Dear Rachel,

I am engaged to a wonderful guy, yet I have one concern. He seems overly attached to his mother and I am worried that when I marry him it will be like I am marrying them both. He doesn't even realize it but he is constantly sharing his mother's opinion when we speak about things, and saying that he will ask his mother what she thinks when we are not sure about how to move forward with something. I have never really said anything, since I happen to like his mother a lot and think she is a great woman, but how do I make it clear that I want to make decisions with him, not as the three of us?

Engaged to a Mama's Boy

Dear Engaged to a Mama's Boy,

Well, to be perfectly honest, it could be a lot worse. Fortunately, you like her and think she is great. If you didn't, this would be a nearly impossible situation. Now, the one thing you don't mention is how she feels about his dependence. Does she like it? Encourage it? Demand it? Or is she also a bit aggravated that he won't cut the umbilical cord and is just waiting for you to take over?

It is important for your fiancé to realize that he is about to marry you and that means that you are the focus. The idea that one should leave the house of his father and mother and cleave to his wife is a Torah concept (Genesis 2:24). Likewise, the woman leaves the home of her parent's and attaches to her husband. The two of you together must begin and create your own life your own way. There is no question that the advice and input of loving parents and in-laws should be valued and used when appropriate, but it cannot be the source and starting point for how decisions are made.

I would clearly begin by having an open discussion with your fiancé about how you feel and that you think it is unhealthy for your relationship that he is so dependent on his mother. It is important to establish why he keeps turning to her for advice. If you have never brought this up to him before, then maybe he is asking her to get another woman's opinion, thinking you would appreciate that. Maybe she really gives great advice that he respects and doesn't realize that it is best to not always involve family in details.

This is actually an important lesson for both of you. When it comes to the personal decisions you make in your life, it is vital that you find someone you can turn to, or a few different people, that can be objective and help guide you. But this is extremely hard when speaking to parents as they clearly are not objective and therefore may not be able to separate their personal feelings from what is best for you.

Chassidic philosophy teaches that every person should have a mashpia. The concept of a mashpia is that of finding a guidance counselor, someone who knows you, respects you and gets you, but has distance from your life, so can give advice based on what you need. This person can be a rabbi, a teacher, a friend or even a relative, but ideally someone that is not too closely involved with your lives so that he or she can remain objective.

I would definitely look for others that you both know and respect who you can turn to when in need. And when your husband offers to speak with his mother, you can counter with suggesting that you both speak to someone else in her place.

So as to not strain the relationship between him and his mother and between you and your future mother-in-law, think about things that you wouldn't mind her opinion on (or better yet, would actually welcome her opinion on) and bring that up whenever you can. For example, if you suggest, "I would love to find a nice place to spend next Sunday, why don't we call your mom for suggestions?" then your husband might feel that she has been involved and her opinion is wanted and that might also limit the need to involve her in everything else.

And just remember that as frustrating as this can be, it also shows that you are marrying a man that has tremendous respect and admiration for a woman, his mother, and that he likewise should bestow that upon you. After all, the Torah also teaches us that Isaac specifically looked for a woman who had the characteristics of his mother because he thought so highly of her. So mazal tov on your upcoming wedding and with your marriage you should together build your home and your bond as a couple.