Wives abandon marriage to become obsessive moms

Lindsay - posted on 07/07/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )




Wives abandon marriage to become obsessive moms

Question: Help me. My wife and I have been married for nearly 10 years. We have one child, a 3-year-old boy. Ever since our son was born, our marriage has been slipping away, as she has become more absorbed into motherhood.

She dotes on him constantly, talks to him constantly, praises him for every little thing he does, and does things for him he's capable of doing for himself. If I bring up the fact that our marriage is becoming an illusion, she gets angry, accusing me of having no appreciation for the demands of motherhood and so on. I don't see many demands except those she is putting on herself. What can I do?

Answer: A couple of months ago, following a talk I gave in Georgia, a woman told me she had been offended by my many references to mothers who are enmeshed in their children's lives. These women, when I talk to them about this issue, and if they are able to bring some degree of objectivity to the conversation, admit that they virtually have abandoned their marriages.

The offended woman felt that I was "putting it all on women." In a sense, I am. During the past 40 years, since the advent of what I call "psychological parenting," the role of the adult female in the family has morphed considerably: once primarily a wife, now primarily a mother. In the process, "mother" has become infused with pressure, stress, anxiety and guilt. The typical female parent -- if I can get her to relax her defenses concerning the subject -- tells me that she feels pressure from her peers to "perform" in certain public ways in order to validate her motherhood. The interesting thing is that they nearly all say this. Obviously, therefore, the peers who are applying (and simultaneously submitting to) this performance pressure are all of them (rare exceptions noted).

The performance in question involves putting one's child at the center of one's attention and scurrying about in a constant quest to raise the bar of expectation on all the other mothers, who all are doing the same.

So, at speaking engagements, I say to my audiences, who average 60/40 to the female side of life, "Raising children is the most stressful thing a woman will do in her adult life, more stressful than running a major corporation." And then I ask, "Anyone disagree?" When no one disagrees, and no one ever has, I up the ante: "Raising children has become bad for the mental health of women. Anyone disagree?" No one ever has disagreed. I go on to ask, "Why are women submitting to this? Certainly this is more oppressive than a glass ceiling or having other professional doors irrevocably shut. No?" No one disagrees.

In the 1960s, women decided they no longer would stand for being limited in any arbitrary way. Now, women submit to arbitrary limits as soon as they have children. In the 1960s, women complained about men treating them as if they were mere objects. Forty years later, women allow their children to treat them as mere objects. In the 1960s, women began demanding a new kind of respect. Today, women teach their children that women exist to solve their problems and fetch. And, yes, there are laudable exceptions, but this seems to be the clear norm.

Consequently, you are by no means the first male to bemoan the problem and ask how his marriage can be salvaged. Perhaps you might dare to begin by putting this column on the counter next to a dozen roses. As for the complaint of that woman in Georgia, indeed, if this is going to be changed, women are going to have to decide, as they did some 40 years ago, that they've had enough. In this case, however, men are looking forward to it.


Do you think this guy has hit the nail or is totally off?? Why?

This conversation has been closed to further comments


View replies by

[deleted account]

I think he kinda hit something... However, I think part of the problem is that women are feeling pressure, from who/where ever, that they need to meet the ideals of the 50's housewife, while bringing $$$ into the house, tending to a job, kids & husband all at the 2010 expectations and concerns, mind you, without much training! In the 50's we trained our girls to tend house for her husband by tending house for her brothers and father...this does not happen soo much because we instill education and career instead...so when she gets married she plugs away at a career and struggles to meet an ideal she has not been trained to fulfill... Of course you lucky ladies are not ALL victims of such closed mindedness, but it sure doesn't help! Men need to step up and help more and women need to let them and not bitch soo much about it...cleanliness is a learned behavior! Some reason our boys aren't getting the full lesson...

[deleted account]

i think he makes a good point.. if ur in a marriage .. well for me its God and ur relationship first then spouse and urs bc we're considered one when married.. then kids.. and so on.. if ur going to be able to keep a marriage going and raise ur children.. you both have to be fullfilled, spiritually physically, mentally.. this includes both of you to not be selfish.. we make sure our kids are taken care of but its not easy to do if we're not doing that for each other.. now my husband travels a lot for work.. so right now while hes away every am we pray for daddy and mommy and the kids. to keep us together day to day whether we're physically together or not.. then we go about our day, dad calls and we sit and take turns talking, well as much as we can bc my kids are almost 3 and 2 lol.. but we make it a routine, then to bring us all back together b4 bed we pray for each other, daddy while hes gone and us at home..

[deleted account]

I echo what Sharon said...

I think that often the women who are absolutely obsessed with being super-moms and let their marriage go are the ones who wake up when the kids have moved out and realize they just had half of their lives go by without enjoying any of it. I am not saying that they don't love their kids but rather they no longer know who they are outside of "mom". They are often divorced or in an unhappy marriage, resent their husband and children for "robbing" them from their lives even though they are the ones who imposed increasingly high standards upon themselves.

We can only imagine where that leads them...

Sharon - posted on 07/08/2010




I don't understand why some people have to go to such extremes.

In our family the kids come first, before ourselves (as individuals). BUT my husband & I know that without US - the mother & fathe, the mom & dad, the husband & wife, our kids won't be first. IF we can't fix "us" then the kids will suffer.

Single parents can do just as great as a pair of parents, but that isn't how our family unit is set up.

Yes some men don't contribute at all but I've seen plenty of men who TRY to get involved, try to contribute but the super moms belittle them and smack them down, then ignore them. They don't want a "father" they want a $$$ maker and sperm donor, thats it.

If you are a pair of parents then you NEED to pay some attention to your relationship. Relationships need attention & work. You sure busted your ass before you paired off, what makes you think the relationship doesn't need the attention now?

Julie - posted on 07/08/2010




I think he has some valid points, but I HATE it when people generalize. I know my share of women who put a tremendous burden on themselves to be a "perfect mom" and that can create some stress. However, I see WAY too often husbands who do not get involved with their families much. Without some support (or even maybe some "reigning in") from their spouses, mothers are left to handle a lot of things without help.

I have noticed many men who sit back and b!tch about how they are not being taken care of, yet they sit back and do not contribute to raising the children. Even if they work a lot, they could TALK to their spouses about what is going on and AT LEAST lend some emotional support.

But, all relationships are different and I get the feeling he felt abandoned so he looks at every interview through those glasses.

Becky - posted on 07/07/2010




I don't really think his point was about working vs. being a stay at home mom, I think it was more about the pressure we all put on ourselves and on other moms to be a certain kind of mom. Like some other recent debates on here have kind of made clear. It seems if you don't breastfeed, don't involve your children in X number of "stimulating" activities, let your children watch more than X amount of TV, don't have such and such a routine, etc, etc, etc, you face judgement. No matter what choices we make and what our reasons for making them, we face judgement from someone. It's ridiculous! Whatever happened to accepting that a woman is doing to best she can for herself and her family? I don't think it's being a mother that is hazardous to a mother's mental health. I think it is the overabundance of information and research and "experts" and parenting styles and theories... And so many completely contradict one another. If you pay any attention to it all, you just become overwhelmed and start to go crazy!

[deleted account]

I don't see how the "rare exception" is the one that does not feel like her mental health is at risk or that it is more oppressive than the glass ceiling. I love being a mom. I don't regret my decision to quit my job. For me, having a full time job while juggling family would be the thing to cause mental health problems.

This is another example of taking feminism too far. Yes, I'm happy that women have the same opportunity as men. It should be that way. But to say that women belong at work is also wrong. Feminism was about giving women choice. My choice is to stay home and I resent anyone trying to take that choice away.

Okay, one thing I will agree with him is that some women do neglect their marriages. Obviously, when a new baby comes home, mom's attentions turn more towards baby. But I've seen some women take it too far.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms