When most people stare parenthood in the face, they look to the other women in their life to figure out, like, how the hell to get through it. And since motherhood lasts for roughly the rest of your life, it's safe to say that when you have kids, the other women in your life become even more vital to your survival than they were before. For a lot of people, no woman is more trusted or more prominent as a member of their she-counsel than their moms, but there are times when you shouldn't listen to your own mother, especially when it comes to your relationship. Definitely when it comes to your relationship after kids have been thrown into the mix. Just trust me on this.
Sure, many people don't have the closest relationship with their mom or any relationship at all, but if your mom is basically your best friend and definitely someone whose advice you seek (and often take), then you're not exactly a statistical outlier — once kids are grown adults, most moms shift effortlessly from caretaker to advisor, giving valued input on basically everything.
While I would never suggest that you don't listen to your mom (moms have answers, man, that's just a law of the universe), I do think it's important to have limits to what you allow her to weigh in on. I mean, it's not just that I think that; everyone knows it's immeasurably important to have boundaries with even the closest people in your life (actually, especially with the closest people).
So while your mom might be the perfect person to bounce around options and ideas about nearly everything part of your life with, there's one area where, for the most part, you should maybe go through things without her: your relationship. Certainly, it's normal to talk about your relationship with your mom to some extent, but there are some times when the very nature of her being your mom while get in the way of her delivering the most unbiased and objectively helpful advice. Here are a few:
When You're Mid-Fight
Fighting with your partner makes every emotion heightened and extra sensitive anyway, so talking to your mom — someone who is likely least willing to tolerate things that make you upset than anyone else on earth — when you're in a super emotionally vulnerable state is so risky. No matter how much you tell her about the fight, and no matter how well you both think she knows your partner and your relationship, there are things she doesn't know. There are details she's not privy to. There are nuances she is inherently incapable of grasping because no one could except for you and your partner. Which means that her take on the fight is going to be limited, and because she's your mom and you being upset can easily make her upset, her limited take might be passionately delivered — and you'll be emotional and thus vulnerable to being swayed. Our feelings about things are most malleable when we're all worked up.
Obviously, if sh*t in your relationship is in any way unsafe for you or your kids, ignore everything I'm saying and just do whatever you need to do to be safe. The risk of having your feelings about a fight defined by the under-informed input of someone outside the relationship is clearly nothing in the face of actual physical risk. But if you're dealing with a fairly standard fight that couples have, power through and sort it out internally. Vent to your friends if you want. It's a lot easier to not let their opinions too greatly impact your own than it is to do that with your mom.
Plus, your mom won't forgive your partner as quickly as you do. Tell them about one fight and years from now, they'll give them a subtle look across the Thanksgiving table that says, "I remember. I'll always remember." No one needs that.
When She's Obviously Comparing Your Life To Hers
This is somewhat unavoidable in all relationships. Our brains endeavor to understand what other people are going through by drawing parallels to our own experiences. It's kind of our job to find the universal insights within those parallels and hand them back to you in the form of advice. If we don't do that last step, and instead just share the experiences in our lives that your life is currently reminding us of, then we're not really giving you advice so much as we are now making sh*t about us.
So if you find that you're talking to your mom about your relationship and she is so obviously mentally processing it in close relation to her own life, maybe take everything she says with a grain of salt. It's very likely that how she's reacting to what you're saying about your relationship is really just her projecting her feelings about something in her life. I mean, it happens. Just try to be aware of it and don't let it impact how you're feeling about your stuff.
When You Already Know The Answer
If you are already really sure about how you want to handle some aspect of your relationship that needs addressing — maybe you're trying to sort out a new work/kid duty schedule with your partner, or they f*cked up somehow and you're deciding how/if to move forward with them — then there's no reason to bring your mom into this.
Anytime you really know what needs to happen, or what the best way of looking at something is, it's always preferable to just go with your gut and not muddy the mental waters by bringing in outside input on something you've already sorted out.
When She Has A Personal Stake In How You Choose To Handle Things
Does you deciding to get a divorce mean that you and your kids would end up coming to live with her for a while? Would she secretly love that? Should you maybe make this choice without her? Yeah. Look, I'm not claiming that most moms are selfish enough to nudge their grown kids' relationships in bad directions just to be self-serving. I mean, some moms might do that, because some people are just kinda terrible and there's nothing stopping terrible people from having kids and those kids will grow up and still be programmed to listen to them. That all happens.
And maybe your mom is so extremely self-aware that even if she is personally impacted by what happens in your relationship, she can be aware of that and give you solid, objective advice anyway. It's most likely that your mom is some aggressively human shade of grey in the middle of these. Regardless, it's a good rule that if someone is personally invested in the outcome of something, they are very unlikely to give dispassionate advice about it. This seems doubly true when you're talking about the very emotional, complicated topic of family.
When It's About Your Sex Life
Nope. Hard pass. No one needs that. There is no sex problem so serious (or so lighthearted) that your mom needs to hear about it. If you don't have a friend you can confide in, I will literally be your friend if it stops you from talking to your mom about sex.
When Your Gut Just Tells You Not To
And then there's the catch-all reason that you should carry into everything. Sometimes, there might be something going on in your relationship and you instinctively reach for the phone to talk to your mom about it, but... something stops you. There's no clear reason why you think she should be kept out of this part of your relationship, but you have this gnawing feeling that she should. And that is more than enough. Your instincts telling you to do or not do something is always more than enough.
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