Grown child who is still "Married to Mom"

Psychologist Kenneth M. Adams, PhD talks about the challenges of being married to someone who was "married to mom" as a child
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Grown child who is still "Married to Mom"

So what makes it so difficult for a son or a daughter who has played the role of a surrogant husband or wife, eventually just unhook from that and start a new life with a wife, or a husband, or a partner? And the problem is, is that during the early developmental years, we all start to internalize or bring into our experience the ways that we will relate to a lover or a mate. And it almost always is based on the initial caretaker relationships. So when in order to make that transition we have to be able to say goodbye to the parent or the caretaker without feeling guilty, but by the time the child becomes a young man or a young woman, he or she is riddled with guilt. And the best way to dispense of the guilt is to keep giving my loyalty back to the object, the person who demanded it. So the guilt draws them back and so even though their wife, husband, partner is complaining that your mother of father is interfering in our marriage, it's not enough to help them leave that. It's not so easy. It's very complicated. The guilt has already penetrated the internal representation of who I am.

Psychologist Kenneth M. Adams, PhD talks about the challenges of being married to someone who was "married to mom" as a child


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Kenneth M. Adams, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Kenneth M. Adams, Ph.D., CSAT, is a Licensed Psychologist, the Clinical Director and Founder of Kenneth M. Adams and Associates in suburban Detroit, Michigan, as well as a faculty member at the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals. As previous Clinical Director for the Life Healing Center in Sante Fe, New Mexico, a residential treatment center for trauma and addiction, Dr Adams created the first inpatient program exclusively for partners of sex addicts. In addition to maintaining an active clinical practice, Dr. Adams is a national lecturer, workshop leader, and consultant in the areas of child abuse, dysfunctional family systems, and sex addiction. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications, the books Silently Seduced and When He’s Married to Mom, as well as co-editor of Clinical Management of Sex Addiction. In 2011, Dr Adams received the “Carnes Award” for “outstanding work in the field of sexual addiction and compulsivity”. He is a certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), a CSAT supervisor, and CSAT training facilitator as well as an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner. Dr. Adams is a member of the American Psychological Association, Michigan Psychological Association, Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), and International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) as well as an advisory board member to SASH and IITAP, and an editorial board member of Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention. For more on Dr Adams visit


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