Are You His Partner Or His Second Mama?

Just a reminder that your husband needs a wife...not another mother.

Love & Relationships

So, here's my two cents, right out the gate. Unless you're someone who can't even remotely relate to the second title in this article (you know, second mama), you might want to skim this for now and dig deeper into it when it's not gonna have you so on-10 that you won't be able to concentrate on all of the other reasons why you're online right now. I say that because I'm gonna be honest with you. This isn't an easy read. It's not a coddling one. And, for some people, it's gonna be hella uncomfortable. That's the bad news. The good news is, if once you do get to the end of this piece, you find that you can actually relate (perhaps more than you ever wanted to), it can be the first step toward doing some serious switching up—for the sake of your husband's peace of mind and the health and well-being of your marriage. Because here's another truth—while the world does have its fair share of mama's boys (which we'll have to get into at another time), it also has quite a few wives who think their role is to be their husband's other mother too. And both sides of that fence ain't good. Not by a long shot.

And just how can you know if you qualify as being a second mama? Brace yourself, now.

Somehow, You Can’t Tell the Difference Between “Parent” and “Partner”


Recently, I was having a conversation with some 20-somethings about how they are ready to dismantle patriarchy. My response was, "Are you sure? That means you don't want a man to provide for the home. You don't want him to propose to you. Chivalry is pretty much out the door as well. All of those things are birthed out of patriarchy." One of them said something that was so…expected. "Those things are masculinity, not patriarchy." Yeah, no sale, sis. Patriarchy means "male head" and the things that I defined are male leadership initiative roles. If you're a Bible follower, I Corinthians 11:1-6 is pretty clear on how patriarchy and matriarchy are absolutely supposed to work together. This is why I'm not a feminist; I am a complementarian. Patriarchy isn't a bad word. The abuse of patriarchy is where problems arise. So, where am I going when it comes to this particular point?

Just like, when ego and a misunderstanding of what true manhood is can lead to the misuse of patriarchy, when wives don't keep balance in mind as well, oftentimes they can abuse their own role in their relationship too.

An example would be bragging about how you've got to "train" or "raise" your husband like he's a child or pet. Matter of fact, I tend to be pretty floored with the degrading things that I've heard some women so casually say; things that, if a man said the same things about them, all hell would break loose (imagine a man saying that he had to train or raise you). Yet, some of the bossiest wives that I know—and I know a few—have absolutely no problem feeling and conveying that they are to take over where their husband's mama left off.

The reality is, that's not what marriage is about at all. To parent is to rear children. A life partner is someone who shares life with you.

If you don't get the difference between the two, after reading my second point, get into some marriage counseling, just as soon as you possibly can. No marriage should consist of either spouse treating their partner like a child. If you feel justified in doing so, something is off and wrong—very much so.

You Think Your Job Is to “Raise” Your Husband Rather than HELP Him


I recently watched a movie entitled, Perfectly Single (Omar Gooding, DomiNque Perry, Erica Hubbard, Joe Torry, Torrei Hart). While Torrei's body was killin' in the film (whew!), as a marriage life coach, her character irked me, in all kinds of ways. Aside from the fact that she was cheating on her husband (yes, some Black women DO cheat), she treated him like she was his warden. There was a scene where, he wanted to go play ball with a friend that she didn't like. When the friend came to the house, she told him that her man couldn't come "out to play". Then she told her husband not to hang out with the guy because he was single. Shoot, it was a movie and I wasn't in it and still, I was slightly triggered. Why? Because I have clients who are just like this.

If you've read my stuff, for even a couple of months, you know that I rock with Scripture pretty hard. The first introduction to a woman in the Bible is Genesis 2:18. The word that was used is "helper". A helper is someone who "gives assistance, support, etc."

When it comes to actually helping someone out—and please hear me when I say this—you don't get to decide if you're doing so alone. The individual on the receiving end also needs to feel like you are assisting and supporting.

I can't tell you how many husbands have come to me, at their complete and total wit's end because, while their wife fully believes that her methods are helpful, they are so pushy, condescending and suffocating, that they are doing any and everything but helping their husbands out. So, let me say this if you are engaged or are contemplating it. A part of the reason why it's so dangerous to go into a marriage thinking that your partner will change after you say "I do" is it can cause you to also assume that it's your job to do the changing. IT ISN'T (check out "The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You").

It's two grown folks who need to get married and adults don't need to be raised. And as a wife, while your husband should be providing for and protecting you (which goes well beyond finances), you should be supporting him.

If you read all of this and are thinking to yourself, "Girl, 'raise'…'support'…what's the difference?", ask your husband what the difference is. If you're actually not helping him as much as you think that you are, trust me, he'll be more than happy to tell you that.

Nagging Is the Language You Are Most Fluent In


One more Scripture, OK? And yes, if you're thin-skinned, brace yourself. Proverbs 21:9(AMPC) tells us, "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman." While that verse may be a bit of an "ouch", when you really stop and let it sink in, it should only be offensive to the women it applies to. Think about it. If your husband was constantly nagging, picking fights and pointing out your flaws, wouldn't you prefer to be any and everywhere but around him?

Besides, I don't get why people feel like nagging is effective anyway. Even if you keep repeating yourself about something until you get your way, what did you really win—other than your own way? The person you nagged is gonna be sick and tired of you, they won't be giving you, whatever it is, in the right spirit and nagging is just an immature form of trying to control someone. "But Shellie, my husband won't listen any other way." If that's your immediate thought, again, get into some therapy.

Conceding is not the same thing as connecting. If nagging is your go-to way to get things done in your home, another form of communication needs to be taught. For the sake of your marriage.

Trust me.

Your Sex Life Is Suffering. Severely So.


I once worked with some clients where the wife had a major gripe. She had a high sex drive and, for the first couple of years of her marriage, so did her husband. About three years in, though, he would decline her desires to get it in. Initially, she thought it was because he was cheating. He said that he had no interest in doing that. What hadn't crossed her mind is what I think is another valid point.

If you don't remember anything else from this article, please remember that no man wants to have sex with his mama. That's not just literally (eww). I also mean that if you are acting like you're his second mother, unless he's a mama's boy (which again, is another article for another time), he's going to find you to be totally off-putting. Plus, the thought of having sex with you to be kinda creepy.

Once this point was brought up to the wife (and the husband co-signed), while she did admit that she had the tendency to be pretty overbearing, she didn't get why her husband didn't want to have sex if he was still attracted to her (which he was). I gave her the comparison of how a lot of new mothers feel about their breasts while they are breastfeeding. What their husband enjoys sexually, they are now using to feed their little one. Mentally switching gears can be complicated, to say the least. Same thing for a man who is around a woman who thinks she's another mother all of the time. If she's acting like that, he's going to lean towards treating her that way (and more like a rebellious teen than a compliant child, for obvious reasons, by the way). And that is going to make having sex with her a total turn-off—no matter how physically attracted to her he may be.

I can't say it enough—no man wants to sleep with his mama. If you're tempted to act like you are his mother, but at the same time, you enjoy your sex life, take that as a word of caution. Some marriages have become sexless, for no other reason than this very point.

He Has NO PEACE in Your Presence


I believe I've shared before that a husband I know once said to me, "Shellie, make sure that you provide peace in your home. Men prefer 'ugly peace' to 'pretty loud' any day." No, he wasn't calling me unattractive; I'm merely providing the bottom line of a very long conversation about what a lot of men desire and seemingly don't get in their intimate relationship—SOME FREAKIN' PEACE. While it's easy to only think of peace in the context of stillness or quiet, I feel that it's always important to look at it from the definition of shalom (the Hebrew word for peace), simply because the definitions are so vast. It literally means all of the following words—completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.

When a woman is in "mama mode", while a good one definitely strives for moments of peace, the greater goal is training and providing healthy discipline to their child, so that they can grow up to be responsible and accountable. But a wife? Her ambition should be to be at peace with herself, for her marriage to be at peace and for her husband to feel at peace with her and their union. Wholeness, tranquility, prosperity, rest and harmony are what she strives for, as he does the same.

If you and your husband can't say that this is what's happening in your household, revisiting if a part of the reason is because you're more of a "mama" than a "wife" is certainly well worth your time.

You Immediately Got Triggered When You Saw the Title of This Article


You know what they say. Hit dog will holler. Every single time. And while I know that some of you clicked onto this because you were curious, I also will bet my next paycheck from xoNecole that some of y'all got triggered, from the very moment you read the title. You were ready to justify why you do some of the things mentioned here and you're probably a little more than irritated that there was little room given for why "mothering your man" is an OK thing to do. That's because it's not. Again, if you're with someone who acts immature (whether emotionally or otherwise), who you don't feel is a true partner and/or who is mad irresponsible, no one is saying that you should just grin and bear it. What I am saying is treating a man like he's your son isn't the answer. Get into some therapy, for real, for real. Set some boundaries. But don't take on the role of someone who has already filled the position—his actual mother.

It can't be said enough that, in healthy relationships, two people partner up not parent one another.

If you're not entirely sure which role you're playing in your relationship, ask your husband and be open to hearing the answer. The sooner any woman is less of their man's (second) mama, the quicker she can be what he so desperately needs—a partner, a support system…a wife.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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