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Let me start by saying that I love my husband very much. he is the only man that I have ever loved. However, we are having a problem that he does not see. When I met my husband 5 years ago, he lived with his mother in a very expensive house. Like everyone who enters the house, I was very impressed with it. I thought that it was strange that a man in his 40's was living with his mother, but I thought that it was a relationship of convenience. He lived there because she cooked and did laundry for him, so why should he leave.

ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

I never really thought too much about his mother. I stayed at the house with him on Saturdays. He has a lock on the bedroom door, and she is downstairs and we were upstairs. I didn't like the fact that he lived with his mother, but I naively thought that if we got married, that we would move into our own place because he would not need her anymore for those household tasks.

Well, fast forward. He proposed and I accepted. I was never happier in my life. We planned our wedding, and we had a wonderful wedding. But, living in that house with the two of them has forced me into therapy. I am seeing a therapist because I needed some validation for what I have been feeling. I have come to realize that he will never leave because she has created an environment where he is her whole world, and he could never leave her. She made us all sit down and create a budget (yes, she is even involved in our finances), she still does some laundry and tries to prepare food for us.

Basically, since my husband does not believe in therapy, he will not go with me. I was kind of hoping that by writing to you, perhaps you would write something about unhealthy mother-son relationships that I could show to him. It rips my heart out that I'm not sure that I can continue living like this, and even more so, it upsets me to think of living without him.




ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Hello, Upset--

Unfortunately--and naively, as you said--you have married a person who looks like a man, but who is a child emotionally. You have asked that I write about unhealthy mother-son relationships in hopes that my words might influence your husband, but that is a vain hope. If your husband does not "believe in therapy," why would he be influenced by the words of a therapist, particularly one whom he has never even met? If I had the two of you in my consulting room together and could look this man directly in the eye, I might be able to get some leverage in this situation, but at a distance, with written words only, not a chance.

The fact is, my dear, that you have to do something about this situation--something much stronger and much more direct than simply "kind of hoping." Now you say that you are in therapy because you need validation for what you have been feeling. OK, therapy often begins that way. Now allow me, another therapist, also to validate your feelings: if I were in your shoes I would feel lonely, disappointed, resentful, angry, and miserable, and you have a perfect right to feel that way too, or any other way you feel about this sad excuse for a marriage. Well, now that your feelings have been validated, I suggest that you use the energy of those feelings to begin to make some changes in your life.

If your husband will not go to therapy with you, I see no hope for this marriage, and so I urge you to give him an ultimatum: either a serious commitment to therapy aimed at getting him out from under mother's skirts, or divorce. I really see no other possibility. You certainly must not continue to live this kind of life; that would be a kind of living death. So, if he will not agree to make a change, you will have to get over your upset and begin to live without him. Since he is a child emotionally, and his "not believing" in therapy simply a form of denial, all of this is up to you--one hundred percent up to you.

I suggest that you show this letter not to your husband as you planned, but to your therapist instead. I have not met you personally of course, but based on your letter, I believe that therapy for you should now move onward from "validation" to another level altogether (and if your therapist does not agree, I would be happy to publish his views here on my website). At this new level, three important questions would be considered:

1. What is there in you that would cause you to love and marry a man who is so obviously infantile?

2. What stops you from simply demanding that your husband choose between you and his mother?

3. What will you do to end this marriage if your husband refuses even to see the problem?

Sorry to have to be so blunt, but I believe you need a wakeup call, and since you choose to write to me, apparently it falls to me to provide it.

Be well,


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