deal with a Narcissist or Borderline Personality in court. I’m already seeing several strong signs that this is exactly what I will be dealing with.

        Also during my timeline building, I discovered an email from MIL to husband, right before we moved 2 states away, saying how much she loves him and is going to miss him, and how he is “such a man of integrity just like his father”. She goes on to say that she is proud of the wonderful example she and father in law have set by basing their marriage in Christ, always remaining true to their commitment to Him and family. It just blows my mind. Are these people talking about the same Christ I know? I have to stop trying to understand their perception of things….one thing that is mentioned over and over again in “Splitting” is how Narcissist or Borderline Personality sufferers have cognitive distortions which will always support their actions, no matter what they are, and often times they consider themselves very religious. Once again, I just hope the courts are able to see through their act.

        I know this is getting long so I’ll wrap it up. I could go on and on, I’ve filled in so many of the blanks over the past 5 years, things that I thought were one way, weren’t what I thought at all. 4 months after we got married, he falsified information on a car title to make it appear he’d bought it well before we were married. I have ample proof of the true purchase date, so I’ll have to prove it in court to get my share of the proceeds. But four months after we were married? I just can’t imagine how he had the foresight to know he needed to try and restrict my rights to assets that early. And during the same time we were buying that car, I was buying our first house together, and putting his name on the title. Even though he couldn’t be on the loan because of his credit, I wanted him to know I considered the house “ours”, so I put his name on the title. That’s the house that he’s living in now.

        The bottom line is, if I can get my name off of that house, and get sole custody of my son, I don’t care about anything else. And really, I just want sole custody of my son. I would let everything else go in a heartbeat.

        It’s not been an easy road since I left, I certainly don’t feel like I’ve escaped his abuse entirely, but I just keep praying for and working toward peace and progress. I remind myself that I’ve made a big step towards safety for my son and myself, and that the high-conflict degree of this struggle is temporary. I’m just sticking to the facts, going to work, going to counseling (I am attending a 20 week domestic violence program), going to my doctor’s appointments, and dealing with the retaliations as they come.

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      6. Wow! You are doing a fantastic job! I love that you are in a DV program because you are absolutely dealing with domestic violence. So many people who are not actively being physically assaulted aren’t sure or deny that what they’re experiencing is domestic violence, so they don’t deal with it properly and it continues or gets worse.

        Before I even read your take on the broken things, sentimental things, and crap he sent over to you through someone else– a classic abuser move– I hoped you all would see that for exactly what it is, a sick attempt at power and control. The items he selected were purposeful, I have no doubt, and designed to upset you. These are the things that must be mentioned in court as part of a larger, ongoing pattern of pathological behavior.

        I’m also very uncomfortable with them targeting your mom, thinking she’d be the easy target. Thank God for your parents’ wisdom– so glad she didn’t go alone. And you know this, but never, ever agree to meet ANY of them alone, and never agree to meet with him. I hear too many stories of women agreeing to meet with or go to counseling with their abuser only to be grievously harmed or murdered when they get there.

        It’s so amazing too that you’re so devoted to your son already. And that you’re documenting everything, because that’s what could wind up being very useful in court. Courts like dates, times, and facts. Judges tend to be very black and white that way.

        What I really wish is that you could have a domestic violence advocate work with you and accompany you to any proceedings. I know courts in my area have those– if it is at all possible for you to have an advocate, that’s another step you can take to keep control over you and your child. It’s hard for people to get sole custody but with all this documentation and good representation I’m praying you’ll get it. You are so brave and you’re doing all of this while pregnant.

        I know what you mean about attorneys not seeming to understand the severity of the situation. An advocate might be able to help with that. Many judges, cops, lawyers, etc. don’t have a good grasp on the concept of domestic violence because they haven’t been trained to define it properly and recognize it for what it is.

        Again, I’m so impressed that you’re fighting for yourself and your son and how much you’ve accomplished. I appreciate you checking back in and just know that I’m rooting for you from here!

        I’m also hoping that your ex gets his life straightened out and that he truly puts God first so that he’ll let go of this need to torment you. It’s so evil that he’s being contentious while you’re pregnant too. That doesn’t show a high regard for the well-being of his own child.

        In regard to religion, some people do think that their faith gives them license to look down upon and mistreat others if they think their own actions are “holier.” I pray that their eyes would be opened so they don’t do things to you that they wouldn’t want done to them. And his parents are getting used too, probably out of a blind loyalty to their son.

        Later on, when this settles down, I bet you’ll become an advocate for others in these situations. Good job!

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  18. Lady, you have described my husband & his mother nearly to a T. Quick background she is an early 50s single, never been married woman whose been involved in a long distance relationship for nearly 20 years. My husband is her only child. Her life before I came along revolved around him & his 2 kids. She bought her house to accommodate them living with her (he has custody of his son). My husband’s loyalty, priority is to his mother and I believe he has major guilt that she is alone and more so now that she is alone in too much house for 1 person that she bought for their little family. He refuses to see this. I blame myself because I picked up on her unhealthy emotional dependency on him while we were dating, before I ever met her. Every time he and I were on the phone, she would barge in and begin an entire conversation with him as if he weren’t on the phone and he would actually respond to her and eventually it was, hey let me call you right back. He actually told me their relationship was like a sexless marriage. I know I should have ran like hell then. The first time he introduced us she had her back to us and kept her back to me for 10 seconds before turning around to speak. On one occasion he asked her to watch his son (8 @ the time) so he and I could spend time and she refused saying that it was their movie night. Everything you described from the way she has responded to my family (looking down her nose at us like she’s better) to being giving and generous as a mask. I find it so evil & clever that she does this because when I have brought up her terrible behaviors my husband is quick to remind me of when she did this or that. He has a real halo effect with her. I have never seen a person defend wrong so fiercely. I have been called petty for bringing things she does to his attention. Fights have gone on for days. She gets away with everything she does to hurt me. She acted an ass at our wedding. I have even been blamed for it. She texts him non-stop. Their conversations are interrogations because she is asking a barrage of questions for him to answer. Once she gets him on the phone he has a hard time getting off because each time he tries, she says more. He seeks her validation/approval on every move he makes. I can pretty much guarantee that if he is telling me something, he’s already told her. His birthday is coming up. I took off work with plans on showing him a great day, (a combination celebration of him getting this great apprenticeship), he asked me if I was taking off and what I had planned because his mother wanted to take him to lunch. Now, a mother taking her son to lunch is harmless, but a mother with a grown married son should know or at least guess, well what if his wife has a special day planned for him. She just has no consideration at all. She wants to have a piece of him that day, she feels entitled to it. She didn’t even bother to contact me and ask anything. She put him in a position that he should have shut it down, but put him in a place of asking me what i have planned so she can get some time. I swear I feel like the side woman. I’ve already left him once, and I want our marriage to be successful but I love myself and my daughter too much to go through this for a lifetime. We are seeking marriage counseling now, but I am willing to walk for my sanity especially if I don’t start seeing some changes. I’ve told him he can’t be the man of our house and be a boy to his mother, I’m his wife, I share a home and responsibilities, I’ve taken on responsibilities with his kids, I keep a nice house, I cook, I cater to him, all that a good wife should do and I need to be first in my husbands life. I won’t keep playing 2nd fiddle to his mother. She needs to get a life. She recently tried to start a fight between us or at least get him mad at me by lying and telling him she texted me and I didn’t respond when it was actually the other way around. Should I talk to her?? I’m so sick of this woman and him defending her.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Don’t kick yourself for not seeing all of this ahead of time. I had to go through it to be able to write this article.

      Sounds like your husband is married to mom. While I’m not a lawyer or mental health professional, my initial reaction when you asked if you should talk to his mom is that it won’t do any good. But I don’t know any of the people involved. Such boundaries or ultimatums really need to come from your husband. But guys like this, without support from God and other men, are terrified of confronting their mother. If you confront her, he might only attack you for confronting her.

      Guys who are married to mom seem to only marry other women so they can have sex. But because they’re so emotionally wrapped up with mom they can’t provide the emotional intimacy their wife needs to want to have sex. The wife takes a back seat to the mother-son relationship as if she’s supposed to be a mute backseat passenger who lets the almighty queen mom run their lives. Mama’s boys do this with their exes too, expecting their current wife to just shut up and go along for the suicidal ride.

      God didn’t design men to cling to their mothers at the expense of their wives. Apart from Him, I don’t know how such problems can be fixed. These mothers can be absolutely wicked in their quest to maintain control, doing exactly what you said, lying and sabotaging your marriage. You hit the nail on the head– they need to get their own life and that is their own problem.

      My best advice is to see a qualified counselor and it sounds like you’re doing that. And you already know that you’re not going to counseling so only you will change. You know who needs to change. I hate divorce, so I hope that you’ll be able to work it out. That said, I understand where you’re coming from and how you’re feeling. This is emotional incest and to me it’s like emotional adultery– a man is “cleaving” to someone other than his wife.

      Whew… I feel for you sister. So many of us women have gone through this. It seems like we can be model wives and girlfriends and the guy still isn’t going to appreciate us or worry about our needs because he hasn’t grown up completely and is still superglued to his mother.

      I know I can’t do that ever again. I pray that God would give you direction– that quiet feeling you can’t argue with– to do the right thing. You have your daughter’s future to worry about too and daughters tend to marry men just like their father figures.

      I just remembered James Dobson’s book Love Must Be Tough– that seems applicable here. Sometimes it’s when you set that boundary or give that ultimatum, blazing with self-respect as you do it, the other person finally wakes up and says, “wow, look what I’m about to lose.”

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      1. I have experienced the exact same scenario. My partner, at the time, was 43 years of age and still living with Mum and Dad ( Mum was in a loveless marriage and had made my partner the kind of surrogate husband) in retrospect I should have spotted the warning signs and run a mile. The mother, who at first appeared warm, sweet and unassuming wanted to get me onside very quickly but now I realise she was just being manipulative by coming across as so generous and genuine, yet all the time managing to pull the wool over her son’s (my ex-partner’s) eyes , controlling him and even later using him to try and control me.

        I came to realise that there was just no point in drawing his attention to her behaviour as for him as he could clearly see no wrong, she was a saint in his eyes. I myself, gave him everything, I actually became a kind of Stepford wife, trying hard to match up to his Mum and both myself and my teenage son changed our whole lives to accommodate him moving in with us when he was offered a job in this area. I thought we had then actually got somewhere, but within a year he decided to take his old job back and move back with Mum. He wanted us to still see each other at weekends but i just ended up feeling like the mistress. I let it all build up inside and then finally my feelings all came out one day after a trip up to see him on Valentines day, and thinking he would have planned something special for the two of us, we ended up having Mum’s home made cottage pie and cabbage with her sat around the table on bloody valentine’s night!! I told him next day our relationship was poinless as he didn’t need a wife or partner because he was married to his mum. I demanded my key back so he could not just come down at weekends and have not seen or heard another word from him since. That was 5 months ago. Any hopes that he would realise what he was losing are now gone. I obviously meant nothing to him and it has left me feeling so awful, upset, confused and angry.

        I know I made the right decision and had enough self respect to walk away from this situation but I still obsess and question what I did wrong and if it was just that I just wasn’t ‘the one’. I know however, that there have been partners before me who also appeared to have lost out to Mum, where he only moved in with one or two for a matter of months, not even a year.

        I think the whole relationship is actually cruel,abusive and selfish on his mother’s part. His Mum is now 80 years old so I suspect that when she passes on he will either be so bereft that no one will ever match up or he will take a wife quickly as he cannot cook or fend for himself, probably choosing someone with some of Mum’s qualities but he will still then need a mistress. Would appreciate your thoughts on this. I am going out of my mind here and it’s so reassuring to read that I’m not the only one going through this.

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      2. You’ve already answered your own question. 🙂 You know that to continue this relationship would be to take a back seat to mom and live life with a man who won’t put you first. That is not a good example for your son.

        As much as I hate to say this (but I’ve been there), you were a convenience for him. Once you decided to stand up for yourself, set some reasonable boundaries, and stop being convenient, he walked, and you haven’t heard from him since. He didn’t try to improve, he didn’t fight for you. He just let you go.

        Selfish is a great word to describe what happens in these cases. I understand a man wanting to take care of his mom in her later years but not at the expense of his wife. This is something different. This is a man who hasn’t grown up all the way and isn’t ready for an adult relationship. This is a woman who won’t “let” her son have an adult relationship because she needs him to fill in where his father failed.

        You sound like an intelligent, hard-working woman who doesn’t need this kind of trouble in her life. Making this particular relationship work would require a continuous effort on his part to change and that’s unlikely to happen.

        And the thought that keeps echoing in my mind as I write this is that he has a history of superficial relationships and made no attempt to stay with you when your needs came up. You know you need more than he can give you. And when his mom does pass, and he seeks another “mom,” do you really want to play mother to a grown man?

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  19. Hello wildninja,

    I am really impressed by this article written three years ago. The insidious and abhorrent mother-son relationship is a perennial problem that has to be addressed in various degrees in many communities all over the world.

    May I re-post this article “Mogul Mothers, Suppressed Sons” in my blog “Impressions”?

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    1. Of course. Thank you! It’s my most popular article, probably for the reasons you mentioned– it’s a global problem. As a Christian I feel that men need to step up and be men, putting their wives before their mothers, because God designed it that way.

      I’ve been through this personally and found that men who allow their mothers control in their lives are abusive, dangerous, unfaithful, and immature. They’ve never developed into adults emotionally because the apron strings have never been cut.

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  20. Wow, this just sounds so eerily like myself. I’m a 26 year old male who comes from a wonderful Christian family, and since I’ve left the house and begun my own life, I’ve had this lingering feeling of guilt, abandonment, and a pretty steady flow of underlying anxiety. I’ve had the blessing/curse of meeting the most beautiful, loving, Christian woman whom I know is perfect for me to spend the rest of my life with, but I just can’t commit! It’s the most frustrating thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I know all the ways in which she is good for me, inviting me to become my own independent man to lead a future family, etc but she is a woman who wants 100% of me and the whole leave and cleave part gives me images in my mind of me on an island on our honeymoon just feeling totally lost and abandoned. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. There are no warning signs or red flags in the relationship, she’s beautiful and captivating, smart, funny, adventurous, etc. it was at this point where I questioned my hesitation and found no rational reason not to commit that I was beside myself feeling like something was wrong with me. What your post describes is it, 100%! I know my parents want to see me happy in a loving and God centered marriage and would be pleased with my choice of partner, but this bind that I feel or whatever it is, is just killing me inside every day 😦

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  21. Thanks so much for your reply. Sound advice. The break up only happened very recently and I go from being sure I made the right decision to not sleeping or being able to eat beacuse of the sick feeling in my stomach and weeping and wanting him back. However, if I read this when I’m feeling low it will help to keep me strong. You are quite right, thinking about it he never really made any attempt to get to know my son and that always bothered me and I tried to get him to bond with him but he didn’t really make any effort. My son already has an absent Father who makes no attempt to communicate with him and as a result already has low self esteem . If I can’t be strong for myself I have to be strong for my son. I don’t want him to think this pattern of behaviour is normal for his future children. Next time I will make better choices and not go on thinking I can fix these men. They can only fix themselves and most of all, they need to want to.

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  22. I am almost in tears reading these cases. I was living with my partner for 2 years and we were going out for 3 years before that. He is now 44yrs old and prior to this still lived wth his parents and had never married. he had had a few long term relationships but always going back to Mum. He chooses this lifestyle although he is very well off financially. His mother hates his Father and has little to do with him, they have separate bedrooms and she treats my partner as the husband and in return he adopted this role, mending things around the house, driving her to the shops, caring for his every whim, making his bed and switching on his electric blanket for him each night. My partner is gorgeous looking with zero confidence and little social skills, he cannot give an opinion and will avoid any form of conflict, never reacting to an argument, just sitting there looking wounded. He is a kind and gentle person and I am 10 years older than him, he has has opened up only to me to having an issue that no one else is aware of. He obsessively pulls the hair from his eyebrows and sometimes other areas of his body. I have tried to get him to get some help for this but to no avail.

    He was offered a job down here in the area I live and I was amazed when after much deliberating he actually left his Mum to live with me. Just over a year into living with me and ringing his Mum daily and popping up every other weekend, he decided he was unhappy in his job and was offered his old job back. I was devastated when he accepted this job and moved out leaving me and my son alone but said he would still visit at weekends, which he did.

    I haven’t been able to get my head around this and last time I visited there she was still treating him like a 12yr old boy and he never objects, she snaps at the Father and my partner always takes her side. I used to think she was so sweet and unassuming but the more I get to know her the more I see a masked form of control and guilt going on. She stands at the door and cries when he comes down to see me for God’s sake!

    I have just had enough and felt forced to end the relationship but am utterly distraught . Did I do the right thing? I love him and he says he loves me but why would he go back to live in that environment if he truly loved me, leaving me here alone. (My Mum had just had a massive stroke before he left) and apart from my own 17yr old son I have no one, but he still left. I would never want my own son to still be living with me in his late 20s let alone 40’s. I want him to be an autonymous outgoing person able to cope with life and all it offers.

    Please advise me as I am going through heartbreak here and worry that it is my fault and that he just hasn’t met the one yet and he couldn’t have really loved me. My self esteem is in bits

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    1. It is a difficult thing to deal with and I’m usually writing from personal experience. I should issue a disclaimer– I’m not a clinical psychologist and any “advice” is just me thinking out loud based on what you told me, so it should not constitute advice. This is just a nonprofit blogger sounding off.

      Look at it this way– he hasn’t married you, right? And he has never made a meaningful commitment to you and your son, right? From what you said he backed out and put mom back in first place again. It sounds like he’s married to mom.

      Realistically, why would you marry someone who’s already married and who will never treat you properly? For the sake of future generations, why would you allow your son to continue to be exposed to a poor example and let him see you lack the self-respect to stop yourself from being treated like this? What if he feels like he has to stay at home into adulthood to protect you from people like this? This guy hasn’t demonstrated that he can so far commit or love fully and I believe you answered your own question when you asked what to do because you’ve already left him. It sounds like your gut feeling is already speaking truth.

      I don’t doubt that you loved him but based on what you wrote he won’t love you back the same way. You need someone who can give as much and love as much and respect as much as you do. Don’t sell yourself short. I like to remind women in these situations (loving a man who won’t love them the same), “hey, you’re a daughter of the King. You’re royalty. Don’t settle for less than God’s best.”

      Only you can decide what’s best for you and your son and it sounds like you have. This is a package deal– you partner with him and his parents, on his terms, without regard for your deepest needs and your son’s needs if this continues. You would basically be doing what mommy already does for him– spoils him, coddles him, lets him always have his way, ENABLES him. That’s not how love was designed and your son will likely fall into the same relationship pattern you do.

      Don’t blame yourself. If you gave it your best and loved him, then what has happened is largely a reflection of him, not of you. And you can’t fix him. It sounds like his entire life has conditioned him for this lifestyle and if he decides to change he will have to make a commitment to an ongoing program of change. Plus, don’t be like mom and make his decisions for him.

      It sounds like he has trichotillomania– that’s the technical term for his hair issue. Many people suffer from this for various reasons and there’s no shame in that. It could be a sign of anxiety, but again, worry about you, not him. You can control what happens to you and your son and taking steps to extricate you from this painful relationship shows the strength and fortitude your son needs to see to develop into a strong, loving man. Again, it’s up to you whether you stay in or out and I can’t tell you what to do, but remember who you are and who you’re responsible for and this will get easier as time goes on.

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  23. I am a wife of 16 years to the suppressed son of a mogul mother. The article above is the story of my married life. I cannot be bothered to intimate the depth of my despair. My husband clings to me like I’m his lifeline in a desperate situation, but then lashes out at me whenever I’ve tried to make him see what is happening to him. I gave him this article yesterday and he is reluctant to fully accept what is being said, even though he clearly recognises his own life on the page. Is there a way forward for us, and how could you possibly know so completely what I’ve been going through? Until now I’ve felt completely, and utterly alone.

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    1. I write about things I’ve experienced, and since writing this article, the most popular on this blog and a popular one on another blog, a number of people have said they can relate to it. So I can say with confidence that there are a great many women who know this subject well.

      I can’t justify my position without referring to God and His plan for our lives. So it’s from that perspective that I would say, with respect for whatever beliefs you have, that He is the answer to these problems. Counseling is a great step, but many men like this don’t see their behavior as a problem so won’t go to counseling.

      When discussing this as a couple, keep in mind how important “I” statements are– “When this happens, I feel…” rather than “you do this” or “you make me.” These are concepts talked about in great books like Love and Respect (see http://loveandrespect.com/). There are several books by John and Stasi Eldredge that you might find interesting too (their website is http://www.ransomedheart.com/). I’ve heard John speak about what it means to be a man and I can see why he’s so popular.

      Don’t feel alone. I had no idea when I wrote this that so many people would say, “yes! me too!” I think it’s important for us women to remember that it’s not our job to change him. If someone tried to do an extreme makeover of us without our consent, we’d dig our heels in too. People have to want to change. We have every right to communicate how someone else’s actions affect us though and to be treated with respect.

      Also, God knows exactly what’s going on and what’s wrong– take it to Him. He sees it all and He understands. You never know what miracles can happen when you start saying, “God, please do this. I can’t.” I don’t know His plan for you but He does. Thanks for stopping by and remember that because of Him, you are never, ever alone. You have a Father who loves you more than you can comprehend.

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      1. Thanks for your reply. I do take on board what you’re saying but no amount of praying has made a jot of difference to his willingness to acknowledge where his primary loyalty lies. He honestly believes he’s “with” me. All his platitudes of love are hollow to me as that is not the true nature of our relationship. I am a second mother but not the most important one. Can a suppressed son ever have a healthy relationship with a mogul mother? Is his only choice to break off all contact? I just cannot imagine him ever doing that, and she will never stop. I am now at the point where I have refused to have anything to do with her for 3 years and that’s the happiest I’ve felt within myself since 1996.

        Three years ago her vicious attacks extended to our 10yo daughter. She bullied her, told her lies about her parents, shouted, harangued and humiliated her publicly. She told her she was evil and needed to read the bible more to become a better person. She called our daughter ignorant at the top of her voice in a public place. We were both getting desperate, frightened and frightening text messages from her. Yet when I rang, she could not talk freely. Her grandmother told her that she would not be happy with her if she told her parents anything about what had gone on. In response, he went from anger, to hurt, and guilt (towards his mother NOT his daughter) in rapid succession. He went to her (long drive) and came home bear gifts from her and saying how much she loved as all and told me that I just did not understand her.

        That was the end for me. Something snapped inside, I actually felt it. I thought if not for me, and not for him, he would have to man up for his child. Yet, nothing has been enough. All joy in my life comes from elsewhere. I am not unfaithful and will never be, but all my marriage is to me is bucket after bucket of disappointed hopes.

        I know I married for life, whatever may come, forsaking all others. But now that I’m older and so is my daughter, I wonder what kind of example I am setting for her. I no longer hope for change. In fact I believe, based on all the evidence, that he is incapable of it. I married him. He never married me.

        Oh, and I’ll just add one last gem, he thinks that I’ve poisoned our daughter against his mother, and makes her feel guilty for being loyal to her mother and herself, and for having boundaries and self-respect.

        I wonder what the hell I am still doing here! I feel that God wonders too. He taught me to love others as I would be loved, yet I have not cared for myself or my daughter properly in all of this, and I am heartily ashamed of that.

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      2. Wow. There are some real control issues there. I’m glad that you’re willing to set and maintain boundaries in the interest of protecting yourself and your own children.

        These are questions I can’t answer but there’s some useful books out there on the subject. The Cloud and Townsend Boundaries books are excellent and reinforce some of what you’re saying.

        I wish I had a quick answer. Professional counselors could do better than me. I do feel for you in a big way and hope that you will find joy and peace through Him no matter what the situation. The more we focus on Him, the clearer the solutions to our problems are.

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  24. My husband has cut off contact with his mother but he still behaves in the above ways. He does not believe he has a problem with his mother even though he admits he did in the past. He thinks simply cutting off contact with her means he is no longer having an unhealthy connection. Clearly his behavior shows otherwise. Any thoughts?

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    1. Well, I’m not a clinical psychologist or counselor, so in this forum I’m just a woman who’s been through it offering my two cents.

      People have to want to change. Cutting off contact seems to say that he recognizes there’s a problem, so that appears to be an attempt to work towards positive change. The mother-enmeshed way of thinking can be deeply engrained in people though, to the point that they don’t even see it.

      I know experts are quick to recommend counseling when many men don’t want to go to counseling, so I understand if that’s not viable. Another answer that’s easy to give is “talk about it,” but I know that can be difficult too (still worth it if it’s safe to do so).

      If you do plan on bringing this up, it’s helpful to talk about how his actions make you feel rather than telling him he’s wrong or accusing him of treating you poorly.

      If you’re a praying woman, he’s helpless against your prayers :), as one author said. There is nothing so broken that God can’t fix it if that’s His will.

      If he’s being abusive, then my advice here won’t apply because you need a safety plan rather than trying to fix the situation. In that case, please speak to a domestic violence advocate. If it’s a safe situation, let you husband know when he’s behaving in ways that benefit the both of you. Encourage his strengths. Tell him how much you appreciate any positive change.

      A good couples counselor could be the best answer. While you can’t beat him over the head or confront him in a way that makes him shut down, there are some eye opening books out there on this subject. Wayne Levine’s Hold Onto Your N.U.T.s book is great too.

      The bottom line is finding the right way to wake him up to reality without him feeling attacked. Hopefully you’re able to talk to him and tell him how his actions or way of thinking make you feel. Value what’s good about him, encourage those things, and let him know it.

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  25. I’m goin through this now my mother n law slandered my name put a police record on me got her son to cheat an then called cps on me an d house wasn’t n my name I have everything that in this then he say I’m controllin by askin him to stand up to his mom I don’t want to b a doormate when I say something bout d issue I’m d crazy one. All I can say I can admit I’m depressed an unhappy but I luv my kids an I don’t want her to do nothin else stupid so I still plead with him to stop

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    1. She called cps cause I felt it ness to keep my kids away she was becomin to controllin cps didn’t want to hear it so she made up lies I was pregnant an lossing weight so she called sayin I was smokin crack when it was stress I been with dis dude 9 years I don’t like to judge but I know I’m talkin to someone that’s already married he says his mom is his wife I don’t know if its to hurt me my mom just passed may 2012 on my sons birthday an I hear them jokein about it

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  26. I have this very problem. When I’ve approached this issue I was told I was jelous, had self esteem issues, and was too controllling. I’m engaged to him its been a little over a year. I technically moved in with him except that he’s never here always with mom. She’s told him to get rid of me because I can’t have kids with him. Long story but I’m on a heart transplant list due to my last son enlarging my heart while I was pregnant PPCM. Knowing this she is still pushing me into having a baby with him, even if it causes my death. She has him wrapped so tightly around nnnnnnhis finger…she has paranoia and anxiety issues (I think she fakes them they appeared one day around the 1st time he got engadged). Shell call an he has to stop everything to talk to her until she is calm. Even during our intimate times. Its a bitter pill, he actually had me believing it was me an not them. Oh! And she lavishly spends money on him and takes him everywhere. She gets mad at him if I call during her times. Shell include me and my kids every once and awhile. She’s fake and put on when she talks to me. And that great need to be told he is great in every way. Also when his anxieties are out of control he becomes verbally and emotionally abusive. I have to do everything nexactly how he wants things. Ex. If he gets so mad he has to storm out to cool down, if I love him enough I have to run after him. Even if I don’t want to, or I get yelled at again. For being uncaring. I would leave in a heart beat and am wanting to. But I’m trapped, I’m positive he wanted it this way so I wouldn’t leave him like all his ex girlfriends/fiancées. He’s on my lease, my car was cosigned with him, he’s helped me when I needed it even though I’ve told him it wasn’t nessasarry. I’m on disability I can get help if I need it. I’m really frustrated with this whole mess his mother has created. He can be a great Guy when its just him and I. But this case really is what you’ve said his dad divorced her 25years ago she never moved on. He became that husband to her as he grew. Im #2 in his life, I hate it and hate being stuck. I just have to wait it out I guess, I don’t know what else to do. Any thoughts?

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    1. I know it’s probably painful to hear this, but why would you marry someone who’s already married? He’s married to mom. She is first priority and you and your kids never will be. Even if you think you can deal with that, is that fair to drag your children through? What kind of behavior is that modeling to them?

      Please recognize that the behavior patterns you’re describing are abuse. Look up the power and control wheel on the web and compare that to what you’ve said here. You seem to be a convenience, something to fill in the small blanks that aren’t occupied by mom.

      When you’ve tried to bring this up, you’ve been shot down. Your opinions have been minimized and ignored. Samantha, trust me, that kind of behavior only escalates into more serious abuse against you and your kids.

      You just gave me a laundry list of reasons you shouldn’t be with this guy. If he’s only a “great guy” when it’s just you and him together, a time when the distraction of his mom and other involvements are temporarily removed, he’s not a great guy. He’s an emotionally abusive, immature, angry, controlling mama’s boy who is extremely unlikely to ever be the kind of man you need to take care of you and your children.

      It sounds like his mother encourages this abuse and from what you said would even have you risk your life to provide her and her son with offspring. Are you kidding me? That’s treating you like a vessel for producing an heir and not much else. It reminds me of the movie Pan’s Labyrinth in which the sociopathic army captain tells the doctor attending to his pregnant wife that if either she or the baby has to die, his wife should.

      While I can’t really judge a situation from a distance and can’t give legal advice, as a woman who’s been through it and paid dearly for “trying to hang in there” (that doesn’t work), my advice is to consult a domestic violence advocate in secret, develop a safety plan, and get out. Susan Murphy Milano’s Time’s Up guide, a handbook to leaving abusive and stalking relationships, could be a great tool. Sandra Brown’s books How to Spot a Dangerous Man and Women Who Love Psychopaths could shed a lot of light on what’s going on.

      I write from my own experiences with abusive men and there are so many red flags in your comments that indicate potential dangers in this relationship. Please find confidential help and seek out ways to *SAFELY* untangle yourself from this. Abruptly leaving could increase the danger immensely. Leaving is severing their control over you, and even if they don’t want you, they still want control over you.

      Reading your comments again, it sounds like you already know what’s wrong. The fact that you recognize these things shows strength and my advice is to find a safe way to let that strength show on behalf of you, your children, and a future guy who won’t treat you like this. God made you, He loves you as His own daughter, and that makes you royalty. Don’t settle for less than He wants for you.

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  27. Hello, I have been married to a wonderful man for 6 months. His background is European and his parents came to the US without knowing anyone or even English. My husband’s father passed away when my Husband was 19 and therefore he has taken over the role of the man of the house. While I found that he as a person to step up and ensure his mother is cared for, he has put me into a position as second to his mother. I moved into their home and the three of us (she’s 67, my husband is 43 and I am 39). It is not easy for an adult woman like myself to come into an established home, but even more so that she has so much control over my husband. The mother still speaks very little English and does not appreciate me or my relationship with her son. I feel that she continues to look at him as a child she needs to care for, instead of the married adult that he is. I feel he has extreme guilt for his mother being a widow so young, (I believe she was 42), and for her lack of English and just generally that he’s the man in her life. My husband, instead of embracing our marriage and wanting a life with me, I am told to do things her (mother in law – MIL) way and to just realize that, “she won’t be here forever.” Maybe I am hopeful that she will realize that her adult, married son has a woman that loves him so incredibly much and we could have a family one day where her and her late husband’s legacy can go on. I’m very easy going, but I am now feeling as if the issues that exist with his mother are overpowering and since it is their culture not to discuss problems, that he has chosen his past with his obligations to his mother instead of a future with his wife and god willing, children. Help!

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    1. Sara, I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this. I’m learning that this kind of family dynamic is common in certain cultures; it’s not even questioned, but just accepted as normal. The problem I have with it is that your culture, values, desires, and needs are not treated as equal to his and his mother’s. On top of that, they don’t want to discuss things. To me, that’s treating you as a second class citizen rather than an equal partner in the marriage. This seems especially touchy since you moved into their home, meaning they’re set in their ways and you’re somewhat of a guest, perhaps.

      You might find some of the books I mentioned useful or seek help from a counselor or a minister if it’s safe for you to do so. Communication seems to be key here. I wish I knew of a surefire way to get him to listen to you and understand how you feel but it’s up to you to research and find effective communication methods and solutions. I really, really feel for you and see how frustrating this must be. I’m rooting for you– being with a mother-enmeshed man is a trying challenge and I wish you love, joy, safety, and success as you bravely work to find solutions.

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  28. I found this very helpful. I’ve recenty broke up with my fiance because his mother is so influenced in the relationship.I was pregnant and now that the babys been born he denies it. But the mother wants him to take sole custody from me. She never liked me from day one and I could never figure out why. Its been so stressful and emotional battling with my fiances mother. When we were together.he confided that he was depressed . Insecure. And his mother never approved of things he wanted to do unless she thought it was the right thing. I just never imagined he would push me away instead of his mother. He acts like he hates me now and connot even look at me in the face. This article hit everything spot on and really helped explain things to why my relationship didn’t work.so I don’t feel as bad anymore that is was something I did.

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    1. It’s crazy how this works, isn’t it? It sounds like there was a big problem in his life before he met you and it continues. It sounds like you know this, but when men are in this situation, they often won’t admit it or realize it. They are still responsible for their actions, though, even when they are basically married to mom.

      Like

      1. The thing is.what I’ve noticed as well. He had no spirtuality.I had to force him to go to church and like your article stated I believe his mother has always stroked his ego . In every dispute he could never be wrong. I’m also worried because I just had a son.he’s two months old. I’m just nervous because whenever the custody issue is settle I don’t want his mother to influence my child whenever he’s spending time with his father.she’s already trying to take sole custody and I’m a first time mother with no issues. The audasity of a woman who would try to deny another the joy of motherhood.I truly pray everyday that my ex will somehow live a happy life.after reading this article I truly feel sorry for him.

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  29. Thank-you so much for this article! It was validating. I found myself nodding me head through each paragraph. My husband was a MEM until he had a male counselor who laid the cards on the table. We currently have no contact with his mother, but yet she tries to, at least annually, wreak some type of havoc. The leave and cleave part is so important. God created men to be, well, MEN! We finally have some peace, but not without a very high cost.

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    1. Thanks for the positive vibes. Your comment about “MEN!” is right on. Obviously mothers are supposed to be a part of their sons’ lives by design but some won’t respect the boundaries. You gotta maintain necessary boundaries, as you know. You’re the most important woman in your husband’s life, not her, and if she won’t respect that. she’s choosing to get pushed back.

      Like

  30. btw, I’m so impressed with the excellent content of this article that I’m printing it off to give to my clients that need to read this — I can” tell you how damaging this mother/son emeshment is for the son —- as a therapist, when you get to see the impact over a whole lifetime – it’s really sad

    Like

    1. Thank you! I am basing my argument largely on the Judeo-Christian viewpoint that the Creator intends for men to be separate from their parents. It’s also common sense; if you want your relationship to succeed with a partner, why on earth would you treat someone else, like your mother, as your primary partner? Why should anyone have to share you in that way? It’s basically emotional polygamy.

      This one was written from personal experience, and I’ve found many other men and women who’ve had similar experiences. I have a passionate desire to see others freed from this kind of slavery. Life’s too short to be married to mom or dad.

      Thanks again for your kind words!

      Like

  31. Mogul or not, this is on the autism spectrum. Mother treats son as husband and lover. Son treats mom as wife and lover. They need psychiatric help and need to get behavioral testing immediately. Both mom and son show symptoms of autism (HFA). this is not OK and should be handled immediately as it can result in insestuous behaviors. Seek help and testing immediately

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    1. I’m a psychotherapist and have encountered this dynamic a number of times but have never heard that this is diagnosed on an authism spectrum disorder, are you drawing from data to suppor this?

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  32. An Abusive Mother’s hatred for her daughter is overwheming. This is killing the loving and caring Father. Her abusive nature has separated the Father from his Family. What scares me the most is….. that Her abusive nature is showing up in my young son’s personality.

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  33. I dated a 57 year old man (child) who was enmeshed with his mother. This article describes him exactly. We eventually broke up because he chose the relationship with his mother over the one he had with me. I refuse to be second. To top it all off, he had no spirituality. His mother was God to him, and in a sane world, that will not work.

    Like

    1. Barbara, good for you for standing up for yourself and not allowing yourself to be made second. It’s a tough choice, but it’s often the right choice. Your point about his mom being God to him is a wonderful way of summarizing such relationships.

      Like

  34. What a wonderful post. I relate to everything mentioned in this article; anxiety guilt people pleasing etc…..

    At the age of 36, i feel i am 21 inside due to lack of emotional development. I left many relationships because my mum wouldn’t appreciate the person i have chosen to be my partner. It is time this issue gets the attention it deserves from mental health profesionals. I am finally having the courage to draw clear boundaries between me and my mother.

    Thanks for such life changing post.

    Dahir

    Like

    1. Dahir, thank you for the wonderful compliment. You made an excellent point about mental health professionals as well. That is so true.

      You are not alone in your feelings, and it is fantastic to hear someone acknowledging what the problem is and doing something about it. You can love and respect your mom without having her in the role of God in your life. I feel that many men would be set free if they would put God first, their God-given woman second, and their mothers in their proper place. This is the intended design, and I believe God wants men (and women) to be all they can be, who He designed them to be, not who their parents want them to be. Parents who demand that their adult children conform to their expectations aren’t being loving, they’re being controlling.

      There’s a book by John Eldredge called Wild at Heart, written for men who want to get in touch with those God-given feelings to live dangerously. You might enjoy it, even the parts that get a little hokey.

      Setting boundaries and “growing up” inside are steps that will help transform your life– congratulations on taking those steps!

      Like

  35. Thank you for posting. This sounds uncannily like someone I’m attracted to, unfortunately. I need to be very careful. This is such a bitter pill to swallow for the women, myself included, who have feelings for a mother-enmeshed man.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the comment. This is the most popular post on my blog for good reason; a lot of us have dealt with/are dealing with this, and like you said, it is hard to face the fact that he and especially his mother are unlikely to change.

      I like to remind people that your spouse should be #1 in your life– that’s the Creator’s intention– and settling for anything else could lead to a long and miserable life as a passenger in the back seat of a car that you’re supposed to be driving. Your side of the family and kids are likely to wind up in the back seat too.

      Like

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