The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I am a female company employee in my 20s. I’m living with my boyfriend but I’m distressed because he is such a mama’s boy.
He is two years older than me, and is serious and affectionate — I’ve been considering marrying him. But he frequently talks with his mother through video messaging, and I feel uneasy when he attaches photos from trips we’ve taken together with the message, “Next time I want you to come along.”
We have dined together with his mother. She said things like, “If I didn’t have that boy, I wouldn’t be able to do anything,” and they choose the same things from the menu. It’s exactly as if they were lovers, and it gives me the creeps.
“Every man has an Oedipus complex,” my boyfriend stated, so it’s obvious he himself knows what’s going on. He doesn’t tell me about their general conversations, but sometimes I happen to see things that I find totally repugnant.
I think his behavior goes beyond the bounds of filial devotion. If things continue like this, is it right to consider a future with this man?
O, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. O:
So the reason you are not taking the final step toward marriage with a man you are living with is because of the “relationship” between him and his mother.
The parent-child relationship can take an immeasurable variety of forms if you are looking at it from the outside. In my opinion, that makes it meaningless to slap the “Oedipus complex” label on someone.
More than that, the truth is that you experience a “feeling of repugnance” in your relationship. As such, when his mother said “If I didn’t have that boy, I wouldn’t be able to do anything,” you saw it as excessive dependence on her son. Is that not the problem?
Life is full of surprises. Things we thought would be bad in reality produce a good result; something we thought was good we later find we made a big mistake about. Even with his dependence on his mother, it’s possible he could change in your eyes, although your own personality and inner qualities will be a factor.
A mother who says, “I wouldn’t be able to do anything without him,” could just be blissfully innocent and naive. Conversely, after marriage, such a mother might excessively intervene in household affairs and spark an in-law conflict.
Marriage is like a gamble, so to speak. You are the one who will throw the dice and make the final decision. In other words, you have to decide whether your feelings are strong enough that you want to be with him and overcome the rough times together in marriage.
Megumi Hisada, writer