12 Things To Do When Your Husband Chooses His Family Over You

In-Laws | |
Updated On: February 1, 2024
Husband Chooses His Family Over You

This is a reality many married women face in India. You could be living with your husband’s family or you could be living in a separate residence but when your husband chooses his family over you then it’s a constant battle that you have to keep fighting in your life. In Indian families, the son is expected to prioritize his parents and siblings even after he is married and has his own family. So most often what happens is the husband keeps fulfilling the financial and psychological needs of his family and the wife and his own children are often asked to compromise.

In many cases, it has also happened that a husband has relocated his entire family abroad because his parents wanted him to stay near them. As his wife, you could have been devastated by this decision but your husband chooses his family over you and tells you, looking after his family is his duty and you have to accept that since you are married to him. But instead of festering and fighting with him, you could think of taking some steps so that he could balance his own family and your aspirations as well.

While this can become a sore point in the relationship, it’s not something you may want to jeopardize your marriage over. Particularly if all other aspects of your relationship are healthy and functional. This brings us to the perennial dilemma of what to do when your husband is too attached to his family.

12 Things To Do When Your Husband Chooses His Family Over You

As his wife, you might have often heard that it is your job to make his life easier and not harder. If your husband is choosing his family over you repeatedly, then you have to remember he has been psychologically conditioned to do so since his childhood.

When children are socialized in India it is drilled into their head that your parents will always be your priority and even now when sons want to have a separate residence after marriage there is severe criticism not only from parents but also relatives and the neighbors who keep saying: there goes the son tied to the wife’s pallu.

As a wife, you have to realize when your husband chooses his family he is actually making a tightrope walk and succumbing to a lot of pressure. It is not that he loves his own family any less but he is unable to do the balancing act because of his mental conditioning.

So, when the signs your husband puts his family first are staring you in the face, don’t lose heart. Here are 12 things you could do to make the dynamics of your relationship with your husband vis-a-vis his family more streamlined:

1. Accept your husband’s strong relationship with his mom

Don’t get into a turf war with his mother

They could be working or they could be homemakers but it is a fact that the Indian mothers’ life revolves around children. Unlike when in the UK or US where mothers often stop to have a drink after work before heading home, you would always see an Indian mom rushing home from work to help her child with homework or toss up delicacies for them. And as well all know, Indian mothers do not let go of their sons even after marriage.

Take the example of Meenu and Rajesh, who are both well in their 50s and have been married for more than two decades. They have a largely happy married life, except for one aspect – the sticky mother-in-law woes. Rajesh is a protective and caring son, and Meenu treats that affection as an affront to her place in her life.

To this day, all their conflicts around Meenu’s complaint, “My husband always supports his mother.” No matter how much she resents him for it, Rajesh continues to be the dutiful son. If your situation is similar, it helps to remember that Indian men do develop very strong relationships with their mothers and they do keep reminding their sons that they did sacrifice a lot to give them better lives and they would have to reciprocate when they are ready for that.

So if he has money to buy one Kanjeevaram saree, he will buy it for his mother. Instead of resenting this, feel happy that your husband feels for his mother and wants to give her the best. This is alright – as long as it is not a repeated thing. Small gestures of love do not imply that your husband chose his mom over you. Don’t taunt him for being a mama’s boy. A caring son could also mean a caring husband.

2. Chalk out travel plans

It could be that your in-laws and his siblings are always included in your family travel plans. This could get really annoying because this is one of the tell-tale signs your husband puts his family first. Besides having a family holiday does not mean having the elderly with you all the time. And for them, you have been giving that zip-lining and bungee jumping holidays a miss. But what to do if your mother-in-law tags along everywhere?

Tell your husband that if you are traveling twice a year let one be with his family and the other one be with his wife and kids. You can work on a budget accordingly and make a list of the activities you would want to do. Tell your husband to ask his parents to choose one destination and the second holiday destination will be your choice. You will not get to crib then that your husband chooses his family over you and he will be satisfied by doing his bit for his side of the family.

3. Work out a budget

If you see that most of your husband’s income is given away to his parents for the upkeep of their home and you are left struggling with the finances at the end of the month, then it becomes really frustrating. What to do when your husband is too attached to his family and considers it his responsibility to fulfill their needs and desires?

Don’t let his responsibilities toward his family put a strain on your finances

Sit with your husband and work out a budget as to how much should go to your husband’s family and how much should be kept for your own. Tell him while you will ensure that you are not overshooting the budget, he has to ensure his parents are doing the same. That way your husband does not get to choose his family over you.

Related Reading: How Destructive Are Indian In-Laws?

4. In case of emergencies

Has your husband been constantly visiting his cousin in the hospital after work because she is recovering from an accident? And you are struggling with your children’s studies and could do with some help from him in Maths. Or does he rush to help his little sister with every little crisis she may have, leaving you grappling with the feeling “my husband always chooses his sister over me”.

Make him sit down and explain to him that while it’s wonderful that he feels that his cousin needs him in the hospital and he visits her every day or that he’s there for his sister but he could also feel for his son and help him out with Maths. So it could be an alternative day arrangement. One day he visits the hospital, the other day Maths with a son.

Related Reading: Setting Boundaries With In-laws – 8 No Fail Tips

5. Cut down on relative visits

Does your home feel like a Dharamsala where relatives walk in without even calling and expect you to leave everything and make tea and snacks for them the moment they show their face? This is a reality in many homes in India and wives are expected to entertain relatives because the husband is choosing his family over his wife. Most of the time he is not realizing the pressures he is putting on his wife by having an entourage of relatives always at home.

Tell him to have the weekends for such visits. If you are living with the in-laws you cannot really restrict relative visits because the elderly people are usually free to entertain guests. Then make it very clear to your relatives without being rude that you have work to do when they are dropping in so if you remain confined to your room, they should not hold it against you. Create your own boundaries, your husband will start realizing what is possible and what is not possible.

6. Work on some ‘me’ time

If you are living with your in-laws, it might happen that your husband comes back home and heads straight to his parents’ room and comes out of there only after an hour or two? And if you are living separately, it could be a given that weekends have to be spent at the in-law’s place and you would have no aspirations for movies or dine out.

Mother in Law

Perhaps, whatever free time he does get between work and other responsibilities, he spends it hanging out with his friends. You are not entirely wrong, if you’re convinced, “My husband puts his friends and family before me.” Tell your husband that you have no issues visiting your in-laws but if it could be made an alternative week affair then as a couple you could have some me-time.

Likewise, you can come to an agreement about what would be an acceptable frequency for his guys’ night outs. If he heads for his parent’s room after office, you tell him that’s just fine but he has to ensure after that when he is with you the door of your room is closed and you have your own space. There are no constant knocks on the door by his family to get their thoughts across.

7. You prioritize your family too

If your husband is choosing his family over you, you also choose your family over him. If a part of his income goes to his family, ensure a part of your income goes to your family too. Include your own parents in your family holidays and when he is buying sarees for his mom, buy the same ones for your mom too.

Spend as much time with your own parents or visit cousins as much as he does. But don’t do it with a sense of vengeance or to get back at him. Instead, consider it a way of filling up the time when your husband is unavailable to you by surrounding yourself with people you love. Who knows in the process he’d probably realize a few things and will be able to create the boundaries.

8. Take your own decisions

Sometimes the decision such as which college your son should study in or when your daughter should come back home become topics of family round table conferences. And your husband ends up giving more importance to that because that is what he has been used to seeing in his family.

What to do when your husband is too attached to his family and they get a say in all decisions big and small regarding your lives and that of your children? We suggest that you learn to pick your battles. If they think an American college is a waste of money but you have always aspired for one for your son, put your foot down. You have the right to make your own decisions. You know best.

Related Reading: 5 reasons why the Indian family is killing the Indian marriage

9. Understand husband chooses his family because he doesn’t know how not to

In Indian extended homes, husbands might want to help their wives in the kitchen but since their fathers never helped their mothers, they are unable to do it because they fear a backlash on the wife from the family. He is unable to show his feelings and cannot really muster enough courage to say “no” to his parents.

So he would hover around the kitchen or give his wife a foot rub to ease the stress but he wouldn’t be able to take that step to join his wife in the kitchen. But not choose her publicly. In that case, you have to understand his true feelings or maybe encourage him to break the patriarchal norms of the family.

10. Communicate your feelings

When you’re struggling to come to terms with the signs your husband puts his family first, know that healthy and honest communication is the key to solving any relationship issue. Yes, that includes your spouse’s attachment to his family. Your husband might not even know that you feel that he is choosing his family over you.

Communicate your feelings clearly to find a solution

What he is doing comes naturally to him. He has always been prioritizing them in small ways and does not realize how much he is hurting you by giving you a second-citizen treatment. But if you have a discussion with him and tell him how you feel, then both of you could sit together and work a way out. That way there is no misunderstanding and festering. You can sort out your feelings by talking.

Related Reading: 5 ways to deal with your husband’s parents

11. Take circumstances into account

There could be a circumstance when your husband really needs to give his family his undivided attention and financial help. That could be an illness, the need to bail out from a debt or such similar situations. In that case, you will have to support him to stand by his family.

If you don’t, then you could be alienating him from you. Realize he is their child first and he lived with them much longer than he lived with you. Plus, we are sure, you wouldn’t really appreciate a man who is not there with his parents when they genuinely and really need him.

12. Avoid resentment

Your husband could be a mama’s boy or he could be having a strong bond with his mother but that does not mean you will resent it and keep on cribbing that your husband chooses his family over you. “My husband always supports his mother” – the more you let this thought fester in your mind, the harder it will be to accept their bond.

There can be situations, sometimes unavoidable circumstances, that make a man choose his family, but he will surely expect your support. Do not build resentment over this. Resentment would create negativity in your relationship. Try to take positive steps through communication and creating boundaries and not keep resenting the fact that he is choosing his family over you.

Should Your Spouse Be Your First Priority?

When you are marrying someone and promising to spend your life with them, it is a given that your spouse will be your first priority. And then post marriage, you wonder why your husband chooses his family, again and again, hurting you in the process.

Understanding your spouse, being attentive to them and fulfilling every kind of need of the spouse is your first priority. That is the reason you got married. But definitely, it is also a given that you would support each other in looking after your respective families. But you cannot always choose your family over your spouse. That is not done.

So, what to do when your husband is too attached to his family? What can you do to break this deadlock? One simple piece of advice that can go a long way in resolving the deadlock is to become a part of his family, in true earnest. When you stop looking at the relationship dynamics from an ‘us versus them’ prism, half your woes will dissipate.

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Readers Comments On “12 Things To Do When Your Husband Chooses His Family Over You”

  1. whatdidijustread

    WHAT did I just read? This article is the most horrible, manipulative thing I’ve ever read. Was this written by a Mother who wants to be married to her son? Seriously! It sounds like an affair partner, lol. “Just accept that he loves his mistress more. Don’t resent your husband’s relationship with this mistress.” WHAT!!!!!!!

    I created an account just to write this comment:

    Dear Bonobology,

    Why don’t you write an article about Moms who should teach their sons independence.. and how they should prioritize their married life? Shouldn’t overly-attached Mother’s teach their sons to focus on their marriage? Here, I’ll help you write the article so it will be easier for you.

    12 Things To Do When Your Son Chooses His Wife Over You

    1) “Accept your son’s strong relationship with his wife.” This is good. Do you want your son to have a happy marriage? Or do you want your son & daughter-in-law to hate each other’s guts and get a divorce? You should be so happy that they spend most of their time together.

    2) “Plan to spend time together, but not TOO much.”
    If your son spends every weekend at your house, that is crazy. They are 2 people who are living their own life. They are not your property. You barely see your other kids and grandkids. Why are you so obssesed with THIS son?

    3) “Work out a budget.”
    Stop getting your son to pay for everything in your life. You have your own money. Your son has to save for his retirement, he has to pay off the mortgage on his house, he has to build up an emergency savings account in case he gets sick, and he has to save for his kid’s univeristy education. Make your budget. Pay for your own things. If you don’t have money, then sure, ask him for help, but ask ALL of your kids equally for help. Don’t just put it all on ONE child. Don’t take advantage of that ONE child who can’t say no.

    4) “Emergencies”
    Don’t make everything seem like “an emergency”. You can’t open a masala jar at night? Not an emergency. You need 1 extra thing from the grocery store? Not an emergency. You want to set up a zoom call with your family back home? Not an emergency. You need to visit the Temple this Saturday for Darasar? Not an emergency. Emergency means someone is sick or dying. Your son is dead tired from working all day. He barely gets enough sleep. He needs to spend time on his wife and their marriage. He needs to exercise. Stop making him do every little thing for you. You are slowly killing him.

    5) “Cut down on relative visits”
    Stop going to your son’s house unnannounced. All you do is complain and make faces when you go there, about how messy the house is. And then you tell your relatives how bad your daughter-in-law is at everything. You’re stressing your son’s wife out. She is starting to hate your guts. You are causing problems in your son’s marriage. Don’t you realize you are increasing her stress hormones and increasing her chances of getting cancer? Do you want your daughter-in-law to be a sick person? Or die early? Are you a bad Mom?

    6). “Work on some “me” time”:
    Go hang out with your senior friends. Get a life. You are an independent adult human. Act like one.

    7). “You prioritize your family, too”:
    You have a HUUUUUGE family. Go spend time with everyone equally. All your Bhabi’s and Baba’s and Wawa’s and ZeeZee’s, whomever. Indian families are massive. Go spend time with other people. Let your son and his wife BREATHE for a few weeks without you. There are SO MANY other people for you to spend time with.

    8) “Let your son and his wife make their own decisions:”
    You do not control their life. You are not their boss. They are not your pet. You are not their owner. They are independent human beings who have the human right to make their own decisions in this life. You lived your life. You made your decisions. Let your son and his wife make their own decisions. Even if it’s the wrong decision, that’s not your problem. Give them advice ONE TIME if they ask you… that’s it. Then let them decide what they want, and don’t bully or complain or whine that they didn’t listen to you. You nag constantly about everything. STOP. STOP NAGGING.

    9) “Understand son chooses his wife because that is how humanity functions.”
    People get married and have kids. Then those kids grow up, marry people, then have kids. Then those kids meet people, get married and have kids. Your son is in the “get married and have kids” part of his life. That is normal. Why are you trying to put your foot it in it?

    10). “Communicate your feelings nicely and without jibes and and a chakoo:”
    Stop being passive aggressive and hurting your son and his wife with your guilt-tripping and insults. No one likes that. Everyone remembers how you hurt them. No one likes spending time with you. They just tolerate your presence because you’re a mean-spirited person who just pokes people with little insults constantly. Why can’t you be a normal human being and talk normally? You never learned how to be normal?

    11). “Take circumstances into account:”
    Your son got married. He starting his new life now. That is his new circumstance. Take that into account.

    12). “Avoid resentment:”
    The more you let it fester in your mind that your son DARES to support and love his new wife…. the more you are hurting yourself. Just stop feeling bad about it. See how easy it is? Just control your sad feelings, and they will disappear. Our Indian culture doesn’t believe in the “myth” of mental health. LOL. What even is mental health? Good feelings versus bad feelings? These goras and their nonsense ideas LOL. No. Mental Health is a total myth. If you have depression, just smile, and the depression will go away. So simple! So when you are feeling resentment that your son loves his wife too much…. can simple CHOOSE to stop the resentful feelings… and the resentment will go away! See? Just like the other article said. LOL.

    There. I gave you lots of content Bonobology. Write an article to help overly-attached Mothers that they should be GOOD Moms by teaching their son to focus more on his new life. Go ahead. Let’s see the article.

    The new generation of girls is very different from the old generation. And they are clashing with the old, possessive, selfish type of Mother-in-law. Women aren’t tolerating this nonsene anymore. If you want to write content that HELPS people TODAY… then don’t gaslight these poor young wives by telling them their feelings are wrong and all the Mother-in-law’s are correct to dominate the son’s time.

    Do something useful. Write an article like I described here. You will help WAY more people than your other sad and disappointing article.

    1. Hi. I had to make an account to reply to you. I got so entertained. I agree 100 percent with you. Mama, you have to STOP visiting your son, really! Lol. But the article was actually helpful to me because my 40 yo Indian man whom I’ve been seeing is already there, you know, been brain washed thus, the fact written in the title won’t change. His family ( in my case, his sister and her husband, numerous cousins and his mother) will be the priority, period. He would attend masala jar emergency for sure. Do you think he will listen to me? Do you think he will bring the jar opener so that they can manage by themselves? No, because in deep down, he wants to take the opportunity and spend time with his mother or sister, i think.
      I ended up this site because my boyfriend has gone for 4 days due to his brother in law’s “emergency” . He was just visiting our city for work. I cried for two days like a baby. What am i if my boyfriend priorarizes his bro-in law and not only cancel our appointments but also does not answer my texts? How can i believe him when he told me that he loved me? I don’t think he does, right? but was it just a normal thing for him to attend his brother in law during his stay? Is it like a mandatory thing?! I really don’t know, but i can feel the masala spiced wind telling- “more to come, this is only the begging”.
      At this point, what I can do is either accept this whole crap or ask for the right balance so that I can get his undevided attention when i need one if I want to continue dating him, right? It won’t be easy as a girl from Japan where my uncles used to say it’s a sin for old folks to steal time of young people.
      This article was suitable to my situation but it could’ve also mentioned that the weird old customs must be removed by our generation. Let us pay a lot of respects to the future young wife of your son because she is taking care of your mama boy once I reached my time. Until then, wish me luck.

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