A story shared by a Circle of Moms member named Diana illustrates the enormous impact a mother-in-law's presence can have on a family: “My mother-in-law lives in our home in her own separate apartment. She constantly meddles in everything that goes on. She's highly opinionated and talks behind my back. My husband sides with his mother. I feel like I am losing my kids and my place in my own home."
Diana is far from alone. Many Circle of Moms members find that dealing with a strong and opinionated mother-in-law, particularly one who has a tight bond with their partner, is incredibly complicated. The question at the heart of this discussion is whether a man's closeness to his mother become inappropriate once he marries. Here, Circle of Moms members weigh in on both sides of the debate.
Yes; It damages the husband-wife bond
On the 'it’s not acceptable' front, Emma S. offers this advice for women whose husbands sideline behind the scenes with their moms. “You seriously need to tell your husband to get some guts and tell your mother-in-law to butt out."
Sarah K. agrees, stressing that a tight relationship between a husband and his mom is discomfiting to his wife for good reason. “The other night my husband went to see his mom. They had a big talk and he talked about a few things that he could not talk to me about. I was not happy about that."
This kind of secrecy strikes a nerve for Circle of Moms member Keli as well, but she points out that it's good when "a husband is not bottling up his feelings," even if his confidante is his mom rather than his wife. She suggests urging him to share with you and making it clear that you are "all ears.”
No: Both husband and wife benefit
On the other side, several Circle of Moms members say there is nothing at all wrong or scandalous about a grown-up son sharing his feelings with his mother. “It's his mother and we all probably talk to our mother (or someone else that's neutral) about things you can't talk to our spouse about,” points out Erica O. “If you want to vent or just have other human contact other than your husband, you go to someone else."
Other members agree that a "third-party" ear can be a good thing in a husband-wife relationship, as some conversations have better outcomes if you give them a test run with someone else, first. As Megan R. shares, this works to everyone's benefit: “I have conversations with my mom that I can't have with my husband and I have conversations about my mom that I obviously can't have with her. There are things that my husband will only talk to his dad about (he and his mom aren't close) that he doesn't feel he can discuss with me.”
Several Circle of Moms members, including Marybelle K., feel that a close bond between a husband and his mother is fine as long as the husband still treats his wife as his primary confidante. “He should communicate with you, but I don't think that he should not be able to talk to anyone else about things either. If he has one other person whom he feels he can be honest with and maybe get some outside feedback on things, I don't see a problem with it."
She's one of several moms who urge their peers to learn to live with their husbands' closeness to the very first women who loved them. “This is a difficult situation,” says Susanne Y. "But I think making him choose between his mom and you will not do you any good.”
Kathy S. is another. She reminds moms in this situation that "A mother is always a mother. It would be great if couples could talk to each other about everything, but this is the real world. Be thankful it was his mother and not some other woman."
Does your husband check in with his mom before you?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.