My boyfriend and I share house work 50/50, which makes me happy because we both work very hard outside the home as well. However, the moment he walks in to his mother’s house, he starts acting like a spoiled little brat and I am appalled by his behavior. How can I talk to him about this? I do not wish to see his mother being ridiculed, but I know that this is not really my family, and I have no business discussing it. Any advice? — Appalled by his Behavior
I don’t know if I agree that it isn’t your business to voice your opinion about the way your boyfriend treats his mother. After all, the way a man behaves toward his mom says a lot about what kind of partner he’ll be in the long-term. I understand that you’ve already been together quite a while (over eight years) and so far he has shown you respect — or at least shares the housework with you 50/50, but I’d be very worried about potentially spending my life with a man who had so little regard for his own mother, let alone the value of raising children and running a household. If you two have children together, he’ll be modeling to them how to treat one’s mother. They’ll see how he acts toward his mom and think that that kind of behavior is okay. Worse yet, the idea that a woman’s role is at home and that that role is of little value may be so ingrained in him that he may expect you to fulfill that role and may have no intention of respecting you if you do.
Regardless of whether you have children with this man or not, though, you need to say something about the way you’re feeling. Rather than frame it in a way that speaks to his family dynamics — which very well may be none of your business (although, after 8.5 years with the man, I’d argue that it is at least a little bit your business) — try framing it as a discussion about the value of raising children, care-giving, and making a happy home. Frame it as a discussion about respecting women, even, or about manners. Frame it as a discussion about maturity and how the way you see him treat his mother gives you pause and makes you question whether or not he will eventually treat you the same way.
The point is, there are lots of ways you can introduce this topic, but the best thing to do is to highlight how his behavior affects YOU and your relationship. He’ll take you much more seriously when he sees that you’re invested in his behavior not as an outsider looking in but as someone directly affected and as someone imagining a future with him. So tell him the concerns his behavior gives you. And tell him that the reason you’re most affected by his behavior is because you love him and you hope to enjoy a very long future together, full of mutual respect and good times with each other’s families.