When One Spouse Becomes More Like a Parent than a Partner 

Some marriages develop into relationships where one spouse becomes more like a parent rather than an equal partner. One person clearly becomes “in charge” and makes the majority of the decisions. The other person’s opinions are not taken into consideration and he is treated like a child.

Bob and Jane had been married for ten years. Jane lacked self-confidence and early on in the marriage she often sought Bob’s approval prior to making any opinions. As the marriage progressed, Bob began discounting her opinions. He took over the finances and often became critical of her in a variety of different ways.

Bob often treated her like she was a child. When she left a pile of laundry on top of the dryer one day, he told her to clean it up. A few days later when it was still there, he yelled at her and said, “If you don’t clean it up right now I’ll throw it all away.” Jane often complied with Bob’s requests to try and prevent him from becoming angry. However, the more compliant she became, the more bossy Bob became.

The above example shows how men can sometimes take on this role of the parent. Women can also become more like a parent. Take, for example, a wife constantly nags at her husband to grow up and do some work around the house and take care of the children.

Couples who get caught in this sort of relationship often have a variety of difficulties. They lack emotional intimacy as they often cannot talk openly about their feelings. Making decisions becomes completely one sided and their marriage lacks the partnership needed for a successful marriage.

If your marriage has fallen into a cycle where one person has become the authority figure who has taken charge, consider seeking help. Becoming equal partners requires a change in the relationship dynamics. Thoughts about the relationship, one another’s role and feelings about each other require changing in order to treat one another like equal partners.

2 Responses to “When One Spouse Becomes More Like a Parent than a Partner”

  1. To make your partner feel that she is not as responsible as to being a partner, you do not have to be so spoiling him/her. Always try to make her feel reliable in any time. Stop making him feel like he is being humiliated in his capabilities to have that sense of balance in the relationship

  2. I have this problem in my marriage. I’ve been married for three months and already thinking about divorce. My husband is totally immature and it makes me lose respect for him. He goes to the bathroom and calls me in there and says “look at my doo doo” and laughs. He prank calls my cell phone while I’m working and generally acts like a toddler. He makes bad financial decisions and I constantly have to make sure he’s not buying magic beans with our money. He gets really upset when I don’t want him to make major decisions, but I think it’s because I no longer see him as a man. We did not date for very long (less than a year) and I think I may have married him too soon…

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