Toxic relationships- “She says ‘jump’, he asks ‘how high? ’. ” In 1997 Berkeley sociologist challenged the Freudian theory of masculinity development with the death of mothers, for a century western psychology, have urged men to reject their mothers in order to achieve manhood. Sigmund Freud the father of psychoanalysis insisted that the disassociation from the mother as a necessary step in the development of masculine identity.
And for the first time, in a one of a kind anthology a sociologist from the university of California at Berkeley brought together a series of memoirs that call this well worn theory into question, titled ‘Our mothers ‘spirits: On the death of mothers and the grief of men”, the book brought together 42 writers to explore the bond between mothers and sons. The essay includes writings by many well known male writers.
The purpose of this book was to expose the extent to which psychological and spiritual health in men, more so in later years of life, depending upon their ability to retrieve the love and close bonds the experienced and felt with their mother. Berkeley professor who has been teaching a course on men and masculinity in 1976, making him pretty much the go to man , in terms of ‘men’s life and masculinity’, he insists , “ men don’t have to psychologically separate from the mother to be masculine.
Everyone must leave home and become their own person, but you don’t have to overreact and reject the mother”. A negative stereotype that has made way into our vocabulary is the term ‘mama’s boy’, this term not only targets men who maintain a close relationship with his mother but also men with dominant to slightly dominant feminine personalities. The theme that runs throughout the anthology is that the rejection of mothers is isolated to the Caucasian population, Asian and African descent men maintain close bonds but grow up to be effective men in the world.
The men in the book spoke of yearning for a spiritual reunion with their mothers. What happens to men on the other side? The men who are overly dependent and cannot seem to find a balance? How does he manage his relationship with his wife and mother at the same time? The angst one man can go through to find the equilibrium affect many marital relationships. On asking a very close friend whose marriage fell apart due to this toxic dependency, responded “are you talking about mothers that say “jump” , and sons who ask “how high ? , asking her to go back and recollect how the dissolution of her marriage she states “well its was always creepy when it’s just two of you in your new home and then every time the phone rings , he takes the phone to the other room, shuts the door and talks to her for 20 minutes and this is after talking like 20 times a day.. Makes you feel like he is cheating on you…. it’s actually kinda like what a guy would do to hide a secret affair, perverse as it may sound! ”
Being in relationship for four years before they were married she says, “ there were hints that his behavior would get worse. Such as even though his mother owned and drove a car for many years, she would make him leave from their time together to go buy groceries for herself. He left all his career decisions up to his mother, and would listen to every unreasonable demand, even to the point of not holding my hand, because his mother told him so! ” Being in relationships that affect your mental well being and puts that much stress on your own peace of mind, is a toxic relationship.
When alarm bells ring , and you are looking for way to get out , when you are sad and depressed for more days than when you are normal, run for the hills. But as it is with most things , it is easier said than done. Persis recalls, she almost called the wedding off, and she should have when his mother made him drive her around at the peak of the wedding preparations for inane and unimportant work. ” She was always threatened by me , and my family. At the wedding day itself his mother ran up to everyone asking how she looked and seeking attention, pretty much making a ridicule of herself. This behavior strained the relationship to breaking point. anyone else would have said enough and walked away. To make the relationship have a semblance of functionality, she was committed to holding on and fought to make it work. Persis says “Her jealousy finally blew me away when; he called of our valentine’s day plans to drop his mother off at a party. ” The death of that relationship was inevitable. The fights , the screaming and the absolute isolation even when you are with someone asks for nothing but a clean cut if possible.
P. Madhavan who is in the process of gaining her double masters in counseling psychology says “communication is the key to a successful marriage, I can tell someone in an abusive relationship to talk to her husband about what she is feeling, but will it work ? That depends from one relationship to the other; there is only so much that you can do to fix a relationship, there is nothing you can do to fix ‘someone’. ” A psycho therapist and counselor in Muscat Mrs. A. Mali gives us insight into why this unhealthy relationship develops, “
Men who are fixated on their mothers, in some cases have a distressing childhood history, are raised by single mothers or have parents with unhealthy/immature nurturing styles. To a great extent, the mother is responsible for fostering an emotionally codependent relationship with her son. ” As a practicing counselor she gives the person who suffers the most, a few words of wisdom “the woman involved with a Mama’s boy feels secondary, unimportant or even cheated. Working on any relationship conflicts takes patience and persistence.
She can start with clearly and repeatedly expressing her discomfort with the situation. What can help is defining her own boundaries and set ground rules for the relationship with her man. ” To get in touch with Mrs. A. Mali , mail her at shrink. [email protected] com Personally I think there are ways to rectify relationships like Mrs. A. Mali has advised, but sometimes the only thing to do, is come to terms with reality and walk away. There is no shame in putting yourself first, it takes a great deal of strength and pride to love yourself and do what’s best for you.