ASK AMY: Husband has a ‘mommy’ problem

Dear Amy: My husband isn’t capable of speaking with ME about decisions in our marriage and insists on running to his mommy for everything.

Instead of speaking to me about what’s going on in his life, it has to be mommy.

We’ve been together for eight years and married for six, and I cannot stand his constant need for his mommy’s input into OUR marriage.

His mom is great but doesn’t live with us, help with our kids, or pay our bills.

I’ve brought it up in the past but I’m “crazy” (in his words), and honestly I’m beginning to feel crazy in my marriage.

— Wife, Ready for Divorce

Dear Ready: I completely agree with you that your husband should not discuss private matters or plans for the future with his mother before discussing them with you.

However, as long as you belittle both him and his (“great”) mother with this snide “mommy” language instead of treating both of them as adults you are actually reinforcing the immature behavior.

No matter the conflict you could perhaps start to nudge the narrative in a different direction if you looked at your own communication style.

Consider reading, “The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer,” by Judith Wright and Bob Wright (2016, New Harbinger).

The authors offer useful ways to “reframe” these arguments.

One core takeaway applies to your situation, and you should emphasize to your husband that you want to fight “for” your marriage, and not “against” each other.

Dear Amy: My mother-in-law, “Jane,” is in a nursing home in the same town where my sister “Brenda” lives. We live about an hour away.

Brenda used to visit my mother-in-law occasionally, and she would often inquire about how Jane was doing when we spoke.

Brenda stopped all of this about a year ago. I don’t know why.

This bothers my husband greatly, and every time I talk to my sister he says, “Did she ask about Mom?”

I told him to stop asking me this because it makes me feel bad. I told him that if Brenda does ask about his mom, I will let him know.

I also reminded him that my sister is pretty self-absorbed. But he continues to ask. What can I do?

– C

Dear C: The way I read this, your husband isn’t necessarily asking your sister to visit his mother, but he is expecting her to “ask” about his mother.

His need to have your sister inquire about his mother speaks volumes about his own guilt and anxiety.

Obviously, your sister would not have been visiting a nursing home during the pandemic. But she may now feel guilty about not visiting because of the pressure your husband has placed on her because of her physical proximity to his mother. It’s possible that she doesn’t inquire about “Jane” because doing so might bring forth pressure to visit her.

The next time your husband asks you about this, you could deflect a little by saying, “Honey, we all care about your mom. Let’s go down and see her this weekend.”

Your husband could resolve some of his anxiety by visiting his mother as often as possible.

Dear Amy: Responding to the letter from “Upset Guest,” who was offered ZERO hospitality after being invited to stay in a friend’s home, I think it’s important to point out that being a good host is a learned skill.

I grew up in a terrible household. I honestly had NO idea how to show love and kindness toward other people.

Later in life, I watched how my beloved mother-in-law treated guests, and as an adult, I learned how to be hospitable.

– Grateful

Dear Grateful: Hospitality is the act of offering comfort and care toward others.

I’m so happy your mother-in-law gave this to you.