My Husband Lets His Family Disrespect Me And Always Chooses Them Over Us

By Ashley Brown|Updated June 22, 2022

Wondering why your spouse lets his mother disrespect you? The issue can be quite complex and leave you wondering "Why does my husband prioritize his mother and his needs over me?" 

disrespectful husband playing with kids & grandfather
Wondering What To Do When Your Husband Chooses His Family Over You?

Why Does Your Husband Choose Family Over You In Your Relationship?

Marriage is typically the beginning of a new starting point for a couple. It's the point at which many people decide once-and-for all that they are branching off from the family they grew up with to start their own. Married life is frequently used as a benchmark for true adulthood, however malleable that concept might be, and that means that it’s often considered the appropriate time for a child to really start living separately from their parents.

However, regardless of distance or idealism, the truth is that the in-laws are still just a phone call away; being married is not just a relationship between two people, but a meeting of two families. While it’s true when we marry our spouse we also marry our husband’s family, setting boundaries that are appropriate with our husband’s family is still a key part of building a marriage that will last a long time.

Conflicts that leave you wondering why "my husband lets his family disrespect me" can place strain on a relationship. If boundaries aren’t in place, other people, including the mother in law, father in law, or other family members can cross those boundaries and disrespect the marriage.

Feeling Disrespect By Him & His Family?

It can be hard when you feel that your spouse doesn’t stand up for you when you feel disrespect from the family.

It is obviously a bad thing for a son to love and care for their family; a husband’s strong relationship with their parents can not only nourish but positively inform a marriage and see to its longevity.

While it’s not always realistic for a wife to expect her husband’s undivided attention, it can be especially hurtful when it feels like she’s not getting her due at all, or as though their relationship might be falling to the wayside.

Potential Reasons Why This Can Happens With Your Husband & What You Can Do

Let’s first look at some reasons why some men may put their family above their spouse, and then discuss some healthy ways and handy tips to help resolve the issue:

  • Husband Feels Guilty For Not Spending Time With His Family

This is especially true with men who have had a close bond with their parents growing up. If you feel that spending a large amount of time with their family might be an issue in your relationship, talk to your spouse to see what’s going on. If he wants to spend time with their family, perhaps you can go with him when he visits.

You might even consider scheduling family holidays to spend time with your husband’s family, so that you can strengthen your bonds with your husband’s family while also strengthening your bond with him. Alternatively, you can figure out what specific times are appropriate for him to spend with his parents.

  • Husband Wants To Keep The Peace in His Family: He "Chooses" Them

The “fighting with the in-laws” trope exists in more than just comedy movies — it’s actually not especially uncommon in married life for there to be conflict between a wife and a mother in law or with a husband’s family in general. Sometime you may even feel that you have deal with disrespectful in laws.

These conflicts with your husband’s family are reasonable, resolvable, and not vitriolic, but other times, in-laws can be unduly controlling with regards to a husband’s relationship, which can appear as disrespect towards you.

This can be true when it comes to simple things or bigger things and there may be significant disagreements with your husband’s family about weddings, finances, child-rearing, and property ownership that can be tense and can split interests.

Intra-family conflicts can be very delicate, and may require some compromise in order to make things work with your husband’s family — however, he may also be rejecting what’s best for your new household in order to please their parents and your husband’s family, which can be a recipe for an unhappy marriage with your spouse, and may indicate that he needs to work on setting boundaries.

  • Husband Is Close To His Mom

It’s only natural that a man care deeply for their mother — after all, his mom is the first woman who ever loved him. As a boy matures into adulthood, however, his relationship with his mom should mature as well, but this is not always the case. For a son with an immature relationship with his mother — what we might casually refer to as a mama’s boy — parent-child boundaries are essentially nonexistent with strong attachment.

There may be signs your spouse feels that their mom’s wish is their command. If their mom wants him to run an errand, take her to the store, or have lunch with her, he always obliges. Some other signs that your spouse might have an immature relationship with your mother in law can include:

  • Wanting daily contact with their mom and his family

  • Consistently choosing their mom over their wife and children

  • Refusing to move far away from their mom, or even still living with her

  • Husband has trouble making decisions without his mom, and in turn, might expect you to baby him as well

  • Has financial ties to their mom or family, which keeps him close to them

Husbands Live with their Family Longer

According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, for the first time on record, men ages 18-34 are more likely to live with a parent (35%) than with a spouse or partner (28%). This extended living arrangement could enforce strong emotional attachment and dependency traits with their parents that could be causing difficulty in switching priorities from his parents to his spouse.

  • Everyone Under One Roof Can Cause Disrespectful Situations

It’s tough enough for some men to prioritize their wife over their parents even when in separate households, but having everyone under one roof makes it that much more difficult, and increases the chances of making their family the priority, which can lead them to disrespect the wife.

If strong boundaries are not agreed upon and instilled ahead of time, and if there is no emphasis on some degree of independence from the family unit in spite of physical dependence, problems regarding disrespect could arise.

What Steps Can You Take About the Disrespect?

happy with his family

Here are a few tips to help you resolve some of these disrespectful issues:

  • Communicate With Your Spouse

Unlike when you’re single, dating and long-term relationships require consistent honesty and communication. The first step is to speak honestly with your spouse about your feelings of disrespect. It’s important to talk to him about it. Also, ask him about their feelings, for he may simply be finding it difficult to express his feelings of showing their loyalty to both their family and you.

Assure him that you are not against the family and that you don’t want to isolate him from them. Find a compromise, if necessary, but ensure that healthy boundaries are intact.

Tell him that you understand he loves his family and that you know he loves you too. Suggest ways in which he could help you feel more appreciated and be clear as to what he can do to show you that you are just as important to him.

Leave blame out of it and concentrate on how to best deal with the disrespect issue together as partners. Communicating in thoughtful and direct ways is an important first step in helping him change priorities.

  • Remember: You’re A Team

When you got married, you became a team. Realizing this and building upon that relationship daily will help build a foundation you can both trust when in-laws and other family members come between you. Never put your spouse in a situation where he has to choose between you or the family. Instead, work out your differences alone in private, and then approach the family as a team when disrespect happens.

  • Is Still Their Child

While it can be easy to resent your mother in law for her disrespect, or be mad at your spouse, understand that on some level, many of us may still feel like our parents’ child and be drawn towards allowing our parents to take care of us as they did when we were younger — especially if they were quite controlling.

However, emphasize for your spouse that it can become unhealthy to rely so heavily and exclusively on his parents for comfort and guidance.

You may find yourself becoming irritated because your in-laws treat your spouse like a child. Tell him firmly but gently that he needs to tell the parents that he is old enough to manage his own life. Let him know that he needs own independence — not just for his sake, but for yours as well.

  • Avoid Resentment Towards Your Husband

Avoid nagging your husband about you needing your husband to spend more time with you or choosing you over his mom and dad. This will only hurt him by putting down his parents and negating his role as a husband.

These hurt feelings could turn into resentment or anger, which could cause problems in your marriage. Remember, he’s not choosing his family in an attempt to hurt you, but as a result of long-standing bonds and patterns that can be hard to break with

  • Your Husband Has To Make The Choice

Ultimately, your husband has to decide to change. Making you his main priority and breaking away from his family is, in the end, his decision. He has to form a boundary between his new family and his family of origin. Be supportive of your husband and understanding as your spouse learns these new traits.

  • Extenuating Circumstances About Disrespect

husband and his family hugging after school
Wondering What To Do When Your Husband Chooses His Family Over You?

There are times when your husband should give increased attention to the parents, or where choosing the family might be the most logical option. These are situations when their parents or family members are sick, dying, or going through difficulties in their life. These are extenuating situations where your husband will need to be there for them.

Seek Professional Help For Disrespectful Behavior 

There is a chance that your husband will remain adamant that the family comes first. If this is the case, you need to have a talk with him about why he differentiates the meaning of family when it comes to you two and his parents. Understand that this is a complex issue that requires tact and understanding, and seeking help both individually and as a couple from a mental health professional can be a tremendous asset. There could be issues that have not been dealt with, which could be a contributing factor, and a mental health professional can give you insight on what these are. In addition, a mental health professional can provide additional insight into reasons why your husband is placing the family above you.

Choosing to work with a professional can allow you to learn the tools to communicate better and work through your issues as a family. They can also assist you in creating helpful boundaries, explaining your viewpoints to your spouse, and prevent you from pointing the finger and making things worse. These tools may help improve the dynamics between you, your husband, and your in-laws.

Therapist Reviews

“In a short time my husband and I have gained a lot of clarity of each other’s actions and communication with his help.”

“My husband and I have been having a wonderful experience with Keith Welsh (LCSW). We have never felt like we truly connected with a counselor before, but now we leave each session with a sense of ease and an action plan to continue working on our goals, both together and individually. He provides tools and insights that give us ownership over building a stronger relationship instead of just allowing us to vent and continue the same vicious cycle. We are very appreciative of his expertise and care!”

Wondering What To Do When Your Husband Chooses His Family Over You?

Conclusion

Rest assured that you are not alone in this very common situation. If you don’t know what to do about your husband consistently prioritizing the family over you, there are tools available to help you move forward. Speaking with a nonbiased professional can help you figure out the best way to talk to him, so that he hears and understands you. Take the first step.

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