“Look, I’m not the one wearing it, so I don’t really care,” says the bride’s mother to her daughter. “I’m just saying.”
I bite my tongue, give my coworker a look that says I’ve about had it, and stride to the break room to grab a cup of water so I don’t yell at the woman, “YOU CLEARLY DO CARE! THAT’S WHY YOU DRAGGED EVERYONE HERE.”
And she had done just that. The mother of the bride dragged her husband, her daughter, and her future son-in-law to the store in order to change a color on a tuxedo that SHE didn’t like, in spite of her daughter’s (the bride) protests. Then she had the audacity to claim that she didn’t care.
And where were the “men?” Standing shyly behind the women as they argued back and forth. Hands in their pockets, offering my coworker and I nothing but shrugs as the women bickered and chiming in briefly when either one of the women asked their opinion. Their responses were the same most modern men give their female partners: “I don’t know. Whatever YOU like.”
This isn’t an anomaly; this is the norm. Most modern men have relinquished control over their lives to the woman in their life, be it their mother or their wife. Authority, assertiveness, strength, and any semblance of control don’t exist as the men stand in the background while their wives make all the decisions.
Where does it all start? No doubt it varies person to person, but I work with men of all ages and more often than not I see a similar trend and set of mentalities. So I’m actually going to work backwards, starting with the older guys.
I see men in their 50s and 60s who still beg for their wife’s approval for everything. And yes, I’ve seen a couple men all but, on their knees, trying to get their wife to take their side and agree with them on a decision. “Happy wife, happy life” is their mantra. Only problem is, ironically, neither their wives nor their lives are happy.
Working backwards, I deal with men who are on the verge of getting married. They book their wedding with us and nearly every decision on every matter is made by their fiancee. It goes down how I described earlier, with them in the background, hands in their pockets, sometimes joking with their friend if they brought one while their fiancee calls the shots. “Whatever makes her happy, right?” they lament to me. My response is always a near sarcastic, “Something like that.”
As for weddings, half the time it’s the mother of the bride who really runs the show. She wants her wedding 2.0 and intends to live vicariously through her daughter. Is her husband going to stop her? No, of course he isn’t. They never do. It’s clear to see where the daughter’s controlling tendencies come from. Their mothers act like that their entire lives, so any sons raised by a mother like that are carefully controlled and their daughters are taught that men are overgrown children.
And now we get to prom. Ever seen a mother step into a dressing room to help her 16-year-old son get dressed in his tuxedo? Yeah, it happens. I’ve witnessed mothers’ storm into the store with their sons and DEMAND that he change the tuxedo he’s getting because she doesn’t like the color, even though the boy’s date does. Prom is “her special day,” the mothers will tell their own sons. “You have to do what she wants.” Young men are robbed of independence because of over controlling mothers and passive fathers who don’t have the balls to go to bat for their own son.
If you’re reading this as a son or reading this as a father, there’s only one solution that can break this cycle. Put your damn foot DOWN. The controlling women in your life won’t like it the first time. Or the second or the many times after that. But you either hold fast or lose your freedom, and you might as well put a leash around your own neck at that point.