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Video: The other woman: Dealing with your man’s mama

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    >>> whether charming or cringe-inducing, your man's mom plays a serious role in your relationship with him.

    >> and knowing how to deal with that him would is crucial to that union.

    >> so now we have some advice. hi, ladies. so this is a really important relationship. your boyfriend/husband's mom is probably the first woman they ever loved obviously.

    >> and they probably want that kind of i would imagine nurturing.

    >> it's true. it's the relationship that sort of sets the tone for all the relationships that he has moving forward. so what she gave him sort of in the beginning really sort of sets the patterns that he'll enact with you his partner moving forward.

    >> poor cody. i feel for him.

    >> not everybody adores their mother . so this could be a good thing or bad thing. i always heard you find a man who loves his mother and he'll be good to you. is there any truth to that?

    >> well, i think there is because if you're with a man who likes their mother , it really trains them to like women. and if they care about what their mother thinks, although the the girlfriend or wife may think that's a bad thing, in some ways it's a good thing because they want to feel connected and bonded to the woman in their life. and that's a positive.

    >> well, getting along is subjective, i guess. some people tolerate and some people really bond. what's the right way to go if it's not a terrific relationship?

    >> i think it has to be based on mutual respect and loving -- the mother loving the son and you loving her son, as well.

    >> common ground.

    >> you love the same person and it can't be a competitive love. it's not -- you can't make your man choose sides because you're setting everyone up to lose in that situation.

    >> and you could just look for the good in the mom. maybe you don't like some things about her, but obviously there's some things your husband loves.

    >> and this woman raised the man that you fell in love with.

    >> so she did something right.

    >> and she shaped his love nest . so part of the reason why he chose you is because in some ways you felt familiar to him. so if you can reframe it and not get lost in the negativity, it can be very helpful. because it's so easy to get lost in one's rightness.

    >> the hardest part is when the mother keeps trying to be the mother in spite of the fact that the man is now a grown up human being and has a wife and a separate relationship and it's natural to resent her coming in and basically trying to run the show.

    >> and let's face it, some mother -in-laws are not nice or likeable. so you may not like them appropriately so.

    >> so what do you to with them?

    >> i think it's really up to the man in that situation to stand up to his mother . it's important that he be --

    >> hers a they're a mommy's boy sometimes.

    >> you say you have your own relationship with your mother . take a break and say i may not want to have a friendship with this woman, but i know i want to and that's okay sometimes. and sometimes put your foot do you have and say i don't want to spend every holiday with your mother . can we take a little bit of a break.

    >> i live in a real world where i see people struggling with why do we have to go to your mother 's for thanksgiving, can't we once in a while --

    >> but sometimes you go because you're sacrificing, right?

    >> that's what love is, but how many people really love like that, hoda woman? just me i guess.

    >> if you have your own relationship with your partner's mother , maybe you learn about a new side of her and you develop your own unique relationship with her, that's the best case scenario.

    >> the mom's jealous or the wife isn't like all the attention that the son is placing on the mom, what's the right way to handle something like that?

    >> i mean, i think you should be up front and honest, but still gentle and respectful. i think you express it maybe less to the mom and more to your partner so that he is clued in what you're feeling. any think that you sort of fester with will really blow up in everyone's faces later on.

    >> and there really is a place for two kinds of love. the love for a mother and love for a partner is very different and there can be room for both. but you're right, it really does depend on the husband or boyfriend in this situation to navigate appropriately.

    >> let's get some takeaway trips. find something you like about his mom. that's one.

    >> and small as it may be. maybe it's just you like her nail polish .

    >> live on the nails.

    >> believe it or not, that shift can change everything. people --

    >> give her a compliment about it.

    >> even though it's something small, it can really have a huge dynamic shift. at least temporarily.

    >> ask her about herself it seems to me. a lot of people, especially if the mother has lost her partner, the it w it was mother -in- law day last week and out of the blue, frank sent my mom a beautiful bouquet of flowers and she sobbed all day long.

    >> that's beautiful.

    >> but i didn't even know.

    >> that day got forgotten in my house. just something kind you wouldn't think about doing ordinarily.

    >> all right, ladies.

    >> frank -- we got married in october and his mother died a month later. 26 years ago. and frank has always said that i killed his mother . we have great thanksgivings.

    >> i knew we should have

TODAY contributor
updated 11/1/2012 11:13:44 AM ET 2012-11-01T15:13:44

It’s all too common for me to hear horribly painful stories about the more-than-hard to take mother-in-law. As the mother of a son (granted he’s only 13 years old right now), I get it. Why would any mother want to share her fabulous son with another woman? The problem is, if you raise your son to be a healthy adult, that’s exactly what is going to happen. After all, he can’t marry his mother! So, how does a lovely lady deal with her beloved’s mother, particularly if she isn’t so keen on sharing her son with you?

We get to pick our partners, but we don’t get to pick what type of mothers they have. It might be that you never love your partner’s mother; maybe she isn’t loveable, but as long as you’re in your man’s life, she is going to find her way into yours. Since there’s no way around it, the best strategy is to find some way to survive her. After all, it’s important to keep in mind that she did raise this man that you fell in love with. You may not want to give her total credit for him, but mothers do have a way of shaping their son’s personalities as well as their feelings about the women in their lives. If you find your partner to be a good guy, his mother probably had more than a little something to do with it.

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Because mothers are their son’s first loves, they hugely influence what’s known as a person’s love map. A love map is a person’s idea about what the ideal mate will be and look like. On some level, your partner chose you to be his love, because you feel familiar and comfortable to him. Like it or not, you probably feel similar in some ways to his mother. Don’t worry, you also feel different, too. If none of these psychological insights make you feel better, here are some other strategies to try out:

  1. Try to spend some time with your mate’s mother alone. See if developing your own connection to her can make you less threatening. This can help strengthen the relationship.
  2. Just because your partner wants to spend time with his mother, doesn’t mean that you have to, too. Allow your mate to bond with his mother without you, occasionally. This can give gals that much needed “mommy” break, which can be very healthy.
  3. Express what you’d like from your partner, when it comes to his mother. Do this when you’re not feeling angry. Ask for livable boundaries to be set into place when it comes to her.
  4. Remember there is room for the two of you to be in his life — even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes.
  5. Finally, when you’re around “mommy dearest” try to focus on a characteristic you do like about her, as small as it may be. Even if it’s miniscule, this strategy can be hugely effective.

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