Wives learn behavior patterns from their mothers and these may cause friction in marriage if they are incorrect. In her book, Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know (Dell, 1992), Barbara De Angelis explains how mothering a husband can cause a number of problems between a man and his wife.
How Do Wives Mother Their Husbands
Women are nurturers and caregivers by nature and often treat their husbands like children. This is especially evident if their own mothers mothered their husbands. To a certain extent, most men enjoy being mothered as they don’t have to pick up after themselves, remember important engagements or show responsibility. However, this type of scenario can be extremely damaging to a relationship when it extends over a period of years.
Mothering is displayed in a variety of ways but can be summarized as treating a man as though he is a little boy instead of a mature man. The wife does things for her husband on a regular basis that he should be doing for himself. Here are some common ways that mothering is expressed:
Picking up his dirty clothes Laying his clothes out in the morning Organizing his drawers and shoe rack Constant reminders about appointments and chores and bills Scolding him for not dressing warmly or making a mess in the kitchen Taking over responsibilities on the assumption that he cannot manage them Correcting him in public if he gets details of a story wrong
While it may be necessary or helpful to do these things on an occasional basis, they can cause a multitude of problems if adopted as a lifestyle.
Problems Caused by a Wife Mothering her Husband
Many men like the feeling of being cared for but do not realize the long-term problems this can cause. Mothering casts a wife in the role of caretaker and nurturer rather than lover, best friend and partner. The results of mothering a husband include the following:
The husband will resent his wife for undermining his independence He will feel stifled A reduced sense of self-worth resulting in an inability to truly love his wife Lack of sexual desire as he associates his wife’s behavior with his mother
How a Wife Can Stop Mothering her Husband
Once a woman realizes her behavior has been inappropriate, she can begin the process of turning things around. If she has been mothering her man for years, it may take weeks or months to reverse the effects but it can be done. Here are some ways to approach the problem:
Stop doing things that the husband should be doing for himself Treat him like he is competent and responsible Stop scolding him and speak to him like an adult Transfer responsibility back to him and don’t correct, fuss or nag if he makes mistakes or things are left undone
Wives mothering husbands is a common problem in marriage and over years can undermine a relationship and cause sexual desire to wane. Once a woman recognizes where she has been going wrong, she can address the issues and change the way she treats her man. Once he is forced to take responsibility for himself, their marriage should improve and strengthen as they work as a team as opposed to a mother and child.