Mama's Boy

Posted by Lachmi Deb Roy on Tue, Feb 22, 2011  
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When the man you married refuses to leave his mother’s apron string in can spell an absolute disaster for your marriage.

Traveling by a local train can be fun especially when you are traveling in a ladies compartment.  And who can forget the Mumbai local trains which is absolutely a treasure island for the middle-class female wisdom. For a person like me who loves eaves dropping it is like a heaven on earth. It is like a total entertainment channel. It is in this carriage that I have picked up some real utilitarian values which I even treasure it today. Though I do not travel in a local train any more, I still remember one of the conversations which we had in this hot carriage.


It was a statement made by a middle class Marathi women with a prominent mangalsutra tied around her neck: ‘Mama’s boys make lousy husbands.’ I leaned closer. I must say I am a seasoned eve dropper and nobody can make out from my blank expression that actually I am engrossed in the conversation that is going on beside me. The story that I gathered was a pretty interesting one, but nothing out of the ordinary. The lady sitting beside me (lets call her Sulekha) was married to a man who was a banker with a good salary. They owned a comfortable flat in surburban Mumbai, a car and all the necessary electronic gadgets and a mother who was a widow. It was the last item in her list of virtues.


She was a perfect mom-in-law according to Sulekha. She used to pack her hot aloo parathas for lunch, take care of the house and kids when Sulekha was in office. But what Sulekha did not like was to wake up early in the morning even on Sundays take bath and sit in the prayer room with her. “But then every body has to have a mother and some are more difficult than the other,” said woman B (lets call her Sujata).


“I don’t mind Sudip having a mother. I have been married just short of ten years. In many ways, I'm very happy: My husband is handsome, intelligent, an excellent father, and a great provider. He's basically a great guy,” said Sulekha. 


So why am I complaining? Here's my problem: He's an incredible mama's boy. He can't make a move without consulting his mother. He needs to consult her for every step that he takes in his life. Some times he talks secretively with her and the moment I enter the room they stop talking or else they start talking about something that does not make any sense. This is driving me crazy. I feel inferior, inadequate, and hurt. It is as though he is having an affair, but one I can't complain about. Am I just being silly, or am I right to be upset?


Sujata said, “It is always better to have a husband who cares for his mother rather than who neglects her. I remember my mother always telling me: always watch how he treats his mother because that is exactly how he is going to treat you one day.” Sulekha grimaced, “If what your mother said turns out to be true then I must say I am going to be the luckiest woman on this earth. Just that the wait seems to be endless.”


Her mother-in-law does not like late nights and expects the whole family to go to bed by ten and so there are no late night outings for them. Her husband insists on taking her on every outing, including their wedding anniversary dinner. He compares her rotis with hers, her hose work with hers and even her taste in clothes with hers. He even turned down a better paying job offer because his mother did not want to leave the city. “And guess what?” said Sulekha. “To every restaurant we go he never orders anything of my choice.  He knows very well that I am fond of chicken roast, but just that his mother does not like chicken he never orders it. And in the restaurant he does not sit beside me. He always takes the seat beside his mother.” To this Sujata had to admit, “He really does sound like a mother’s boy.”


My neighbour, Kalpana, mother of a 12- year- old baby boy gave her perspective on the issue a few days ago. She said, “My son and I have a great equation. He is quite an introvert kid and does not talk to any body much in the family except for me. It is only with me that he is an absolute chatterbox. We have lots of fun together. We have the same sense of humour, the same taste in movies and the same love of outdoors.”


Then one day it struck her that probably he is growing up to be like his father, who shares the same kind of dependency relationship with his mother. That was the turning point in his relationship with his son and he started actively working on it. Of course the love and care in the relationship had to be intact, but I made him believe that I cannot be by his side through out his life and that slowly he should learn to take decisions of his own, make friends of his own.


Problem in the family starts when a grown up man who is supposed to take care of his wife and children turns to his mothers for orders. Marriage counselor, Ritu Shah, says, “Over the years I have noticed that those mothers who are happy in their own relationship with their husbands and has a career of her own or may be is involved in her own social life and less prone to insecurity and they are the ones who does not hold on to their sons. This is because they are emotionally happy in their own life and hence they do not dominate over their sons and daughter in laws.”


Psychologist, Dr. Seema Hingorani says, "Those mothers who are not happy and contented in their own married life have a tendency to intrude into the privacy of their son’s married life. Those boys who have a misplaced sense of loyalty and love suffer from this feeling that no wonder what happens their mother can never be wrong. These discontented mothers also know how to get their way by emotionally blackmailing their sons."


Mother’s love and wife’s love are two different things and both have its own place and significance. Hence both should not try to encroach into each other’s territory. Then only can a healthy equilibrium can be maintained.




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