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Why don’t men break the umbilical cords that attach them to their mothers?

Most men fall into two categories: those who still have not broken the “emotional umbilical cord” that attaches them to their mothers and those who have. It almost seems like most Jordanian men belong to the first category… I don’t have to look much further than my own family.

My grandmother, a tiny ferocious woman, is the matriarch, the mover who stands at the center of my father and his brothers’ universe. They never could liberate themselves from her iron grip… and as a result ended up living turbulent lives with their own wives, who have never exactly met my grandmother’s expectations. After all, she did not choose any of them, so even if they were angels she would not have approved! Ya3ni a classical mother in law and daughter in law scenario in this side of the world.

I grew up having negative feelings towards my meddling grandmother, and since I avoided speaking about my family as a teenager, I assumed our situation was unique… which made me feel isolated. But then something amazing happened… I grew up only to realize that my grandmother is not unique at all… as a matter of fact she is so un-unique, it is not even funny. Worse yet, her generation have moved the knowledge to the next generations. Younger women around Jordan today are variant replicas of women like my grandmother.

Mothers on the lookout for brides using facebook!

Recently, I have been hearing countless stories of mothers on the lookout for the perfect bride for their sons: the process often resembles shopping for a good deal. I have been approached several times by these kinds of women to the mortification of my mother and the delight of my grandmother. Latest one, through facebook! …She has been following my facebook profile to see what kind of photos I upload and how my status changes. For some odd reason, I was deemed worthy! I told her mischievously “you should check my blog” surprise….surprise… she did not call again! Apparently, this is the new thing… mothers using technology to go through suitable brides for their sons..(Fancy, eh?)

Yesterday, my (girl) cousins came over to have iftar with us. They are at that age, where mothers scan them. Muna was making fun of a distant cousin who went to visit them a couple of days ago, and when he was asked whether he preferred Atayef with nuts or cheese, he answered “I prefer what my mother chooses for me!” with a wink. Little she knew, when she told the story, that this was not an innocent remark, but a way of warning them that the tigress was hunting!

 Muna’s remarks piqued my anthropological curiosity. Why do women have such a strong hold on their sons in our side of the world?

First reason comes to mind is that the responsibilities of bringing up children have traditionally fallen upon women alone. Fathers’ interference did not exceed being the punisher and the provider for both the mother and the children! So men end up developing unbalanced relationships with the parents. They both fear and respect the authoritarian father, but completely adore the fragile mother… who used female sensuality and manipulation as part of numerous tools to keep her children under her thumb.

Samar gave me a different perspective into the story… in Jordan, there is no comprehensive social system that takes care of citizens, so people can’t make it without pap’s money. She explained that when she got married, almost five years and two kids ago, her in laws paid for everything, including wedding fees, shabkeh, house, and car…everything… “If they did not” she said, “we would still be trying to save money to afford getting married”. Luckily her mother in law liked her. “If she did not like me, they would not have paid a penny,… and my mother in law would have convinced him to leave me by tears, drama, fake sicknesses, Divine anger and threats to kill herself”.

In face of these lethal tools ….how can any sane son break the umbilical cord?

I am Reading “Taxi” and “Reading Lolita in Tehran”. I have been avoiding this book for years, but khalas it is after me… Taxi is not bad… I love this generation of contemporary Egyptian writers…. It is refreshing.

On a different note… I have become addicted to one particular song. It is called Sangre Gitana y Mora. Um Kulthoum’s Alf Leila u Leila By two gypsy singers Lole y Manuel… Fine would be one way of describing it!


12 comments to Why don’t men break the umbilical cords that attach them to their mothers?

  • lol, ‘you should check my blog’. @@

    Yea, whoa, those mommies really have some of their sons wrapped tight. It seems their self identity is wrapped up in controlling the lives of their kids, and do maintain a level of being the #1 female in the lives of sons. And marriage can’t survive a man having more than one ‘wife’.


    Madas Reply:

    I honestly find relationships between men and their mothers to be strange sometime. … It almost feels that some men are married to their mothers and not their wives….. it seems like women live their wifehood through their sons… the sons are the ones who love them, who spoil them who listen to them… mothers on the other hand use this dramatized femininity… ya Ro7i, ya 3omri… I don’t know it is weird :)


  • oh yea, ‘hiyaati’, it is def living through the child, which keeps a deeper marital intimacy from happening and hooks kids in an unhealthy way. It also sidelines the man as a husband and a father.

    (My husband read this post, btw, he rarely reads blogs, and was impressed with your insight. He also said “Kinzi, if you ever wrote anything like this, you would get slammed as a stereotyping colonialist”)


    Madas Reply:

    :) … Thant is nice… I appreciate him reading the post.

    Think about it like that if I criticized another country, I would be considered underdeveloped or ignorant… I guess that is the beauty of being an Arab … I can constructively criticize my society, and it would be ok.


  • What a great post. So, so true. How many marriages have been tainted, if not ruined, by mothers who won’t let go; conversely, how many have been ruined by husbands who will not let that cord be broken? There is a fine line between being dutiful to one’s mother and letting Mama rule your life of decision-making.


  • Madas

    Agreed. i think there is definitely a line between being a good son and allowing mother to ruin your life… the problem is that a lot of women enjoy ruling their kids’ lives… which makes me wonder if it is a need for attention and feeling of power after a feeling of helplessness… and if so then where does this helplessness come from?


  • fatim

    wow, it is certainly a surprise for me to know men are so attached to their mothers in that part of the world. i know in-laws are much more authoritative but not to this extent. In my country , women tend to not get so attached to their sons or their lives u can say to avoid all of the drama that can happen, all they want is for them to be happy and do their own thing. we have an expression that says, ” inshala s3idin wa b3idin ” which means with gods will they stay happy and far. they still have the normal mother son relationship tho , its not like they abandoned their parents.

    am really confused about the men in jordan, with all do respect they come out to be all manly and really i duno it does not look so gd. i have meet so many examples , my head will explode i cant understand nor comprehend anymore, i cant understand the way they think or act or what they want smtimes. they dnt really speak abt anything that is considered normal ( which to them is very personal) , everything is on the surface to them. couldnt really dig in.

    so its interesting to know this ..

    well to be fair i only read the women part , i wish i can read a blog similar to this one except with a males voice, i might get some more insight as to how men think and justify their actions.

    again , salute all Jordanian men really no offense , god bless ..i hope


  • Marj

    I think it would only be fair to look at the mother-in-laws point of view. I am not Jordanian but if I were to speculate I would say there seems to be a kind of insecurity maybe? She spent her life devoted to the house, perhaps most of the kindness she received was from her kids and not her husband, and then the kids grow up- who is there then? They leave and as she sees her youth fall off her year after year like petals from a flower she contemplates her own future. Perhaps she witnesses fellow friends and family she grew up with getting sick or being mistreated and there develops an inherent fear of her own future. What will happen to her? Will someone take care of her? Will she be alone? Or perhaps left with a husband with the emotional equivalence of a pail of rocks? I am thinking perhaps these deep maybe subconscious fears cause them to over react, fight for control. I have met a few Jordanians and have to admit you guys are not the most optimistic people. Perhaps in her mind she feels she needs to stay number one in her children’s life for fear of becoming nothing.


  • Madas

    Hi, welcome to muy blog.

    Yes, it is very reasonable to think from her point of view. But it is really really difficultto have to deal with marriage and life in general , let alone having to worry about mother in law’s mental health issues! I mean i think couples should have a close relatinship with their families. But nt beyond the point where it is affecting their own relationship.


  • [...] Why don’t men break the umbilical cords that attach them to their mothers? [...]

  • It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of information. I am satisfied that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.


  • Caroline

    I think it is a worldwide phenomenon and very much prevalent in India.


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