Husband Acting like a Child

Updated on May 24, 2009
C.P. asks from Brackenridge, PA
17 answers

This may be a bit lengthy but it's late and I'm in the mood to spill my guts! First, I have been with my husband for 10 yrs. Dated for 7 and married for 3. I knew when I met him that he had anger issues that stemmed back to his relationship with his mother. His parents divorced when he was around 16. His mother was the disciplinarian and his father picked him up on the weekends and let him do whatever he wanted. He is now 35 and has nothing nice to say about his mother. I on the other hand, have a great relationship with her. She is very loving, generous, and supportive. She tells me that he was always a handful as a child. He was an instigator (spelling?), never wanted to listen and would always push her buttons. She did what she thought was best at that time to discipline him and refuses to apologize to him for how she parented. I definitely see her point of view but I also love my husband and have to show him support. How do I go about trying to be understanding when deep down I think he's being immature and always "playing a victim, woe is me". *Note: He was not abused or anything serious like that.

Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

Thanks moms!

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So What Happened?

I can't thank all of you enough for all of your advice and comments. They really helped me to remember that my husband needs me to be his rock, a listening ear, and not have a judgemental attitude. I think that writing down my thoughts has helped quite a bit with my "stress". So, that being said, I will give some back story!

My H's dad worked hard all day at his job and would go to the bar every day after work and usually show up at home drunk. My H's mother was a stay-at-home mom and was raising my H and his sister who is 6 yrs. older. The dad would never help out with the changing diapers, etc. So, needless to say there relationship was strained and led to divorce. While going through the divorce they tried marriage counseling with my H present. He says that the counselor always took his mother's side. I asked my H what was it about his childhood with his mother that hurt him so bad. He says that she never let him do anything. Such as, one day he wanted to go to Kennywood with some friends and asked for $20. She would not give him the money. He wanted to go outside and play with his friends and she said no. (she says it's because he wanted to go out and play at 8 am on Saturday morning and she would tell him to wait until noon). Ok, so you moms are catching my drift with the type of things that upset him. Needless to say, these are his experiences. So, after the divorce the parents wouldn't be caught dead in the same room together because they can't stand each other. He still has a great relationship with his dad. Whatever his dad says, he listens. We were house hunting and he had to get his father's approval before mine! So, back to where I was...I tried to explain to my H that there are always 2 sides to each story. I said, "Do you think that maybe your mother was so stressed out because your father never helped her and was always drunk when he came home?" (which his father admits to my H). He agrees that his dad wasn't around like he should have been but says that's no excuse for my mother to act the way she did. So, this is where I would just be silent and not say anything and just let him talk about his situation. I have told him before that life is way too short to dwell on things in the past. You cannot change what happened. You can only go forward knowing that you are the only one that can change the way you think. I suggested that he write a letter to his mother expressing his feelings to her. So, he did write a letter. When she received the letter, my H was at his grandmother's house with his dad. She showed up at the door with the letter and started screaming at my H's dad saying "See what you did to our son! He hates me! And it's all your fault!" Well, that obviously backfired! I told him that maybe he should try talking to someone just to help with his anger. He says maybe I should but never really followed up. I guess maybe I should just make the appointment and tell him that I will be there with him if he wants me to. He doesn't mind that I have a relationship with her. He never asks what we talk about. I have a good relationship with his sister as well. She has no sympathy for him. She has a different view of how things happened.

Ok, so 11 months ago we had a baby boy. It was not a planned pregnancy but definitely not a disapointment. We were very happy. While I was pregnant, we discussed our emotions about having a baby and how it will change our lives. I told him that I wanted us to be on the same page as far as parenting. I know we will have 2 different styles just from our upbringing. I did not want my H to pin me as the bad guy as our son grows up because I make him do chores or do his homework before he can play. Our son needs to know that he has to show me respect as well as you. He needs to be a father before he is friends with our son. Kids need boundaries. Also, it is not going to be fair to our son if you talk mean about his grammy. He deserves to have a relationship with her. So, My H did agree with me and he is not opposed to his mother seeing and spending time with her grandson. Thank goodness! I'm hoping that my H will understand just how tough it is to be a parent and not Forget about what happened between himself and his mother but just take fatherhood one day at a time and enjoy his son and let him be able to create a better bond than he had.

Thanks ladies for letting me vent!

Featured Answers



answers from Philadelphia on

Next time he has something negative to say about his mom tell him to sit down and write his life's story and exclude his mother from it starting with his birth and see how long it would be and where he would be and who he'd be.



answers from Harrisburg on

A good psychologist can work wonders. My mom and I have had "issues" as long as I can remember - she was just never able to accept me for who I am b/c I'm different from what she thought I should be...and she has some manic/depressive issues. Though we'll never be best friends, things improved when I talked to a psychologist. She had a lot of tips on how I could handle her.

Good luck!

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answers from Williamsport on

What's worse than a full grown man who hates his nice mom? A full grown man who worships his evil mom!!!! But this is about you not me.

OK. You have every right to be fed up with the lowliest of all features in a man-"victim mode". Even if he was severely abused and neglected by a drunk psycho (again, I'll get off my own family story...) it's still unattractive to be a victim about your mommy. Which you already know obviously.

That said, he's your man, and you need to be loyal to him first. So. You don't have to agree with him or encourage him, but hear him out and let whatever he says "be". Do that, super present, listening and eye contact thing. Don't agree, don't object. Just listen and let him know you hear him. To a realistic extent that you can handle. The most "agreeing" you ever have to do is to say, "I see how you feel." when he's finished. Meanwhile, carry on your good relationship with your MIL, but don't elaborate on it too much with your man. Try to keep it separate. When he sees you not fighting him, and not "provoking him" by siding with her, and keeping your relationship with her fairly quiet, it will knock some wind out of his fight.

But when the whining gets too excessive for you, just say, as unsarcastically and sincerely helpful as possible, "Look, I know you have a lot of pain resulting from the wrongdoing your mother did to you, but there is nothing I can do. I see you have a lot still hurting you about this and I care, but I wasn't there, so please try to work it out with her or with a therapist if you can't let it go and get on happily with your life. You're such an awesome man, and a great dad, and I want you to realize it and feel better, we have so much to be thankful for...." Or something. You can't really change his world view on this UNFORTUNATELY. But you can take the high road and pretend like you sympathize.

My gay best friend still has mommy issues and whenever I make it about his legitimate pain and what he might do about it, he sort of gets off the tangent, because he doesn't really want to solve it, and I'm not joining him in the tirade, so he gets bored. Sometimes I just have to hear him out. Exhausting.

BACK TO YOU! Obviously the problem could be in your husband's parenting!!!! Is he being the "heroic slacker dad" he envisions did him so much good as a boy? From what you describe, it sounds like it wasn't your mom's strictness so much as his dad's undermining of her that messed things up-which is ALWAYS the case when parents play good cop bad cop and DADS slack off while MOMS do the heavy lifting. Hmmm, not SURPRISED he was always very difficult for his mom while spending weekends with the "cool dad".

SO, is he undermining your parenting?!! This is where you CAN draw the line and confront him head on. Stick to PRESENT issues between YOU and HIM. Don't let him say you're being too strict like his mommy so he has to be the "cool dad" or whatever-I can't speculate what's happening, but KEEP HIM IN LINE when it comes to defending the raising of your own kids. Remind him that you are not abusing the kids in any way, and for you guys to succeed you need to be on the same page. Kids need a strong dad. Any issues in this arena that can't be resolved by you should be taken to counseling, and let the counselor hear all the mommy daddy stuff from his past-don't put up with it yourself at home when it comes to your child raising.

I feel for you! Good luck! I guess your main question was how to sympathize and be understanding...Do the best you can. But don't personally enable him to be a mega victim if at all possible. It's not good for the kids to see their dad acting like that. Maybe you can sit around the dinner table sometime and play a "game" where EVERYONE at the table lists 3 good things about BOTH their parents- maybe after seeing some news story about kids that have it really hard, and then pointing out how lucky you all are and then going to the game. He may learn from what his kids point out about him, and it may be good for him to have to think of nice things about his mom "all within a game". One tiny step...?! I don't know. This is a tough one. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Allentown on

Hi C.,

Your husband is entitled to his opinion, whether he is right or wrong.

When your husband says, "Woe is Me," agree with him. That is his opinion, it is not yours.

When he annoys you with so many of them and you feel fed up,
set boundaries on him by saying your feelings.

Darling, when you ..............(descrbe the behavior or verbal expression)

I feel................(state a feeling)

In the future........(describe or state what it is you need from him)

Hope this helps. Good luck. Thanks for expressing your concerns. D.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Allentown on

the answer: blood is blood ... The bound is forever.
Now the problem : an age 35 year old ' man' with ' mommy' issues m-u-s-t- grow up now [ not tomarrow , not next week , not next christmas] n-o-w.
Is he a daddy yet ? Your 'man' m-u-s-t break the cycle of crazy before 'your' children are ' messed' up .
No. This does not require councelling [ he will not go anyway]
it requires your man to take a man step to 'be' a man .... His boyhood was long over... He is a man, hence, is acting like an idiot .
Mom in law sounds like a strong selfassured women [ i bet he resents this , because he does not know how to be this pillar ] i am sure dad in law is a whiner , free sprit , no rules , no boundries typeguy [ a mess in his senior years] ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh??????????
Fix this now before your children are messed up for life and mom in law is dead !!!!!!!!!!!!!!then you have to deal with ,' i should have'
a grammy



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi C.,

My husband has issues with his father from his childhood and they have affected my husband's self esteem (which is getting better.) I have talked to my husband about his issues with his dad and we have come to an understanding that he will call him on the holidays and if they send our daughter a christmas gift or easter card or something that requires a thank you. We have talked about how no one is perfect and that instead of focusing on what happened in the past, we need to focus on what can happen in the future. I am not saying to forget the past and all the hurt but to try to see your parent for who they are right now. Right now all they talk about is work or sports but I have learned to accept that they may never be close but at least they communicate and my daughter can have a relationship with grandpop. Since they live over 300 miles away we only see them 2 or 3 times a year anyway. The most important thing is be supportive of him and let him work through this. Maybe after being a parent himself for awhile he will be able to see that even parents make mistakes. Good luck with it.




answers from Erie on

I'm sure you have gotten lots of responses already, because I didn't get the post until a day later than usual . . . You gave us lots of background, but no behavioral issues except that he has nothing good to say about his mom. That doesn't sound horrible to me, but it sounds like you are having issues with his issues, so I'm wondering what else is going on ?

Our emotions are generally childish. Especially when we get hurt. We all behave like children on the insides, it's just that as we age, we tend to change our behaviors. We can't, however, change our emotions. The anger issues may have nothing to do with disciplin, BTW, and everything to do with feeling betrayed when the divorce happened. There may have been a whole lot more going on in the family home than you are aware of, even if he was your good friend at the time.

His mother did the best she could and won't apologize to him -- how did that come up ? Forgive me for speaking with very little information, but her comment sounds very self-centered and self-righteous. We, as parents, ALL do the best we can, and some of our bests are better than others. We also work with the information we have at the time, and often after-the-fact, we would have changed things had we had more info. I have 4 kids, and I would apologize to them if and when I hurt them -- because I want them to learn appropriate behavior, and appropriate behavior is to apologize when we behave poorly and our behavior hurts someone else. (Actually, I have at some time or another apologized to each of my 4 kids during the course of their lives, and more than once . . . )

I suspect the best thing you can do for your marriage is to stay out of the middle. You can get along fine with his mom, but you don't come to that relationship with issues that go back to childhood when you would have had absolutely no power in the relationship. You got to know her as an equal. . . . it's different. Your husband may come by his issues with his mom very honestly, and it sounds as if those issues were and are non-negotiable with her, so they aren't going to change. Even if they were, the only ones who can change them are him and her, not you.

It isn't always "childish" to avoid relating to someone who is not supportive of you. Children tend to run back to the relationship and try over and over again to be loved. Adults tend to distance themselves from people who are unkind to them. They build walls to protect themselves. So if there's a wall between him and mom, it's a wall and it can only come down piece by painful piece. And mom has the same wall by the sound of things. And she isn't taking hers down either.

However, if you nag him about it, he's going to put up a wall between himself and you. I don't think you want it there. So spend more of your time hanging out on his side of the wall versus his mom's side. He's your husband, and she's just "extra family", not your next-of-kin.

If I were you, I would LISTEN to him. When he's angry, don't say, "you're being stupid and childish." Say, "Man, there's more to this story than what's going on, because he wouldn't get THIS angry over this particular incident." And listen. Maybe when he's angry, he's not going to talk about it, but later, you can ask questions. Listen to what he says, and then clarify with him what you think he told you. What I'm hearing is that this happened, and you feel this way about it. And I getting this right? You want to be sure you are getting the same message he's sending. Focus on what he's telling you in words, and body language, and to ask questions to let him know you are listening, and he is being heard. Listen to the stories, and stand on his side of them, not hers.

It IS really hard, because if she's manipulative, she will constantly try to get you on HER side, but your place is beside your man, not his mother.

If HIS anger issues, on the other hand, are hurting you, then you need to deal with that, and so does he. that's a whole other issue, and more critical to your family life.


I just read the "rest" of your story. And what I read confirms my suspicion that "it's all about mom". She wasn't at all worried that her parenting hurt her son. My guess is that her discipline was very inconsistent, and arbitrary. And she shows up at her ex-s house, an ex she doesn't ever talk to and starts screaming at him in front of everyone ??? Now you know why dad spent his time in the bar. Cross this woman, and you will get the same kind of treatment Dad got, and probably the son as well at one time or another. She's nice to you, but rude and self-centered when she gets riled up.

You may have decent relationships with these people, but that doesn't change the reality of what your husband's childhood was like. You aren't getting the whole story. Keep your eyes open, and focus on what's happening in your own family.

Also, in counseling, I have seen a number of situations where the counselor took one person's side or the other. The trick in counseling is to build trust and then support the partners, one at a time to help them get their issues out. However, some counselors can't do that well, because it is difficult, and when you then support the other partner, the first one feels betrayed. . . . And why was the child there for marital counseling ? Marriage is never one person's fault over the other, there are reasons we act the way we do, and counseling should be a process where we learn to listen and love, affirm our partner and support them while also being ourselves. I think Mom had worked it out to be the abused unsupported spouse in the first place, and the counselor responded to that -- just as you are . . .meanwhile your husband obviously has a good relationship with his dad, and his dad acts like a parent with him -- helping him when he looks at houses, giving advice when it's warranted, etc. Build upon that. You may find that he's actually the better parent between the two of them, regardless of what the family all says. . . If your mother-in-law can be that vindictive and viscious, she's not someone you want raising your child, so be very cautious of how much time she spends with your child. Esp. if the baby's a boy -- because she'll treat him the way she treats the men in her life -- her ex, and your husband.



answers from Erie on

Here's my thing, my husband thinks my dad's wife is sooo great and can't understand why i can't stand the woman. Am i immuature etc etc yes! But in my mind part of our marraige deal is that he be my rock, my safe place, the one that i trust utterly. so he can think she's a great as he wants to think she is, but he better understand that when i've had enough of her it's time to GO.

Even if your husband is wrong, i think you need to be there for him, that might Not mean listening to him whine, but it probably Does mean not calling up his mom to chat about your hubby, not inviting her over with out talking to him first that sort of thing.

If he can figure out what boundaries he needs to have with her and articulate them to you, then maybe you can start from there and slowly work on expanding on them over the years.

On the other hand, to survive sometimes people just need to completely break ties and if that is what hubby needs, then that is what you need to give him.
When he thinks of his mom he is probably thinking about that moment back in time when he was 16 and his world was crumbling and (in his perception) she was being a #$@#$@. You won't be able to show him, that she was right or that she isn't the same person, Only he can discover that himself. And you have two versions of the story, but you can never really know what each of them needed at the time.
I'm hoping DH is more mature in other matters. If it does spill over in to other parts of his life them maybe even you talking to a counselor could be a first step.



answers from Sharon on

I would work on having a relationship with them both individually.

You can still listen to your husband and sympathize with him but withhold judgment on him or his mother. When he is ready to put aside his feelings he will.

I would say very little when he criticizes his mother. Defending her may put a wedge between you and him and I would be wary of letting your MIL know you are on her side.

Remember he is explaining this from his perspective.Concentrate on the here and now. Remember you didn't live his life so you really don't know what it was like because you weren't there. Even if it doesn't seems as bad as what he says that's how he remembers it and its real to him.

Just think, when he is ready to accept his mum and forgive you will have been supportive of both of them it will make the healing process a whole lot easier.


answers from Pittsburgh on

If this is a strain on you and your husband's relationship, then I would seek counseling. An unbiased person to talk to will help you and your husband work through this.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Is his attitude towards his mother affecting your relationship, other than you just feeling he is acting immature? If so, then definitely seek counseling. Is it affecting his life, his job, how he relates to other people? Then encourage him to get counseling.

Some people just never have a good relationship with their parents, and hopefully they will realize before it's too late that they need to resolve the issues or just accept them and move on. Some folks eventually realize, like I did, that it is in the past, and I cannot change it, I have accepted my mom for the person she was and now is, and have the best relationship we can in the present. She had issues, and she did the best she could under the circumstances. It's my choice how I deal with them. She was not the best mom, but she loved me and did her best.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi C., My advise is to stay as far out of this one as humanly possible! If you like your MIL great, that doesn't mean that he has is his mother! You can't change or interfer in their relationship they have to do that one on their own and if you get into the middle of it you will regret it because you will get blamed innocent or not, no matter how well-intentioned you are. I have a bitter angry non-relationship with my own mother and she loves my hubby...from the very beginning he has taken the road of "no comment" between the two of us and through the 20+ years that we have been together it is the very best road for him to be on. He listens to me and yet stays as far out of the entire situation as he can...and he is one smart guy for it! Good luck and best wishes!



answers from Philadelphia on

Oh man, I say do not put yourself in the middle. It's his mom let him work it out with her.



answers from Allentown on

what's his relationship with his dad now?

He needs to talk things with a neutral person a therapist and resolve his issue with his mom.

Is it affecting your relationship? or do you have kids?



answers from Allentown on

I had a HORRIBLE childhood, mainly as a result of my mother. But as an adult, she is involved in my and my childrens life. Most people that know everything that happened in my life are completely shocked that I even talk to her. I have 3 sisters that want nothing to do with her. But I chose not to act like the victim. It is so much healthier to let go. I certainly did not forget everything that has happened and I don't think that I have forgiven her either. I just learned to accept it. I chose to move on with my life and be a better person and mother because of her mistakes. She is not completely the same person that she was when we were all younger. She still has a lot of issues but accepted that also.

I think that you should validate your husband's feelings. It is horrible to feel alone. But tell him (nicely) that he needs to just let go and move on. The past needs to be put back in the past and live in the present. It will be much healthier for everyone. I would recommend counsleing but I know it is hard to convince most men of that.

Good Luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

Is this the only man you ever been with LOL. on a more serious note your mother is you r first teacher and the interactions that you hjave with your mother set the tone for life. It's obvious that your H. has some resentment towards his mom. Maybe it was because of the way she raised him or maybe because of the divorce. you should have a heart to heart talk with your husband and let him tell you his true feelings about his mother. She probably did raise him the best he could as a single mom. However some where in their her son felt she did something wrong and he can not get over it. That is why it is so easy for him to play the victim.



answers from Scranton on

Do yourself a favor and stay out of the middle. That is no place to be. You certainly will get the worst of it if you continue to stay there. That is something they need to work out.
If he has anger issues that are effecting you, you need to show him that you won't put up with it, or he will continue.
I will ask a question that you only need to answer for yourself, not me. Does he have a drinking or drug problem? That is a frequent problem of people with anger issues. In that case he needs to get help for himself. AA is a great place to start, they are a self supported group. They are located all over the place. When a person has addiction problems, they can get overwhelmed and it will come out in the shape of anger. Of course they can only change if they want to, no one can make them. But you can put your foot down and not put up with it. Best wishes.

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